Lots of Formula One technology winds up in road cars

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A Formula One race car

A surprising amount of technology in modern road cars comes from Formula One race cars. Photo Credit: Rick Dikeman/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Arguably, the most prestigious motor racing series is Formula One, which certainly has the most technologically advanced and expensive cars among race series. There is a benefit to it, as a lot of F1 technology winds up in cars that are for sale at most dealerships.

From racetrack to driveway

Technological advances in typical motor vehicles generally trickle down from higher sources. For instance, it’s fairly well known that some common safety equipment like crumple zones and anti-lock brakes were invented by Mercedes-Benz.

Another source of innovations is Formula One, the uber-prestigious racing series. Formula One, or F1 as it sometimes referred to, is only for the top-notch drivers and engineers, and teams spend a lot of money developing the cars. According to The Guardian, the typical F1 team budget in 2010 was 107 million pounds (about $174 million), though Ferrari, the biggest spender, had a budget of 248 million pounds.

F1 cars are among the most technologically advanced vehicles on the planet. However, a benefit to consumers is that a good deal of F1 technology gets used in road cars.

Oil, transmission and brake tech from race series

A great deal of lessons learned on the track and in testing for Formula One racers wind up benefiting consumers in a number of ways.

For instance, the composition of Shell motor oil, which lubricates, cools and maintains an engine while in operation, was fine-tuned over years of being used in Formula One cars, according to Shell’s website. The same, according to AutoCar, goes for Mobil 1.

Double-clutch, paddle-operated transmissions, according to Drive.com.au, use what is referred to as a semi-automatic or sequential manual transmission. They first appeared on Ferrari’s F1 cars in the late 1980s; a person making a school run with the children using a paddle-shifted vehicle is using a successor of technology in a multi-million-dollar car driven at insane speeds by Nigel Mansell almost a decade before the iPod came out.

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Ever see carbon-ceramic brakes at the local auto parts store? Those are from F1. Ferrari invented a coating material for its F1 engines that is used in Fiat’s MultiAir engines, which can be found in the Fiat 500 and the Dodge Dart.

Will continue

The current trend of small, highly efficient but powerful engines, according to the BBC, was pioneered by Formula One engineers and now is finding its way into passenger cars. The typical Formula One engine, for instance, is 20 percent more fuel efficient in terms of power produced per unit of fuel.

Kinetic energy recovery systems, called KERS, which capture kinetic energy and store it in batteries, is also starting to appear in road cars, like the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, and is also a Formula One innovation.

Sources

The Guardian

AutoCar

Drive.com.au

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2010/04/what_f1s_future_means_for_the.

Shell: http://www.shell.com/home/content/products_services/on_the_road/oils_lubricants/cars/shell_oils/shell_ferrari/

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14046449


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