These guys are on the cutting edge in a number of fields: materials science, aerodynamics, computer aided design (there is a car this year that was designed and tested all in software with no wind-tunnel), energy recovery systems, fuel performance, tyre compounds, telemetry, computing power and machine learning with strategy, etc. etc. etc.
The amount of cloud computing the teams use is staggering too - during race weekends they'll compute the model of changing every potential setting on the car (physical, mechanical, software) and then play out the race to work out the impact. As the race weekend progresses they'll continue to lock down setting and begin to extrapolate to the permutations of every rival car in order to work out strategies.
Even during the race its not just the team's two cars and some guys on the pit wall... McLaren, perhaps the most technically advanced team in F1, has a whole "Space launch style" mission control room back in the UK where 10+ people monitor every piece of data from the car and works out strategic changes on the fly by feeding the data in the computer models.
Sorry, on re-reading you do talk about off-track being just as exciting; so I suppose I'd rephrase the question as: where do you follow all this information?
... I just realised that this article was on f1fanatic, DUH. But yeah, it's definitely the best site I've seen for F1 news.
and good TV coverage will spend the saturday talking about tech, strategy etc.
My friend works there and loves it.
It's in Surrey, England (in this place: http://www.e-architect.co.uk/england/mclaren_technology_cent...)
I like that it's making the race more exciting with more passing, but it doesn't really seem like a fair race at the end. For example, a driver could lead the whole race and then get passed in the last lap due to the unfair advantage of the DRS.
as for innovation: there is constant innovation. unfortunately teams are not in the habit of telling the world about parts you don't see.
btw, the other day I learned that they use 3D printers to manufacture parts for the gearboxes. 3D printers that can can print metal parts. (I'm not sure if they use titanium parts, but according to a guy from Cloudfab, the titanium 3D printing process produces results that are superior to casting)
due to the aerodynamics you generally need a 1 to 1.5 second per lap speed advantage to pass a car. as soon as you get close to the car in front you lose a lot of downforce. this would not be a problem if the cars were always moving in a straight line.
to even out the playing field DRS is activated if you are closer to the guy in front than 1 second at a certain point on the track. once activated the DRS system can be deployed beyond a certain point.
the alternative is to keep the wings and have parades with almost no overtaking. or no wings, which would mean no more exciting 5.5g seventh gear turns. which would kinda suck.
They still need to tweak it so that passing isn't too easy but thats just a case of trial and error, they'll get it right eventually. If you compare this with last year (and particularly 2009) when cars could be up to three seconds a lap faster but still not be able to pass the car in front, it was obvious that something needed to be done.
So we will see how it works, but it is very dangerous.
however, if the flap were to open while the car is grip-limited due to lateral load...that would be unfortunate.
(actually, this has already happened a couple of races ago but I have forgotten to which driver)
According to http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/understanding_the_sport/87... (Under the "Do teams have to use it?" question):
"The use of KERS is not compulsory."
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F1_2011#Rule_changes :
"KERS units will be optional for all teams, after not being utilized in 2010 following a team agreement banning the devices [...]"
If a team does decide to deploy a KERS package, these are the technical implementation details that must be followed:
The key UI problem is that "-3.3" on the display can mean both "3.3 degree descent angle" and "3,300 feet per minute descent speed".
Good UI design is important even for trained professionals. If the computer is configured incorrectly, it may take too long to realize that there is a problem, and that's bad.
an F1 car has fewer controls than a ordinary car. different controls yes, but fewer. most people would not consider the controls on their cars "complex". because they are familiar. What sort of familiarity do you think you'd develop if this was what you did for a living?
next, most controls are sort of "modal". for instane, the clutch bite, and the two clutch paddles, are only really relevant during the start (the clutch will be used if the car spins and needs to get going again, but that is a completely different, less demanding, situation). the mix buttons and a few of the other buttons are not really worried about by the driver. the engineers tell the driver what to dial in. the reason those buttons are there is because they are not allowed to be remote controlled.
for the most part the driver will only routinely fiddle with the brake bias (not on the steering wheel), the diff and the KERS controls.
of course, if you have spent all of your teens and your adult life in race cars none of the above will be "complex" to you.
in fact, my TV and its remote is arguably much, much more complex than the user interface of a an F1 car.
