Current reliabilty in F1?

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
If there is anything that is wrong with this then it is the bullet proof nature of todays cars. The regulations are enforcing to high a level of reliability by stringently restricting the amount of power available.

This has been puzzling me for a couple of seasons now. I understand that engines designed to rev to 21k being operated at 18k are going to be quite reliable, but why are the rest of the components so bulletproof? This seems to be the first time in the history of F1 that the "Chapman Principle" (you can optimise speed or reliability, but never both) isn't being adhered to. You would have though that some of the teams, in a bid to find a little extra, might have slimmed down bearings, chosen a thinner tubing for driveshafts, and so on. But no.
 

Grizzly

Bear
Contributor
The Williams gearbox? The McLaren sidepods and floor? The Red Bull KERS packaging? The Mercedes rear wing?

Actually Pyrope, i do agree. The cars engine should have the head bolts popping out, the pistons melting and the gearbox grinding as the car splutters over the line in a cloud of smoke! That's pushing the limits IMO, but reality has given us safety and cost constraints and i think it all stems from that. But it is not necessarily a bad thing. I remember watching my favourite driver get into the lead, then spending the entire race with everything crossed hoping the engine didn't explode..... then it usually did, 3 laps from the end...

I like it that the cars are more predictable in their behavior, but some of the 'absolute max' has been taken away...
 

Grizzly

Bear
Contributor
Its also fairly unnecessary in this age of constraint, weight limit, standardisation and control. Sad or not, why make a car that can do a 1:30 lap time from tin foil when you can do it with bricks and mortar?
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
The Red Bull KERS is a good point Grizzly, that does seem to fit the principle, but I haven't seen the Williams gearbox failing yet and the McLaren floor was just an idea that didn't work. As for the rest, I understand that total weights and so on are set quite high these days, but slimming bearings and removing rotating mass are two ways of making a big difference to your car that don't really affect the readings the scales will give. There are no restrictions on the robustness of suspension uprights and driveshafts, so slimming these, reducing rotating and unsprung mass, and reaping the benefits would seem to me to be something that a smaller team might want to chase down. After all, if you are going to finish 15th every race without the mods, but with the mods you might finish 8th a couple of times and retire a couple, which would be better?

I'm not complaining that cars are more predictable, it's just another area of variability that seems to have disappeared. Gone are the days when a driver's manager might starkly give his charge the choice between becoming Champion and living, but you'd have thought that risk management strategies might be somewhat different between a front-running team with a fundamentally fast design and a struggling midfielder that desperately needs a few points on the board. Perhaps reliability conservatism is why we haven't seen the Williams gearbox (which I was seriously impressed with during testing!) actually translating into performance on track?
 

Grizzly

Bear
Contributor
Im lost on the Williams gearbox, it works (the wheels go round) but there must be massive problems with that car for it to be so slow.

There are no restrictions on the robustness of suspension uprights and driveshafts, so slimming these, reducing rotating and unsprung mass, and reaping the benefits would seem to me to be something that a smaller team might want to chase down. After all, if you are going to finish 15th every race without the mods, but with the mods you might finish 8th a couple of times and retire a couple, which would be better?

I think thats spot on. Midfielders/tailenders can and should take more risk than the front running teams, i think even one 10th place is far more valuable then 4-5 11th places! I know far less about what they are doing though

Ferrari have built bullet proof cars for some time, it was always notable in the Schumacher v Hakkinen/Raikkonen/Alonso years and it was obvious even last year with some of those bumps and scrapes Massa and Alonso had, especially at some of the starts. Brawn took that ethos with him to Honda i think. McLaren are slowly cottoning on. Maybe it has to do with consistency, after all, that is all you hear the drivers banging on about now. I guess it is more relevant due to the points system as well. With 10,6,4 etc it really was all about chasing the podium, now consistent finishing in the points is what they crave
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
One thing, of course, which has moved on massively in the last 10 years is the tolerances that companies can manufacture to so, assuming the design is right in the first place, the chances of it breaking are significantly reduced. I visited a company a while ago who make testing machines and they work with some of the F1 teams who make make three or 4 versions of a component only varying in size by 0.001/0.002mm and then testing each of them to see which breaks first. These are the hidden costs of F1 which we don't see.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
Ferrari have built bullet proof cars for some time, it was always notable in the Schumacher v Hakkinen/Raikkonen/Alonso years and it was obvious even last year with some of those bumps and scrapes Massa and Alonso had, especially at some of the starts.

