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The computing powerhouse that gives F1 faith over its 2026 car plan

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The planned increase in electrification, with a 50-50 power split between battery and combustion engine, has raised concerns that drivers will run out of energy on the straights and need to downshift to recharge.

There are also doubts that the demand for an F1 car with less drag can be met without compromising the performance of the F1 car.

But privately, the F1 president and the FIA ​​have been quietly working on a design strong enough to allay those concerns.

That’s why F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds recently dismissed the notion that F1 is in trouble with its 2026 car plans, as the work going on behind the scenes is far more advanced than the simulations the teams are currently working on. many.

“The simulated performance profile of a car in 2026 doesn’t look much different now than it does in 2023,” he said.

“So all this stuff about getting top speed in the middle of the straight, that’s not the case anymore.”

use data

The reason why F1 and the FIA ​​are so confident is because of the powerful computer processing power that powers the CFD simulations that help create a new set of regulations.

AWS EMEA Regional Managing Director Tanuja Randery with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali

AWS EMEA Regional Managing Director Tanuja Randery with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

It’s all part of F1’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has helped create a new ground-effect car due in 2022.

Leveraging AWS’ server and cloud infrastructure, F1 has instant CFD performance comparable to state-of-the-art supercomputers at a fraction of the cost.

As Symonds explained, the way the car is being developed for 2022 gives them confidence in how it will go in 2026.

“For 2022, when we entered the space, we knew we had to rely heavily on CFD,” Symonds told Autosport.

“Yeah, a little nervous about it, but to be honest, the problem with CFD in the past wasn’t really about the software. It was the computing power you could throw at it.

“So when we worked with AWS, it really became very transformative. We had to learn together, it wasn’t a software thing, you loaded it up and you ran it. We had to do a lot of work to get it to work. But it does give us the ability to run these incredibly complex models.

“This includes what we call the gold standard, which is two full cars, with one car driving behind the other in a turn, and completely erratic flows. It’s a bit of a workout for the computer.

“Once we can do something like this, yes, we have some confidence. We’re still doing wind tunnel testing, but the wind tunnel testing has come back, giving us a little more confidence in the CFD work. So I think the 2022 Lessons learned are very applicable in 2026.”

Ferrari wind tunnel

Ferrari wind tunnel

Photography: Ferrari

fair play

What AWS has given F1 and the FIA ​​is the ability for its fairly small teams of engineers and aviation experts to write the rules, giving them the opportunity to fight back against the hundreds of people the teams can deploy.

While the computing power in the pits is now severely limited, due to the Grand Prix’s aerodynamic testing restriction rules, F1 itself is really at the limit when it comes to utilizing the massive computing power of AWS.

As Dr. Neil Ashton, Chief CFD Expert Solutions Architect at AWS, explains: “In order to move the campaign from the original 2021 to 2022, they created this small team (experts).

“But they’re a small team of five or six people whose goal is to produce a new car that would normally take 50 or more aerodynamicists to do it.

“My take on AWS is that we’ve been trying to give them everything, to strike a balance in some ways and give them all the resources they need.”

This is reflected in the use of AWS servers and cloud computing power, which enables F1 to run CFD simulations at the highest possible fidelity.

Before AWS stepped in, a single run of F1 took about 60 hours. Now, the time is down to 10 hours. But it’s even better than that.

pat symonds

pat symonds

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

Dr Ashton added: “It’s a pretty big jump, but it also depends on how many things they can do at once. They can do 10 jobs at once if they want to, so it’s not just one that’s faster. jobs. It has the ability to submit many different jobs simultaneously.”

And, referring to what Symonds calls the “gold standard” of analyzing two racing cars close to each other, Dr Ashton sees this as a game-changing way to understand the physics of racing in close quarters.

“For obvious reasons, most teams never really pay attention to two cars because they always think they are the car in front,” he said.

“When you have to look at two cars, the calculations are doubled immediately. But there’s also a pretty big factor that it’s not just one car with a fixed distance behind you, you need to check from multiple different areas it.

“Because they’re looking at 10, 20, 30 and 40 meters behind the car, it’s really a large simulation. Beyond that, they want to study cornering.

“I think it’s a lot bigger than anyone has really done before in the context of F1 CFD.

“And, definitely, I think if they didn’t have AWS resources, I think it would be really hard for them to run such a large model.”

Ferrari F1-75's Charles Leclerc takes on Red Bull Racing's RB18's Max Verstappen at the restart

Ferrari F1-75’s Charles Leclerc takes on Red Bull Racing’s RB18’s Max Verstappen at the restart

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

2022 Judgment

While the 2023 car may not be as close-racing-friendly as the 2022 original when it hits the track, it’s inevitable that teams are chasing performance and diverting airflow to places unsuitable for chasing drivers.