This violates every principle of mass-market user interface design - I love it!
Experts will need to have access to a large set of features (e.g. 10 different types of tire/track conditions) that newbies don't. Experts will also need ways to override interface logic which is in place to guide users automatically to the right settings (e.g. wizards, DWIMminess).
This also is a basic tenet of software design as well. I don't mind complexity, if it's necessary and clearly documented. Complicated code on the other hand is the hallmark of a broken development process or a lack of developer skills.
There was a Top Gear episode where Richard Hammond tried to drive an F1 car. I figured with his experience he could make a decent go at it, but apparently the cars are so specifically tuned for going fast that it's all-out, or nothing.
In normal use, a F1 car will never be driven gently. It will be driven very, very quickly by a professional, racing against other professionals who are also driving hard. So the tires have a lot less traction when they're cold, and the brakes don't work enormously well either.
Hammond needed to be going much faster, just so the car could work properly; but alas, he's a television show host, not a driver.
mostly road-going race cars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUhu13qp8Oc
f1 cars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seget3zOj_8&feature=playe...
But maybe the best illustration of your point is obvious at a race. When the pace car is out -- and mind you, this is a top-of-the-line Mercedes sports coupe -- it's going around the track just as fast as it can, tires squealing and the whole works. And the parade of F1 cars is following as if it's a walk in the park, swerving left-and-right in an effort to keep their tires warm at such "slow" speeds.
You're mostly correct. However, I believe the main reason for weaving is to prevent too much buildup (various debris from the track) getting on the tyres. Weaving helps to get some of the debris off the tyres.
I would tend to believe that the swerving is mostly to feel the tyres and the car.
Kinda like when you are waiting for a FPS game to load and you just make circles with your mouse pointer.
Having said that, the F1 car is still substantially faster especially through a high speed corner like Eau Rouge.
I'm an F1 fan but even that surprised me.
Michael Schumacher was the king of the 'extra controls' on the steering wheel when back at Ferrari, supposedly changing many of the parameters controlling car setup while going round a corner. (Insert 'had them before everyone else' hipster joke here). I'm sure this must have influenced this setup.
However, think of the other side of the coin. Consider the UI design problem of too much information in an emergency for safety critical systems, particularly in the context of this article: http://en.espnf1.com/williams/motorsport/story/39747.html
Also, F1 highly depends on passive safety systems instead of ones that require driver input, because when things go wrong, there usually isn't much a driver can do to fix it anyways.
If you get into the habit of braking with your left foot while driving an automatic, you'll have real problems whenever the need arises to drive a manual. I think that's a much better reason.
You slam the clutch pedal with the left foot, and the brake pedal with the right foot. While the clutch is pressed, you shift to neutral.
Depending on the speed, you can make the wheels stop rotating while the car is still moving, something that damages the tire. ABS brakes mitigate the risk of this happening.
So the correct technique involves that the strength applied to the brake pedal is more or less proportional to the speed, braking very lightly when the speed is low. This will make the car slow very quickly, in an emergency situation.
Other possibility is when negotiating a corner where you know you don't need to shift speeds. Therefore you can brake a little with the left foot while having the right foot on the throttle and simply accelerating on the corner exit.
This is in contrast with heel toe down-shifting, where you need to use the left foot to control the clutch pedal, and the right foot to control BOTH brake and throttle pedals.
Finally, the nice thing is that you could be doing all three techniques in a single lap in a track.
Edit: linky http://flyingpigpedia.wetpaint.com/page/Driving+Techniques
In the context of F1, it allows for less time between being on the gas and getting on the brakes. Not sure if these are used in F1, but I also remember reading about funky techniques where you can use the gas and brakes at the same time to mess with the balance of the car.
in an ordinary car: use your right foot. it is likely that this is what you are used to so your right-foot motor skills (pun intended) will be significantly better. if you have tried to brake with your left foot, and you are not used to it, you have no doubt experienced that you will tend to apply too much brake too quickly. and at the other end: if you have a braking system that takes a lot of force and you have grippy tyres, your left foot will probably significantly weaker as well.
if you want to play around with it a bit I can recommend gokarting. gokarting is brilliant for practicing braking with your left foot as most rental gokarts have crap tyres that are real easy to lock up at even modest brake inputs :)
However he reportedly learned left foot braking, and at least in 2011 he should have an updated technique.
