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The F1 S-duct is an innovative aerodynamic trick that has been on F1 cars since 2012. But, the engineering behind it can be misinterpreted so we spoke to aerodynamicists to find out how the F1S-duct really works.
2019 F1 S-duct examples
To understand how the F1 S-duct works, we first need to realise that whenever air flows over a surface, it loses energy, which causes the flow to slow down and become turbulent or ‘dirty’. One of the areas where this occurs is the front wing. As air flows through the gap between the underside of the nose, the upper surface of the front wing and the inner faces of the front wing pillars (highlighted in blue below) an expanding tube of turbulent air is created. To make matters worse, the air that impacts the top corners of the nose then accelerates round and rolls underneath; adding to this turbulent tube of air that then continues downstream.
The air flowing through the blue area is turbulent and to mitigate it's effect, the F1 S-duct was developed
This flow not only feeds the main turning vanes but also the leading edge of the underfloor, so the cleaner the teams can get this airflow, the more performance they can extract from the other aero devices downstream.
‘The airflow under the nose is ‘dirty’ which means it is a slower speed flow that has been worked by the presence of the nose and the front wing,’ explains Arron Melvin, Principal Aerodynamicist at Haas F1 Team. ‘To be legal, it is necessary to have certain nose volumes and inevitably there is a boundary layer growth due to the front wing and nose expansions and you can also get acceleration around the shoulder of the nose which leads to a high curvature flow.’
When air flows over an object, the molecules closest to the surface slow down, which then causes the molecules just above them to slow down also. As you move away from the surface, the molecules gradually increase in speed up to the speed of the main flow. This thin layer of fluid where the velocity increases from zero at the surface to the free stream velocity is called the boundary layer and its thickness depends on the viscosity of the fluid and the characteristics of the surface it is travelling over.
‘We have introduced an F1 S-duct for the first time this year and essentially we ingest this dirty flow from under the nose through two pairs of NACA ducts and then release this flow on top of the chassis, rather than letting it travel underneath the car,’ highlights Melvin. ‘If we let it go underneath the car, the lower speed flow would arrive at the main turning vane, whereas now it goes through the inlets, into the cockpit and over the sidepod and does less harm. It is very much about where to place loss.’
The F1 S-duct ingests dirty airflow via inlet NACA ducts (blue arrows) and sends this flow to the cockpit via an outlet (green arrows)
F1 S-duct inlet – NACA ducts
The inlets for the F1 S-duct are usually NACA ducts. This is a type of inlet which allows the air to be drawn in with high efficiency and minimal drag. To achieve this, NACA ducts are usually placed parallel to the local airflow and in locations where the boundary layer is relatively thin.
The geometry of the NACA duct is essential in inducing air efficiently. CREDIT: ScienceDirect
The theory is that the shape of these ducts encourage vortices to form, reducing static pressure and enhancing the efficiency of the flow through the inlet. As air flows towards the narrow end of the duct, it flows down the gentle slope and into the inlet. But the air that approaches from outside the inlet has to flow over the edges which causes a vortex. This results in the formation of two counter-rotating longitudinal vortices which then induce more air to flow into and through the duct.
The rolling vortex forms along the ducts edge (blue) which induces more air into the inlet. CREDIT: Simon McBeath & ANSYS
F1 S-duct outlet
Once the air has entered the NACA ducts on the side of the nose, it is channeled through to the F1 S-duct outlet which is situated at the bridge of the nose. This outlet can often be misinterpreted as a device to help avoid flow separation. However, this outlet simply allows for the turbulent airflow surrounding the nose to be extracted and directed towards the cockpit where it will do the least damage to the overall car’s aerodynamic performance.
‘It’s a very clear but ultimately relatively subtle technology and for a small team such as Haas, we had to be sure of the benefit to justify the additional costs,’ says Melvin. ‘The nose is a lot more complicated to design and slightly heavier – it is an aerodynamic vs structural trade-off.’
There are a variety of designs for the F1 S-duct outlet as shown here on the Mercedes W10 (left) and the Haas VF-19 (right)
This more complex design relates to the fact that the air has to be channelled through the nose, up to the outlet. But these channels have to be incorporated into the nose in such a way that it retains its structural requirements to pass the FIA crash safety tests. This is the most likely reason behind why not all teams have adopted this technology yet.
