Five problems F1 designers face in 2010

Early design problems held McLaren back in 2009

Early design problems held McLaren back in 2009

F1 cars will weigh almost 100kg more at the start of a race this year compared to last.

That presents a host of challenges to F1 designers such as brake wear, ride height, weight distribution and tyre wear. Any team which doesn’t get a grip of the problems will find themselves playing catch-up like McLaren did in 2009.

We’ll find out what their solutions are when the 2010 F1 car launches start next week. How might they try to solve them?

The starting point for most of the challenges facing F1 designers this year is the banning of refuelling. Instead of having cars weighing up to 660-700kg at the start of a race and 605kg at the end, that variation will be more like 800kg to 620kg.

That has major repercussions for the design of the cars in several key areas:

Brakes

Brakes will take an even greater pounding in 2010 as drivers will have to brake harder and longer in their fuel-heavy cars. And designers will have to get it right straight from the off as the first race of the season is at Bahrain, one of the toughest tracks for brake wear.

F1′s most notorious brake-buster – the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal – will be back later in 2010. And teams will return to Abu Dhabi where higher than expected brake wear caused problems for McLaren and Red Bull in 2009.

And they’ve got to cope with all that using brakes which are the same size as those they had last year:

11.3.2 All discs must have a maximum thickness of 28mm and a maximum outside diameter of 278mm.
FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations 2010

In the second half of last season – particularly after the Surtees and Massa accidents – we saw the stewards crack down on teams to prevent them from running cars that were damaged or dangerous. We saw this in their reaction to Fernando Alonso losing a wheel during the Hungarian Grand Prix, and BMW being ordered to replace Robert Kubica’s damaged front wing at Monza.

When Mark Webber crashed with brake failure at Singapore, it was shortly after the team had warned him on the radio that he had a brake problem and should return to the pits. Teams who do not take that precaution next year are likely to face the wrath of the stewards.

Ride heights

Timo Glock, Singapore

Teams will have to watch their plank wear at bumpy tracks

Heavy fuel weights at the start of a race present another problem for designers. For optimum performance the cars need to run as low to the ground as possible. But as the fuel weight decreases the cars will ride higher because there will be less mass pushing down on their suspension springs.

In the last two seasons when refuelling was not allowed in F1 – 1992 and 1993 – many teams solved this problem using active suspension technology, which could be programmed to compensate for the ever-decreasingly fuel load by gradually reducing the ride height.

But two clauses in the 2010 rules prevent those kind of systems from being used:

10.2.2 Any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of the suspension system is forbidden.
10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.
FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations 2010

The regulations appear not to rule out teams designing mechanical systems to adjust ride height during pit stops, but that may prove too complicated and time-consuming to achieve.

As has been the case since 1994, teams which run their cars too low are at risk of wearing down their skid blocks (also known as ‘planks’). This year will be the first season they’ve had to keep their plank wear in check while refuelling has not been allowed.

If you see pictures of cars in the pits without their nose cones on you may spot laser ride height sensors being used by the teams to check their compliance with the rules – especially during the forthcoming pre-season tests.

Fuel consumption

The Cosworth CA2010 engines Williams and four other teams will use

The Cosworth CA2010 engines Williams and four other teams will use

With refuelling banned the teams now have to fit an entire race-worth of fuel into their car. As Dominic Harlow of Force India explained recently, they begin by looking at the track which is the most demanding in terms of fuel consumption.

A rough calculation using Williams’ fuel consumption figures from last year suggests that will be the Singapore Grand Prix – 61 laps each using 2.533kg of fuel needing 154.5kg of fuel. But the real picture is more complicated than that.

To begin with, that figure of 2.533kg per lap will increase in 2010 because the minimum weight of the cars has gone up by 15kg to 620kg. Also, the cars will consume fuel at a faster rate at the beginning of the race due to the extra weight of fuel on board. That means they will need even more fuel in the tank to begin with.

Then we have to factor in the varying fuel consumption rates of different engines. Williams used the comparatively thirsty Toyota engine last year – this year they will have Cosworth engines whose performance is an unknown quantity. The FW32 is the first Cosworth-powered car we’ll get a look at, and the size of its back end compared to its rivals could give us an indication of how thirsty Cosworth’s CA2010 is.

