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Steering wheel


Steering wheel is one of the most complex elements of a Formula 1 car, it is the critical interface between the driver and the car. Among other things, the driver can use the buttons on the wheel to alter the brake balance, adjust the fuel mixture and stay in contact with the team in the garage.

In the past the steering wheel on a Formula 1 car was a relatively plain, straightforward piece of equipment, round in shape, with a metal plate at the centre to attach it to the steering column, and generally no more than three buttons - one for selecting neutral, one for releasing liquid through a tube in the helmet for the driver to replenish his fluid levels and one for the radio.

The advent of complex electronic systems in Formula 1 throughout the 1990s changed all that. These days the steering wheel is one of the most complex and high-tech parts of a Formula 1 car, with a typical wheel controlling at least 12 further functions in addition to actually steering the wheels and such a high tech steering wheel can reputedly costs in excess of $250,000, and it is often said that a Formula1 steering wheel has more technology in it, than in the whole of a Winston Cup car.

These steering wheels can be removed, because of official FIA regulations, and always have to be removed if the driver wants to leave his car. All imaginable information is readable on it. Besides the usual indicators like rpm, gear and speed, a lot of adjustments can be made to change the performance of the car.

Gear-change switches

All steering wheels are fitted with a sprung-to-centre, double-acting rocker switch to command gear changes. The system is mounted behind the rim of the wheel and is operated by the driver's fingertips, pulling on paddles shaped to the driver's individual requirement. A single pull on the right hand paddle commands a single up shift, and a single pull on the left hand one commands a single down shift. This eliminates the possibility of a driver missing a gear, therefore increasing the smoothness and improving the timing of gearshifts. The gearbox computer (or the software section controlling the gearbox, in the car's central computer) will check that a down change will not over-rev the engine, and it will then operate throttles, clutch and the gearbox selector mechanism to give the driver the gear he has asked for. If the over-rev. protection software predicts an over-rev., it must, according to the regulations, only prevent engagement - not delay it - and the driver must re-select the gear.

Clutch lever

Most cars now have hand operated clutches. One or two paddles mounted behind the wheel rim, are operated with the fingertips in a similar manner to the gear-change paddles. However, while the gear-change paddles operate switches, the clutch paddles operate a position sensor against spring pressure. The position of the paddle determines the position of the clutch slave cylinder, via the computer and hydraulic system. The driver will only operate the clutch during starts, pit stops and if he spins - gear change operation is automatic - and he must learn to control the clutch take-up precisely, even though he is denied the force feedback he would be used to with a foot-operated clutch. Wear of the clutch, which affects the take-up point during engagement, is compensated for automatically.

Neutral button

In sequential change gearboxes, whether operated by a lever or steering wheel paddles, it is notoriously difficult to select neutral. The position of the selection mechanism does not indicate the gear selected, as an H-pattern shift does. Motorbikes, which also have sequential gearboxes, have this problem. In order to try and avoid stalling while groping for neutral after a spin or during a pit stop, a button is mounted on the steering wheel which, when pressed, automatically sequences the gearbox into neutral.


The regulations permit multiple gear-changes as a result of a single command by the driver. These will always be downshifts (the equivalent of skip-shifting a manual gearbox), and must only be commanded under conditions that would engage the lower gear without over-revving the engine. Commanding it too early must result in either the box being left in the original gear or neutral - very unsettling for the driver. Some drivers however, like to have a button on the wheel to skip-shift down several gears e.g. 7th to 2nd for a slow corner at somewhere like Monaco, where gear changing can get very busy.


The Press to Transmit (PTT) button for the car-to-pits radio is usually fitted to the steering wheel. The driver must operate this switch in order to be able to talk to the team, while in the car.

Pit Lane Speed Limiter

Exceeding the Pit Lane Speed Limit results in a hefty fine during practice and qualifying, and a Stop-Go penalty during the race. It did not take long for the drivers to demand a technical solution to speeding in the Pit Lane. All cars are fitted with a button on the wheel that imposes a speed limit to the car. It can only operate in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears, must be selected and de-selected by the driver, and only used in the Pit Lane - these regulations are to ensure that it is not used on the track as a crude traction control system.

Pressing the button changes the engine rev-limit, according to the gear selected and the limit in force at the time. Drivers must remember to press it before crossing the pit entry line, as it does not instantly slow the car to the correct speed, as some drivers once thought.

