Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Formula 1/2
May 30, 2012 10:34 AM   Subscribe

After a two year process, the Sauber F1 Team have successfully sliced one of their cars in half. The result allows for a detailed look inside the technical workings of a modern F1 car.
posted by kfkcam (56 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Related: Nico Rosberg explains his driving position.
posted by The World Famous at 10:36 AM on May 30, 2012


You know what's annoying? A 6-minute youtube video with unskippable advert and poor direction when all I wanted was a photo. I'll just use my imagination I guess.
posted by Aquaman at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


Oh, Jesus Christ. The F1 driver that they used to demonstrate the seating position was born in the 1990s. I feel old.
posted by schmod at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why did it take two years to cut that car in half?
posted by pracowity at 10:44 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand. Going 200+ MPH with your butt 1 cm from ground. Even a big pebble could be deadly. Are the tracks that antiseptic?
posted by stbalbach at 10:44 AM on May 30, 2012


The F1 driver that they used to demonstrate the seating position was born in the 1990s. I feel old.

Imagine how Michael Schumacher feels. He won the F1 World Championship when that guy was 4.

Why did it take two years to cut that car in half?

Because they don't want their competitors to see a cutaway view of their current tech.
posted by The World Famous at 10:46 AM on May 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm sure part of the delay is just to make sure that nothing in the design of that car is relevant to the current season.

Some teams (I'm hedging, it might be all teams) sell their cars when they're done with them but only after a few years so other teams don't buy them and reverse engineer them.
posted by VTX at 10:47 AM on May 30, 2012


Why did it take two years to cut that car in half?

The elves only work at night.
posted by griphus at 10:50 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know next to nothing about F1. so all I can say is: that's really cool! Thanks!
posted by jquinby at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2012


Going 200+ MPH with your butt 1 cm from ground. Even a big pebble could be deadly. Are the tracks that antiseptic?

They only run an inch off the floor because the regulations makes them do so. They run a wooden floor that needs to show a maximum wear at the end of the event (I think they still do anyway - they used to and I don't think it went away but no-one has mentioned it for a while). Lots of race cars outside that series run much lower than that. Formula 3 cars (for instance) regularly used to run at around 16mm (5/8") front ride height (higher at the rear). There isn't much on a race track that won't get through that gap. They are swept before each event and if any on track excursion brings anything onto the track. There's really only gravel you need to worry about (except the kerbs themselves) so it's no big deal.

In fact, 16mm was the static ride height. We'd check to see if the front of the floor was touching the ground and bring it up so it was just missing in worst case, which was high speed (max downforce) and max compression (a bump at high speed, or braking and a big bump at low speed).
posted by Brockles at 10:56 AM on May 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


They run a wooden floor that needs to show a maximum wear at the end of the event...

what?
posted by DU at 11:01 AM on May 30, 2012


Some teams... sell their cars when they're done with them

I know where you can get one for half off.
posted by hal9k at 11:02 AM on May 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's a 10mm thick wooden plank that can only be worn a certain amount by the end of the race - it's to limit how low the cars can be run for safety (bottoming out causes loss of grip) and costs (super expensive components were being used to prevent the car wearing out when it was smacking into the floor - see the 1980's titanium skid plate sparks).

So there is a maximum allowable wear/minimum thickness at the end of each official session that is checked in scrutineering. It's a common practice in a lot of racing to dictate a minimum ride height.

Some teams... sell their cars when they're done with them

Not usually for quote some years, though. Usually only show cars get sold until they're about 5 years old or more.
posted by Brockles at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe the wooden floor basically acts as a skid plate and there is (or maybe was) a maximum amount of wear that it could show as a way to keep teams from running their cars on the ground for the whole race.
posted by VTX at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2012


They spend all that time producing this clip and then hand it over to someone obviously clueless about digital video who neglects to do a proper deinterlace, leading to comb effects and blended frames galore.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best use of a Sauber, evar.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:08 AM on May 30, 2012


Back in the early 90's I did some work with an IndyCar team. The hot tech then was to put a layer of masking tape on the bottom of the car, run it a lap, and see where it had worn off. So yeah, these sorts of cars run pretty low.
posted by Runes at 11:09 AM on May 30, 2012


I don't understand. Going 200+ MPH with your butt 1 cm from ground. Even a big pebble could be deadly. Are the tracks that antiseptic?

F1 tracks are remarkably smooth, even at Monaco, which is a street circuit. Rubens Barichello went to IndyCar after F1, and he said on camera that the hardest thing to adapt to was the courses being much rougher than the F1 courses.

They run a wooden floor that needs to show a maximum wear at the end of the event...

