“The Science of Formula 1 Design” by David Tremayne (Book review)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The Science of Formula 1 Design

With the launch season almost upon us it was quite timely that I received an updated copy of “The Science of Formula 1 Design” (though not timely enough to help with writing Five problems F1 designers face in 2010 earlier this week).

The third edition of David Tremayne’s technical guide to F1 offers a clear yet detailed guide to modern F1 car design.

It covers the radical alterations to car aerodynamics introduced in 2009, both types of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (which I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of yet) and recent controversies over innovations like double diffusers and mass dampers.

We’re about to get into the most interesting time of the year for F1 car design enthusiasts, as each team takes their turn to pull back the covers on their 2010 creations.

Sadly the days of radical innovations like six-wheelers, turbos, ground effect and active suspension are far behind us. And as the regulators give designers less room to manoeuvre, so teams become ever more secretive about the innovations on their cars – an example being the lengths McLaren went to keep quiet details of the inerter (also known as the J-damper) they introduced in 2005.

The updated edition of “The Science of Formula 1 Design” helps clarify the secrets of F1 technology for fans who want to understand what’s going on in the cars but, like myself, don’t hold engineering degrees. It’s clear and easy to follow with a generous complement of useful illustrations and photographs.

Increasingly F1 design is more about politics than science and the book touches on this as well, covering 2007’s notorious ‘Spygate’ episode involving McLaren, Ferrari and Renault. The section on the work of the Overtaking Working Group which came up with last year’s strange-looking wings is especially interesting.

One publishing quirk which makes the book slightly less helpful as a reference source is the organisation of the index, which instead of being a straightforward A-Z list is broken up into different sections and then again into different sub-categories.

Inevitably there’s not much to speak of about the 2010 season, the cars not being launched yet. And ardent technophiles will probably find it well beneath their level. But for most fans “The Science of F1 Design” will serve as a useful introduction to F1’s cutting-edge technology.

If you’ve got a copy of the book please leave your thoughts on it in the comments. And if you’re considering buying it and have any questions do post them below and i’ll do my best to answer them.

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