Formula1.com says that the World Motor Sport Council will find a way to slow F1 cars if the Formuila One Technical Working Group doesn't do it first. In either case, the 2005 season will feature slower cars, longer lap times and safer conditions for all concerned.
Reduce down force! Less downforce means slower corner speeds and longer braking distances which translates to lower top speed on the straights. Specify the maximum area of the car (as determined through planimetry) in the horizontal plane and let the teams decide how to "spend" it. The spec. would have to include a maximum overlap area to take care of wings that hover above and below the "fuselage". This would not be difficult to administer using computerized planimetry and a high resolution video camera placed above the car, on the centerline, midway between the front and rear axles. Pointing down, the camera would capture the outline of the car in the horizontal plane.
Planimetry is used daily in medicine to measure tumors and heart valves from digital images so the technology is available and proven. I'm sure the folks at HP (or now Microsoft?) would like to participate.
When speeds creep up again, reduce the allowable area.
Fastmachines has an interview with Formula One team owner Peter Sauber. Peter talks about the importance of aerodynamics in todays F1 cars including an interesting comment (in light of the Williams and Toyota Canada disqualifications) about brake cooling ducts. He also points out that Sauber is number six in the Constructors Championship, ahead of Jaguar and Toyota and just two points behind McLaren-Mercedes.
From my greatest source for motorsports news, the New York Times :), a story about another generation's discovery of gasoline fueled fun and freedom. Cops vs. Kids. Safe vs. Sorry. Style vs. Sport. Polini Chic vs. Chinese Cheap. Red Hot Rebellion.
"Neither accidents, warnings nor the threat of hefty fees and impoundments have deterred riders ... 'The thing is, police have to catch us first.'" Sound familiar?
Blata (to pocket bikes as Ducati is to "real" motorcycles) has a terrific video which includes their 40cc, 14+ HP, 45 mph, liquid cooled, fully sprung racer.
Its not all about smaller, more fuel efficient cars. We also use energy to heat our homes, cook our food and run our computers. A New York Times article talks about an EPA ad campaign emphasizing energy conservation at home. "The E.P.A. says the energy we use in our home can cause twice the greenhouse gases of a car."
The headline could read, "People who live in 10,000 square foot glass houses shouldn't throw stones at people who drive Hummers." But the real message is that we use a lot of energy in a lot of ways, and we could be smarter about it. Good stuff to think about.
Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne made it into space on the first try, which is outstanding. Burt Rutan and his team have once again shown what brains, leadership and discipline can do that dollars can't. Well, he had (a reported) US$ 20 million from Paul Allen to get things off the ground, but that's not much when you're operating on the edge of space. Where no (non-government sponsored) man has gone before.
New Scientist has the story as well as some information about a control problem on the flight. The potential for disaster was large and reminiscent of the only X-15 fatality in 200 flights, also a loss of control problem. Pushing the corners of the envelope out a little is risky. Pushing them out a lot is dangerous.
A sad note: One of the anchors at MSNBC referred to the White Knight/StarShipOne combination as a contraption; an insult to Rutan, Allen and everyone watching the flight. She communicated well that she had no idea what was going on.
Technology is moving from engine management to team finance. With tobacco sponsorship waning, F1 is searching for other large, multinational sources of funding the way NASCAR replaced Winston with Nextel. Now, CNN reports that Microsoft will sponsor the Toyota F1 effort to the tune of US $40 million.
AMD got some nice New York Times PR from its Ferrari work. HP's logo is emblazoned on Williams cars and Panasonic has been on Toyota's rear wing for some time. Can Sony, IBM, Dell, Intel, Cisco or Oracle be far behind? Their culture is to be out in front so why not in F1 too?
SpeedTV's extensive coverage of the USGP included a peek (well, more than a peek) at the BAR-Honda composite transmission. Replacing titanium with composite material reduces the transmission's weight allowing a lower center of gravity, more centralized mass (making the car less like a bar with weights on the ends and more like a lump with two sticks pointing out) and better handling. BAR's technical director explained that the biggest technical hurdle was bonding composite material to titanium. Its like trying to weld glass to steel.
After seeing the segment, I thought that a company like Boeing would either be very interested in how BAR accomplished that or they would say, "What's the big deal." because they do it all the time.
Now I see that Boeing and Renault will be working together. Maybe on aerodynamics? Maybe on materials? Boeing has some neat stuff that can change the shape of a wing (less downforce on the straights, more in the corners) by applying an electric current. Another switch for the steering wheel? How long before they get caught?
On the other hand, Boeing has a helmet mounted target designator. "By putting an aiming cross, which is projected on the helmet visor, over the desired target and pressing a button, the pilot can quickly and easily aim the weapons and sensors to designate and attack airborne or ground targets." Maybe now we'll see more passing in F1.