In the race, this button may also operate the latch on the refueling flap. When it is pressed, the flap pops open ready for refueling, and it closes again when the speed limiter is de-selected by the driver as the car rejoins the circuit. Some cars have a separate button for the flap.


One of the most important adjustments that a driver has to make to a car while running, is brake balance. Brake balance, front to rear, is critical to the stability of a racing car during the braking and turn-in phase; too much rear brakes will tend to cause the car to spin; too much front and it will not turn in. Settings will change as the fuel load lightens, the track grip changes, and particularly if it rains. So critical is it that it is not feasible for the race engineer to determine the correct setting; the driver must set it up by feel.

Brake balance is adjusted by altering the leverage ratio between the pedal and each master cylinder. For years the driver has been able to adjust the balance by rotating a knob in the cockpit, driving a flexible cable that moves the pedal pivot to a new position on the balance bar. Such a system requires the driver to reach down into the cockpit, usually with his left hand, and turn the knob. Turning the knob the wrong way because the sign was invisible down in the cockpit, has caused more than one accident. To adjust brake balance from the steering wheel requires an electronically signaled servo-system. Not all teams have gone down this route, but some have. One regulation that must be adhered to is that it must not be possible to make adjustments while the brakes are applied - that would be a sort of active brake balance. It is virtually physically impossible for the driver to adjust the balance, with a mechanical system, while the brake pedal is loaded, but with a servo system it would undoubtedly be possible. A knob, with several numbered switch positions, would be used for brake balance adjustment.

Engine air-fuel ratio (Mixture)

It is permissible to adjust the air-fuel ratio of the engine, with a maximum of three settings. Steering wheels are fitted with a three-position knob for this purpose. The mid-position is likely to be the best compromise between power and economy, with a richer setting for maximum power for overtaking and a leaner setting for stretching out the fuel load if necessary.

RPM limit

It is permissible to change the rev-limiter setting, provided all the settings are above the RPM for peak power. It is unlikely that many drivers would be provided with a knob for this purpose, but a button to occasionally raise the rev-limit for overtaking might be an option.

Electronically controlled systems

All Formula1 cars are fitted with electronically controlled engine fuelling and ignition, differential, clutch, drive-by-wire throttles, and power steering. In 1998, the Ferrari steering wheel was a mass of multi-position knobs for adjusting settings, maps and even algorithms for these systems. From 1999, the regulations ban the driver from making adjustments to any of these systems while the car is in motion (in the case of the clutch, while the engine is running). As the engineers can change the settings once the car is stationary in the pits, most of the knobs disappeared. However, when it rains, the ideal settings for the differential and engine response (engine fuel and ignition map and throttle progression) are very different from those best suited to dry conditions. Rain is usually accompanied by a pit stop for wet tyres and so while the car is stationary in the Pits, the driver may legally change settings, changing them back when he next stops for dry tyres.

Under wet conditions, the last thing a driver wants is a sudden increase in torque just as he is feeding in the throttle coming out of a corner. In the dry the same is true, but the throttle openings and speeds (and therefore probably engine RPM) are both greater. Drive-by-wire characteristics and the engine map can both be tuned to make the driving task easier in slippery conditions. The schedule of differential locking under the three critical phases - braking, turn-in and power-out of the corner - is set up in software. Wet conditions will probably need greater lock-up under braking to give stability, and under power-out to avoid the inside wheel spinning, while less lock-up during the turn-in phase, to minimize understeer, may be desirable. If the driver can swap between settings, depending on whether dry or wet tyres are fitted, he will have an advantage. Not all teams offer this facility to their drivers, only those that have the resources to develop alternative settings and intelligent drivers. It is noticeable that Ferrari spend a considerable time testing in the wet at Fiorano, where they have the facility to spray water on the circuit, and that Schumacher has more knobs on his steering wheel than drivers in other teams, and that he is very quick in the wet.