The other engine users face the challenge of adapting their engines as to achieve better fuel economy within the strict engine freeze rules. This is a particular challenge for Mercedes and Ferrari, whose fuel consumption in 2009 was much higher than the likes of Renault (see this post on Gavin’s blog for more).

Weight distribution

The reduction in front tyre width combined with the enlargement of the fuel tanks means some tough calls have to be made on weight distribution.

Front tyres will be 25mm narrower in 2010 compared to last year. So while in 2009 designers aimed to move weight distribution forward, this year they’re likely to try to move it rearward.

This may also lead to a reversal in the trend towards shorter wheelbases we saw last year.

Bridgestone will be supplying more durable tyres in 2010 to cope with the increased wear.

Rear packaging

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Abu Dhabi, 2009

Red Bull had the quickest car at the end of 2009

One of the biggest technical stories of 2009 was the controversial double diffusers. Teams will be able to run them again in 2010 – but are looking to ban them in 2011.

They offer such a valuable increase in downforce it’s unlikely any teams will race without them this year. But the air flow around the rear of the car will be compromised by the enlarged fuel tanks which will require the radiators to be re-positioned and enlarged. Ferrari have already confirmed they will integrate the oil tank for their car within the gearbox case to give more room for the fuel tank.

Last year the Red Bull RB5 had low, tightly-sculpted side pods and pull road rear suspension. It will be harder to pull off that arrangement while meeting the demands imposed by the diffuser and the larger fuel tank. But if any designer is likely to spring a surprise it’s Adrian Newey. The team have already admitted the RB6 will not appear at the first test while it fine-tunes what could be the most radical design on the pit lane.

One other potentially significant change here is that no team will be running KERS. McLaren and Ferrari potentially have more to gain in this area compared to their 2009 designs which still had KERS installations at the end of last season.

Launch season

These are just the obvious changes we expect to see in 2010. What other, more radical ideas might F1 designers have up their sleeves?

Next week we’ll start to see the cars in their launch configurations but as usual the teams will wait until the later tests to finalise their aerodynamic packages for the first race at Bahrain.

Which team do you think will produce the strongest car for 2010? What other design problems do you expect? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: Will F1 cars lap quicker in 2010?

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73 comments on Five problems F1 designers face in 2010

  1. Accidental Mick said on 22nd January 2010, 10:34

    One other (minor) point about brakes.

    As I understand it, hub caps are banned this year. As these were introduced to aid brake cooling is their absence going to cause more problems?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd January 2010, 10:40

      Wasn’t that more a case of Ferrari, when they introduced them at Istanbul in 2006, saying they were there to cool the brakes when really there function was aerodynamic?

      Or am I being too cynical?

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 22nd January 2010, 11:06

        You could do worse than to be cynical about it all, Keith. It has been a long-standing tradition for teams to find the biggest cracks to slip through with regards to the rules. “It aids cooling” is one of their favourite excuses. Wheel covers? Aids cooling. New barge boards? Aids cooling. Brabham fan car? Aids cooling.

        These days, only half of the racing is done on the track. The other half is done in the rule book, and it’s been that way ever since the advent of aerodynamics. While the drivers are out racing for position, the teams are busying themselves trying to get the other cars banned and theirs declared legal. Look at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix, when McLaren tried to get the BMW Saubers and Nico Rosberg thrown out of the final standings because they had a fuel injection system that illegally cooled fuel. Despite the fact that it was only by half a degree, was an unintended consequence of their latest upgrade and offered no improvement to performance whatsoever, they nevertheless tried. It was pretty telling that they didn’t launch any action against Kazuki Nakajima, despite the Japanese driver having the same equipment as Nico Rosberg – because Nakajima finished behind Lewis Hamilton. Getting the BMWs and Rosberg disqualified would have given Hamilton the title.

        Or look at the double diffusers. Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault all claimed they wanted Brawn, Williams and Toyota thrown out because the double diffuser designs weren’t “in the spirit of the rules”, but it was pretty obvious that they’d seen the design, had seen how quick the Brawns in particular had been. Their appeal was basically a case of “they thought of something we haven’t, and now we want it banned because we don’t have one and so we’ll be slower”.

