Sauber gives fascinating insight into how an F1 car is packaged
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 May 2012   |  4:09 pm GMT  |  76 comments

Every now and then an F1 team puts out a video that really gets you thinking.

Sauber has issued a video which gives a really good insight into how all the technology and components are packaged into an F1 car.

They’ve done something very innovative: cutting a car in half, so you see exactly how the engine, the fuel cell and even the driver fit in. Everything is about getting the weight low to the ground. The driver’s backside is only 10mm off the track surface, for example!

Sergio Perez lends a hand to show how unnatural the position of the driver is.

For a full selection of team videos and insights go to JA on F1 Connect

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Amazing insight. I’m just surprised how small the major components looked inside the car and how little there was. A refreshing video. Well done Sauber. Thanks James for posting it.


As I said above, great video! Sorry to sound picky but, surely the ‘Legality Plank’ is at least 10mm thick, so technically, is it really correct that the driver’s bum is 10mm from the ground?


Well engineers have been sectioning engines and other assemblies for donkeys years so nothing new there, but applied to a whole car is perhaps not so common. As an engineer from the automotive industry it’s fascinating to see a quick glimpse of the packaging, and what strikes me is just how flimsy everything is. Of course everything is paired down to the absolute minimum with use of exotic materials where strength for weight is important which is just about everywhere. The fuel cell is interesting! – very flimsy, but adequate to do the job. I think the drivers back side is a little more than 10mm off the track as there is the gap to the plank, plank thickness, and seat thickness and so on, but certainly not very far away. A little too quick for me as I’d like to see it in much greater detail, but a tantalising glimpse nonetheless.


That is fascinating, would love a high res side on shot for the desktop. I’ve seen lots of virtual representations of the drivers position before but nothing that truly shows the extreme that this demonstrates. Thank you Sauber for such insight. Would love to know how long it took to create though!


This is great, fair play to Sauber for taking the time to do this.

The one thing that surprised me was the elevated drivers leg position, I always assumed this to be similar to karting with legs straight out, not elevated in this way.

Very insightful stuff James, cheers for sharing.


Does anyone know why it took 2 years to make? Surely they could have just borrowed one of those lazers from a bond villan and cut it in half in a couple of minutes! I imagine there are a few bond villains already working in f1

Bring Back Murray

Bernie Ecclestone?


Thanks for that James. I didnt know the fuel cell had that many layers.I wonder if the current higher noses increases the tilt of the driver position even further. Drivers must feel like their back in their mothers womb ! Lol


Fascinating. Been an F1 fan for nearly 20 years but learnt lots from this video – that says something about the sport and the teams’ level of secrecy.

Fuel cell detail was remarkable – how can something as expensive as kevlar look so much like a simple padded envelope! Also, seeing just how close the driver is to the floor makes it hard to believe that more drivers don’t get spine and back problems in later life.

Kudos to Sauber for this. A great insight. Like others have said, I think no F1 fan is agreived when Sauber succeed. Great to see them on form this year with two clearly talented and very likable drivers.


And can you now imagine a 43 year old sitting in this acrobatic position for more than 1 hour and 30 minutes during race days while driving the car to its limit? With Sergio, it looked more or less natural to be able to do this – I am not sure I will be able to do this kind of torture to myself in my 40s for an extended period of time. Kudos to Michael.

Bring Back Murray

Maybe we should all go and cut our own cars in half, and James gives us a prize for the best video.


I found that extremely interesting! It’s amazing how everything is packaged so well! In the old days we’d just keep putting stuf in the chassis, but these days I can see that every single component is designed on the computor with an eye to where it fits, what shape it is, what it weighs/what effect it has on c of g/aerodynamics, etc., not to mention such things as suspension design/handling/safty etc.

Talking about steering, does anybody know what Kimi was wanting/modifying/having trouble with that caused him to lose so much time in FP1 at Monaco? Was it a problem with the steering or did he want something modified to suit him better?



Thanks for putting this up James. Really fascinating and as expected cutting edge. Sauber should be congratulated and thanked for doing this for the benefit of all those interested in F1.



stuart briggs

Exellent insight!



