How many of you have witnessed a wheel dynamometer
test? This is where you drive the entire car onto a set of rollers,
wire up the engine and the technician “drives” your car at speed
through the gears and logs the power and torque coming from the engine
through to the rear wheels (or front wheels if it is an FWD car).
It is actually quite frightening as the car has to
be chained down onto the rollers as it wants to climb up and out, and
if it does so, it comes off the rollers at 60 kph plus and out through
the back door of the tune-up shop! Don’t laugh, it happened to a
friend of mine in Oz.
The bike boys have also worked out that dyno
testing pays dividends, and have designed rolling road dynamometers
for bikes too, and no, they don’t sit on them while testing!
The other type of dynamometer is called an
“engine” dyno, and that is where they take just the engine and
hook it up to water, electrics and a torque tube and measure the power
and torque, directly at the flywheel.
These are again very frightening to watch, as the
exhaust pipes glow cherry red to orange in colour and the noise is
indescribable. The techo chap sits outside the room where the engine
is hooked up and watches through the double glazed windows. And yes,
more than one engine has thrown a leg out of bed during testing (race
parlance for breaking a con-rod).
Now for testing F1 engines, you take the whole dyno
situation to the ultimate, the technician can actually “drive” the
engine through a lap of the different GP circuits, as a computer
simulates the amount of throttle and load experienced as the car would
be going around the circuit, complete with gear changes, the works.
And you can imagine the scream of an engine on test at 17,000 rpm!
This part of race car engine testing is so
important, that the manufacturers spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars on doing it. Interestingly, the British race engine
manufacturer Cosworth used to have to send its race engines to the US,
to use Ford’s facilities over there, but that has now changed with
Cosworth Racing unveiling its new state-of-the-art dynamometer
facility at Northampton, UK.
In a statement released by Cosworth Racing’s Nick
Hayes, “Until these dyno facilities became available, Cosworth was
really trailing the capabilities of our leading competition in the
very important area of transient testing.”
“We now have access to facilities that allow us
to get closer to the conditions seen in the car. The end result will
be better transient behaviour of the engine in the car and finer
resolution of small changes with high levels of confidence of the
results. In short, this facility gives us a big step forward for
Cosworth Racing’s F1 engine development capabilities.”
In 2003 Cosworth is supplying its race engines to
Jaguar, Jordan and Minardi. For Jordan and Minardi, this has to be a
step forwards; last year Jordan had the exploding hand grenade Honda
units, while Minardi had the underpowered ancient Asiatech engines.
The Cosworths were used in 2002 by Jaguar and Arrows, with the latter
now bankrupt and (I believe) still owing several million dollars to
Cosworth is famous for the DFV race engines in F1,
the ‘winningest’ engine of all time. I ran a BDG Cosworth engine
in one of my sports sedans in Australia and the engine and service
from the Cosworth organization was incredible. Imagine getting a
personal letter with the new piston sent urgently from the factory,
hoping that the engine will be finished on time and that we get a good
result. For that reason alone, I want the Cosworth engine cars to do
well this year.
The Grid for the 2003 F1 season
The ink has been dried on the contracts and with two weeks to
go before the first GP in Melbourne, Australia, we now have a field of 20 cars
and drivers. The observant will note that there appears to be 21 numbers (da
Matta is number 21), but there is no number 13, as old superstitions die hard!
The following table shows driver, nationality, entrant, tyre choice (Bridgestone
or Michelin) and engine to be used.
The breakdown of drivers shows we have four rookies (Firman,
Pizzonia, Wilson and da Matta), four German drivers (Schumachers, Heidfeld,
Frentzen), four Brits (Coulthard, Firman, Button, Wilson), three Brazilians (Barichello,
Pizzonia, da Matta), two Italians (Trulli, Fisichella) and then one each as
follows - Canada (Villeneuve), Finland (Raikkonen), Colombia (Montoya), Spain (Alonso),
Australia (Webber), Netherlands (Verstappen) and France (Panis).
With engines, Ford Cosworth power will be used by three teams
(Jaguar, Jordan, Minardi), while Ferrari will supply two teams as usual (Ferrari
and Sauber - the 2002 engine re-badged as a Petronas) and only Ferrari, Renault
and Toyota make both their chassis and the engines.
Let us hope that 2003 will be an interesting year.