Cars yes, not always the case with the lump in the back making it go tho ;) - Although I too have been surprised how well all the motors have held up since homologation was introduced - I suppose if they can't tinker with them every weekend they better be reliable or they won't be finishing anywhere.

I also agree with FB in that the testing/materials science aspect of it has advanced so far in such a short space of time that there is no need to stick an engine in a test bed and run it until it pops if you know very well how the components are going to react to the nth degree.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
You factor in FEA in designing parts and it's amazing they ever break. To described these cars as "prototypes" is probably not true anymore, they are, effectively, production cars that they only happen to make 2 or 3 of given how much testing goes into every part before it's bolted or glued on.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
I've split these posts off as they were veering off the original topic re: the 2011 season so far but I think it's a very valid topic to be discussed with reference to the current cars vs the stringbags of yore :D
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
I also agree with FB in that the testing/materials science aspect of it has advanced so far in such a short space of time that there is no need to stick an engine in a test bed and run it until it pops if you know very well how the components are going to react to the nth degree.

But the point behind the Chapman Principle is that the cars should be built just strong enough, but no stronger. His ideal was that 20m after the finishing line the cars would simultaneously run out of fuel and fall apart. Engineers may well know just how strong a component is but what they don't know are the loads that the car will undergo during the race. These can only be estimated as there are too many random variables. Take Malaysia, for example. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a bit of rain there, so cornering speeds will be lower and traction will be lower, reducing the loads on suspension and drivetrain. Would't it be a competitive advantage to lighten up your car if this is what you expect, but then what happens if the rain doesn't appear? Similarly safety cars. We saw last year a few people get caught out because they anticipated a safety car situation and so fuelled light, only for the safety car not to appear.

The situation with Buemi's uprights was a manufacturing fault, not a regular failure. Similarly Virgin's front wing was a design flaw rather than a calculated risk. I'm just intrigued that the cars these days all appear to be overbuilt and that even the smaller teams seem to think that plugging away and getting an n'teenth place finish is preferable to a retirement.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
With only 8 engines a season the engines have to "over engineered" to make sure they last. They must expect at least one to fail unexpectedly (if that's not a contradiction) so another engine then has to be used. Also, on the weight, given that the weight and distribution is now so carefully controlled do the designers really need to follow the Chapman super lightweight principal? They can now make the car stronger and still be well within the weight limit I'm sure and designed to take maximum abuse for an entire race - I can't believe they would factor in variable loads based on different race scenarios, simply build the car that will cope with maximum load for an entire race.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Almost every car is under the weight limit now, most of them well under. I'm sure that wasn't the case in the past, so trimming off an ounce here and there made a much bigger difference to overall performance. Now the incentive isn't so great - and FEA has reduced the scope for it anyway.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
Almost every car is under the weight limit now, most of them well under. I'm sure that wasn't the case in the past, so trimming off an ounce here and there made a much bigger difference to overall performance. Now the incentive isn't so great - and FEA has reduced the scope for it anyway.

Exactly right.If you look at any of the teams websites car descriptions you can clearly see that all the cars have to ballasted to make the minimum weight.
 

no-FIAt-please

Champion Elect
Premium Contributor
Personally I'd rather there was no weight limit, I'd like to see the teams stripping the cars to the lightest weight possible, would also add another aspect of do you play it safe or go for a lucky podium if your lower down the field.
 

Jru

Points Scorer
Contributor
Is one aspect of it to prevent larger drivers from being penalised? Most drivers don't weigh too much as it is but you wouldn't want them to all end up like jockeys. I don't know if you could have a minimum driver weight but even then the ballast positioning could still have an effect on performance (although this is already true to an extent)
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Safety IS one of the main reasons for a minimum weight requirement. As the FIA adds new safety requirements they increase th minimum weight. The same is true when they add other items such as KERS.

It is also partly to keep costs somewhat under control. Materials that are both strong AND light tend to be hellishly expensive. With F1 costs already nearing those of a defense program, such measures should be welcome. Otherwise, the typical field would be reduced to 2 or 3 teams, who would have managed to suck up all the available sponsors.
 
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