Gone are the days when drivers were presented with a rev-counter and a variety or other gauges telling him oil and water temperatures and maybe pressures. The RPM of today's 18,000rpm engines changes too fast to be of any use to the driver as an aid to changing gear. Instead, a series of LED's flash on in sequence to tell him when to change up a gear, automatically adjusting to different rev-limits. Intelligent software monitors all the significant parameters of the engine, gearbox and hydraulic systems, and any deviation from normality is warned to the driver by a message on an LCD display or by illuminating a light (the engineers in the pit garage receive all the data by telemetry, and will be aware of the situation simultaneously). The driver can then select, via yet another button, a display that gives him more information about the problem, and he will be able to monitor the important parameters, relevant to the ailing system. The driver will be alerted to a potentially catastrophic situation, with a more urgent display (red, flashing light or flashing LCD) e.g. the engine being about to blow-up, and no doubt an urgent message from the pits will be received over his radio.

The LCD displays can also be configured in a wide variety of ways, according to the requirements of the driver, and indexed through the modes by pressing the display-mode button. This operates in much the same way as mobile phones can be indexed through displays of information about callers, messages, phone book etc. The driver normally has it set up to display the lap time for the last lap, triggered automatically by his trackside beacon.

All these switches, buttons, knobs, lights and displays, packed into a hollow, CFRP steering wheel, results in dense wiring inside the wheel. It would be virtually impossible for all these wires to connect individually to the computer(s), via a wiring loom inside the steering column and a multi-way disconnect plug to allow the wheel to be removed. Formula1 cars use networked electrical systems, with each module - engine, gearbox, differential, power-steering, hydraulics, steering wheel, on-board computers, race engineer's notebook computer etc - being a node on the CAN network. Thus the steering wheel only needs electrical power and the CAN data bus to connect it to the car. Inside the steering wheel is a microprocessor, which communicates with the network and controls all the switches, lights and displays on the wheel.

The manufacture of any part on a Formula 1 car is a complex process, and the steering wheel is no exception. Many different lightweight materials are used in its manufacture, including carbon fibre, aluminum, titanium, steel, rubber and plastic, and a complete steering wheel can take approximately 100 hours to produce from start to finish.

With the average steering wheel controlling as many as 12 separate parameters on the car, there is a large number of components, buttons and switches that have to be fitted during the manufacturing process - some 120 separate items in all. Yet, despite the myriad of materials and parts that make up each completed wheel, the weight of the finished unit, as fitted to the car, is just 1.3 kilograms.

During the season, a minimum of five steering wheels is constructed for each of the team's two race drivers. Of these, three remain with the race team while two are held with the test team.



The electronic control unit (ECU) is the brain of a modern Formula 1 car. It is of size of a book and sits inside the sidepod and manages the flow of information generated by telemetry sensors, traction control and other devices on the car.

On the car there are a lot of sensors and processors producing data during tests, practices and races. The electronic system has to take all this information in and then process it in order to control different parts of the car. It controls the engine, the gearbox, the throttle-by-wire, the clutch and the differential.

The 900 horse power of a modern Formula 1 engine is largely a result of electronic control unit (ECU) that controls the many systems inside an engine so that they work to their maximum at every point around the lap. As far as the engine is concerned it drives the primary actuators, i.e. the ignition coils which make the sparks, the injectors which supply the fuel and the pneumatic valve actuation. On the chassis it controls the actuators for the throttle, gearbox and clutch.

Depending upon the nature of the circuit the Engine mappings can change completely. Slower and twister tracks such as Monaco for instance, the engine control system will help the driver have more control on the throttle input by making the first half of the pedal movement very sensitive, and the latter half less sensitive. This means that the driver can have great control on the throttle for the twisty corners, so that it is easier to limit the acceleration out of corners so not to spin the wheels.

At high speed circuits such as Monza, the driver has to jump on the throttle more out of the chicanes, rather than gradually applying full throttle. The accelerator will be set so that only a small movement will result in full engine acceleration. It is also possible to iron out any unplanned movements of the throttle such as when a driver travels over a bump and his foot may move slightly.

The engine control system can cut out the jumps of the throttle and keep full throttle down the straight, even on bumpy tracks. This is all possible because there is no direct link between the engine and the accelerator. The accelerator position is sensed using an actuator, and this signal is then sent to the engine control system, from where it is passed onto the engine. An engine ECU is much more than a device for making the throttle more or less sensitive. The ECU controls the inlet trumpet height, fuel injection among other things to try to get the maximum torque out of the engine. In the modern world of electronics, the ECU monitors many of the engine parameters including RPM, to control the torque output from the engine. This means that the modern day Formula 1 accelerator acts more like a torque switch than a simple fuel input controller. Formula 1 engines are so complex that they are designed to run in a small power band between 15000 - 18000 rpm, and the electronic monitoring and controlling of the engine parameters are crucial in keeping the engine in this working region. This working region is where torque is virtually constant, and letting the engine get below the lower limit would see a sudden drop off of torque, until the engine began to rev in the working region, where the torque would come in suddenly again, probably promoting wheelspin.

