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Turkey GP – The Technical lowdown
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2010   |  8:14 pm GMT  |  37 comments

This weekend the F1 teams are racing in Istanbul, one of the newer circuits on the calendar, which features a celebrated corner.

Istanbul’s mighty Turn 8
All F1 fans love seeing high speed corners and the ultimate is Turn 8, not a particularly romantic or iconic name, but a corner which excites both fans and drivers alike. Turn 8 is one of the longest corners in F1; the cars spend eight seconds going through it, covering 600 metres before they exit onto the back straight. The average speed for the corner is 260km/h and the peak is 270 km/h.


According to the Renault team, “the g-force stats are just as impressive with the drivers experiencing an average lateral force of 4.3 g during those eight seconds, with a peak of 5.2g.”

But, believe it or not, the teams do not set the cars up around performance through that corner. That said, it is important to set the ride height correctly to allow for the bumps, especially when the cars are full of fuel.

According to the engineers, Turn 8 is not anything like as significant in terms of lap time as Eau Rouge at Spa or Turn 9 at Barcelona, both of which give out onto long straights. If you are three or four kilometres an hour slower through those corners, it can cost you as many tenths at the end of the following straight. Turn eight has a short following it.

In practice on Friday we saw lots of cars flying off the road at Turn 8. This is partly because of the bumps and partly because of the lack of risk.

Drivers take calculated risks in every corner as they try to find the limit in the short time available for practice. The reason why so many of them fly off at Turn 8 is because the huge run off areas allow them to try to find the limit as quickly as possible. Drivers take their time to find the limits and Monaco or Montreal where the track is lined with walls. Conversely, they crash all the time on the simulators!

New Tech on the cars
This weekend there are some eye-catching new things on the cars, including another new front wing on the Renault, which is quite different in concept from the previous ones (compare to previous Tech Reports).

Ferrari has an evolution of its double diffuser, but the main talking point has been the introduction of the drag reducing rear wing on the Red Bull. Up to now the team has delayed it, because the harm it did to downforce levels was greater than the gain from extra speed on the straights.

The value of the system was shown by the speed the McLarens had in practice. It is worth around 4/10ths of a second a lap and gives a gain of around 10km/h, if you get it right.


McLaren were the pioneers of the system. It was a finely balanced decision but Red Bull decided after practice not to go with it for qualifying and the race. They will take the learnings from today’s test and hold it over to Montreal where it will be a massive gain due to the long straights. As Montreal has no fast corners, a Red Bull strength, they will be looking to claw back performance from the rear wing.

McLaren’s car was designed around the concept, so they have an air intake hole in the optimum place on the top of the chassis, just ahead of the driver’s knee, with which he switches the wing on. Other teams trying to copy it have found it hard to get sufficient air into the system to have an effect when it exits through the duct at the back of the wing.

Engineers say that a fully functional system is worth 4/10ths of a second per lap at Istanbul.

Telemetry in F1

I've been looking into where telemetry technology is up to these days with Virgin Racing. During a 90 minute session the team will collect between 5 and 6 gigabytes of data from the car. It comes off the car in a raw format over radio.

The car transmits at 2 megabits. The transmitter is placed in the sidepod and then a cable runs to an an antenna on the nose on the car.

Data is transmitted from the car using the standardised McLaren electronic system and is picked up by an antenna on the roof of the race truck, behind the pits. The data then goes into the garage to a telemetry receiver rack. The signal is encypted to keep everyone's data separate.

The data is then decoded and converted into a signal that can be understood by a PC. It goes through a software system called Atlas, which displays the telemetry channels for the engineers. This is the suite which displays all the wavy lines on the screen.

The system is connected via internet to the factory in the UK

CSC's Darren Lunn (L) with Virgin's head of IT Joe Birkett (R) analyse the data


The main things that the engineers are looking at are things that could stop the car from running, such as gearbox and hydraulic temperatures and pressures.

The race engineers and drivers look at steering, throttle and brake inputs. There is a sensor on the car which detects when the tyres are slipping across the surface of the track. It measures driver inputs compared to how the car is reacting.

Working with the telemetry data, a large part of the time is spent working on the differential, the most tunable part of the car. The differential, which allows the two rear wheels to rotate at different speeds, can be adjusted for corner entry, mid corner and corner exit. It plays a big role in cornering stability and done well can contribute a lot to the lap time.


You often see the drivers studying telemetry print out sheets. So what is on them? It is mainly the driver inputs; throttle, steering and brakes. If one driver is doing a better lap time than the other, they can look at the traces and see what the inputs are compared to the car speed and that tells them how they can improve by using the controls differently.

In this Virgin telemetry print out, the wavy lines represent (from top to bottom) Revs, Gear, Car Speed, Delta time between runs, Steering angle, throttle and brake pressure overlaid.

For the Virgin Racing team the IT is managed by CSC, who take care of all the telemetry management as well as setting up the a broadband network for the team at every race.

It takes a day and a half of set up time before each Grand Prix to build the IT system, rigging the cables and the racks, connecting the connections to the car.

