In truth, bobjengr, I believe most experienced engineers would have preferred a more hands-on approach than Dr. Stare provided. The tendency for such courses to become too theoretical is a subject for long and lively discussions.
It seems that more horsepower out of a small engine means better fuel efficiency as well. It would be interesting to know how fuel managment in race cars translates to fuel efficiency for everyday passenger vehicles. I know lighter weight and aerodaynamics play a part, but what about the engines themselves. Anyone have an insight into this?
Charles, what a great article.Very informative.I thought I knew a thing or two about engines and Formula 1 racing.As it turns out, this old dog learned several new tricks from the write-up AND the very informative comments.While a student, I enrolled in a course called "Internal Combustion Engines", taught by Dr. W.K. Stare.Like a rookie, I thought we would learn how to tear down engines, replace valves, machine cam shafts,etc etc.It was during those ancient days when universities had at least one semester of machine shop (manufacturing processes).(You get the picture.) Instead, it was about dissociation equations, engine indicators, combustion processes and the chemistry of combustion.I got out of there with a "B" only because Dr. Stare believed in grading on the "curve" and that year was his last before retirement. He, in my case, definitely felt generous.Fascinating course but one I probably could not pass today.
We'll have a post answering that question tomorrow, Rob. The driver plays a big role, but engineers can still tweak the dampers, geabox lubricants and coatings. Sounds minor, but Indy teams spend thousands of man-hours working on those variables.
Rob, the differences between the cars are miniscule, and for the previous 11 years it was more like sharpening a pencil over and over, trying to get the very sharpest point. This is reflected in the diminishing returns the two red teams got for their cubic dollars, spending it in aero and (especially) suspension improvements.
This year, we have an all-new engine package and two new body kits from Dallara (basically low downforce for Indy & Fontana, higher downforce elsewhere (including Texas, to hold the speeds down below gray-out levels). The teams are busy with their aero & suspension tweaks; but this year, with the disruption from the new rules, you'll see the chance for the smaller experienced teams, like Panther, to do well.
Although the cars are loaded with instrumentation feeding back via telemetry to the pit wall, some of it still goes back to the driver & how well s/he can set up the car. What's more, although one would think that two (or even three or four) cars in a team should be set up identically; but in fact each driver has their differences & their preferences, as some may brake with their left foot & others brake with their right. Also, they may like slightly different setups, with a common difference the angle of front wheel caster.
There is not enough down-force for the IndyCar drivers to be pedal-to-the-metal around the turns at Indianapolis -- FALSE
In fact, the cars are trimmed out to just the point where they can indeed go flat out all the way around the 2½ mile track, with in-cockpit adjustments made to the roll bar at different parts of the track to compensate for wind & track grip. In fact, in qualifying trim they run with a negative rear wing angle to take it right to the knife edge.
The drivers haven't been lifting in the turns since the early 1980's when ground effect cars were introduced by Jim Hall. (I've been going to the Indy 500 almost every year since 1967).