This place has pretty graphics of slip rings:
While there are a lot of switches, it's noticable that the ones they'd want to use a lot, like the KERS, are very close to the fingers in their normal position, whereas the ones which are more "setup" or "fiddle" are closer to the centre of the wheel. I don't think they go through a corner with one hand on the wheel and the other adjusting something in the middle of the steering wheel.
Still I suppose when the xBox "F1 Controller" of "tomorrow" comes out, we'll all find out. (Alas without the G-Forces...)
Actually, the setup of the car is not active at all, except for brake bias (which is set via a mechanical lever on the cockpit wall). There is no way to change ride height, stiffness, etc., dynamically.
About 20 years ago there was a period in which everything about the cars were dynamic (culminating in the Williams FW-14B ). The ride height and other suspension settings, etc., were all under electronic control, so that the setup could be altered for every corner. And thanks to bidirectional telemetry, these settings were actually controlled remotely from the pits without the driver needing to intervene. However, the arms race of complexity and cost led teams to agree to a ban on this technology. It's a bit of a shame, because the engineering had become every bit as interesting as the racing itself.
Not that I disagree with your point, but there's another factor in WRC: Sebastian Loeb.
If sponsors want to be associated with winning teams, then there's really no point in sponsoring any team besides Citroen. There's very little chance of anyone other than Loeb winning the championship, and good luck waiting for a podium that he's not standing on.
I think you can see this (albeit less clearly) after late 80s F1. A McLaren team-up of Senna and Prost delivered the best two drivers, plus Honda and McLaren's engineering skill; there was little opportunity for anyone else to compete. The result was a decade of competitive wasteland as the sport recovered (giving such lame drivers as, imho, Damon Hill, an opportunity to win a World Driving Championship). It wasn't until a combination of Schumacher's skill and Ferrari resurgence that things got at all interesting again.
Prost and Senna were alone toe-to-toe for 3 years, 1988-90. Senna wasn't a realistic threat before then (neither was Prost in '87), while '86-87 the dominant battle was between Mansell and Piquet at Williams. But, yes, 1988-90, Senna and Prost carved things up between them. After that...
1991, Ferrari (Prost's team) were nowhere, there was a late season challenge to Senna from Mansell's Williams but they'd had too much early season unreliability
1992, Ferrari were worse than nowhere, McLaren were comprehensively trounced too. Mansell walked it for Williams
1993, Prost wins relatively comfortably from Senna with a major car advantage.
1994, Prost retires and Senna dies.
There were then:
* 2 years of Benetton & Schumacher
* 2 years of Williams, Hill then Villeneuve
* 2 years of McLaren & Hakkinen
and we're now a) out of the 10 year window and b) into the Schumacher & Ferrari juggernaut.
Now, I've heard a number of expert commentators suggest that Schumacher's record is flattered by the opposition he faced, I wouldn't disagree that Hakkinen, Hill and in particular Villeneuve are perhaps not the strongest champions F1 ever saw and I'm not sure this period of F1 was necessarily the most competitive. BUT - I definitely don't agree with your characterisation of F1 history there.
Silverstone, look at the Becketts complex and compare it to Luffield.
Spa Francorchamps, compare the requirements of Eau Rouge with La Source.
That's just three straight off the top of my head. Circuits are pretty varied; I don't know for sure that they are doing that with diff settings as they lap but anecdotally they alter brake bias pretty regularly so it wouldn't surprise me particularly.
A race track is a living thing - the profile of it changes with each lap, with each race and over the course of a race weekend. There is a lot less grip at the beginning of a race weekend, a lot more later on.
The slightest changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure, etc. have a very large bearing on car performance and how the car has to be setup and adjusted for each corner.
It can also be the opposite during a race, as tyre residue accumulates on the track, lessening grip in the most critical areas, often requiring drivers to change their line.