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37 Comments
  1. Robert Lujan says:

    Wow, that was great to know. I really like the fascinating background we get from this website. Because McLaren developed and produces the standard systems on F1 cars this season is possible that they have the ability to “listen” to the other cars and the data they are transmitting? Or do the teams have the permission to encode thier data transmissions? Thanks again for the insight!

    1. James Allen says:

      No McLaren in conjunction with Microsoft supply the electronics to all teams. They do not “listen” in and no other team suspects that they do

    2. like2cf1 says:

      In radio transmission, nothing is secret. That’s why they have encryption. Seperation is achieved by different frequecies or if on same frequency then it is multiplexed.

  2. Syed Hasan says:

    Hi James, that was superb piece of article especially the Telemetry in F1 piece was exceptional and gave huge amount of understanding which I never had earlier. Thanks so much for the report, it was fascinating

  3. drums says:

    Nice technical comments. Thank you, James

  4. f1jocker12 says:

    the purple and the blue lines are the datas from the cars? DiGrassi vs. Glock?

  5. Jon says:

    No offense James but I don’t believe for a second that the F duct gives 10km/h. In my opinion if you took it off the McLaren and they designed something else similar to the other teams, I still believe that car would be fast in a straight line. You can tell it’s design philosphy is effeciency and straight line speed rather then raw downforce, like the Merc team which use the same engine. Look at the differences in straight line speed, that’s not all F duct. McLaren complain alot about lacking downforce, but their design isn’t built for maximum downforce.

    I can’t say the exact amount it gives, and I doubt any of the other teams can either. Because they don’t use McLaren’s system. And McLaren isn’t exactly going to want to walk around telling people. They don’t even tell people the name.

    I don’t believe F duct is some magic bullet that can add 10km/h to your car. That’s why Ferrari are having problems with it, because it’s a balancing act and does have drawbacks. With each update it will improve, but even 3-4 months from now, when we look back and their pre F duct speed traps, I highly doubt it will be a 10km/h difference.

    I know some will want to reply to that and say that.. “of course it won’t show 10km/h more.. they will bolt on some extra downforce and might only gain 5km/h”.

    To that I say.. why don’t McLaren do that now then? Why don’t they bolt on more and more downforce until they get to the same straight line speed as Redbull. If they do that they should have more downforce then Redbull shouldn’t they? Because they have a more powerful engine, and they have the F duct. So they should have much more downforce if they both have the same straight line speed?

    But they don’t do that. Because their car isn’t designed to work that way. Part of the reason McLaren lack downforce is because they want a bullet in a straight line. Especially when they have a known overtaker in Hamilton to take advantage.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well you have your opinion. I get all my information from current leading F1 engineers.

    2. Jameson says:

      Jon,

      Telemetry can show the gain or the deficit. Remember, this is something that can be turned on and off. I’m sure engineers aren’t pulling numbers out of their hind quarters.

    3. Pat M says:

      I think you are making the assumption that McLaren can just “bolt on” more downforce. They can only increase the angle of the rear wing to the point at which it stalls and loses downforce, the same thing the F-duct is accomplishing on the staights but bad news in the turns. In balance they can only increase downforce at the front end to the same limit without unbalancing the centre of downforce of the car and messing up the handling. Because of the design of the rear suspension on the Red Bull, their rear end bodywork can be more efficiently designed and they get more benefit from the diffuser by having the body work accelerate air flow at the edges diffuser. Since a higher proportion of their rear end downforce comes from the diffuser, at the same stall point on te wing they have more rear end downforce than the rest of the teams and so can “bolt on” a proportionally higher amount of front end downforce and still maintain balanced down force levels on the car. I think how much top speed any team gains with an F-duct to a degree depends on how much of their rear end downforce comes from the wing and how much from the diffuser.

    4. For Sure says:

      I think this kind of comments should not be approved here.
      It just plain stupid, as simple as that.

    5. Paul Kirk says:

      Jon, I’m impressed by your comments! I’ve wondered myself about McLaren’s suposed ‘lack of downforce compared to RB’, yet they’re quicker down the strights, so obviously they’re running less d/f to reduce drag on the straights because their therory might be that most passing is done on the straights. (RB’s therory seems to be that it’s better to go around the corners quicker at the expense of straight line speed and they still do the same lap times. I’m of the same opinion as you are, they (McL) could increase their downforce quite easily but they choose not to so because they prefer to go quicker down the sraights, but of course that does hamper them on the corners. Basically everything is a compromise and they’ve got to decide between speed on straights or speed on corners and they’ve chosen to go with speed on the straights and it’s phyching everybody out making them think the “Fduct” is responsible for their extra speed when in fact it’s only responsible for part of the extra speed! It’s all very exciting, isn’t it!
      PK.

    6. kimikanen says:

      isn’t it called RW80..?