Two channels for the F1 S-duct are evident in the nose of the Mercedes W10
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The announcement of the 2020/21 Hypercar regulations has rather settled the paddock at Le Mans, in one sense. At the press conference in France, the ACO and the FIA confirmed that the regulations as voted on by the FIA World Motorsport Council in December were largely written in stone, but that teams could bring a prototype hybrid, a prototype non-hybrid, a road car hybrid, and a road car non-hybrid, plus in year one they will also grandfather the current LMP1 cars that wish to race.
2020/21 Hypercar – Balance of performance
The key to the 2020/21 Hypercar regulations will be the ability to performance balance the concepts. Some say that this can be done, and will be done or the whole concept will fail, others say that it cannot be done. Power, weight, aero and hybrid deployment will all be tightly regulated, put into performance windows, including the torque curve and power delivery from the hybrid before the cars are performance balanced. With a lap time of 3m30s at Le Mans, manufacturers are looking at a relatively inexpensive way to race in the FIA WEC.
The single tyre supplier rule has not been met well by either Dunlop or Michelin, both of which want teams to have the option and to have competition between the brands. However, in a BoP world, this is a variable that the organisers cannot accommodate.
The BoP will be automated, FIA President Jean Todt reportedly against the idea that an individual or a team of engineers could decide the outcome of the race. Few believe that the BoP will be perfect first time out, but that it has been possible in GT racing after years of work and that it now is successful.
The basics, as laid out by the FIA in its World Council decision on Friday, June 14, are that the 2020/21 Hypercar regulations are stable for five years, that the performance windows established and confirmed at the time of homologation will ensure cars have comparable performance levels, that the performance target at Le Mans in race conditions is 3m30s, there will be no fuel flow meters or Brake Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC) limitation. The production cars will need to meet the same safety standards as an LMP car, which could be problematic.
2020/21 Hypercar – Teams
The 2020/21 Hypercar regulations are now fixed with enough certainty that it allowed the manufacturers to make their decisions whether or not to commit. The engineers are awaiting a final version of the regulations before finalising final spec and final costs.
Aston Martin was the first to confirm that it will come with its Valkyrie to the top class. The car will be built and developed by Multimatic after the initial design was created by Adrian Newey at Red Bull Advanced Technologies. The production car is expected to run within the next month of Le Mans, at a Grand Prix, so likely in Britain at the end of July. It will likely not race with a hybrid system, and so will rely on its Cosworth-developed 6.5-litre V12 engine for propulsion.
Toyota was next to confirm its participation, with a race version of the GR Supersport that has already track tested with Kamui Kobayashi in Japan. The racing version of the car will be developed by TMG in Cologne, ensuring that there is continuity in their bid to build a legacy at Le Mans.
There are rumours, now, of McLaren committing to the series, and Porsche. However, there is a nagging doubt about this. If Porsche moves up to the top class against Aston Martin, that is two manufacturers who are already involved in the sport shifting classes, leaving the GTE Pro class that is already bleeding having lost BMW from the WEC and Ford.
The LMP2 competitors are, predictably, looking at the performance of their cars and wondering what will happen under these new regulations. They will need to be slowed to make room for the top class cars, but by how much, and when? And, will this attract teams and drivers to the category or not?
Every other class in the ACO’s portfolio, including LMP3, will need to be touched by this new regulation. I think, while it would have been a tall order, that a more comprehensive vision should have been presented at the same time. The question has been asked; what will the grid look like in 2022 at Le Mans and in the WEC. Right now, there are few in the paddock who can answer that.
As the 2018/19 WEC season draws to a close at the 2nd round of the 24 hours of Le Mans, Racecar reviews and reveals the tech behind the famous Toyota TS050 and what the future holds for the championship.
The Toyota TS050 has been competing in the LMP1 category of the WEC since 2016 and in 2017 set the all-time fastest lap of 3m14.791s at Le Mans, with Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel. It has crossed the line first in every round of the 2018/19 WEC season and in 2018 became only the second car from a Japanese manufacturer to ever win at Le Mans.