Yes. Basically, F1 demands no ground effects, and that the car remain a certain distance from the ground to prevent this. So, there's a wood skid block on the bottom of the car, and if it was worn beyond a certain threshold, then the car was disqualified. There's a good picture of the skid block (really, it's a plate) on the bottom of Alonso's Ferrari in 2010.
posted by eriko at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2012


Notice how they gave plenty of close-ups of the front of the car, the (regulated) steering system, the cockpit and the fuel cells but not one good close up of the engine, clutch or gearbox. Even if this is a two year old car, they're still super secretive about it.
posted by thecjm at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


A 6-minute youtube video with unskippable advert

adblock.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like my F1 car exploded, rather than sliced.
posted by jaimev at 11:15 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, yeah, the direction was really bad. Even when the guy got in, they didn't show a single proper side view of him, everything from some kind of oblique angle. Obviously they don't want to do macro close-ups of their patented parts, but a wide-angle shot showing how the guy fits into the car? Come on.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why did it take two years to cut that car in half?

Because there are quicker ways to accomplish the task.
posted by philip-random at 11:26 AM on May 30, 2012


I thought that was really interesting even if they didn't show as much detail as they might. It's important for F1 teams to realise that de-mystifying the sport and making it more accessible to the fans is at least as important as keeping all their technical secrets.

The baffles in the fuel cell were fascinating. All these years I've been watching F1 cars and I had no idea that there were baffles in the tank.
posted by neilb449 at 11:29 AM on May 30, 2012


Related: Major Internal Structures of Lightning McQueen
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:36 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Here we have the driver's seat, obviously its where the driver sits, and then immediately behind him, probably 50 mm away, is where we store the highly flammable fuel, in the fuel cell."

Wait, what? Huh...
posted by Blasdelb at 11:46 AM on May 30, 2012


They run a wooden floor that needs to show a maximum wear at the end of the event...

what?


THEY RUN A WOODEN FLOOR THAT NEEDS TO SHOW A MAXIMUM WEAR AT THE END OF THE EVENT...

posted by Naberius at 11:46 AM on May 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


All these years I've been watching F1 cars and I had no idea that there were baffles in the tank.

All racing cars have some sort of baffle in the tank. The cheaper end just have the tank filled with a foam material (special fuel safe stuff) that typically takes up 1% volume and stops fuel sloshing around. I'm assuming something like this would also be in the F1 tank as there are still fairly large areas of un-baffled tank that'd leave a good 10-15 kgs of fuel sloshing about. That's a lot of moveable mass you don't want.

As you go up the complexity and price scale you get foam internals and a central, rearward baffled area for a 'collector' that has 'in only' flap valves and holds maybe 2-3 litres of fuel. This collector makes sure the pump and/or fuel inlet never runs dry. You can also have the return line from the fuel rail exit into this area to make sure that it remains full at all times. Fuel will slosh in through the flap valves in corners and under accel and you can use right up to the last half litre or so with this. As the tanks get bigger, more baffled areas and sometimes extra collector sections that have smaller pumps that transfer to the main collector area can be included.

Wait, what? Huh...

What's the problem? No driver in a race car is more than 6 inches from his fuel cell in a proper race car (not road car conversion). It is usually behind the seat, behind a bulkhead (like in the F1 car). My drivers have their seats (resin and bed construction) sit on a single aluminium panel between them and the fuel cell - not even a proper crash structure.
posted by Brockles at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2012


"Here we have the driver's seat, obviously its where the driver sits, and then immediately behind him, probably 50 mm away, is where we store the highly flammable fuel, in the fuel cell."

Wait, what? Huh...


Anyone who has ever wondered how a Honda Fit has so much cargo space for such a small car might be interested to know that it's because they put the gas tank directly under the driver's seat to make more room for cargo and folding rear seats.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]



Anyone who has ever wondered how a Honda Fit has so much cargo space for such a small car might be interested to know that it's because they put the gas tank directly under the driver's seat to make more room for cargo and folding rear seats.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on May 30 [1 favorite +] [!]


Almost as convenient as the battery under the rear seat trick.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:16 PM on May 30, 2012


While we're on the subject of F1, this is the year that F1 returns to the USA.
posted by Runes at 12:24 PM on May 30, 2012


The World Famous: "Anyone who has ever wondered how a Honda Fit has so much cargo space for such a small car might be interested to know that it's because they put the gas tank directly under the driver's seat to make more room for cargo and folding rear seats."

Not sure if this is meant to scare, but that actually sounds a bit safer, since it's less likely to be ruptured/crushed in a rear-end collision. (And, really, if your fuel tank catches fire, it doesn't matter which part of the car you're in)
posted by schmod at 12:25 PM on May 30, 2012



Not sure if this is meant to scare, but that actually sounds a bit safer, since it's less likely to be ruptured/crushed in a rear-end collision. (And, really, if your fuel tank catches fire, it doesn't matter which part of the car you're in)
posted by schmod at 12:25 PM on May 30 [+] [!]