The ECU also controls the clutch, electronic differential and the gearbox. The clutch is controlled by the driver to start the car from rest, but not during gear changes. Although the driver modulates the throttle like on a road car (although with his hand) there is no direct link to the clutch - it is all electronic. The ECU engages and disengages the clutch as the driver moves the paddle behind the steering wheel. The ECU will also depress the clutch if the car spins to stop it stalling. The FIA introduced the anti-stall device in 2000 to prevent cars stalling after a spin and being left dangerously in the middle of the track. The ECU is also responsible for changing gears in under 100 milliseconds. The electronics allow the driver to keep his foot flat on the throttle during up-shifts, and blip the throttle on down-shifts to match engine speed with transmission speed to prevent driveline snatch. The final area controlled by the ECU is the differential. Modern F1 cars have electronic differentials which monitor and control the amount of slip between the rear wheels on entry and exit of corners. This is often adjusted for different driving styles to try to keep the rear end of the car in control during all phases of a corner.

The ECU logs information and sends it to the garage over the high-speed telemetry link or when the car returns to the garage, the team connect this on-board via wirelink to the rack of servers for high bandwidth data download. The system has to cope with two million words of data every second - then process and display it in a form that enables the race engineers to analyze the information.

This process must be quick enough to provide the quality of information that allows proper decisions to be made. On a high revving Formula One engine, the process of calculating how much fuel to put in and when to ignite the spark is performed 1500 times per second.

Making an electronics unit that can deal with all this is not a simple task. If you take an ECU, there are roughly 3000 components including several extremely powerful microprocessors and logging memory which can store over 30 million values that come from 50 sensors all over the car. The black box has to be small, because there is not much spare space in the car's tub. And they have to be 100 percent reliable as well.

FIA Regulations

The electrical and software systems of all cars are inspected by the FIA at the start of the season and the teams must notify them in advance of any subsequent changes to the systems.

All software must be registered with the FIA, who check all the programmable systems on the cars prior to each event to ensure that the correct software versions are being used.

Electronic systems which can automatically detect the race start signal are forbidden. Launch control systems must include a signal to prove exactly when the system was activated.

All cars must have an accident data recorder. They must also be fitted with red, yellow and blue cockpit lights which are used to provide drivers with information on track conditions.




Underneath the body of the car and sitting behind the driver is the heart of a Formula 1 car, the engine. With about 1000 moving parts the Formula 1 engine is the most complex part of the whole car. One of the interesting aspect about engine is that it weighs less than 100 kg, and it can generate over 900 horsepower and revs exceeding 19,000rpm, which is half the weight of the engine of a standard family car, eight times the power output and 3 times the maximum revs. With so much of horse power, revs and extreme high temperatures make it very hard to make these engines reliable. The engine in a Formula 1 car is part of the chassis structure and therefore must absorb some of the forces produced by the rear suspension. Formula 1 engines makes the greatest cost on a Formula 1 car. It is also considered to be one of the most fuel efficient ones available in terms of the output it produces. The engine of a Formula One car is considered to be the most advanced engine in the world. To fans who enjoy the distinctive sound, smell, vibration and sheer speed produced by a Formula 1 engine is at once addictive and powerful feeling.

There are many regulations/limitations imposed by FIA concerning an engine, which are as follows,

1. Engine capacity must not exceed 3000 cc.

2. An engine must consist of 10 cylinders and the normal section of each cylinder must be circular.

3. Engines may have no more than 5 valves per cylinder.

4. Supercharging is forbidden.

5. The use of any device, other than the 3 litre, four stroke engine to power the car, is not permitted

6. Variable geometric length exhaust systems are forbidden.

7. The basic structure of the crankshaft and camshafts must be made from steel or cast iron.

8. Pistons, cylinder heads and cylinder blocks may not be composite structures which use carbon or aramid fibre reinforcing materials.