With the Toyota TS050 displaying such dominance, you might argue that it is obvious that Toyota will once again be victorious at the second 24 hours of Le Mans of the 2018/19 season. However, as we all know, the only thing to expect at Le Mans is the unexpected. This paired with Toyota’s long history of misfortune and bad luck at this illustrious race in addition to the ever-changing Equivalence of Technology (EoT) means that there are no guarantees. The only thing that is for certain is that once again, the 24 hours of Le Mans is Toyota’s race to lose.
The current version of the Toyota TS050 is an evolution of that raced in 2017. The ‘limited upgrades’ highlighted by Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director of Toyota, include a beefed up clutch, with optimised wheel arches and bodywork. Although the majority of the bodywork has been carried over from 2017, with just two aero kits; low and high downforce, homologated for the 2018/19 season instead of the three packages used in 2017. But ultimate performance was not Toyota’s goal for the latest TS050 variant, reliability was.
Although the Toyota TS050 now has a season and a half of running under its belt, as is the nature of the 2018/19 WEC season, Toyota have been fully focussed on improving reliability right from the beginning. Clocking a total of 21,000km during pre-season testing allowed both the drivers and the team to practise dealing with a vast array of reliability issues and failure modes.
Reliability has been a key focus for Toyota. Throughout pre-season testing both the drivers and the team have practised extreme scenarios in preparation for the gruelling 24 hours of Le Mans.
‘We have completed laps on three wheels, faking a lot of possible problems to see how the team reacted,’ says technical director Pascal Vasselon. ‘At the moment the general feeling in the team is that we are better prepared. The game in the previous years was first to achieve performance because to beat Audi and Porsche we first had to out perform them. This time we could handle things differently, with less priority on performance. We have done some [performance work], but nothing that compromises reliability. Reliability has been a major priority, but we have a baseline car that is basically reasonably reliable so we did not need to pile up massive mileage. Then we could dedicate more time and effort to the third item, which was the training of the team to handle the exceptional circumstances. And we have been sacrificing endurance mileage to train the team to things that are outside the normal working range.’
Toyota TS050 Hybrid Powertrain
The Toyota TS050 boasts 1,000bhp, half of which comes from the 2.4-litre V6 direct injection twin turbo engine and the other half from the hybrid powertrain. This hybrid powertrain consists of a front and rear motor as well as a high powered Toyota lithium-ion battery.
HYBRID FOR THE WIN - YouTube
As ever, the biggest threat to a hybrid powertrain is the battery packs overheating. Therefore, complex air, water and air conditioning systems have been developed to try and remove any generated heat away from the batteries, minimising the risk of overheating.
Cooling systems however, add weight, complexity and reduce aerodynamic efficiency so another tactic is to develop the technology of the cells so that they can operate at a much higher temperature, and therefore not require as much cooling. In 2017, Toyota proudly stated that they had already increased the operating temperature of their battery by 10% compared to the previous year, and for the 2018/19 season this temperature has increased by a further 10%.
Toyota TS050 Cooling
During testing, the Toyota TS050 clocked lap times five seconds faster than the last time they tested at Paul Ricard in 2016. This was due to the fact that they had turned everything up to the maximum to stress the cooling system. However, due to the increased operating temperature of the batteries as explained above, the 2018/19 TS050 no longer has to run the compulsory air conditioning system and so has reverted back to a more conventional water-cooled approach.
‘What we have done was mainly on the hybrid side on the battery and the cooling of the battery,’ says project leader John Litjens. ‘The temperature that the cells work at is now much higher because of the lack of the air conditioning system. We don’t have an air conditioning system at all. In the cockpit we have the normal venting and fans.’
The removal of the air conditioning system also offers a huge weight advantage as there is no longer a condenser or compressor which also helps to reduce the time penalty in the pits. ‘As we saw at Le Mans [in 2017], if you have to change the front motor, you needed half an hour. The compressor was driven by the front motor and was part of the unit so when you change the front motor you have to disconnect the lines and you have to open the system. There was gas inside that you have to evacuate, you have to dry the system and then put it all back again.’ This modification also required the radiators to be larger which in turn meant changes to the radiator installation.