        So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Ferrari tried to pass an aerodynamic aid off as being a part designed to cool the brakes. If anything, covering that part of the wheel is simply going to reduce airflow and make the brakes hotter.

        • I’m not really disagreeing with you but…

          “If anything, covering that part of the wheel is simply going to reduce airflow and make the brakes hotter.”

          From what I can see, the caps channel the airflow into a desired path, so even if there is less net airflow, it can be directed onto parts that need cooling.

        • As far as I knew they were all about cleaning up the airflow around the tyre and nothing to do with cooling.

          • djdaveyp said on 22nd January 2010, 15:28

            If i remember correctly brawn had to take them off one race last year because of over heating issues!

          • José Baudaier said on 22nd January 2010, 18:24

            Rubens spent the first half of last year’s season without hubcaps on the rear wheels because it was overheating the breaks.

    • Gusto said on 22nd January 2010, 15:42

      As well as an aid to brake cooling the fairings help reduce the vortices around the wheel, also they allow a smaller inlet area for the brake cooling ducts meaning less drag.

      • Gusto said on 22nd January 2010, 22:47

        Come to think of it Ive taken that explaination as gospel, but when you think of it it`s described as a Wheel fairing, which in its enginering description is a aerodynamic addition to help laminer air flow over a surface that has gaps in it. The Bernoulli effect creates the low pressure air transfer cooling effect, could it be a case of what came first, the cooling or the aero?………I know about how they got around it because the wheel hub isnt a fixed aero etc etc, but did they realise the cooling effect in its design. These things keep me awake at night :-)

  2. HounslowBusGarage said on 22nd January 2010, 10:47

    Looking at the cut-away diagram of the 2010 Ferrari that was produced in a Spanish paper last week, I noted that the fuel tank was relatively ‘vertical’ and stacked high up behind the driver if you see what I mean. So wouldn’t that also produce a much higher centre of gravity at the start of the race (although the CoG would descend as the fuel drained towards the bottom of the tank as the race progressed). Would that exascerbate the problem in the early laps?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd January 2010, 11:03

      Adrian Newey was saying last week at Autosport that the fuel tank has gotten so much larger they’ve not got much choice other than to make it wider and taller.

      As you say, it’s a trade-off because as the fuel goes down the centre of gravity will improve and the shape and size of the fuel tank will influence that.

      • Hakka said on 22nd January 2010, 15:40

        In a related matter: I wonder if drivers and teams that had the extra mass of KERS to deal with in 2009 will do a better job of balancing the car with the heavier fuel tank in 2010 – they’ve also had more experience working with a smaller amount of ballast.

      • José Baudaier said on 22nd January 2010, 18:27

        Do the rules only allow one fuel tank?

  3. SuperSwede said on 22nd January 2010, 10:56

    Fantastic article!

    I think that the adjustable front wings will be of greater importance this year. Mainly because of the narrower front tyres, but also because of the change in car balance, weight and ride height.

  4. Chris said on 22nd January 2010, 11:07

    Nice article,
    I really hope we’ll see a competitive RedBull Renault and also a resurgence of Williams. Let’s hope that Newey has some good ideas produce a title winning car, with no engine trouble from Renault’s side. Concerning Williams, it’s really time for them to be competitive again, but yeah, you know what they say (in Dutch): patience is a clean affair.

    Besides, I read at GPupdate that Raikkonen will anounce possible plans about an F1 return later this year. Is a possible link to the RedBull team a good option for him, since he’s going to do the WRC in a RedBull Citroen? I think it could be the right squad for him, as long as Newey is at the helm of the design team. I also think that RedBull has a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Mclaren or Mercedes.

    • J.A. Summers said on 22nd January 2010, 13:11

      Patience is a “good” affair, Chris, not a “clean” one. Otherwise, I agree with you. I would like to see Räikkönen in a Newey-powered Red Bull. On the other hand, I would prefer Webber to stay there.

