This was the first time I visited the Autosport show on trade day and the difference in atmosphere is vast. Usually I just visit with the purpose of having a look around, looking for some nice merchandise to buy. However this time round was my first time visiting from an engineering perspective.
I really came with a focus on vehicle dynamics and engine development and to broaden my knowledge in these areas as this is where I’d like to focus my career path.
As engine design is a very closely guarded secret there was much less to look at, however I did find myself starting to look at aerodynamic principles with my appetite for engines not getting appeased, particularly among different period formula 1 cars.
The Williams stand was particularly useful for this. With a large range of their contenders over the years on display.
You can see how there is a shift in the focus of the air flow from under body to over body. Primarily due to rule changes and the banning of skirts and ground effect.
The diffuser on the earlier models are quite long and large tunnels whereas later models have been reduced in size. To accommodate for they lost downforce designers looked above the surface for gains and the new focus is now the front wing. Since the introduction of the new shape of F1 car in 2009, other than the double diffuser and blown diffuser the front wing has been the primary point of focus. Yet to be restrained by the rules makers front wings are now more complex than ever. Some containing 5 main elements and a load of extra elements off of those for directing flow around the front wheels.
Along with the Williams stand there was a stand with a few Le Mans contenders and ‘some’ Honda civic…
The Porsche next to it wasn’t too shabby either. A little dirty though..
The Lotus stand offered a beautiful array of vehicles over the years. To me something I hadn’t come across before was the turbine powered WD golden Lotus 56b all be it now a show car with the engine removed. I loved the fact that the blistering from the heat generated by the brake discs was still showing. Something you can see across all of the vehicles is the suspension layout changes. The cars of the 60s/70s compared to the cars of more current times are visually softer. The springs are all outboard from the chassis. The engines are exposed and the aerodynamics were more simplified. The full potential of aerodynamics were not understood and you can tell the designers were all chasing mechanical grip. Fast forward a bit to the lotus 79 and we can see the infamous ground effect tunnels. The neatness of the rear packaging has increased, the suspension system is much stiffer, the springs are inboard. Also note the full carbon cockpit and steering wheel.