All facets of racing go through various changes as the years roll by and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at a future that isn’t here yet, but could be. A lot will happen in the next ten years in terms of automotive technology and racing, probably much more than we can imagine. So here is my view – written as if it were January 2022.
Another F1 season is upon us with the first event in about a month from now. All of this year’s teams have had photo sessions to show off their new cars and most have completed early tire testing. Hankook, with their purchase of Pirelli four years ago is now the sole supplier to the series. Tire (tyre) compound technology is again expected to advance this year with grip levels producing over six G’s of side loads and even more in braking forces.
Since driver clamps replaced outmoded seat belt technology in 2017, driver restraint technology this year now includes “air bag” supplements. They afford greater protection of the driver’s legs than ever before. Head and body clamps have eliminated much of the muscular fatigue that drivers used to experience as well as provide exceptional protection in case of a shunt.
Formula One has become “Quiet Racing” now that electric motors are used exclusively. The FIA’s quest to keep this level of racing in tune with European road car technology continues with phenomenal increase in battery life ensuring that there will be no repeat of the dead battery events of the first two races of 2020. This advancement has all but eliminated hybrid race cars from the grid. The lone holdout being the Williams Corporation team cars that been grandfathered for their final year. Their turbine/electric hybrid was once the envy of Grand Prix racing until the Chinese team produced their nitrogen-carbon-hydride batteries that initially produced sixty times the stored energy per gram as gasoline, when they first introduced them. Today, of course, the figure is well over 100 times, ensuring power for well over seventy laps of balls out racing.
China’s purchase of Ferrari, a few years back, initially caused a major shakeup of the sport, but was soon overshadowed by the African team’s acquisition of Mercedes. This year’s African team has introduced a materials technology breakthrough that is expected to make carbon fiber chassis construction as outmoded as aluminum. While little information has been released from the team itself, unnamed sources have leaked out that a primary component is refined from volcanic spew. Apparently it is compared to woven diamonds and its strength to thickness ratio allows chassis components to be the thickness of your kitchen plastic wrap, yet have the torsional strength of a solid cube of titanium. As a result the completed cars are so light that ballast in the form of tungsten patches are placed in advantageous areas that provide for an exceptionally low center of gravity. The FIA has banned the use of depleted uranium or lead for ballast and all ballast must be totally encapsulated in the chassis structure so it cannot be manipulated during races.
It is also another year of aerodynamic advances. Since radiators are a thing of the past heat sink technology has taken over with coolants pumped from the electric motors to the heat sinks allowing the temperature differential to be directed to areas that assist downforce. The lack of radiator or intake openings has resulted in body designs that, in and of themselves, produce downforce with only minimal use of separate wings.
Three years ago the India Lotus team produced the first cars with springless magnetic suspension technology and now it has become the standard. Who can forget the antics of the Chinese Ferrari team principal when Lotus brought out this technology at the beginning of the 2017 season. The FIA interpreted the rule book quite liberally that year and it compelled China to open up it’s country’s stockpile of rare earth elements, neodymium in particular, so that Lotus India could produce suspensions for all teams.
The Facebook-Google-Red Bull-Apple team is expected to become FIA’s sole supplier of computer management of the all-wheel-drive electric motor systems as Mclaren has withdrawn from motorsports in order to partner with Cosworth to produce what may be England’s last internal combustion road cars. It will be known as iDrive.
It should be another exciting season with two more additional venues added to the ten month race season. The New Zealand track that could not be completed in time for last year, has been certified by the FIA and ready as the final event following the race in Cuba.