  6. Trent says:

    I’m afraid that the Istanbul Park circuit does not excite me, and the above photo of Turn 8 shows why. Can a corner be exciting with a whole paddock worth runoff on the outside? I don’t think so. Surely this is a cheap thrill compared to Eau Rouge – it’s really two white lines painted onto a vast expanse of tarmac.

    Turn 11 could also be great, but it’s not sharp enough – too easily flat and again, way to much runoff.

    If you painted Eau Rouge onto a shopping centre carpark, would it still be exciting? Of course not.

    1. Flakey says:

      I would have to agree with you. No matter how you try to make Eau Rouge look, it is no longer exciting with a F1 car. It now an area they travel flat out, with no hint of danger of a mishap.

  7. Ale says:

    thank you for the great info on telemetry James, not easy to find around

  8. Rob Haswell says:

    Another great article, thanks James! This is just the kind of information I love reading about – keep up the good work. Do us all a favour and take Legard’s job at the beeb!

  9. Julian F says:

    Thanks James, very interesting article indeed!

    Cheers
    Julian

  10. Pete Aaron says:

    Speaking of technical items, it surprises me that F1 cars still use rear view mirrors. One would think that street car technology using little lipstick cameras would project the rear view on an in-car video display. Suddenly, mirror aero drag is gone.

  11. chuck says:

    not a question related to tech stuff but why are the McLarens sporting Diageo sponsorship instead of their normal Johnnie Walker?

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Maybe advertising alcohol is forbidden in Turkey?

    2. Just A Bloke (Martin) says:

      Johnny Walker is one product in the Diageo portfolio I think. Maybe it is just a local variation, perhaps direct alcohol branding is forbidden but the company name can still be used.

    3. Drez says:

      Johnny Walker is only one of the brands owned by Diageo.

      Johnny Walker is probably not marketed in Turkey.

  12. I think you might not quite have the timing printout quite right James. The red and the blue are the delta’s between runs – either the best/fastest run with the latest run or each lap back to back. Hope that helps.

    My question is, what are the little green, red and blue coloured squares at the bottom of the trends?

    (I’m an Electrical Engineer with experience in control systems, I usually read graphs of kW vs steam pressures, or tonnes per hour vs kW for coalmines! :) )

    1. James Allen says:

      Well that was the explanation Virgin’s IT guy gave me so….

  13. Brian Erk says:

    I hate to complain/nit-pick about your exceedingly well written and informative articles, but surely mph figures would be more relevant to your readers?

    I would understand the km/h usage if this site was written in Italian or French, for example.

    ps. I echo the above comment re Legard!

    1. like2cf1 says:

      Well, the world is practically reading in kmph, metric that is…except for a few.

    2. Trent says:

      Who are the readers?
      The web is international, don’t forget.

      Not many people nowdays stuck back in the old mph scale. Plus, there is no way engineers would discuss speed in the old school units.

  14. Galapago555 says:

    Another fantastic James. Very interesting, and providing us with info that we can not find anywhere around. I look forward to read your comments on tomorrow’s race. Keep up the good job.

  15. Paul says:

    I was interested to learn that the differential can be fine tuned to such an extent. How does the car know what part of the corner it is in to apply entry, mid and exit differential settings?

  16. Paul Kirk says:

    Excelent article James!!!! I really enjoy the technical stuff, and there seems to be a distinct lack of information available,(understandably).
    Thanks,
    PK.

  17. Chuck Jones says:

    James, keep it coming. It’s this type of really informative artical that makes you the:Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari (take your pick) of this side of the business of F1. You never seem to be tempted,like so many others, to creat issues that have little or no basis of fact!

  18. Pawel says:

    5-6 Gigabytes of data from a single car? Hard to believe. I guess such enormous amount if data is coming not only from telemetry. Dozens of sensors could not provide gigabyte of data. I believe data include video cameras pictures.

  19. Paul says:

    Just a general comment about Martin Brundle’s commentary on BBC1 on Kamui Kobayashi … where he expressed some scepticism over his performances last year with Toyota. kamui has been in Q3 on 3 occasions this season in the sauber which is frankly not that quick or reliablle which confirms the raw pace and aggression that we saw last year … not sure why the team from the BBC seem to have it in for him. Obviously he looked a bit more accomplished at Abu Dahbi , but that was maybe because he felt more confortable in an entirely japanese team. I think he is still the most talented Japanese driver we have seen in F1 and he will come good in the races very soon !

  20. Neil Kenward says:

    James,

    Another excellent article, JA on F1 is indespensable for insight.

    I also echo the Legard comment.

    kudos

  21. Bosco Fan says:

    Thanks for the info, James. Great insight, as usual.

    Can you get the similar data from the Red Bulls from Lap 36 to 41 please? I think all the fans would love to see it. Or maybe it’s just me. 8-)

    If I may, I’d just like point out three things from the graph. Blue had some oversteer at Massanet while red got some too in the middle of Tabac ;-)

  22. Iain McGregor says:

    Brilliant stuff James, as usual. On a slightly more prosaic note: the Mclarens looked partcularly shiny in Turkey, have they changed the paint spec again?

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