9. Engines cannot be made using non-ferro materials (this is to limit costs).

10. Each driver would use one engine for the entire race weekend (i.e. fitted fresh for Friday) and that use of a further engine would result in losing ten places on the grid.

Formula 1 engine are mainly made from forged aluminium alloy, because of the weight advantages it gives in comparison to steel. Formula 1 teams do a lot of research and development to reduce the weight of the engine as much as possible. One of the interesting outcome of their quest to reduce engine weight was to shift some weight in the car. That could be placed more on the front wheels or on the rear wheels which could help the steering or the acceleration of the car. It is not exactly known how much oil Formula 1 engine contains, but this oil is for 70% in the engine, while the other 30% is in a dry-sump lubrication system that changes oil within the engine three to four times a minute.

Formula 1 engine manufacturers have a very big team dedicated for research, design and development of engines. Each engine is hand made and takes up over 80 hours. On a typical race weekend in Europe, every team brings 28 people which include race engineers who fine-tune the engine for every part of the track and software specialists to look after the hundreds of sensors associated with the complex engine management system.

Currently all the Formula 1 cars use V-type engines. In this type of engines the cylinder rows are located both above the crank shaft. These engines became popular in F1 because of the low point of gravity, and the average production costs and it is sufficiently stiff enough to withstand the car's G-forces in cornering conditions.

The solution to produce the best engine is a top guarded secret but the basic design parameters for a modern Formula 1 engine are well understood. The engine's centre of weight should be as low as possible. This is one of the key reasons engine manufacturers are investigating greater than 90 degree cylinder angles in the V configuration, but vibration is a major problem that has to be overcome in this design. The design of the engine ultimately impacts the chassis especially aerodynamic characteristics of the rear of the chassis, but to a large extent, will dictate the aerodynamic requirements of the front. Providing clean air flow to the radiator intakes and air box is the key to getting the best performance out of the engine. Just above the driver's head there is a large opening that supplies the engine with air. It is commonly thought that the purpose of this is to 'ram' air into the engine like a supercharger, but the airbox does the opposite. Between the airbox and the engine there is a carbon-fibre duct that gradually widens out as it approaches the engine. As the volume increases, it makes the air flow slow down. The shape of this must be carefully designed to both fill all cylinders equally and not harm the exterior aerodynaimcs of the engine cover, this all to optimize the volumetric efficiency.

The production of torque/power needs to be smooth and responsive across the largest possible rev range, the dimensions of the engine should be as compact as possible, and it needs to be reliable in the harsh racing environment.

A smooth or consistent delivery of power is crucial for enabling the driver to place the car continually on the edge of traction and avoid sliding or spinning out. This translates to a flat torque curve, i.e. a constant production of torque across the useful rev range, and therefore a linear power curve (power being equal to torque multiplied by rpm). To ensure the responsiveness of the engine (easy to accelerate/decelerate), the inertia of the rotational components such as the pistons and crankshaft should be minimised. Utilizing light weight materials are essential, but can have detrimental affects on low-end torque, combined with increased frictional losses, the limit on high rpm rev due to the inability to handle the increasing forces and stresses. Engineers stress many factors to manage efficient engine torque/power which includes the pipes of the exhaust system (individually tuned in length), diameter and curvature (minimise blockage and ensure that the gases to/from the cylinders do not interfere with each other).

The air box above the driver's helmet must provide a constant pressure and speed of air intake regardless of outside weather conditions, at all parts of the track including tight corners. Losses of energy due to vibrations, heat loss and friction must be minimised. Complex computer modelling and simulation is carried out to constantly improve every aspect of performance. In this case, computer-intensive CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) is use to develop the aerodynamics of the car to simulate the ignition, flame propagation and gas flow inside the cylinders.

These days Formula 1 engines are designed to run for two race weekends before being overhauled. Thus, the stress it goes through is by no means easy, it has to withstand heat, g-forces and maximum rpm (far exceed that experienced by a commercial engine during its lifetime). Periodic factory tests are unable to fully simulate the g-forces, airflow/cooling characteristics, and track surface vibrations encountered in racing, track testing is still invaluable as a source of information when looking at reliability. Engineers use telemetry data to gather test results that retrieves important information in conjunction with engine components. Every component of the engine and factors are studied. In addition, the two-way telemetry or Bi-Telemetry technology (pit-to-car telemetry is banned from 2004) is also used to maximise reliability by allowing the team to limit the engine's rev range (switch in the spare oil reservoir if needed).