  5. F1Yankee said on 22nd January 2010, 11:09

    “To begin with, that figure of 2.533kg per lap will increase in 2010 because the minimum weight of the cars has gone up by 15kg to 620kg. Also, the cars will consume fuel at a faster rate at the beginning of the race due to the extra weight of fuel on board. That means they will need even more fuel in the tank to begin with.”

    i disagree. fuel consumption rises with weight because more energy is needed to reach a certain performance level. however, race cars are generating maximum power from the engines already. a motor at 100% strapped to 1 ton is just as thirsty as a motor at 100% strapped to 10 tons.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 22nd January 2010, 11:12

      Just as thirsty it may be, but as the fuel level drops, the weight of the car does, too. There is less mass for the engine to drive forward, and thus fuel consumption will drop. It won’t be a significant change, but it will almost certainly produce a faster lap time.

      • F1Yankee said on 22nd January 2010, 11:15

        the rate of consumption is constant, but the acceleration (in all directions) increases.

        • F1Yankee

          “fuel consumption rises with weight”

          “rate of consumption is constant”

          I’m a little confused.

          With any given combustion engine it takes more fuel to move a heavier object a set distance therefore fuel consumption will be higher, no?

          • F1Yankee said on 22nd January 2010, 11:45

            i should have said
            “normally, fuel consumption rises as you try to accelerate a huge barge to highway speed.”

            because you are asking for more power from the engine to accelerate a greater mass to the same velocity.

            “rate of consumption is constant” means the racing driver is asking for 100% of the possible power no matter what. he has his foot all the way down regardless of the mass of the vehicle.

          • But (or and) the vehicle is heavier so over a set distance it will need more fuel meaning over that distance, say a lap, the rate of consumption will rise…

        • lukeaa said on 22nd January 2010, 12:07

          The fuel economy of the car will be reduced: with the greater weight of the car the lap time will be increased, so with the engine still going at full whack, it will use the same amount of fuel /unit of time, therefor will use more fuel/lap. This will indeed need to be compensated for

        • Can we say that fuel consumption is proportional to how long and how much throttle is open? Taking into consideration that initial laps are longer and there is more time needed to accelerate – indeed first laps would need more fuel but not so much..

    • Hairs said on 22nd January 2010, 12:08

      Keith is correct – the engine may be consuming the same fuel rate at 18k rpm regardless of weight, but in terms of lap distance the cars will have used less fuel to travel 1 lap at the end of the race than they did at the start of the race, when the cars were travelling slower due to weight. Engine Fuel Rate is not the same as MPG.

    • @ F1Yankee – A motor at 100% would require less fuel to drive 100 kilos the same distance (one lap), as compared to fuel needed to drive 150 kilos the same distance… That means, a heavier car will consume more fuel with the motor running at same capacity than a lighter car. So, the cars in 2010 will consume more fuel (and might still be slower than 2009 cars) in the beginning laps due the heavier fuel load. Also, the overall fuel consumption might be tad higher than last year due to the increase in the dry weight of the 2010 car. So, the design challenge is to keep performance for heavier 2010 cars at the same levels as lighter previous seasons’ cars with the same engine (as engine development is at a freeze).
      Also, it’s not just the fuel tank, there’s much more like the adjustable front wing, the narrower front tires etc. which will have an effect on the overall performance, so, we’ll just have to wait and watch what the teams come up with.

      • F1Yankee said on 22nd January 2010, 22:31

        the engine doesn’t consume more fuel because the mass of the vehicle increases. larger cars get less fuel economy because the driver wants more mass with the same acceleration, so more energy is required. ergo, more fuel is consumed.

        i’m arguing that this doesn’t apply to race cars, as the driver is calling for maximum power regardless of mass.

        F=MA

        same force, more mass, less acceleration

        • Skett said on 23rd January 2010, 11:53

          The simple fact it though, overall fuel economy will be lower because although they will be using 100% throttle most of the time, due to the lower acceleration caused by the extra weight, they will have 100% throttle for longer.

        • Racehound said on 23rd January 2010, 14:22

          Take 2 identical Ferraris….add 100kgs extra ballast to 1 of them, and by the end of 1 lap or 200 laps the car with extra weight will have used more fuel!!!! Absolutely no doubt about that!!! #:)

    • Hallard said on 22nd January 2010, 20:33

      Even if the rate of consumption is the same with all the extra fuel, the cars will be travelling SLOWER, which means that they will use more fuel PER LAP than if they began on low fuel. Since fuel consumption here is being defined on a per-lap basis, Keith’s statement is correct.

