Tag Archives: FIA

Latest testing news round-up

As the third test session of 2012 draws to a close, we have only 4 more testing days before the teams roll into Melbourne. While many cars are still sandbagging in terms of pace, a clearer picture of the 2012 grid is now visible. Here is the latest news from the last few days:

HRT pass crash tests, but testing still in doubt

The HRT car has finally passed the FIA crash tests, allowing it to take part in pre-season testing.

However, doubts remain as to whether the team will be able to make it to the final test in Barcelona.

The F112 has been homologated by the FIA after passing the rollhoop test a few days ago. Despite this, the car is still not fully assembled, and sources within the team are only “hopeful” that the struggling team will be able to turn a wheel before Melbourne.

Massa: Ferrari back on track

Felipe Massa believes that Ferrari have finally found the key to unlocking the pace of their F2012.

The Scuderia have been plagued by disappointing pace so far in testing, as they struggled to adapt to the radical car. However, Massa has claimed that the team have found consistent pace:

"I think it's definitely the direction we need to follow for these last days of
testing we have, and I think today was a positive day, not so much in the morning
but in the afternoon.

I have to say that now we are a little bit more positive because we found the
direction to work and I'm sure now, having found the direction, we can see the
development coming.

In the afternoon we were able to do more than eight/nine timed laps consistently.
The laps were very consistent and it was very positive. We still need to work a
lot but at least we found the direction to get a much better car to drive, not
just for laptime for also for consistency."

In the past we didn't have so many directions to follow. This year we have so many
directions, so many possibilities and the most important thing was to find the right
one, and I'm sure we found it."

Still, when asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how prepared the team was for the upcoming season, Felipe only replied “more than 5″.

FIA to tie up ECU loopholes

In the latest attempt to clamp down on teams manipulating exhaust gases to achieve downforce, the FIA have tightened the stricter engine mapping regulations implemented for 2012.

Back in October, it was revealed that new engine mapping regulations would eliminate exhaust gas manipulation. However, an engine supplier has tipped off the governing body, saying that teams had found a way to improve the flow of gases by inducing a misfire.

It has been confirmed that the FIA have worked with this engine supplier to remove this innovation. A revised software package for the standard ECU unit will be introduced before the Australian Grand Prix.

Marussia fails crash tests, testing ruled out

Marussia, like fellow team HRT, have failed the crash tests for their 2012 challenger.

However, it comes at a much more critical time, as this means the MR01 almost certainly cannot take part in pre-season testing. As this article was updated, it was unclear what sector the car failed in, but the issue cannot be rectified before March 1st.

A statement from the team read:

"The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of 
its 2012 race car – the MR01 – has been delayed as a consequence of not passing 
the final FIA crash test.

All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. 
Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the 
regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running 
commences.

The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later 
this week [1-4 March] and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash 
test at the end of the week."

FIA bans reactive ride height systems

The reactive ride height innovation designed by Lotus and recently copied by Ferrari has been banned by the sport’s governing body.

The FIA’s decision was announced yesterday by Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan, who had received a letter from Charlie Whiting regarding the matter on Friday.

The FIA’s head of F1 communications, Matteo Bonciani, confirmed the news yesterday:

"We have been investigating that type of system for a while. It is obviously 
[creating] an impact on the aerodynamic platform of the car.

Anything that gets the ride-height lower, particularly the front ride-height 
lower, is beneficial from an aerodynamic perspective."

This ride height adjustment device would appear to break Article 10.2.2 of the 2012 Technical Regulations, which states that “any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of the suspension system is forbidden.”

In addition to this, Article 10.2.3 bans any “adjustment … made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.”

Ferrari latest to develop reactive ride height system

The reactive ride height system has already been developed by Ferrari

The reactive ride height system has already been developed by Ferrari

After details of Lotus’ reactive ride height system emerged in recent days, it has also been reported that Ferrari have developed their own interpretation of the technology.

The new innovation stabilises the front of the car – mechanically and aerodynamically – under braking, by lifting the front of the car by several millimetres.

Lotus’ version had already been approved by the FIA back in January 2010, and Ferrari have since written to the organisation to seek approval of their system. This was confirmed yesterday by team principal Stefano Domenicali:

"What you are talking about, is more related to having stability under braking. It 
is a system that I know there have been some documents in writing between the FIA 
and the teams.

We are waiting for the final confirmation if this kind of devices will be acceptable 
or not. But for sure we are looking around these sorts of devices to see if they 
contribute to a performance. But we need to wait and see what will be the reaction to 
the FIA on that."

If the device is approved by the FIA, then it is almost certain that Ferrari will be able to test the system at the first pre-season test in February.

Lotus Renault leading the way with “reactive ride height” system

A detailed look at Lotus' reative ride height innovation

A detailed look at Lotus' reative ride height innovation

The must-have innovation of 2012 has been leaked in recent days, with Lotus Renault reported to be running a “reactive ride height” device on their cars.