Mapping, where the engine's performance requirements for every metre of track are input to the engine management system, helps increase reliability. This procedure ensures that all engine set-up parameters are optimised, thus minimising unnecessary stresses on the engine components. Life expectancy of engine components like cylinder heads lasts longer than others and is recycled for engines to be used in testing, practice and qualifying sessions. In other words, recycled engines, but for Grand Prix races, each engine is brand new.

The engine runs on fuel based on an EU standard unleaded that will be used by road car in 2005.The fuel burns at a very high temperature and has a fuel consumption of approximately 5 miles to the gallon. In addition, the engine uses specially formulated oil that is almost as thin as water to help reduce resistance. The efficiency of the oil allows the engine to run at a cooler temperature, which increases the aerodynamic efficiency of the whole car.

Few facts about Formula 1 engines

Number of combustions in a GP: 8 million
Number of engine & vehicle measurements/second at top speed: 150,000
Maximum rpm: 19,000+
Number of individual parts: 5,000 approx
Number of different parts: 1,000 approx
Maximum exhaust temperature (in a race): 800 Celsius
Number of litres of air aspirated in 1 second at top speed: 450
F1 engines built in a year: 200
Weight in kg: <100
Engine assembly hours: 80
Hours checking a new cylinder head with computer tomography: 20




Tyres are one of the most important performance variables of a Formula 1 car. The tyres are the only elements of the car that actually touch the track, converting the power generated by the engine and transmission into forward motion. In order to limit cornering and acceleration speeds of the car, tyre regulations have changed a lot in Formula 1 history. Any change in tyre regulation can greatly influence the performance of a racecar so it is very important for the FIA to study all possibilities if they decide to change any of these regulations. The performance of tyres is so important for the Formula 1 cars that an average car with good tyres can do well, but with bad tyres even the very best car does not stand a chance.

Formula One circuits play host to the harshest test of car tyres anywhere in the world. In a typical grand prix, sets of tyres are scrubbed and scuffed, superheated to more than 100C and completely worn out up to three times over the course of a typical 200km race. Rubber has never been so abused. Except, of course, that it's not rubber: Formula One tyres are a mixture of rubber, carbon, oil and sulphur in an infinite number of ratios, each calculated to produce different results. Some tyres are very soft and grippy, others are tougher and designed to last longer. Apart from their constituent ingredients, they have little in common with roadcar tyres. Formula 1 tyre is designed to last for, at most, 200 kilometres and support a vehicle weighing only 600kg ,where as an ordinary car tyre is made with heavy steel-belted radial plies and designed for durability - typically a life of 16,000 kilometres or more (10,000 miles) and support more than double the weight of a Formula 1 car.

The Formula 1 tyre is constructed from very soft rubber compounds which offer the best possible grip against the texture of the racetrack, but wear very quickly in the process. Comprising more than one hundred ingredients, the compound is based on three main elements: carbon, oil and sulphur. A Formula 1 tyre is designed and constructed to be as light and strong as possible. The structure is composed of a Nylon and polyester framework, in a complex weave to provide rigidity against high aerodynamic load (more than one tonne of force at 250 km/h), strong longitudinal forces (4 G), lateral forces (5 G) and violent crossing of the vibrating strips. All racing tyres work best at relatively high temperatures, Formula One dry 'grooved' tyres are typically designed to function at between 90 degrees Celsius and 110 degrees Celsius. Although low pressure of about 1.1 kg/cm2 allows better grip and greater contact area on the track better, a variation of just 0.2 kg/cm² can spoil the performance of the car. In order to ensure the lowest possible variations in tyre pressure (heat increases the pressure), Formula 1 tyres instead of normal air, are filled with a special mixture of low density gases (nitrogen-rich air mixture).The mixture also retains the pressure longer than normal air would.

Before 1998 Formula 1 teams used slick tyres, which had maximum rubber in contact with the road. In order to reduce cornering speed and to make races more competitive slick tyres were banned and grooved tyres were introduced. According to the regulations all tyres must have four continuous longitudinal grooves at least 2.5 mm deep and spaced 50mm apart.

