The Special Design Features of the Formula One Race Car
Formula One race car construction is the main focus of this article. We will explain their design features as well as some of Formula One's strict rules and regulations in this regard.
It really is no wonder that this is among the most popular motor sports in the world! What sets this type of racing above all others is the strict rules that must be followed. Most regulations pertain to the construction of the racecar, and thus, failure to follow the rules will result in elimination. Construction of this specific type of racing vehicle must allow for the fastest possible speed and the best handling capability combined with effective safety features. Today's Formula One race cars push these to the limit!
To gain maximum speed and fuel efficiency the car builders, or constructors, rely on aerodynamic design. These cars have as much aerodynamic design as a jet fighter. Unlike an airplane, however, these race car constructors must find ways to create down force. This force is needed to keep the tires on the track at high speeds and improve handling on corners. At the same time the design needs to allow air to flow freely around the car to eliminate any drag that would decrease speed or fuel efficiency. Today, Formula one race cars are designed to create such an aerodynamic down force that, theoretically, they can drive upside down.
The high speeds demanded by Formula One racing require an effective method to slow down or stop the race cars. The brakes used on these race cars are similar to the brakes used on standard street cars. Formula One cars have disc brakes. The major difference between the brakes used for this type of racing and that of road vehicles is that the Formula One vehicles use carbon fiber composite brake discs to reduce weight and increase durability at higher temperatures. They are used in combination with specially compounded brake pads and work well at extremely high temperatures.
The main body of a Formula One race car is the monocoque. This section holds the cockpit and functions as the central part of the chassis. Both the engine and the front suspension are mounted onto the monocoque. Because it operates at the cockpit as well as the main structure of the car strength is important. Most of the monocoque structure is composed of carbon fiber. The cockpit, also called the survival cell, is designed with multiple safety features.
A powerful but lightweight engine is key to their racing success. FIA regulations now require that an engine last for more than a one-race weekend. This requires constructors to develop engines that will be durable as well as high performance. Engine failure is the leading cause of early race termination in this type of racing.
Equally stressed during Grand Prix is the transmission system of the race car. Formula One racing rules do not allow for automatic transmissions in their race cars. The transmissions used today are highly automated and easy for the driver to manipulate but they remain a manual transmission.
Also important to their design is the suspension system. Passenger vehicles rely on suspension for comfort. Formula One cars are not designed with driver comfort in mind. The suspension systems in these cars must successfully combine the engine power, down force and tire grip to create a faster car. The suspension systems are manually adjustable and are tuned to meet the needs of each circuit.
The final key to a successful Formula One race car is the tires. In 2007 only one tire supplier is approved for Formula One racing. Formula One racing tires use a special air mixture high in nitrogen to maintain uniform and longer-lasting tire pressure.
Constructors of Formula One cars must pay special attention to every detail to get the best performance possible from their car.
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