The system was spotted by seasoned technical journalist Giorgio Piola at the Abu Dhabi young driver test in November, and reports suggest that this device had been given the green light by the FIA as early as January 2011.

The objective of this innovation is to stabilise the front end of the car under braking, which generally dips by several centimetres. With a small hydraulic device in the brake cowling, the car can lift itself to counteract the dip under braking. This ensures a consistent generation of downforce from the front wing.

It is also possible that the reverse situation could apply under acceleration.

One of the smaller technical changes that was passed over by many – including myself – was that the maximum height of the nosecone was lowered from 62mm to 55mm. This has, in part, prompted this new design from Lotus.

Gazetta Dello Sport suggested that this device was to be operated by the driver via a pedal, similar to the F-duct. However, Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations seems to have covered that loophole:

"With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in
Article 3.18 [the DRS], any car system, device or procedure which uses driver
movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car
is prohibited."

Seeing as the system has already been approved by the FIA, it would be assumed that the device is operated by the car automatically and not the driver.

Predictably, many of the top teams have already begun to research and design their own version of this ride height stabiliser.

Two independent DRS zones for Monza

Monza is expected to have two independent DRS zones per lap

Monza is expected to have two independent DRS zones per lap

The FIA is planning to use two DRS zones for the Italian Grand Prix – each with its own detection zone.

The Canadian Grand Prix saw the debut of double DRS zones, but both were activated by the same detection zone, which many believed gave an unfair advantage.

With this, a seperate detection zone for each area was improvised. It is believed that the DRS zones will be on the start/finish straight, and the straight from 2nd Lesmo to the Ascari chicane.

The extreme low-downforce nature of Monza means that the effect of DRS will be smaller compared to other races, but it is believed to be still significant.

As opposed to Jenson Button’s high-downforce strategy last year (utilising the F-duct), most teams are expected to run minimally angled rear wings.

FIA bans DRS for Eau Rouge corner

After speculation earlier today, the FIA has announced that the Drag Reduction System will be banned for the Eau Rouge corner.

The DRS system will be blocked from after the La Source hairpin (Turn 1) all the way until the exit of Radillion (second half of Eau Rouge).

However, it has also emerged that this is not just a driver issue. Team engineers have noted that the open rear wing would not be able to close if a driver hit the brakes through Eau Rouge. This would apparently lead to the rear wing possibly becoming stuck open for the rest of the lap. This issue is believed to be because of Eau Rouge’s high downforce/speed/incline combination.

Also, going far too quickly through Eau Rouge can lead to massive crashes – see Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta in 1999 (both drivers had agreed to take the corner flat out before the qualifying session).

The DRS zone for the race will be placed after Radillion, and will continue on until the Les Combes complex.

 

DRS ban for Eau Rouge?

Eau Rouge, an extremely steep corner on the Spa circuit

Eau Rouge, an extremely steep corner on the Spa circuit

The FIA is investigating whether the Drag Reduction System is suitable to be used at the Eau Rouge corner in Spa-Francorchamps.

DRS was banned earlier this year in the tunnel in Monaco, after several drivers noted that some might take unnecessary risks through the right-hand kink.

The same reasoning applies here. Eau Rouge is a famous high-incline corner, which is taken flat out in the dry conditions, like the Monaco tunnel. However, the risk of a crash here is also high, according to Rubens Barrichello:

"We’re going to see crashes going on, and that’s not the purpose.

"You’re going to gamble. I mean, last year we had to raise the knee to make it 
work [referring to F-duct system], and I went through Eau Rouge with one leg, and 
that’s not the purpose."

According to Mercedes, the DRS system may be used for up to 63% of the Spa circuit, second only to Monza.

FIA to use incident-spotting software during races

New software from the FIA will automatically detect accidents like this

New software from the FIA will automatically detect incidents like this

The FIA has announced that it is testing software that will automatically notify Race Control when a driver breaks the rules during a race.

This software is a combination of real-time lap timing, GPS co-ordinates for each car, and data regarding tyre patterns. All of these are combines to detect when a driver has broken a rule while out on track.

The end result of this software is that it can advise Race Control, and race director Charlie Whiting, if a car has been behaving oddly, which in turn may lead to swifter penalties.

This information was released through the FIA’s magazine InMotion. The designer of this innovation, Gareth Griffith, explains the software’s function:

"We tied in the cameras with the timing and the GPS, so we knew exactly where a car 
was on the track.

Then we started to analyse the data to pick out incidents. The software creates 
alerts and that automatically takes the Riedel technicians to the right cameras, 
instead of them having to find them, as used to happen.

Within a few seconds Charlie [Whiting] can be looking at the incident: either for 
safety purposes or to refer it to the stewards. It is automated, using the data 
available and algorithms based on the interactions in that data.