While current cars aren’t perfect, Symonds said it’s important to remember that they are vast improvements over the cars we have today if regulations don’t change.

Asked how the 2023 car would differ from the original plan, Symonds said: “In terms of downforce, they’re definitely further than we thought.

“We purposely gave the team the original version (the 2022 car) in a lower state of development because our team is small and theirs is big.

“We knew this was going to develop very quickly. In fact, they were developing faster than we expected.

“Have we achieved what we wanted in terms of wake control? All the evidence is that the cars coming out in early ’22 are actually not that far off from what we thought: a huge step up from the 21st century .

“We’ve been keeping an eye on that. Yes, a little bit down on wake control, a little bit up on load, but still a lot better than 2021.

“What you have to remember is that ’21 is not a fixed point. It’s moving. So if we do nothing, the ’23 car, the ’24 car, the ’25 car will be worse off. So, Not only did we anchor it, but we accepted that it was going to change. We learned.”

McLaren one of many teams slowly catching up to Red Bull

McLaren one of many teams slowly catching up to Red Bull

Photography: James Sutton/ motorsport pictures

balance success

Symonds also pointed out that while it’s nearly impossible to build a car that doesn’t lose any performance when it’s followed closely, the current generation of cars isn’t incapable of being followed by other cars.

“One thing we’re absolutely sure of, and that’s from driver feedback and the data we’ve seen, is that for the 2021 cars, when they follow, not only do they lose a lot of downforce, but they’re very, very unpredictable .

“For the current car, the balance is actually very, very good after the other car. Sure, you lose some grip, but you don’t suddenly have understeer turning into oversteer or something. You know What the car is going to do. So that’s one aspect that I’m very happy with.”

According to Symonds, the most valuable lesson F1 has learned through working with AWS is to focus on the impact of car design on subsequent cars, as this is critical to the race.

However, he said it was important that the rules should not be too restrictive for teams as they need to be free to pursue performance. And, while everyone looks ahead to 2026, he expects the ambitions of rulemakers and competitors to align.

“From an aerodynamic point of view, it’s important to develop the car for 2022 to understand the important factors of the following characteristics and make sure that these characteristics are not destroyed.

“But it’s also about giving the team enough room to play, because initially, they all said it was too normative. Now, even Adrian (Newey) is saying: ‘Yes, you can do a lot of things. “We’ve always known this because we’ve lived with this thing for a few years.

Audi to join new rules in 2026

Audi to join new rules in 2026

Photo: Audi Communications Motorsport

“For the 2026 car, our aim is to try to achieve something so that the team’s goals are the same as ours.

“For the 2022 car, the team’s aim is to go out, we’re aiming to go in. We’re working on some areas now and hopefully the two go hand in hand. So there’s a lot going on.”

ridiculous past

While there is still a long way to go before the cars hit the track in 2026, and there are almost certainly some hurdles to overcome, it is fair to say that the technology F1 now uses to assess rule changes is vastly different than it was before. . past.

Symonds rolls his eyes as he recalls the failure of the 2009 rules, the last time F1 overhauled car design to improve overtaking.

“I’m doing that project, and honestly, if an MSc student did this in his final year project, I’d say, nice, but that’s it,” Symonds said. “I mean, it’s really ridiculous.

“It was pretty much all wind tunnel testing. The finances were very low and it was very naive. Even based on the research we did, the regulations that were put in place were pretty bad. That’s something I learned too.

“I think it’s important that the worst car of 2009 was produced by the three people involved in the overtaking task force because when we wrote the set of rules we knew what we meant.

Jenson Button, Brown GP BGP001

Jenson Button, Brown GP BGP001

Photography: Charles Coates/ motorsport pictures

“Everyone else was like, ‘These aren’t great because we can do this and that and a double diffuser and all kinds of stuff.’ That was a big lesson for me.

“So when we did the 2022 car, we released the first model of it, and then we also went back to the team and said, ‘Well, how can we get the performance out of this car? How can we break the rules Woolen cloth?

“It did lead to some small adjustments where we said, ‘Oh man, we didn’t realize that area was very sensitive, so we need to change the regulations there a bit.'” But overall, it’s actually pretty good.

“That was a real lesson in 2009. There’s no comparison to 2009 in terms of the complexity of what we’re doing in 2022. One of them is prehistoric.”

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Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa

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Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

Also read:

Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag

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McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared

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Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences

car

Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg

DRS?

Yes

Yes

engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles

team

10

11

driver

20

twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place

40

second place

40

third place

40

fourth place

30

the fifth place

20

sixth place

10

Number 7

8

number 8

6

No.9

4

No. 10

3

These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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