April 17, 2016

F1 4WD

I'm no automotive engineer. (These days I'm not really much of an engineer of any kind.) But I had a strange thought last night: how would an F1 car do if it was four-wheel-drive?

Right off the top, I came up with this:

-- It would be less reliable. Every component of a machine has a failure rate, and the more components, the greater the chance that something will fail. However, the increase in the failure rate might not be enough to matter.

-- It would make the car heavier, and thus it would not accelerate as well on straights.

-- It would corner better. If the front wheels are turned and are pulling the car, it's going to be possible to go faster through a turn. That's not so much a question of picking up time, it means the car would corner like softs when it was wearing intermediate tires. So you could get away with fewer pitstops because you spend most of your time on tires which last better.

-- And finally, there's probably a rule against it, or there soon would be. Every time anyone comes up with an interesting feature (like the six-wheel car and the vacuum cleaner car) the spoilsports at F1 outlaw it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 09:35 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 211 words, total size 1 kb.

1 You're right, there is a rule against 4WD, but it isn't for the reason you think.

Back in 1982, Williams created the FW08B, a six-wheeled chassis.  Unlike the better-known Tyrrell P34 and its four small wheels up front, the FW08B had four wheels in the rear... and all were powered (6x4!).  It never actually raced... the given reason was that it would have been a nightmare during pit stops. 

The FIA was driven by the FW08B to define a F1 car as having four wheels, with the rear pair only being powered, "accidentally" eliminating more traditional 4WD vehicles at the same time.

Not all that long ago, Red Bull was asked to design their "ultimate F1 car"... and it had standard rear wheel drive.  They said the weight increase for 4WD wasn't balanced by the traction improvement.

So that's probably the real reason we won't see 4WD back in F1... it's just not cost-effective anymore.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 17, 2016 12:07 PM (XQ5ac)

2 Oh, and there's talk about bringing ground effect back into F1... maybe that'll lead back to the fancar?

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 17, 2016 12:10 PM (XQ5ac)

3 I wonder if it doesn't also have a lot to do with the aero. If you've got AWD, the power has to get to the front wheels somehow - and the nose of an F1 car isn't very substantial as it is (and the driver's compartment takes up a good chunk of that). Expanding the nose to accommodate the drive shaft, and the front suspension to actually drive the front wheels instead of just holding on to them, would probably make it harder to get as much aerodynamic grip, right? So even if you got more mechanical grip, you might lose it right back from the aero issues.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at April 17, 2016 12:52 PM (v29Tn)

4 Av, I'm willing to bet that if you widened the nose, car designers would figure out a way to get an aero boost out of it... in effect, using the entire nose as a wing, instead of using the wing as a wing.

If you understand what I'm saying.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 17, 2016 05:25 PM (XQ5ac)

5 Honda/Acura NSX has front traction motors, which may be an example of what's possible. They look quite small in the photographs.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 17, 2016 06:31 PM (XOPVE)


Electric drive, Pete? I bet electric drive is against the rules, too. They ban anything that looks like fun...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 17, 2016 07:16 PM (+rSRq)

7 You want electric drive?  Formula E is for you, and The Varsha is the main announcer to boot!

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 17, 2016 07:25 PM (XQ5ac)

8 Problem is they go whirr rather than vroom.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at April 17, 2016 07:59 PM (PiXy!)

9 The worlds largest RC cars, yep yep.  I hate 'em.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 17, 2016 08:25 PM (XQ5ac)

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