In the case of baulking, for example, the algorithms can analyse the proximity of 
two GPS signals to see how long it takes the car behind to close from five to two 
seconds behind the car in front. We can then measure how long the second car stays 
behind the first and if there is no time lost then there was no incident.

The data can show us when a car is not behaving as it should be behaving and so we 
can ascertain at what moment that changed and if there was another car in close 
proximity at that moment."

However, this new technical innovation is still well away from passing judgement on drivers’ actions. It can already detect what kind of an incident has occured, but the responsibility of penalties still lies with Charlie Whiting:

"With all of this it is still Charlie’s decision whether to refer incidents 
to the Stewards and their decision as to whether the driver is penalised or 
not."

Sauber and McLaren fined for unsafe pit releases

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Both McLaren and Sauber have suffered the wrath of the stewards after the British Grand Prix.

Both teams have received fines after seperate incidents in the pit lane, where Jenson Button and Kamui Kobayashi respectively were unsafely released from their box.

In Jenson’s case, the front right wheel was not secured before the lollipop was lifted. In Kamui’s case, a slow getaway meant his Sauber went alongside Rubens Barrichello, forcing Kobayashi to take evasive action – running over the Force India wheel guns in the process.

Sauber received a €20,000 fine, as well as the drive-through penalty sustained in the race. As McLaren’s mistake was much less dangerous, the Woking team will only pay €5,000.

FIA explain V6 decision in Q&A

The recent announcement of a 1.6 litre V6 engine by the FIA has not been universally commended, with many questioning the benefits of such a change.

With this in mind, the FIA have released a Q&A session, in which they explain the thinking behind the engine regulation change, as well as state the detailed engine specifications:

1. The World Motor Sport Council voted on 29 June 2011. What did it decide?

Following consultation with the various Formula One stakeholders  and the current Formula One engine manufacturers, the WMSC has ratified the adoption of a V6 turbo engine to be used in Formula One from 2014 onwards. This required changes to the regulations initially adopted by the World Council on 3 June 2011. The full regulations applicable to the 2014 season will be published in due course.

2. Will a V6 use more fuel, or have inferior economy compared with the original proposal?

No. To push the engineers to develop engine efficiency, the technical regulation imposes a fuel flow control. When evolving the regulation to fit with the manufacturers’ new request this parameter has not been changed. Thus the efficiency requirement will be unchanged.

3. Why has the rev limit been increased from 12,000rpm to 15,000rpm. Is this purely to enhance the sound of a Formula One car?

No. This parameter has been updated from 12000rpm to 15000 rpm to allow engineers more flexibility in power and energy management. However, as a consequence of the new architecture (V6) and the change in rev-limit, the engine will sound different, but will remain representative of Formula One.

4. Will the increase in rpm alter fuel consumption?

Absolutely not. As mentioned above, the fuel flow limit will stay the same. The technologies are the same and as a consequence any increase in rpm will constrain the engineers to work harder on reducing friction and gaining on engine efficiency. The challenge will be even bigger than originally planned and will therefore enhance the technological lead of Formula One.

5. Has the FIA  retained the energy recover devices originally intended to be used in conjunction with the I4 engine?

Yes, the concept initially presented is respected. All of the technology intended for the I4 is still present. This new power plant will be a dramatic step forward in both fuel efficiency and in energy management.

6. Will those manufacturers already engaged in the development of a four-cylinder engine face increased costs now they need to redirect their resources toward designing a V6?

To our knowledge, five manufacturers were working on the proposed 4-cylinder engine. They will all need to adapt their project and this will surely involve some additional costs, depending on how advanced each project was. This evolution has been proposed and supported by all four engine manufacturers currently involved in Formula One.

7. Why is the introduction of the new generation of engines now being delayed by year?

The decision to delay the introduction until 2014 comes at the request of the four engine manufacturers currently involved in Formula One. Their request for extra time is linked to the change in architecture but also to ensure their projects are more robust (one of the goals of the project is to enhance engine durability to c.4000km)

8. Will these energy recovery systems and other efficiency devices ultimately influence the development of road cars?

Yes. The clear need for the automotive industry to reduce emissions means energy management will increasingly become a key factor in the development of more efficient powertrains. Kinetic energy recovery is already applied in Formula One and the introduction of exhaust energy recovery will add another technology route to be explored. Formula One will also return to its role as a developer of turbo-charger technology. This research will have real-world benefits, contributing valuable knowledge that will be of use to future road car development.

Combustion engine specifications:

1600cc, V6
15000 rpm max
Direct fuel injection up to 500bar
Single turbocharger
Controlled fuel flow

Energy recovery and storage systems specifications:

Kinetic, 120kW on the rear wheels
Exhaust energy recovery linked to the turbocharger

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