New cars are full of flame retardants and chemicals. They're pretty safe, but if you're trapped in the thing and it is on fire in any serious way, you're pretty much out of luck. Once they ignite it's an ugly, ugly mess.

During our vehicle extrication training they told us that if the a modern car is on fire we shouldn't even consider approaching it without full scba gear. I'm inclined to agree with that.

So yeah. I guess my thought would be that moving the tank doesn't matter much. Moving the battery is a bit more troubling, it makes it really hard to quickly disengage it -- but then, hell, they're starting to auto-disconnect battery power supplies during crashes anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter.

Summary: Modern cars are pretty damn safe, except when they're on fire.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:32 PM on May 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Notice how they gave plenty of close-ups of the front of the car, the (regulated) steering system, the cockpit and the fuel cells but not one good close up of the engine, clutch or gearbox

I certainly did. I sat through the whole thing, waiting for them to show a closeup of the cut-up engine and transmission, only to be disappointed. Not only would the technology be interesting, but I was curious what strategy they took to cut these in half. From the brief view they offered it appears that they chose to leave intact certain internal portions of the gearbox and engine, rather then attempting to cut them in half. Perhaps cutting these portions in half would have been particularly challenging, or reduce the (eventual) pedagogical value of the cutaway?
posted by RichardP at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure if this is meant to scare, but that actually sounds a bit safer, since it's less likely to be ruptured/crushed in a rear-end collision. (And, really, if your fuel tank catches fire, it doesn't matter which part of the car you're in)

It's not meant to scare, but to point out that the location of the fuel tank in close proximity to the driver is really not unusual or scary at all. In fact, it's probably good to have it far away from the edges of the car that will be the part that hits in an impact.

But the idea that a Honda Fit's fuel tank placement is safer than that of an F1 car is sort of silly, anyway. It's comparing apples and orangutans.

Anyway, when's the last time a crashing F1 car burst into flame, anyway? 20 years ago? They've done a pretty amazing job with fuel fire safety. And putting the tank between the driver and the engine seems to me to be just about the safest place in the car for it.
posted by The World Famous at 12:37 PM on May 30, 2012


Anyway, when's the last time a crashing F1 car burst into flame, anyway? 20 years ago?

The kevlar style bladder tanks in racing cars are really really good. I've only seen one fail in an accident in 24 years of racing and that was because one of my cars speared another car at around 10km/hr and a jagged part of the nose and front wing support actually split the chassis in two and slashed the tank open. The fuel sprayed out and onto the hot exhaust and the car went up but in a very benign way.

It's usually when the engine is ripped off that you get fires - the fuel lines either snap or are split and some fuel spills out. It's extremely unusual for the tank itself to lose integrity.
posted by Brockles at 12:46 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one to wish they'd kept the driver in his seat when they sliced the car in half?
posted by surrendering monkey at 12:59 PM on May 30, 2012


I find formula one engineering way more exciting than the races.

I was just reading about kinetic energy recovery systems and continuous variable transmissions.

Basically a flywheel to store energy extracted from braking. The amount if energy stored depends on the mass of the wheel and the speed at which it spins. You don't want to make the car too heavy, so you make a light flywheel and spin it at insane rpm. So insane that the flywheel has to be kept in a vacuum or air friction would melt it.

Just the engineering for the seals and bearings used to keep the atmosphere outside while you transfer the power through a spinning shaft is more clever and complicated than some jet engines.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 1:05 PM on May 30, 2012


Me too!

I especially like the engines that are limited to 18,000 rpm and used to be able to wind out to 21,000 rpm (more than three times the average production car). I really wanted a good view of the super thin pistons with the crazy oversquare bore/stroke ratio.
posted by VTX at 1:18 PM on May 30, 2012


"After a two year process, the Sauber F1 Team have successfully sliced one of their _cats_ in half" is what I've read and I was shocked that there was a link to youtube for that. ._.

The horror.
posted by bigendian at 1:24 PM on May 30, 2012


Do they actually spin the shaft in those tiny high-speed flywheels? It's been a while since I read anything about them, but last I heard they were doing all the power transfer via non-contact magnetic induction.
posted by echo target at 2:08 PM on May 30, 2012


I think I'm right in saying that it was Williams who pioneered the flywheel KERS but I'm not sure if even they still use it. Certainly the majority of the teams now use an electrical system charged by a motor-generator incorporated into the transmission like the one shown here.
posted by neilb449 at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2012


This car cutaway useless without pics.