At the start of the race weekend each team is offered with two different rubber compounds (soft and hard) and once the team has chosen either 'soft' or 'hard' it is required to run those tyres throughout the race. Choice of soft or hard rubber compound depends on the characteristics of the track. The softness of the tyre rubber is varied by changes in the proportions of ingredients added to the rubber, of which the three main ones are carbon, sulphur and oil, the more oil in a tyre, the softer it will be.

Intermediate and wet tyres have full tread patterns, necessary to expel standing water when racing in the wet. One of the worst possible situations for a race driver remains 'aquaplaning' - when there is more water between the tyres and the road than can be displaced by the tyre tread and a film of water builds up between the tyre and the road, meaning that the car is effectively floating. This leads to vastly reduced levels of grip. The tread patterns of modern racing tyres are mathematically designed to scrub the maximum amount of water possible from the track surface to ensure the best possible contact between the rubber and the track.

Tyre condition is an important clue for engineers seeking optimum set-up in Formula 1. If you have more grip from the back wheels than the front, the car tends to understeer - and oversteer when front grip is better. The relative wear of the tyres on a car can tell engineers if a particular set-up is working or not. Likewise, pressure changes and 'hot spots' on tyre surfaces tell race mechanics much about suspension parameters.

FIA Regulations concerning Tyres

1. There are currently two tyre suppliers (more are permitted) in Formula One racing, Bridgestone and Michelin, and both companies must be willing to supply at least 60 per cent of the field if required.

2. Each driver must make a single set of tyre last through both qualifying sessions and the entire race. A tyre can only be changed during this time if it is punctured or damaged.

3. On Fridays, drivers may test two different dry tyre compounds. Ahead of Saturday practice they must choose one of these for the remainder of the weekend (unless both of Friday's session were wet, in which case they can delay their choice until after Saturday practice). They are then allocated three sets of this compound ? usually one will be used in practice, one in qualifying and the race, and one kept in reserve in case of punctures or accident damage.

4. The dry-weather tyres have four grooves and the spacing and depth of these grooves must conform to strict specifications. Although there are currently no regulations on tyre wear during a race, the FIA reserve the right to introduce appropriate procedures if they feel teams are obtaining a performance gain from using very worn tyres.

5. Drivers also have access to wet and extreme-weather tyres. Up until the start of qualifying, wet-weather tyres may only be used if the track has been declared wet by the race director. Suppliers may bring different types of wet-weather tyre to cope with various conditions, but all must be pre-approved by the FIA.

6. All tyres are given a bar code at the start of the weekend so that the FIA can closely monitor their use and ensure that no teams are breaking regulations.

Tyre Change in Formula 1 race

Usually each driver must make a single set of tyre last through both qualifying sessions and the entire race.But in case if the tyre is damaged or punctured only then that particular tyre can be changed during pit stop.The Formula 1 teams' mechanics are able to change the tyres during a pit stop (without refuelling) in some six seconds; this lightning-speed service, which often has consequences for the outcome of the race, requires a lot of preparations.

A few facts and figures related to Formula 1 tyres

1. The front tyre weighs 10kg were as a rear weighs about 12kg

2. Formula 1tyres are inflated to relatively low pressures (1.2-1.3 bar) in order to produce the broadest possible contact patch and, therefore, a higher level of grip.

3. The number of different materials that go into the creation of an F1 tyre is 150. They include rubber (natural and synthetic), styrene butadiene (for grip) and polybutadiene (for durability). A tyre also incorporates textile fibres such as nylon or polyester, resins, sulphur, wax, oils and so on.

4. A dry-weather tyre reaches peak operating performance when tread temperature is between 90°C and 110°C.

5. Around 50,000 Formula 1 tyres are made every year for the 10 teams.

6. The number of times a tyre rotates during the course of a grand prix- 150,000

7. At top speed a wheel turns 50 times per second.

8. Around 50 tonnes of weight of tyres and related equipment are packed in containers for transport to Formula 1 events.

Formula 1 tyre and road car tyres

The huge research effort in Formula 1 does help a lot in roadcar tyre technology. One example is the use of silica in the tread compounds of tyres. Grip is affected by the degree to which a tyre is distorted at high frequency as it turns, so ideally you want tyre structures that absorb the shocks from uneven road surfaces and stone chips etc. Traditionally, however, this kind of tyre structure has tended to offer poor rolling resistance characteristics. Experimentation with a range of substances revealed that silica-based tyres offer low rolling resistance whilst maintaining good wet weather grip-the ideal combination. Another benefit for road car tyres drawn from Formula 1 is the use of computer simulation in tread pattern design to evaluate the efficiency of any tread pattern and maximise tyre grip in corners. Also computerised tyre modelling allows designers to predict the pitch sequence of tread patterns to help reduce noise.



