Formula 1 cars are completely different from your regular city cars. The difference lies not only in the design, but also in its transmission mechanism, acceleration and performance. To drive this invention, you really have to be way above average.
A Formula One car is a single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel racing car with substantial front and rear wings, and an engine positioned behind the driver, intended to be used in competition at Formula One racing events. The regulations governing the cars are unique to the championship. The Formula One regulations specify that cars must be constructed by the racing teams themselves, though the design and manufacture can be outsourced.
The minimum weight permissible is 702 kg (1,548 lb) including the driver but not fuel. Cars are weighed with dry-weather tyres fitted. Prior to the 2014 F1 season, cars often weighed in under this limit so teams added ballast in order to add weight to the car. The advantage of using ballast is that it can be placed anywhere in the car to provide ideal weight distribution. This can help lower the car’s centre of gravity to improve stability and also allows the team to fine-tune the weight distribution of the car to suit individual circuits.
Formula One cars use semi-automatic sequential gearboxes, with regulations stating that 8 forward gears (increased from 7 from the 2014 season onwards) and 1 reverse gear must be used, with rear-wheel drive. The gearbox is constructed of carbon titanium, as heat dissipation is a critical issue, and is bolted onto the back of the engine. Full automatic gearboxes, and systems such as launch control and traction control, are illegal, to keep driver skill important in controlling the car. The driver initiates gear changes using paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel and electro-hydraulics perform the actual change as well as throttle control. Clutch control is also performed electro-hydraulically, except to and from a standstill, when the driver operates the clutch using a lever mounted on the back of the steering wheel.
Special Steering wheel
Formula 1 car has a special kind of steering wheel. The wheel can be used to change gears, apply rev. limiter, adjust fuel/air mix, change brake pressure, and call the radio. Data such as engine rpm, lap times, speed, and gear are displayed on an LCD screen. The wheel hub will also incorporate gear change paddles and a row of LED shift lights. The wheel alone can cost about $50,000, and with carbon fibre construction, weighs in at 1.3 kilograms. In the 2014 season, certain teams such as Mercedes have chosen to use larger LCDs on their wheels which allow the driver to see additional information such as fuel flow and torque delivery. They are also more customisable owing to the possibility of using much different software.
The disc brakes consist of a rotor and caliper at each wheel. Carbon composite rotors are used instead of steel or cast iron because of their superior frictional, thermal, and anti-warping properties, as well as significant weight savings. These brakes are designed and manufactured to work in extreme temperatures, up to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1800 °F). The driver can control brake force distribution fore and aft to compensate for changes in track conditions or fuel load.
An average F1 car can decelerate from 100 to 0 km/h (62 to 0 mph) in about 15 meters (48 ft), compared with a 2009 BMW M3, which needs 31 meters (102 ft). When braking from higher speeds, aerodynamic downforce enables tremendous deceleration: 4.5 g to 5.0 g (44 to 49 m/s2), and up to 5.5 g (54 m/s2) at the high-speed circuits such as the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Canadian GP) and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza (Italian GP). This contrasts with 1.0 g to 1.5 g (10 to 15 m/s2) for the best sports cars (the Bugatti Veyron is claimed to be able to brake at 1.3 g). An F1 car can brake from 200 km/h (124 mph) to a complete stop in just 2.9 seconds, using only 65 metres (213 ft).
F1 cars have outstanding cornering ability. Grand Prix cars can negotiate corners at significantly higher speeds than other racing cars because of the intense levels of grip and downforce. Cornering speed is so high that Formula One drivers have strength training routines just for the neck muscles. Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya claimed to be able to perform 300 repetitions of 50 lb (23 kg) with his neck.
The combination of light weight (642 kg in race trim for 2013), power (900 bhp with the 3.0 L V10, 780 bhp (582 kW) with the 2007 regulation 2.4 L V8, 950+ bhp with 2016 1.6 L V6 turbo, aerodynamics, and ultra-high-performance tyres is what gives the F1 car its high performance figures. The principal consideration for F1 designers is acceleration, and not simply top speed.
The 2016 F1 cars have a power-to-weight ratio of 1,400 hp/t (1.05 kW/kg). Theoretically this would allow the car to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 1 second. However the massive power cannot be converted to motion at low speeds due to traction loss and the usual figure is 2.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h (62 mph). After about 130 km/h (80 mph) traction loss is minimal due to the combined effect of the car moving faster and the downforce, hence continuing to accelerate the car at a very high rate.
The acceleration figure is usually 1.45 g (14.2 m/s2) up to 200 km/h (124 mph), which means the driver is pushed by the seat with a force whose acceleration is 1.45 times that of Earth’s gravity.
There are also boost systems known as kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS). These devices recover the kinetic energy created by the car’s braking process. They store that energy and convert it into power that can be called upon to boost acceleration. KERS typically adds 80 hp (60 kW) and weighs 35 kg (77 lb). There are principally two types of systems: electrical and mechanical flywheel. Electrical systems use a motor-generator incorporated in the car’s transmission which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Once the energy has been harnessed, it is stored in a battery and released at will. Mechanical systems capture braking energy and use it to turn a small flywheel which can spin at up to 80,000 rpm. When extra power is required, the flywheel is connected to the car’s rear wheels. In contrast to an electrical KERS, the mechanical energy does not change state and is therefore more efficient. There is one other option available, hydraulic KERS, where braking energy is used to accumulate hydraulic pressure which is then sent to the wheels when required.