Toyota TS050 Chassis
The tub for the 2018/19 improved TS050 is the same as that of the 2016 car, along with the new engine and the battery storage system that was also introduced that year. This is due to an agreement by the three manufacturers at the time who agreed that they would all run their monocoques for three seasons and so Toyota were not due for a new one until next year.
At the end of the straights, the fuel cut of the hybrids as they regenerate electrical energy through braking can cause issues for the slower LMP2 cars, as well as this year’s LMP1 non-hybrids.
Toyota TS050 Fuel
Another change for the 2018/19 season was the fuel supplier, which has switched from Shell to Total. However, Total have developed a blend that is so similar, this actually didn’t require any modifications at all. ‘From a fuel perspective there is nothing to adapt,’ says Litjens. ‘For sure the risk is the refuelling and even there we didn’t see any surprises. It could have been major. The target was to get a smooth transition. Total was given a target to make the fuel so that they could not do something out of control. We get the data sheets of the fuel, and the specific calorific energy and things would have been adjusted.’
One of the potential issues, that Toyota have been preparing their drivers for is the effect of the fuel cut. At the end of the straight during the braking zone, the hybrids want to recover as much energy as possible through their MGU-K units on each axle. This means that they are not only lifting earlier, but also increasing the duration of their braking phase. This was partly the reason behind the Nicolas Lapierre crash at Le Mans in 2017, where he passed an LMP2 car into the first corner, the fuel cut came in and the LMP2 driver ran into the back of him. In 2018/19, not only will this remain a problem, but the Toyota’s will also have to cope with the similar speed of the LMP1 non-hybrid contenders.
The Toyota TS050 claimed both the teams’ and drivers’ title for the 2018/19 season before the final round of the 24 hours of Le Mans and will race on into the 2019/20 season – making it the fifth year of competition for this tried and tested Toyota TS050 racer.
Rebellion Racing are no strangers to the WEC LMP1 privateer title, having won it from 2012 to 2016. The question is can their Rebellion R13 take them to overall LMP1 victory – beating Toyota’s hybrid TS050 at this year’s Le Mans?
Can the privateer Rebellion R13 beat Toyota and claim the LMP1 title at the 24 hours of Le Mans?
Gibson GL458 Engine
The Rebellion R13 is powered by the Gibson GL458 4.5L V8 engine and runs the ORECA chassis. Although, unlike previous seasons, ORECA are heavily involved in the design and running of the car as with only one LMP1-hybrid (Toyota) competing in the 2018/19 season and with two Le Mans 24 hour races – the Rebellion R13 is ORECA’s best shot at claiming an overall Le Mans win.
‘We wanted to run a naturally aspirated engine and decided to go with the Gibson because the external dimensions of LMP1 engine are the same as the old LMP2 engine,’ highlights Bart Hayden, Team Manager at Rebellion Racing. ‘This meant that the installation was pretty straightforward because the only difference is the internals of the engine. Also, we were given the green light on this project quite late in 2017, so in the timescale we had, it was much easier to get this engine in than anything else.’
The Gibson LMP1 engine is a 4.5L V8 and powers both Rebellion R13 cars and Dragonspeed’s BR Engineering BR1 car
The Gibson GL458 is based on the LMP2 engine and has therefore had to increase in capacity from 4.2L to 4.5L. Consequently, this has changed the heat rejection figures and so Rebellion, along with ORECA have had to work on the cooling. ‘It needs more cooling. The car looks from outside [to be the same] philosophy as the ORECA 07, but the airflow structure is quite different, because the car in detail is different. We had to work towards improving the cooling and this has been a challenge,’ explains David Floury, Technical Director at ORECA. ‘The front of the car has quite different aero and that impacts the flow to the radiators. The flow from the front to the back is quite different and that is why in many details you see differences between the R13 and the 07.’
