I’ve been following Formula One since 1997. But why do I love this sport so much? Well, let me try and explain.
Lets get this one out of the way early. They’re called cars, but they’re not cars as we know them. A modern family saloon will have somewhere between 150 to 200 bhp. (thats Brake Horsepower, though if you’re lost already perhaps you should stop reading now) A current 2.4 litre V8 F1 engine puts out up to 750bhp! Now I hear what you’re saying. Its a 2.4L V8, it’s bound to have that much power….. but you would be wrong! Just plain wrong.
Caterham build a high performance engine called the RST-V8. Coincidentally enough, it also happens to be a 2.4L V8 and you know how powerful that is?…..550bhp. Oh, did i mention it’s also supercharged? An F1 engine is only normally aspirated and STILL demolishes that output. At 18000rpm an F1 engine revs so fast that the pistons are subjected to over 8000g with every ignition (Thats 8000 times the force of gravity for those still struggling to keep up), and for those of you not keeping count that happens 150 times per second per cylinder! Just look what that does to the exhaust! Thats 1500 degrees celsius, more than hot enough to melt solid chunks of aluminium!
Pictured – Surface temperature of a freaking star!
Formula One gearboxes blatantly ignore the laws of physics. They can change gear in 50 milliseconds. Like everything on these cars, that’s quick. For reference, a fast blink of your eyes takes 300 milliseconds, so these Newton-defying marvels of engineering could change up from first gear to their top gear, seventh, in the time it takes you to moisten your corneas! Oh, and they also have seamless shift, which means as one gear is being used, the next is spooled up ready to go so when the driver selects it they suffer no power loss in the transition. Boom!
Which would come in handy if you were trying to drive upside down, as an F1 car can. Everyone has heard it before but it’s actually true. All those wings and that sexy sculpted bodywork grab the air passing over it by the scruff of its neck…..or whatever air has, and they have their wicked way with it. They cane that air. They torture that air, and when its not being sucked into the screaming banshee engine at a rate of 450 litres a second, it’s prodded and poked exactly where the car wants it to go to provide, literally, tons of downforce.
The end result is a car that can generate 3.5 times it own weight in downforce out of thin air! So, build a track with a corkscrew and see what happens. Basic physics (which I admit these cars only adhere to when it suits them) states that when the downforce generated equals the weight of the car, bingo! You can invert it.
You’re doing it wrong!
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