    • Martin B said on 23rd January 2010, 19:57

      Interesting point, F1Yankee.

      If we assume the engine sucks in the same amount of fuel with every intake stroke (i.e. throttle always fully open or fully closed), then the amount of fuel used is proportional to the number of revolutions the engine makes over the race distance while delivering power (i.e. not including braking distances when presumably a fuel cut-off operates).

      Heavier car = lower gearing generally = more revs = more fuel
      Heavier car = longer distance in lower gears = more revs = more fuel
      Heavier car = longer distance under braking = more no-fuel revs = less fuel

      On balance, I think they will use more fuel.

      But then maybe they reduce downforce hence drag hence more time in top gear hence less fuel used… I think I’ll just wait and see what happens.

    • Richard said on 24th January 2010, 16:46

      it seems to me it’s not the fuel consuption with a static load as you have described, but the aerodynamics of the car and tire compounds / pressures that can reduce the load transferred to the track, plus the driver ability that will define fuel consumption. On the track there is considerable acceleration and de-acceleration going on that is in driver control and the engines are not always running 100%.

      Fundamentally the original comment “To begin with, that figure of 2.533kg per lap will increase in 2010 because the minimum weight of the cars has gone up by 15kg to 620kg. Also, the cars will consume fuel at a faster rate at the beginning of the race due to the extra weight of fuel on board. That means they will need even more fuel in the tank to begin with.” … is correct

  6. Surely the downforce F1 cars generate will pretty much keep the cars at their minimum ride height in all but the slowest of corners, it doesn’t matter about weight when you have two or three times the force of gravity pressing you into the ground.

    • F1Yankee said on 22nd January 2010, 11:37

      achieving the desired ride height is easy. keeping it while loads are changing is the hard part. even at full speed, the suspension is not fully compressed.

      • Yeah I see where you’re coming from but F1 suspensions aren’t exactly renowned for their absorbent qualities.

  7. a motor at 100% strapped to 1 ton is just as thirsty as a motor at 100% strapped to 10 tons.”

    You’ve obviously never been in the trucking business have you? ;)

    A motor at peak power hauling 1 ton will be able to use higher gears than a motor at peak power hauling 10 tons in any given situation. The abilty to use higher gears more often will decrease fuel consumption. This will also apply to F1, where gearing at the start of the race will perhaps not be the optimum gearing towards the end of the race. It may be that some cars don’t even use top gear during the early stages of a race!

  8. djdaveyp said on 22nd January 2010, 11:49

    If the fuel tanks and line are that indestructable nowadays why don’t they allow them to put a secondary tank in the nosecone?

    • The nose cone is the part of the car that is most likely to sustain serious damage in the event of an accident. It is designed to deform on intact, which would leave the fuel cell extremely vulnerable.

      Weight would also be a problem, as would changing the nose during a race.

  9. John H said on 22nd January 2010, 11:49

    “11.3.2 All discs must have a maximum thickness of 28mm and a maximum outside diameter of 278mm.
    FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations 2010″

    This is crazy. I believe it was Williams that blocked a move to increase the size of the brake discs and I thought it would be overturned but obviously not. For the sake of safety I cannot understand quite why the FIA have not budged on this? Is it cost??

    • It’s up to the teams and drivers to use their brakes to maximum effect.

      These will no longer be ‘full on’ sprint races that we see this season. They will require a driver that can not only drive quickly, but one that can also think quickly.

    • Anthony said on 24th January 2010, 23:47

      I agree with you John H. I can’t believe that they are not increasing brake size given that brake use will also increase. To add to this it is said the FIA will come down hard on avoidable crashes such as Webber’s Singapore shunt.

      Poor foresight

  10. wasiF1 said on 22nd January 2010, 11:57

    Fantastic job.
    I am really concern about the brakes,especially places like Singapore,Monza & Montreal.I think the ride height can be adjust by the crew when the car will return in the pit.Fuel consumption will be fun to watch as Ferrari is one of the thirsty engine on the grid & we may see situation where some cars may run out of fuel at the end of the race.I still think Mercedes & Red Bull alongside Ferrari & Mclaren will produce the fastest cars.