Luckily, ORECA were able to focus the majority of their attention on the aerodynamics of the car because of the proven concept of the Gibson engine, which supplied the entire LMP2 grid in 2017 as well as the 2018/19 season. ‘Because their engine and its performance in the ORECA 07 chassis is well known, ORECA didn’t have too much guessing to do in terms of whether the figures supplied by Gibson were what you would actually see on the track,’ highlights Hayden. ‘The engine was a known quantity for them which meant that they could focus more on the aerodynamic performance of the car.’
The higher capacity Gibson GL458 engine requires more cooling and results in a different air flow structure
Like most teams, Rebellion arrived at Spa for the 1st round of the 2018/19 season with the low downforce package to focus development on the first of two Le Mans 24 hour races. By the third round at Silverstone in 2018, the Rebellion R13 was running the high downforce package. ‘There is so much downforce in this car, much more than the LMP2. Even in the Le Mans [low downforce] aero configuration, we’ve got more downforce than the LMP2 has in high downforce configuration,’ concludes Hayden.
With the performance of the Gibson engine a known quantity, ORECA could invest more resources on the aerodynamic package of the Rebellion R13
Rebellion R13 Chassis
The Rebellion R13 uses the same tub as that used in both the R-One and the LMP2 customer chassis and the design is now more than five years old. However, ORECA’s late decision to take on the project in 2017 compromised some of the performance upgrades that ideally would have been introduced. ‘We would have liked to have redesigned the tub, but considering the timescale to do the project from the start this was not an option,’ highlights Floury. ‘We had six months from the day we started the project to the day the car hit the track, so in this timescale we did not have time to redesign the chassis. Had we had 12 months extra for sure we would have considered it. This original chassis was designed to LMP1 2014 regulations, and it is still the monocoque regulation that is valid for LMP1 non-hybrid and LMP2.’
The short timescales meant the desired upgrades to the chassis were compromised. CREDIT: Rebellion RacingRebellion R13 Weight
Floury estimated that 10-15% weight saving could have been achieved on the Rebellion R13, however the short timescales meant that the design team had to save weight on the rest of the car instead. One of these areas was within the engine and the collaboration between ORECA and Gibson resulted in reducing the weight of the base engine unit. Another of these areas was the Xtrac gearbox which is again a similar concept to that raced on the LMP2 in 2017, but the details have been optimised to minimise weight, whilst improving efficiency.
Rebellion R13 Suspension
To meet the target times around Le Mans as specified by the ACO and FIA, weight distribution, suspension design and steering concept have all had to be redesigned. The splitter, floor, and flow to the tightly regulated rear diffuser have also seen major developments too. ‘Nothing is carried over from the LMP2 car,’ says Floury. ‘The steering is different, the suspension geometry is different because we don’t use the same tyres, and it is not the same characteristics in terms of weight, cornering speed and so on, or in terms of engine characteristics. Weight distribution is different, and from the LMP2 we had to save a lot of weight, so if you keep everything the same then you don’t hit the target. We carry quite a lot of ballast in LMP2, but we still had a lot of weight to save for LMP1. The target was not only a matter of hitting the minimum weight, but hitting the weight with ballast.’
The Rebellion R13 runs a torsion bar at the front with springs at the rear with a different geometry to the ORECA 07
Despite the different suspension geometry and uprights, the overall concept is similar to the 2017 LMP2 version, with a torsion bar at the front and springs on the rear, running PKM dampers, which are the same as LMP2.
Rebellion RB13 Brakes
During the 2017 24 hours of Le Mans, several LMP2 teams had to change their brakes during the race due to wear. ‘We knew it was marginal going into the race, so we wanted to make sure that in this year’s car with the increased speeds that we weren’t going to face that, so we were keen to see a good mass of carbon material in the brakes,’ explains Hayden. ‘Cooling on the brakes was a bit of a challenge in the ORECA 07 and 05, so we wanted a brake pad that was a step up in terms of cooling as well. The discs are vaned all the way through so cooling comes in through the centre of the hub and blows through the disc. We’ve got two options for the cooling and aero around the brake discs. If you’re looking for aero performance you use one and if you want to try and get heat radiated from the brakes [to the tyres] you use the other.’