(To be clear, my question was a rhetorical one. I began to write a paragraph about that, and then another one... and then work brought me back from procrastination, so I deleted the incomplete stuff)
During the race, when they have the video from above the cockpit you can clearly see the drivers changing configuration all the time during the race.
during friday and saturday sessions they will gather data to find optimum diff settings for the different corners. then during the race all three settings will be controled by a single knob. you can sometimes see drivers fiddle with the diff knob during in-car shots in the race. (you also sometimes see them letting go of the wheel with one hand to adjust the brake bias setting -- which for some reason is often not on the wheel)
Mercedes, however, do have something called a "magic paddle". So they do have an actual reason for keeping the back of the steering wheel away from prying eyes.
Take Ferrari, for example. Although first introduced in the F430, the 458 Italia features a steering wheel-mounted manettino dial that allows the driver to configure settings that directly impact the speed of gearbox changes, traction control settings and differential settings.
Starting at about 1:05, this video demonstrates how the various manettino settings are utilized on the 458 Italia, and how they modify the vehicle's driving profile.
and one with Lewis Hamilton discussing his - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcMvt0rO20g - though he does get talked over in Italian (I think it is).
The dragster folks might disagree.
I'm curious why you think that the number of gears is significant. My Crossfire has 6 - does that make it "better" than a Nascar COT? How about the cars with CVT (effectively infinite) - are they "better" than F1?
Nonetheless, you're correct. It's just different. Each just has different requirements.
Don't confuse visual minimalism with actual simplicity. I believe BMW did that with their iDrive system.
And lots of soccer moms would complain if a car for sale had that kind of wheel.
However this wheel is not for the mass market, it is for a very small group of professional drivers that make a living using it, so it is totally irrelevant if a designer likes it or not.
B : Activates Kinetic Energy Recovery System
Oil : Activates supplementary oil tank for engine
PL : Turn pit lane speed limiter on/off
Tyre : Adjust electronics to suit different tyres
Seriously, I'm asking. I'm not an F1 buff.
When you have that much on the wheel, I'd think removing what you can would be important. Especially given the very-early line:
>This year designers have had to squeeze in buttons for [KERS] and Drag Reduction Systems along with the usual array of toggles, switches and levers.
Removing 4 buttons would seem to be an improvement, though a bit of a drop in a bucket.
2. KERS - you are limited to use it only for 6.6 seconds per lap - and, the driver gets to decide when to use it. Thus, it has to be a button.
3. PL: PL ensures that you don't go above or below the 75 KPH or whatever speed limit each track has. This zone is marked by a well defined line at the start and the end of the zone. I don't think that GPS is that accurate to turn this on/off automatically - especially considering the importance hundredths of seconds makes in this sport. Second, you don't want a car suddenly braking automatically or find the accelerator free automatically when the driver's not really prepared for the exact moment.
4. Oil: I believe this is in place for a 'what-if' scenario.
5. Tyre: Again, I am sure that this is in place because of the 'what-if-radio-does-not-work' scenario.
There isn't really any space to have levers anywhere else on the car like the hidden bonnet/boot switch and the backups also find their way to the steering wheel! ;-)
It's unlikely that they would drive by remote control as feel is so important - a racing driver relies on his backside as much as his eyes. Drivers use physical sensation to feel the limit of grip and the balance of the car, something that would be very different to control remotely.
You could potentially go much faster without drivers, as cornering speeds are artificially limited by the rules to maintain driver safety. The severest corners in F1 induce 5G of lateral force. Inexperienced drivers often spend later laps of a race resting their head against the side of the cockpit, as their neck muscles are exhausted.
In a completely free racing formula, cars would have vast amounts of mechanical grip and downforce, weigh next to nothing and corner so fast that no human could survive a lap.
I agree the driver still has a lot of influence. But, if drones can fly around in the skies then a pilotless F1 car is not so unrealistic. Fans liking robo F1 cars no one really knows for certain but it would be very interesting to see.
(Yes, I know Speed Racer was rallying and not F1.)
So a few tenths of a second is around 6 car lengths, per lap.
That's one way to think about it...
I assume any kind of OS or HLL is out of the question.
It's a competitive sport, so given the current resources and technology, how much performance can you eke out is really what I should have been thinking about. In an adversarial environment like you describe, I'm sure every bit of time you gain is a huge plus. So yes, our speed doubles every 2 years, but so do our competitors'.