Jan 22 2015
What is the Difference between a Formula 1 Car and a Novated Lease Car?
The answer is there’s less difference than you think!
Many people think that Formula 1, or F1, is a waste of time and money.
However F1 has a strong history of being the Research & Development platform for many features that exist in today’s Cars that we take for granted.
Significantly, these features have saved countless lives and / or saved us tremendous amounts of money!
Don’t believe us? Then think:
- Disc Brakes
- Traction Control
- Automatic Gearbox
- Lightweight Construction
- Rear View Mirrors
- Multi-function Steering Wheels
- Flappy Paddle Gear-Boxes
All components of tyre design and construction including grip, handling in the wet, and durability have all been developed on the F1 track. Where else will the Manufacturers get an opportunity to test all developments at such extreme conditions for such a long periods at an effective cost? The environment for testing is widely varied from the streets of Monaco to the smooth but extreme temperatures of Abu Dhabi.
If your old enough you may recall your parent’s car with Drum Brakes? Looking back now, the length required for the car to stop was at least frightening! And when they faced extreme heat, such as going down hills, they were prone to failure as they were less effective. Brake failure was a great contributor to accidents up until the late 70s.
Disc brakes started appearing on race cars in the 1950s. Racing teams liked them because they were powerful and easier to maintain than the prior drum brake design. Disc brakes are also easier to keep cool. When brakes stop a car, they generate a lot of friction and heat. That heat actually reduces the stopping power of the brakes. Disc brakes can be vented, which allows the heat to dissipate.
Now, all but a few cars have disc brakes on at least their front wheels — most have disc brakes on all four corners.
The first road car to introduce this technology was Mercedes. This piece of technology is widely considered the most significant contribution to the reduction in road fatalities since the brake and seat belt! The ironic aspect of the use of Anti-lock brakes and Traction Control (refer below) was that the F1 Governing body ruled these as “driver aids” giving the Race Teams an unfair advantage and ruled them out in subsequent seasons!?
Traction control, as the name suggests, helps to provide as much traction as possible – on your road car, it’s there to detect when you’re losing grip and to shuffle the power around as necessary to keep you safe; on a F1 car, the same is happening in order to bang in quicker lap times.
Electronic trickery to stop you skidding – that little flashing light that illuminates on your dash when you take an aggressive line through a wet, leaf-strewn corner is a direct link to your F1 heroes.
Automatic Gearboxes & Flappy Paddle Gearboxes
Semi-automatic transmission: Nowadays, drivers can keep both their hands on the steering wheel as they change gears by pulling on paddles.
Back in the 50s through to the Oil Crisis of the 70s the expression “Yank Tank” was synonymous with big American Cars with huge cubic inch V8 engines with lots of metal and chrome.
One of the key factors to fuel efficiency is a light weight car. Carbon Fibre and other lightweight materials used today in cars was predominantly developed in F1.
Rear View Mirrors
First found themselves in race cars of the early 50s. Primarily used as a defence mechanism to block the driver behind from passing (some may say that it is still its primary use today on the road!)
Multi-function Steering Wheels
First where introduced in F1 cars in the early 80s. Their primary purpose was to ensure the driver kept his hands on the wheel at all times which is a great contributor to road safety. Now most cars have a number of functions on their steering wheels for the same purpose.
- Electronic Control Units (ECU)
- Fuel & Lubricants
- Turbo Engines
- Speed Limiters
- In-Car Cameras
And for the perverse view on this?
Most, if not all, F1 Teams are funded by Sponsorship, hence their R&D is funded by Sponsorship. Most of these developments occurred during the period of time when Tobacco Sponsorship was most prevalent in F1. So can we interpret that a product that is one of the greatest contributors to mortality inadvertently was also one of the greatest contributors to saving lives in another area?
What is F1 doing now that we shall see in the (near?) future
Tremendous R&D is currently going into fuel efficiency and the use of other energy sources to power the car.
Technologies being utilised include:
- Hybrid Technology
- KERS – Kinetic Energy Recover System – worked by harnessing waste energy created under braking and transforming it into electrical energy.