The Rebellion R13 runs with AP Racing brakes and this year they feature more carbon to avoid any wear issues during the 24 hours of Le Mans
The optimum temperature at the point where the driver starts to apply the brakes is around 400°C and that temperature rises to peaks of around 800-900°C. ‘What you’re looking for is that temperature when you first hit the pedal, if it’s too cold then you don’t get the bite, if it’s too hot then you start wearing them and when they get too hot they wear very quickly,’ highlights Hayden. ‘If the brakes are working in the right window then there’s no wear at all. The drivers will lose temperature if they’re following a safety car or if there is a full course yellow, but normally [the brakes] warm up fairly easily, within the 1st lap. We also have a lot of tuning in terms of blanking panels for the air that feeds to cool them so there’s quite a lot we can do.’
Rebellion R13 Tyres
Running the low downforce configuration, particularly at Spa could lead to lower tyre grip, consequent slippage and therefore wear and degradation. However, this doesn’t seem to have been an issue so far with the Rebellion R13. ‘We haven’t really seen much tyre degradation at all, we’re happy with it in terms of suiting to our car,’ says Hayden. ‘We’re expecting to triple stint the tyres.’
Rebellion want to add the overall LMP1 Le Mans trophy to their cabinet but can their R13 beat Le Mans and then Toyota?
‘The main motivator for Rebellion to come back into LMP1 is not to win the championship, it is to win Le Mans,’ says team owner Bart Hayden. ‘You have a car that looks similar to the ORECA 07 LMP2 car, but it generates more downforce for less drag, weighs 100kg less, has got 60 to 70bhp more than the LMP2, in Le Mans trim, so it should be pretty handy, but I am not sure that it is handy enough to keep up with the Toyota.’ The result at last year’s Le Mans race proved Hayden right, with both Rebellion’s finishing behind the Toyota’s. However, that was the first Le Mans in the 2018/19 season – Rebellion have a second shot at claiming that all important Le Mans win.
How fit are F1 drivers compared to other elite athletes?
F1 performance coach Eliot Challifour explains why, even though he sits for a living, Lewis Hamilton’s fitness is up there with Chris Froome and Mo Farah’s.
Whether it’s a turbocharged V6 engine or the latest carbon fibre chassis, Formula 1 is a sport where innovation and technological advances are king. But while the power, muscle and endurance of F1 cars is renowned, the power, muscle and endurance of the men behind the wheel is often overlooked – certainly in comparison to other elite athletes.
If you were to list the top five fittest athletes in the world, names such as Mo Farah, Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Chris Froome and LeBron James would more than likely be on it. It wouldn’t be a surprise, however, if Lewis Hamilton was overlooked. Because his success is ultimately reliant on the super machine at his fingertips, there is probably a perception that the physical requirements placed on him are less than on those who run, hit, kick, dunk and cycle. The reality is very different.
‘Formula 1 drivers are extremely fit athletes,’ says Eliot Challifour, a performance coach who has worked with former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne and others over the course of his 15 years in motorsport. ‘When they are in the car, they are actually sustaining heart rates very similar to that of a high-level distance runner or cyclist – it’s 80 per cent or more of their maximum heart rate they’re having to maintain for a couple of hours. Although they’re not running or moving, they’ve got a lot of forces that are being applied to them. They’re coping with five or even six times their body weight.’
The downforce generated by an F1 car – which allows them to corner at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour – exposes drivers to G-force up to 6.5G, meaning they need a strong neck – strong enough to ‘hold five to six times the weight of their head’ – to withstand the stress on their upper body.
That involves some specific training that you aren’t likely to see at your local gym, although Challifour is careful not to overstretch – literally – his high-profile clients. ‘We do a lot of isometric work where you hold the muscle under tension, but it doesn’t change length. You can also do isometric with a little bit of rotation, because obviously the driver needs to turn their head,’ Challifour says. ‘I’m not a fan of doing a large range of motions with neck training – lots of people do it but there’s a higher risk of injury. If you’re personally responsible for someone worth millions, from my perspective I’d rather take the slightly safer option.’
Another thing that’s ‘extremely important for an F1 driver’ is a strong core, as it helps to counteract G-force while also enabling them to operate the car. ‘Brake forces often get forgotten – the actual force that drivers actively have to exert on the pedal is around 80kg, multiple times each race,’ Challifour says.
