Cars & Motorcycles
Racecar Engineering

Racecar Engineering December 2017

Racecar Engineering is the world’s leading technology publication for the motorsport industry. From aerodynamics to engines and from handling theory to manufacturing practice, Racecar Engineering is read by motorsport’s top professionals. Only Racecar Engineering brings this insight every month.

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12 Issues

in this issue

5 min.
impressive cv

Lefebvre’s racing heritage was most evident in the handling of the 2CV When one of the design requirements for a car is that the customer should be able to drive eggs across a freshly ploughed field without breaking them, you know some unusual choices are going to be made. Especially if interpreted by an unusually gifted engineer. In 1934 Citroen went bankrupt, and so Michelin, its largest creditor, took it over. It then did a market survey to see what a low-end car should be able do. France at that time had a large rural population which could not yet really afford cars. From the results of the survey Pierre Boulanger, the vice president of Citroen and chief of engineering and design, derived the main items for the ‘mechanical umbrella on four wheels’,…

4 min.
factory records

In absolute terms, the budgets required to compete at the highest levels of the sport are actually almost inconsequential for car manufacturers Mainstream automotive manufacturers are all over the place at present, with emissions scandals, EVs, autonomous cars, environmental issues, saturated markets, uncertainties regarding Brexit and currency exchange rates all adding confusingly to their strategies and therefore to the mix of where to place their motorsport marketing dollars. This is not all bad perhaps, but it does dilute finances, prestige and competition within established premier forms of motor racing, from which manufacturers are increasingly withdrawing. The WEC is in trouble, with potentially no imminent manufacturer representation at all in LMP1. The DTM is in turmoil due to Mercedes’ shock pullout. In World Rallycross Peugeot is in deeper (another blow for the WEC…

11 min.
mid-life crisis

‘In this business it is not just about building fast racing cars, it is about making them quick at every circuit’ Williams is the last independent team in Formula 1 with the owner’s name still above the garage door. It’s been around a while, too, and this year Frank Williams’ eponymous outfit celebrates its 40th anniversary – only Ferrari and McLaren have a longer continuous record in grand prix racing. Fittingly, the team has named its car FW40 to celebrate this anniversary (if tradition was followed it would be called the FW39). But the team’s anniversary year has not all been about looking back, it’s also seen significant upheaval at the team’s headquarters in Grove, England. Williams’ former technical boss Pat Symonds retired at the end of the 2016 and in something of…

10 min.
six appeal

The main objective was to reduce drag sufficiently to match the speed of the turbo cars on the straights It’s among the most successful of all F1 teams, yet Williams has never really been known for its obviously ground breaking designs. Instead, the team, founded by Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1977, usually managed to improve and perfect an existing design or idea, though many times using novel ideas to achieve this behind the scenes. A great example of this was the FW07 raced by the team in successive evolutions between 1979 and 1981. It adopted the ground effect aerodynamics pioneered by Team Lotus but coupled with a much stronger chassis capable of handling the high aerodynamic loads attained. This resulted in the 1980 drivers’ championship for Alan Jones and back-to-back…

14 min.
tank battle

It was all change for F1 fuel suppliers at the start of the 2017 season. ExxonMobil, a former partner to McLaren, switched to supplying the Renault-powered Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso teams with its Esso and Mobil 1 products. Meanwhile, BP-Castrol opted to supply McLaren and the Renault works team, while Total quit F1 in favour of the WEC. This supplier reshuffle came at very short notice for the teams, the oil companies and the power unit manufacturers, especially considering that the Renault power unit, which had been designed around products from Total, would suddenly now be running both Mobil 1 and BP-Castrol, while Honda, which had developed its V6 with ExxonMobil, would now also be using BP products. This switch came so late in the day, in fact, that there…

12 min.
in full flow

The challenge was to take the concept of ultrasonic flow measurement and develop an accurate meter that could be used on a racecar Low flow technology could be particularly useful in a sportscar series that requires refuelling Motorsport engineers are notorious for going to any length to gain performance. For example, the latest fuel flow meter (FFM) variants can achieve accuracies of better than one per cent and yet teams have still invested time and money to find a small advantage here. In some cases they’ve purchased several fuel flow sensors for testing and established which one under-reads the most. By fitting this they can squeeze an extra few tenths of a per cent of fuel into the engine, while still complying with the regulations. It’s quite clear, then, why these…