Racecar design is one of the most intriguing parts of the racing industry and one of the most difficult. The design teams in the various racing categories are continuously working on innovative solutions with one aim in mind: to create a car that, when combined with the driver, traverses the length of a circuit in less time than any other driver/vehicle combination on the race track at the moment. But how is this accomplished?
Like many things in engineering, a race car’s design process (like many things in engineering) is not a sequential one. Still, one with numerous “backward steps” as iterations and solution tweaks are performed. Before beginning the design process, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the resources available and the limits imposed by these resources. Time, budget, past expertise, and resources in the design and construction of facilities, such as computer power, prototype and production gear, testing equipment, and instrumentation, are all examples of resources. Another can replace one or more resources with ingenuity.
During this process, the design team will gather data that will be used to establish design restrictions and goals. All regulatory changes are examined here, and their influence on the design is evaluated. For example, the refueling ban imposed during the 2010 Formula One season required teams to use bigger fuel tanks and account for variations in CG height owing to gasoline burnoff. In addition, in 2014, manufacturers were required to improve their engines’ efficiency due to limits on fuel flow and fuel load each race.
After that, a performance analysis is carried out to assess the performance of an initial design, if one exists, and to determine its strengths and flaws. The idea is to identify which aspects of the previous automobile the engineers should strive to maintain in the new design and try to get rid of.
Goals and Constraints Specification
At this point, the design team should consider the vehicle’s restrictions. The restrictions are the realistic boundaries that the team must operate within, and technical and sporting regulations should be the key limits. These criteria, as well as the limits they impose, must be fully understood by the designer. It’s also possible that expenses and labor limits are enforced either by rules or by a constrained budget. The 2-week shutdown in Formula 1 is an example of this since it results from an agreement reached by the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) to lower the expenses of fielding a competitive team.
Other limits include those imposed by available mechanical parts. Tires, engines, gearboxes, dampers, and brakes are all included. The tires, in particular, are a key aspect to consider because they supply the machine’s whole control system. It is stated that developing a racing vehicle revolves around optimizing tire usage. A design team should understand that to remain competitive; they must push the limitations to their maximum limit.