The physical demands of F1 are exacerbated by the extreme conditions that drivers are exposed to, with cockpit temperatures reaching 50degC over certain race weekends. ‘They’ve got fireproof overalls on, a helmet, so all your usual mechanisms of cooling the body down, like sweat evaporating off your skin, are a lot less effective,’ Challifour says.
Drivers lose an average of 1.4 litres of sweat over the course of a two-hour race, and sometimes as much as three litres in hot and humid countries such as Singapore and Bahrain. That physical fitness not only allows drivers to drive the car, but also to remain concentrated as the race unfolds around them. ‘It’s a very cognitively demanding sport – the fitness aspect is just making sure they’re able to tolerate the physical stresses comfortably,’ Challifour says. ‘You don’t want to have in your head that you’re too hot because it’s going to impact the other aspects – the mental aspects – of what you’re undertaking.’
As with any elite athlete, diet is key for F1 drivers to maintain both their fitness and their weight over a long season. It is part of a performance coach’s job to make sure their driver is consuming the right foods – a healthy balance of carbohydrates, lean proteins, fats and vegetables – but timing of intake is also key. ‘As soon as they get out the car we have to make sure they’ve got a healthy snack to get a quick bit of carbohydrate straight back in them and then get them a proper meal within an hour,’ Challifour says.
Another factor to consider is travel, with the F1 travelling circus pitching up at 21 countries across five continents, meaning drivers clock up around 100,000 air miles a year. ‘Planning recovery around travel is essential in making sure that their immune system isn’t suppressed – that they don’t get too sick,’ Challifour says. ‘Setting your watch to the time zone you are heading to is important, as is getting your sleep cycles in the right balance. That means changing when you’re eating, too – getting straight into that routine of having breakfast when you should have breakfast, lunch when you should have lunch, to get your body in sync as soon as possible.’
The physical conditioning of F1 drivers is taken far more seriously than it used to be in the early years of the sport. ‘Among the generation of kids coming through now, fitness is seen as an accepted requirement – something that’s part of your daily routine as a racing driver,’ Challifour says. ‘In the past you have your images of James Hunt smoking and drinking, maybe doing the odd run, so there’s been a big shift over that 50 years.’
There’s still a way to go, though, according to Challifour, who believes that F1’s approach to fitness ‘is not as advanced as other sports’. ‘Considering the advanced engineering in motorsport, physical fitness, medical and health services could be better,’ he says.
Which brings us back to the car. ‘It’s not like you’re a Tour de France cyclist where your physiology is everything,’ Challifour says. ‘Motorsport is a technically complex operation, with a massive team, where the car has a massive impact too. You need a certain level of physical fitness to perform, but even if you’re the fittest driver in the world and you have a poor car, that won’t make any difference. A Williams is never going to beat a Mercedes, for example. You could put Lewis Hamilton in a Williams and he’d still be bolt last. There’s not that 100 per cent direct correlation that there is in other sports – there are lots of other factors in play.’
Our Racecar Engineering July 2019 issue features Le Mans, F1 rim heating, Super GT, IndyCar, data logging, race strategy, braking performance and much more. Get yours HERE!Inside the Racecar Engineering July 2019 issue:
With the 2019 24 hours of Le Mans concluding the WEC super season, we delve into the detail of the Equivalence of Technology and how this has staggered the performance of the LMP1 hybrid and non-hybrid contenders throughout the season
Also in this issue, we reveal how F1 teams have been using heat from the brakes to optimise tyre temperatures and look at what standardised wheel rims and brakes could mean for the sport. IndyCar expose their strategies of improving the aerodynamic performance of the 2018 Universal Aerokit, while we analyse data logging techniques and how F1 teams make those all-important race strategy decisions.
2019 WRX championship healthier than ever without manufacturers
With all three WRX manufacturers (Audi, Peugeot and Volkswagen) now withdrawn from WRX, how would the 2019 championship survive? Well, if the first four rounds are anything to go by, the answer is extremely well.