I found some using google image search, but so far they're just screen grabs from a hi-definition version of the video, and the video very conspicuously has no side-on view of the cutaway. It transforms my takeaway feeling from "cool!" to "assholes!" :-/
posted by -harlequin- at 2:21 PM on May 30, 2012


It's worse than that, actually. That engine isn't really Sauber's super-secret high-performance F1 technology at all. They just filled the engine compartment with used pinball machine parts and made sure the camera never got a good shot of it.
posted by The World Famous at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2012


Sauber uses ferrari engines, so perhaps ferrari isn't so keen on having their engine tech shown on youtube.
posted by Harpocrates at 2:44 PM on May 30, 2012


Wait, what? Huh...

The fuel tank behind the driver is good.
When I used to race carts (wearing the appropriate fire retardant suit of course) the fuel was right in front of one's package as it were. It made one think but never saw anyone's cart go up in flames, despite seeing quite a few accidents/incidents and being in a few myself.
posted by juiceCake at 3:05 PM on May 30, 2012


Williams' flywheel KERS system is being used in hybrid Porsches, but the F1 KERS systems are all electrical, meaning that braking kicks in a generator that charges a battery. Then stored energy in the battery powers an electric motor, rather like a conventional hybrid.
posted by chrchr at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2012


That is the wrong link. The right link is here.
posted by chrchr at 3:23 PM on May 30, 2012


Now we've got SpaceX, can we drop this driving very fast in circles thing and do a first-one-to-Mars-and-back air race? I like top-notch engineering as much as the next utopian, but let's move it on...

And if we're talking about the effects on the driver if things go Pete Tong, then Hurricane Rash deserves a mention [MP3 podcast, BBC]. This is a programme about the birth of plastic surgery in WWII, and the eponymous condition brought about by the placement of the fuel tank in the Hurricane RAF fighter just in front of the pilot.
posted by Devonian at 4:49 PM on May 30, 2012


I am impressed at how close to the floor they get the crankshaft! How crazy must the clutch be...
posted by inparticularity at 6:40 PM on May 30, 2012


Now we've got SpaceX, can we drop this driving very fast in circles thing and do a first-one-to-Mars-and-back air race?

Can't we do both?
posted by The World Famous at 6:51 PM on May 30, 2012


Now we've got SpaceX, can we drop this driving very fast in circles thing and do a first-one-to-Mars-and-back air race?

F1 doesn't race in circles or ovals, thankfully.
posted by juiceCake at 7:07 PM on May 30, 2012


How crazy must the clutch be...

They are just pretty small in diameter and have a multiplate clutch design (Pdf to similar style clutches here). Carbon friction surfaces (like the brakes) makes them surprisingly light and phenomenally expensive (as well as having a high servicing and shimming requirement).

This car cutaway useless without pics.

If you have any specific questions I'll try and answer them if you can find a screenshot, but I am not fully F1 current by any means. Can probably take a stab at most of the things, though.
posted by Brockles at 7:19 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm with Aquaman--it's incredibly dumb to spend two years sawing a car in half if you're not going to let people get a proper look at the insides. "I'm going to take my clothes off! I'm going to take my clothes off! I'm going to take my clothes off! Well, not all of them... don't look too closely!"
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:50 AM on May 31, 2012


Just a quick note about the safety (and non-flammability) of F1 cars -- Robert Kubica had a crash at Montreal in 2007 so horrible I was sure he perished. The car bounced down the track at 180mph and not only did it not catch fire (although those were the days of pit stop refueling so he had less on board), the worst injury he suffered was a broken leg. Poor Robert had a less severe accident in a 2011 rally car and may never drive again.
posted by jwest at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2012


A great example of the issues of race cars running so low was seen today at the Detroit Belle Isle Indycar race here when Hinch git dumped out of the race. The track starts to break up because of last minute and half-arsed repairs on the exit of that chicane, leaving chunks on the racing line. Ignore the idiot commentators saying 'something got in the steering', because what happened was the track folded up and left a 2-3 inch chunk sitting in the middle of the track. This caused the floor of the car to ride up on that chunk and lift the front wheels off the floor. James Hinchliffe then had no way to turn the car and just understeered into the tyres.

Looks like Sato did the same thing (again, he didn't hit the kerb nor did he get 'something in his steering' which is idiotic) but rode over a chunk of track with his inside rear wheel.

This is very unusual. Tracks are usually much, much smoother than that and something that is 2-3 inches high causes significant problems and the track becomes un-raceable (they're trying to fix it to restart the race).
posted by Brockles at 4:00 PM on June 3, 2012


« Older I Am Science: Unconventional Paths to Life in Scie...   |   Beach-faring designers take no... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments