Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Set up your F1 car V3: Height, Brakes, Gearbox

Height - When a car travels close to the ground, the air rushing between the underside and the road creates a vacuum effect that helps to suck the car onto the tarmac. The step reduces the amount of undercar area that is situated close to the track, thus reducing overall downforce. The actual thickness of this gap must be closely controlled - of the order of millimetres - and the suspension and tyre squash must be taken into account. As the car pitches and rolls under braking, acceleration and cornering, the ride height - and therefore downforce - at the four corners of the car varies. Cars are nowadays set very stiff to take account of this and help prevent any rotation of the car. A formula 1 car starts with 170kg of fuel and burn it off over the course of the entire race.  With F1 cars dry weight just 610Kg this is now a substantial proportion of the cars weight.  This extra weight will press down on the cars suspension pushing it closer to the ground.  Thus the cars ride height will alter considerably from the start of the through to the end.  Ride height is critical for two reasons; the overriding issue is aerodynamic.  Firstly the front wing and diffuser work in ground effect, so they work better the closer to the ground they get.  Thus the wings will work better at the start of the race and diminish as the fuel load lightens. Secondly ground clearance, the plank and titanium skid blocks will be prone to wearing when the car is heavy, excessive wear on the skid blocks will render the car illegal in post race scrutineering.

Brakes - The Braking option allows you to determine the balance between your front and rear brakes. In a F1 car, the brakes are usually balanced towards the front, as weight transfer under braking places additional demands on them. Changing the brake presure will alter the responsinevess of your brakes, making them brake softer/harder. This is useful for wet races when you use softer brake pressure setting and that helps to stop the brakes from locking up. Brake size determine how quickly your brakes heat up and become more efficient. The smaller the brakes, the faster they heat up and the earlier they become efficient. However, smaller brakes will overheat faster and become less effective towards the end of a long session.

Gearbox - Altering a car’s shift mode allows you to change how quick your car changes gear. Changing the shift mode to fast will allow you to change through the gears quickly but will result in more engine wear. Using a slower shift mode is beneficial in low grip conditions, especially wet weather, as it will cause the wheels to spin less violently as you change through the gears. You can also set the gears to change at specific speeds. 

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