Monday, November 28, 2005

Team McLaren Mercedes: Facts & Figures


.. Sends between 95 (fly-away races) and 135 (European races) personnel to each Grand Prix.

.. Has a race team which comprises: technical director, race team manager, senior race engineer, chief mechanic, software engineer, race strategist, two driver engineers, two assistant engineers, two system engineers, two data analysts, 10 mechanics, two gearbox mechanics two fabricator/carbon repairmen, engine dress, chief truckie, two tyre men, electrician, two support crew, security, senior fuel technician, fuel technician, spares co-ordinator, team co-ordinator.

.. Has a test team which comprises: test team manager, test team engineer, two driver engineers, two assistant engineers, two system engineers, chief mechanic, 12 mechanics, two gearbox technicians, data analyst, engine dress, two tyre men, spares co-ordinator/chief truckie, three full-time truckies, fabricator/laminator/truckie, part-time truckie.

.. Transports approximately 30 tonnes of freight, including three complete race cars at approximately 600kgs each, to grands prix.

.. Takes three spare gearboxes to each race, two built with rear suspension and one loose unit.

.. Takes eight engines to each race, one in each of the four cars and four loose spares.

.. The Team Communications Centre, the team's trackside hospitality unit, travels to all European Grands Prix. It has two floors and comprises offices, meeting rooms, kitchen and dining areas and driver rooms.

.. Takes approximately seven seconds for a pit stop, with 29 crew working on each car, to refuel and to change four wheels and tyres, and the cars can be refuelled at a rate of 12 litres per second.

.. Completed approximately 52,000 kilometres when testing during the 2003 season.

.. Completed approximately 17,000 kilometres when racing in 2003, including Practice, Qualifying, and Races.

.. Generated 40 gigabytes of data during all race meetings and 75 gigabytes of data at all tests in the 2003 season. This equates to about 35 full CDs' worth of data.

.. Consumed 70,000 litres of Mobil Unleaded fuel for track work during the 2003 season.

.. Competes with a car that typically handles 2,500 gearchanges during a race. This figure varies from circuit circuit.

.. Competes with a car that is typically capable of the following performance:
0-60mph / 0 - 96kph 2.3 seconds.
0-100mph / 0 - 160kph 3.6 seconds.
0-100-0mph / 0 -160 - 0kph 6.6 seconds.
and can decelerate from 185mph to a standstill in 3.5 seconds.

.. Michelin supplied Team McLaren Mercedes' race cars with 2304 tyres in total for the 17 Grand Prix weekends in 2003. (1360 dry-weather tyres and 944 wet-weather tyres)

.. 4500 drawings are need to created the 11,000 components that make up each car. This is equivalent to 22 telephone directories.

.. The drivers are subjected to forces of up to 5G under braking.

Source: Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Website

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A look at a Formula One steering column

An essential link to turn the car’s wheels

For a sport in which hundredths of a second can mean the difference between pole position or a mid-field grid slot, a car's ability to handle well is paramount. As Phil Gallagher, Senior Design Engineer at McLaren Racing, points out, the steering system provides the driver with his first indication as to how well the car is handling.

The steering column is an essential link in the chain of events that sees a twist of the steering wheel turn the car's wheels. The column is joined to the steering wheel at one end and the rack and pinion at the other. This means that the steering column stretches from the edge of the cockpit down to the front bulkhead.

Quite simply, when the driver turns the steering wheel, the column rotates the pinion gear and the rack moves laterally. The track rods are put into action, shifting the wheels.

Constructed primarily from carbon fibre, the steering column is made of two tubes. They are linked together by a constant velocity joint, which makes sure that the two parts move at the same speed. It also provides high stiffness and low friction. As the man responsible for designing the steering column, Gallagher says these are two of his main concerns. "If there is too much friction or not enough stiffness then it will adversely affect the way the driver can handle the car," he says.

The column features an electrical plug which connects the steering wheel's electronics to the chassis control unit via a wiring harness. This end of the column also has quick disconnect, which means the driver can remove the steering wheel in a hurry. "There's an FIA rule which stipulates that the driver must be able to exit the car in five seconds, so the quick disconnect is very important," he says.

At the steering rack end of the column, a splined joint is used to link the two together, this then connects to the power steering valve and then on to the pinion. Without the power steering, which uses a 200 bar hydraulics supply, the driver would have to work the steering twice as hard.

Another of the requirements for the component laid down by the FIA is the aluminium crush tube. "We have to perform a test in which we drop a weight on the end of the steering column and measure the deceleration," he says. "The peak deceleration must be less than 80g in a crash."

The steering column takes around ten hours to make, and the team takes three or four spares along to each race. They are inspected after completing 1,500kms and serviced after 3,000kms. A typical service would involve complete disassembly, followed by a crack check of the safety critical parts. It would then be re-assembled - with new parts where necessary - and finally tested on the test rig before being signed-off for use on the circuit.

Having arrived at a design that is both light and stiff yet reliable, Gallagher says the steering column is not changed regularly. However, frequent design reviews are carried out and a new design will be put in place if the monocoque changes sufficiently. The current example has been in action for two years with limited change. Proving that, when it comes to steering, Team McLaren Mercedes is always moving in the right direction.

Technical Specification:
Length: Approx. 950mm
Diameter: Approx. 35mm
Material: Carbon fibre; titanium; steel; aluminium

Source McLaren Mercedes