The need to ‘improve the show’ is becoming increasingly important in modern racing. Apparently the incredible achievement of a team dominating a championship is no longer entertaining and since F1 decided this was the case, everyone else has followed suit.
However, one form of racing that remains incredibly entertaining, is World Rallycross. Who doesn’t enjoy cars that accelerate from 0-60mph faster than F1? Or five-car-wide battles into Turn 1? Add to that jumps, drifting and the odd rear end tap and you have a formula that is guaranteed to wow the crowds.
This is not just a theory, according to IMG (the series promoter), WRX global audience figures (sum of live broadcast, highlights and re-runs) has grown by 41% from 2017 to 2018, with race attendance increasing by a similar margin. Compare this to the 7.8% growth in race attendance that F1 was shouting about earlier this season, and you can appreciate the achievement of WRX.
World RX Final | 2019 Dayinsure World RX of Great Britain - YouTube
In addition to constantly developing the racing product, WRX, like most categories decided to look into electric to grow the series further. Therefore, IMG, along with the FIA, turned their attention to an all-electric rallycross championship, where Williams Advanced Engineering would supply the batteries and Oreca would provide the chassis. Sadly however, this fell through which contributed to the manufacturers decision to leave WRX.
‘We had a three to four year plan going into electric [with Peugeout] and everything was fine until we came to the end of September in 2018 where Peugeot announced suddenly that they were withdrawing from the championship. It was a shock to us, we didn’t expect it,’ highlights Kenneth Hansen, Team Principal at Team Hansen. ‘It was a big difference, we had no testing, we only had one shakedown and that was it, so the first win for us was getting to Abu Dhabi with the team, and the two cars, ready to start the season. We knew our cars were good, but we didn’t know the [performance] level of our competitors.’
As it turns out, with all teams now effectively privateers, the competitiveness of the championship has actually increased and by some margin. ‘It was a busy winter with the Peugeot effect of them closing down their motorsport department which was then followed by teams losing support from various manufacturers, but actually we’ve come through with more entries this year without manufacturers compared to last year. It became more attractive because suddenly the privateer teams saw themselves with a chance to win the championship,’ highlights Torben Olsen, Managing Director of World RX for IMG. ‘Even better is the fact that we have had three different winners [in four rounds]. Last year, we had 12 rounds and 11 of them were won by the same driver. So, it has equalised the performance of the teams, so it is a more even playing field.’
In general, championships live in fear of losing manufacturers, and rightly so as often it means waving goodbye to a huge chunk of investment. However, this has resulted in the governing bodies continually chasing the manufacturers, modifying their regulations to encourage them onto the grid, while the privateers are effectively just taking part, with very little chance of ever winning. This is of particular interest when you consider the current situation of WEC and their Hypercar hunt, and how F1 continues to skew the rules to benefit the larger teams and the engine manufacturers that are already involved.
Yet, WRX lost all of its manufacturers and has not only bounced back, but is healthier than ever. ‘We were worried that it would not be a big grid this year, we thought there may be 10 or 12 cars, but in the end we have 17 regular entries which is fantastic,’ beams Hansen. ‘Also I think many people thought that the competitiveness has gone down a couple of levels, but when we saw Mattias Ekstrom come back at Spa, of course he wasn’t in the latest spec of car, but it was still upgraded, it was not easy for him. This showed that the performance level is still very high, even if it is a championship made up of just privateer teams.’
So, if ‘improving the show’ is the main goal of modern racing, then surely a competitive grid of battling privateers trumps the conventional two-or-three-way manufacturer fight for the championship? Series like WRX are certainly proving so.
With teams bringing their first set of major upgrades to the Spanish Grand Prix, we discover the technical trends throughout the pitlane and where teams are making the most gains. One such trend is the S-duct which is becoming an increasingly common feature on this year’s cars, so we reveal the real purpose of this device and how it actually works. Our resident aerodynamicist, Simon McBeath, de-mystifies the theories behind ground effect with a detailed ANSYS CFD study. We also look to the future of F1, revealing how the FIA is working with the teams to outline the revolutionary 2021 F1 car concept as well as Pirelli’s testing strategy for the development of their new 18 inch tyres for F2 in 2020 and F1 in 2021.
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