I couldn’t believe how tiny the engine looked

It boggles the mind

Thanks James


Don’t forget that it’s a V-8 engine, and so the cylinders are moving away and into the body of the car. This makes for an engine block that’s lower and wider than what you are used to seeing under the bonnet of most road cars. It’s still tiny, especially given the power it generates, but bare in mind that there’ll be a lot more engine in there that can’t be seen on this video.


Good point

Forgot about the 112 degree (?) angle

Still mighty powerful for the size though

I’m actually quite excited by the new spec engines

Difficult to comprehend the power, efficiency, size

And reliability engineers are able to achieve in modern F1



I too was amazed by that!


Excellent video and nice to bring that to us James. Do the drivers feel any numbness in their legs for having them in that position for 2 hours straight? Coz I’d imagine blood don’t flow to the legs very well like that! o_O


Irvine had problems with lower back pains I remember. Others have too


I recall Mansell being in great pain at the end of grand prix. McLaren days I think. I remember Barry Sheene interviewed him as he got out of the car in Australia I think. Nige could barely talk let alone walk.


I believe Irvine’s physical workouts focused primarily on the lower front.


Actually James Fernando Alonso has mentioned back pain on his blog I believe, including sciatic nerve issues particularly last year. As a mere mortal with similar issues while driving my Mazda much slower, it did make me feel at least I was in good company 😛


Absolutely astonishing! I knew things were tight and low in an F1 car, but actually seeing HOW tight and HOW low is amazing. And what a great way to show it, to cut a car in half – what a great idea (I wonder if they took their inspiration from Damien Hurst!). Thanks Sauber and thanks James.


This is why Sauber are so loved by F1 fans. I’m sure most F1 followers no matter how deep their passion is for thier team have a soft spot for Peter Sauber & his team. They are like the modern day Minardi team but much more competitive.


Great video


Awesome. It gives a new realisation when you can actually see things that you’ve heard of e.g. the seating position, just 10mm off the tarmac. Wow, some of those kerbs and chicanes must really hurt.


Phenomenal! That’ll be one for the archives—it’ll take more than a few times through to get a handle on everything that’s going on there.

Back in the early 80’s, when ground effect was banned, there was a video featuring Williams F1 entitled “Gentlemen Lift Your Skirts” ( While not the same as a cut-away of an F1 car, this video has stuck in my mind for years as something that was (and still is) similarly fascinating from a technical perspective.

Renault or Cosworth, again involving Willaims F1, did one on engine construction at one point too, but I can’t quickly locate that one on YouTube.

I could never get too much of this sort of stuff. It adds so much more to the experience of watching an F1 race.


Thanks for the youtube link.

I’ve just whiled away a very enjoyable hour watching all about the williams team circa 1980. Great to see the rapport between Frank Williams, Alan Jones, Neil Oatley and insight from a very youthful looking Patrick Head and Peter Windsor.

Alan: Can you put suspension on the seat?

Frank: You could sit on your wallet.

Alan: You’d have to give me something to put in it first

A nostalgic look back on a much simpler time.

Thank you.


James, I cant believe how good that was. Are you able to get more of these typres of insights. Not all countries get the exrta footage that you get on the tv outside of the 2 hours of the race.



That was Sauber produced. Other teams post nice vids as do drivers, which is why we brought them all together along with the news sites on the JA on F1 Connect site, so you can dip into all this stuff in one place and get links etc.


I too found that an amazing look at an F1 car. Being a Sauber fan it was especially good. I continually find it frustrating and the lack of coverage for the Sauber team when they are consistantly up there challenging the “big” teams, they seem to always be left out of discussions on the TV coverage we receive in Australia, which usually is fixated on the British teams – I know its the BBC but they should realise the coverage is global !!


We actually get Sky sports feed this year in Australia, not the BBC feed, but your sentiment remains the same.


Most interesting piece on F1 I have seen in a long time, great marketing tool as I can see people flocking to see this at a race track. Sauber are really positioning themselves as pioneers and innovators. I was a fan in the Frentzen days, I am fast becoming a fan again… Well done to them and thanks James for posting this.


Thanks James… very interesting. I can appreciate why everyone (except Michael during quali) avoids the bump after Casino in Monaco.