With the Buddh International Circuit all set to host the inaugural Indian GP on 30th October, as the 17th Grand Prix of 2011 season, we thought it is the perfect time to simplify a few F1 fundae...
To begin with, F1 is a strictly regulated sport with a single-seat, open cockpit, open wheel racing car that has substantial front and rear wings, and an engine positioned behind the driver. The word “Formula” in Formula One refers to the rules and technical as well as physical specifications of cars. The cars used are the most advanced and sophisticated in the world. These cars have the capacity to run at more than 320 KMPH.
G - FORCE
F1 IS a physically - demanding sport, which requires a lot of stamina and endurance. With sudden turns and braking at top speeds (320 kmph), up to 3.5 G (3.5 times the body weight of the driver) of cornering force is exerted on the driver’s body. In case of an accident, drivers face stresses of up to 80 times the force of gravity. In such a situation, the weight of the head and helmet shoots up to over 500 kg. The Head and Neck Support (HANS) system consists of a carbon fibre brace around the neck. The helmet is connected to the collar by two tethers, which allows free movement. In an accident, the force on the neck and skull is reduced dramatically. The HANS is a big life- saver as it reduces the effects of whiplash on the driver.
OVER & UNDERSTEER
OVERSTEER and understeer are terms to signify whether a car is making the right ‘ amount’ of turn at a prescribed speed. Basically, oversteer means that a car is turning too quickly into a corner when the driver makes a turn at a constant speed, while understeer means the car isn’t turning enough, overshooting the curve. At top speeds in F1, ever the slightest over or understeer is magnified many-fold.
THE STEERING WHEEL
ONE OF the most complicated pieces of equipment on board, the steering wheel gives the driver everything he needs at the tip of the fingers. It has about 15- 18 buttons and knobs, which are used to change gears, adjust fuel- air mix, change brake pressure etc. When the driver wants to have a few sips of water, he pushes a button on the wheel which sends a spray of fluid through the helmet into the mouth. Data such as engine rpm, lap times, speed etc is displayed on the screen at the top of the steering wheel. The steering wheel should be easily removable, as the driver can not come out of the car unless it is detached from the frame.
DRAG REDUCTION SYSTEM (DRS)
AERODYNAMICS are a major part of an F1 car. With ‘ moveable aerodynamics’ being incorporated, the driver is able to make adjustments to the rear wing. The Drag Reduction System is an electronically- governed system, which can be activated by a driver during the race when he is less than one second behind another car at pre- determined points on the track. The rear wings flip open, allowing smoother flow of air and additional pace. The system is deactivated once the driver brakes. DRS can be used at any time in practice and qualifying but only on limited stretches on race day.
WHAT IS KERS?
KINETIC Energy Recovery System is an effective way of providing additional thrust to an already powerful Formula One car, which have around 750 bhp pushing it, during critical junctures of the race. Simply speaking, it’s a device which stores the energy that is created when brakes are applied, converts it into power that can be used at the push of a button. Regulations permit the utilisation of around 80bhp ( generated by the KERS) for up to 6.67 seconds per lap, which can be used either at one go or at different points around the circuit. This technology, however, is not compulsory.KERS was introduced to promote the development of environment friendly technologies and to aid overtaking in races.
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