Radio communication links the driver with his
mechanic, and it is initiated in one direction only. This means the driver
makes the contact, and no-one else. Only matters of critical importance
are spoken about, such as when a problem develops with the car.
The mechanic in the box checks the telemetered data and decides when a box-stop is required. The driver tests the radio contact during training and notes the positions where this functions perfectly. He wears ear-plugs (of formed plastic) with a receiver tailored for him personally which also serve as a noise protector.
Impressions From a Low-Flyer
Transmissions from the camera are controlled by
FOCA TV. The boss is Bernie Ecclestone. Every top team now has a permanently-mounted
camera on the car, and all other teams carry a dummy camera, so that the
aerodynamic disadvantage is the same for all. The camera weighs less than
1 kg and is well integrated and streamlined.
TV networks can purchase the signal coming from the cockpit and transmit this whenever they wish. FOCA TV gets the proceeds, naturally. By now the teams are more than happy with the cameras, for they provide an additional possibility to insert a small sponsor´s logo into the picture.
As far as I know, all the teams use hydraulically operated selectors with six, or some teams seven, gears. Shifting gears is virtually automatic.
According to FIA regulations, the driver must initiate gear shifting himself which is executed by a short press on a rocker switch on the steering wheel. Shifting up is on the left and down is on the right. The gears are displayed on the dashboard, but you normally know which gear you are in. As a driver I donít have to do anything when shifting up - neither press the clutch nor ease off the gas pedal. It all works automatically and lasts between .006 and .009 seconds.
What is important is that the transmission, that is, the ratio of the individual gears, is optimally adjusted. The highest gear (Benettonís sixth) is defined by the maximum speed. The other gear ratios are set up for the rest of the race course.
The gear ratiovaries not only according to the race course, but from day to day, and even from training session to training session.
Wind direction and speed are also of great importance and is a real challenge for the engineers. 100 revs up or down can certainly be decisive when overtaking.
Drivers do not mis-shift - even though reporters keep on claiming this. Itís all computer-controlled. Gears are shifted either correctly or not at all. That has been one of the few cost saving developments in Formula 1, since there are practically no over revved engines anymore.
Brakes are a very important as well as wide-ranging subject. The brake pads are made of composites, such as carbon fiber. Of course, very special materials and compounds are used here. Brake operating temperatures range between 700 °C and 1000 °C. As of this year, the FIA has stipulated that the disks cannot exceed 28 mm thickness, the result of which is that the braking distance has been extended. The engineers have switched to other materials and have achieved the same results as in the past, but only with increased financial outlays.
Braking balance adjustment is also very important, from the front to the rear. The rear brakes should be adjusted so tightly that the rear wheels almost lock.
A very dangerous game, but youíre pushing the
limits everywhere while searching for performance. What is interesting
is that wear is calculated precisely, most often you couldnít drive another
two laps. The hardest race courses for brakes are Imola, Canada, Monza
This is highly regulated by the FIA. Each team
provides a test sample at the beginning of the season, which is then analysed
to produce a "fingerprint". And this fingerprint must be the same for all
subsequent random samples taken. In principle, standard filling station
fuel is used, except that this is optimised.
The normal relationship of many lower-value components and few useful, high-value additives is totally reversed, within the limits permitted.
It is important, that the fuel has always been freshly mixed, as storage time and high temperatures lower the quality. The tank holds about 100 litres. The refill stations are able to pump 720 l per minute through the hose.
Want to become a principal sponsor for a top team? Then, as for Benetton, Ferrari and Williams, you can reckon with 20 to 35 million dollars per season. For this you get the most prominent surfaces on the car - the side panels, spoiler, etc.
In contrast to the design of their overalls, the drivers can choose their own helmet design. Naturally, the sponsors have to be taken into consideration.
Helmets used in motor racing must pass a crash-test for helmets called the " Snell-Test" . The lining must be made of a fireproof material (Nomex). The visor must have a specific thickness to protect against stone strikes.
The helmets weigh about 900 grams, some weigh up to 1.1 kilograms. Helmet weight is an important factor because every gram is felt when cornering (lateral acceleration up to 4g) and when braking (up to 5g).
As clear varnish is heavier than film, todayís helmets are primarily film-coated.
Since the introduction of ram-pressure airboxes, helmet aerodynamics have become extremely important. A helmet with poor aerodynamics is practically unbearable over the course of a race, since it vibrates too much, even on the straights, and the neck muscles can never relax. BIEFFE is my helmet brand. It has wings at the rear and in front on the chin. You can argue about looks, but they help and that is important. Apart from that, Iím still proud of my helmet since I co-developed the design and my ideas were implemented. Additionally, my helmet design is a registered trademark!
The airbox ensures that the engine is always supplied with sufficient non-turbulent air.
The pressure in the airbox is measured constantly, as even the slightest pressure drop costs a lot of horsepower. If, for example, the driverís sitting position is just one (!) millimeter too high, this would lead to an unbelievable 20 to 30 horsepower less! However, not only do helmet aerodynamics have an impact on the airbox, but also factors like rearview mirrors, front airfoils and even the steering wheel position.
That is why there are no real slipstream battles
anymore! When the air behind a car is turbulent, the pursuerís engine no
longer obtains the required quantity of air to overtake another car. Apart
from that, you also lose too much downforce from the airfoils.
98, year zero !
"This is the first time in fifteen years that there has been such a technical shake-up in Formula 1!"
Ross Brawn, technical director of Ferrari, could not be clearer. For him, the season that gets under way in Melbourne on March 8 will be a year of change. The 1998 crop of cars are brimming with new features. Some people in the sport, such as Jacques Villeneuve (see below) and Patrick Head, are not really in favour. But the majority of those involved have given the new regulations a positive welcome.
From tyres to brakes, from chassis to cockpit, here we give you a guided visit of a new-look Formula 1 car. One thing is sure... this is going to be an entertaining season!
The bodywork around the opening is now a minimum thickness of 6 cm.Concerns over safety are primordial. The width of the cockpit must be 35 cm at the extreme of the survival cell. In the event of an accident, the driver will be better protected, but will be able to get out of the car more
Some of the biggest changes come here. While last year's cars were 200 cm wide, this year's will be reduced to 180 cm. The narrow track will, of course, mean a reduction in cornering speed, which will increase the interest of the race. Overtaking, which has been almost impossible on the majority of circuits, will once again hit the headlines (see brakes).
No more slicks. From now on, all tyres will be grooved. The new tyre structure is sure to mean more skilful driving. In the same register, torque control on the electronic accelerator, which appeared anarchically last season, is banned this year.
BrakesThis is the biggest of the changes for 98. First of all, the double callipers in use last season now disappear. As do the double brake pads. Outlawed! Likewise the 8-pot callipers. The maximum now is 6 pistons. As far as the brake disks are concerned, they must have a maximum width of 28 millimetres. This is unquestionably the most important difference. Such a reduction will have an adverse effect on the reliability of braking. This will mean new race strategies for the teams.