Formula 1 is the highest level of automotive racing. It leads the industry in technology, speed, and innovation. In this lesson I will break down the common features of a Formula 1 vehicle, and explain just how these vehicles work. This lesson includes some videos which have been in previous videos, however the videos are highly specific to Formula 1, so I have included them here as well. In this first video, I'll give an introduction to understand the car and the different parts.
We'll start with the front of the vehicle, and look at aerodynamics. The front wing plays a critical role in the performance of an F1 car.
Keeping the rubber on the road, Formula 1 vehicles use some combination of push-rod and pull-rod suspensions for the front and rear. The following videos explain both, and as you will find out, they operate in very similar fashions.
With a vehicle that weighs just over 1400 lbs, and has around 800 horsepower, acceleration to incredible speeds doesn't take much time at all. To tame this engine, it's necessary to have extreme braking power, which is where F1 brake technology comes in.
Moving to the rear of the vehicle, a diffuser creates a vacuum underneath the car, increasing downforce and allowing the vehicle to travel around corners at much greater speeds.
On the straights, downforce isn't quite as necessary, since F1 cars produce enough as it is. Incorporating a Drag Reduction System allows for greater speeds on straight-aways.
The heart of vehicle, Formula 1 engines are capable of high RPMs - twice as high as the highest revving production vehicle. There are other differences too, which are explained below.
Achieving such high RPMs is possible partially due to the valvetrain, but also due to the bore/stroke ratio of the cylinders. The video below explains how a high bore to stroke ratio can allow greater RPMs.
Having an engine that produces nearly 800 horsepower means tons of heat is created, even if the engines are extremely efficient at producing power. To cool the engines, F1 engineers use clever techniques to maximize the radiator surface area, without changing the frontal surface area of the car. The goal? To increase cooling without increasing drag - see below.
Of course, an engine that revs up to 18,000 rpm means a special gearbox will be needed to keep within the power band. F1 vehicles incorporate sequential gearboxes, with nearly seamless shifts.
To wrap things up, I think the perfect topic is the F1 steering wheel. Made of out carbon fiber, the steering wheel is responsible for so many features of the car, and can cost as much as a BMW M3 by itself.