1. Michael Schumacher D Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro B Ferrari
2 Rubens Barichello BRZ Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro B Ferrari
3 Juan Pablo Montoya COL BMW WilliamsF1 Team M Williams BMW
4 Ralf Schumacher D BMW WilliamsF1 Team M Williams BMW
5 David Coulthard GB West McLaren Mercedes M McLaren Mercedes
6 Kimi Raikkonen FIN West McLaren Mercedes M McLaren Mercedes
7 Jarno Trulli I Mild Seven Renault F1 Team M Renault
8 Fernando Alonso E Mild Seven Renault F1 Team M Renault
9 Nick Heidfeld D Sauber Petronas B Sauber Petronas
10 H-Harald Frentzen D Sauber Petronas B Sauber Petronas
11 Giancarlo Fisichella I Jordan Ford B Jordan Ford
12 Ralph Firman GB Jordan Ford B Jordan Ford
14 Mark Webber AUS Jaguar Racing M Jaguar Cosworth
15 Antonio Pizzonia BRZ Jaguar Racing M Jaguar Cosworth
16 Jacques Villeneuve CAN Lucky Strike BAR Honda B BAR Honda
17 Jenson Button GB Lucky Strike BAR Honda B BAR Honda
18 Justin Wilson GB TBA Minardi TBA ? Minardi Cosworth
19 Jos Verstappen NL TBA Minardi TBA ? Minardi Cosworth
20 Olivier Panis FRA Panasonic Toyota Racing M Toyota
21 Christiano da Matta BRZ Panasonic Toyota Racing M Toyota
Jordan’s second seat filled by
Jordan Ford has announced that Ralph Firman will
race with the team in 2003 alongside Italian Giancarlo Fisichella. The
27 year old has signed a three year agreement and will make his
Formula One debut in the Australian Grand Prix on March 9th.
Firman enters Formula One as the reigning 2002
Formula Nippon Champion, having previously won the prestigious British
Formula 3 Championship and FIA Formula 3 World Cup in Macau in 1996. A
Champion kart racer, Firman is also a former winner of the McLaren
Autosport Young Driver of the Year award. With that history, he is no
Alex Yoong (OK, OK, I won’t mention Alex again this year)!
Eddie Jordan, chief executive of Jordan Grand Prix
said, “He may be a rookie in F1 terms but Ralph brings a lot of
racing experience and a formidable track record along with his
enthusiasm and commitment. I’m impressed with his very cool and
disciplined approach and I have a lot of confidence that he and
Fisichella will be an awesome partnership on the track. The news that
Ralph has joined us, allied to other important developments, means
that Jordan Ford is a force to be reckoned with in 2003, and I can’t
wait for the season to start.” That of course, is Eddie Jordanspeak
for “I can’t wait for Ralph’s money to come in,” since this
was a ‘pay drive’ seat.
Aided by the Jordan minders, Firman is reported as
saying, “I am thrilled to have this chance to race in Formula One
especially as it is with Jordan, one of the few teams to have won
Grands Prix in recent years. It’s also a team that has brought many
notable names into Formula One and I can see that it’s an extremely
friendly and professional operation. Although this will be my first
season, I have worked hard to build up my experience whilst racing in
Japan, so although F1 will be something new I feel ready and quite
comfortable with it. I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne
Ralph Firman was born on 20th May 1975 and holds dual nationality,
with a British father and an Irish mother, and lives in Norfolk in the
United Kingdom. His father, Ralph Firman Sr, was a mechanic for former
triple World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi before founding the famous
Van Diemen racing car business whose chassis have been raced in the
junior formulae by many of today’s top drivers. (This I gleaned from
pitpass.com the best Eff Wun website.)
Last week I mentioned that Ettore Bugatti bought a
couple of American cars he saw at Montlhery, near Paris, to adapt the
twin cam cylinder heads for the Bugatti racers of the day. What were
those cars, and what were they doing in Europe? The answer was they
were both Millers and the American race driver Leon Duray took them to
Italy for the GP of 1929 and then to France, where Ettore Bugatti
So to this week. There has historically always been
many connections between cars and planes, SAAB, Bristol made both,
while even Ferrari had a connection (through the prancing horse
insignia). However, there was also a connection between airships and
cars, with one airship designer also building rear engined cars in the
early ’30s. The designer was a titled gentleman and was British. No
more clues. What was the name of the cars?
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