Formula 1 cars are famous for its high speeds and superfast cornering, but more than engines, tyres or aerodynamics the real secret of success in Formula 1 is the astounding braking power allied to the secret technology that keeps the wheels glued to the tarmac.

Formula 1 car has incredibly powerful brakes and can slow down from 125mph to a standstill in just 55 meters. This process takes 1.9 seconds and generates deceleration forces of up to 5g, making the driver feel five times his normal weight which is enough to force teardrops from driver's eyes. During normal street driving, cars tend to brake early to be safe but this is exactly opposite of what is followed in racing. Braking is very late so as to gain maximum advantage in terms of time. Hence the braking system needs to be very effective and precise.

In physical terms we can state that energy is the power to do work. When a Formula 1 car comes down a straight line at 300 km/h or more, that car has lots of kinetic (movement) energy. Due to the fact that energy does not get lost, but can only be transformed one kind into another, at braking most of the kinetic energy is transformed into potential energy, more specifically warmth. During braking, the carbon brake disks, which are used in Formula 1, heats up to 1000 degrees centigrade in one second and glow red hot. Formula 1 cars have carbon disc brakes with rotating discs (attached to the wheels) being squeezed between two brake pads by the action of a hydraulic calliper.

Too much braking through a wheel will cause it to lock as the brakes overpower the available levels of grip from the tyre. Formula 1 previously allowed anti-skid braking systems, which works by applying and releasing pressure on brake discs very rapidly to stop wheels locking up and to allow the driver to maintain steering control, but these were banned in the 1990s. Braking therefore remains one of the sternest tests of a Formula 1 driver's skill.

Formula 1 brakes require air at the cost of upsetting the airflow around the car and creating drag. Inside and slightly ahead of each hub/wheel assembly, are the brakes cooling ducts. These ducts are necessary to force cool air over the brake discs. The brake duct actually contains a large fan, that rotates around the wheel's axis (upright) and at its same speed. This causes the fan to rotate very quickly at high speeds, and thus sucking air onto the brakes, where without a brake duct, the air is pushed onto it, just guiding the air to the brake. This brake duct allows the air inlet to be way smaller than it used to be, which generated a considerable aerodynamic advantage.

The most important elements of a brake system are the brake pads and disc, rotating at the same speed of the wheel. Today, these are made from carbon but this is not the same carbon used in the chassis, but a pure carbon that's very expensive to produce. It's done by a process called chemical vapour deposition. A matrix is made and put it into an oven rich in a hydrocarbon gas. Gradually pure carbon is deposited onto the matrix to make brake discs and pads - but the process takes 150 days. The resulting components weigh very little and can withstand very high temperatures. Indeed, they only work above 200-300C, which is why they'll never replace steel brake discs in roadcars.

Despite these problems, Formula 1 brake technology is coming to the street. Certain cars have ceramic brakes based on a carbon fibre matrix impregnated with resin. They're 10 times more expensive than steel but the ceramic brakes last three times as long as steel. The material is already used in braking systems on high-speed trains.

However powerful the electronics, safety ultimately depends upon friction - and in braking power, as in so many other ways, Formula 1 technology is bringing added safety to our roads.

FIA Rules & Regulations for Brake system

Formula One cars must have one brake system operated through a single brake pedal. However, the system must comprise two hydraulic circuits - one for the front wheels and one for the rear. Should one circuit fail the other must remain operational. Power brakes and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are not allowed.

Each wheel must have no more than one brake disc of 278mm maximum diameter and 28mm maximum thickness. Each disc must have only one aluminium caliper, with a maximum of six circular pistons, and no more than two brake pads.

The size of the air ducts used to cool the brakes is strictly controlled and they must not protrude beyond the wheels. The use of liquid to cool the brakes is forbidden.

Race Driver:
tem coisa pra caraioooooo

Rafael "Brisa" Sakai:
Mta coisa msm. dei uma olhada por cima nos topicos, tem algo falando sobre os tanques d combustivel?


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