    Is KERS ban for 2010?

    • Technically KERS are not banned for 2010 but teams have agreed not to use them, they will then be banned in 2011. Who knows why?

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd January 2010, 13:55

        Yep, they can use KERS this year but they’ve agreed not to. However I bet we’ll see KERS returning in the near future, possibly even 2011, but probably as a cheaper, standardised piece of kit.

        • LewisC said on 22nd January 2010, 16:33

          Williams use the same engines as the four new teams who might need a leg-up…
          Williams built their ‘commercial’ KERS and need to sell it to someone…
          Williams who (sort-of-almost) broke ranks with FOTA…
          I wonder… Campos/Lotus with KERS in 2011?

        • Snap Keith about KERS. Not long after the self imposed FOTA ban Williams were rumoured to be considering it. Every team fell into line for FOTA but I doubt it will stay that way for long. The fact that Williams were linked with it, Mclaren had the best package of them all and it certainly helped when cars struggled (such as Ferrari) means I think teams will be looking at it again at some point.
          Kers was linked with the teams that didn’t perform so well but really it had little to do with the actual KERS equipment it was just the teams that ran it neglected other areas of design. By the end of the year KERS wasn’t scoffed at so much especially when KERS-equipped cars started to win races.
          Some teams invested so much in running it last year that wasting all of that time and money would be a pain.

          • I’m sick of hearing about Williams bloody KERS, Williams KERS this Williams KERS that, I hope they ban KERS just so I never have to hear about their bloody KERS ever again. They spent all that time designing it, talking about it, making CGI demonstrations of it and where was it last season? I’ve heard enough.

  11. I know you guys would scream at me, but I believe braking should actually be LESS efficient.

    I remember reading during the brazilian race last year that braking is so efficient that cars are actually STARTING to brake several (more than 20 if I recall correctly) of meters closer to interlagos first corner that 5 years ago.

    I can’t see how having such efficient brakes help on overtaking which is FIA current biggest worry on today’s sport.

  12. Regarding the plank on the bottom of the car, as I understand it is actually made of wood, is there any reason why and is there not another material available of a similar weight which is less prone to wearing down?

    • Max Moseley?

    • F1 Outsider said on 22nd January 2010, 13:51

      It used to be made of wood, but now is made of some sort of composite. It wears easily by design because that’s how the sterwards judge whether the car had a legal ride height. If a certain amount of millimeters (almost nothing) wears off, the car is disqualified.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd January 2010, 13:53

      I believe the type of wood they use is called Jabroc:

      http://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productselection.asp?Product=6180

      But presumably the rule makers want it to be able to wear down, up to a point, so they can tell if people are running the cars too low?

      • The plank was introduced in 1994 to force teams to run higher ride heights and reduce downforce.

        From memory, if the 100mm plank wears more than 10mm the car is disqualified. Measuring the plank wear is much easier than measuring the ride height of a moving vehicle. Having a material that wears relatively easily is a good thing.

        Presumably, the plank solution was pursued after teams got around the previous attempt to limit ride height in 1982 which Brabham circumvented by using a device to lower the car on the circuit.

  13. Calum said on 22nd January 2010, 13:35

    That’s the first thing that I thought when I read the active suspension rule! Surely teams will implement a system that lowers ride hieght at tyre changes. Would be funny to have pedal powerd device in cockpit!!

  14. Adrian said on 22nd January 2010, 13:59

    As I understand the rule regarding changing the ride height while the car is in motion, this doesn’t stop them having a control for the driver to alter it when the car is stationary in the pits. It could even be set so that he can pre-set it on entry to the pits, leaving him free to concentrate on getting away from his stop quickly. The system could have a fail-safe in it that won’t allow it to activate the adjustment until the car is stationary…

    Though that could be interesting for the guys changing the tyres…

    …which makes me wonder whether there’s anything that can be done with tyre pressures to compensate???

  15. “10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.
    FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations 2010″

    So, Keith, could they adjust the car during Pit stops?

    If possible they could adjust the suspension to the weigh of the car for the next stint. It wiont be as perfect as the active suspension, but could work well.

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