The Monocoque Chassis in Formula One

Redbull Racing
15
Apr, 2019
Category: Automotive

Formula One (F1) is the world’s most famous motor racing sport, with around 10% of the world’s population following the races and teams.

Lewis HamiltonMercedes racing team2019 marks the 70th Formula One World Championship season, which began with Lewis Hamilton defending his title as the World Drivers’ Champion, after winning his fifth championship at the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix and Mercedes defending the World Constructors’ Champions after celebrating their fifth consecutive championship at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

There are 10 constructors and 20 drivers who take part in each race.

Constructor Drivers
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari Sebastian Vettel & Charles Leclerc
Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen & Pierre Gasly
Alfa Romeo Racing (previously Sauber) Kimi Räikkönen & Antonio Giovinazzi
McLaren Carlos Sainz & Lando Norris
Hass Romain Grosjean & Kevin Magnussen
Renault Nico Hulkenberg & Daniel Riccardo
Toro Rosso Daniil Kvyat & Alexander Albon
Racing Point Sergio Perez & Lance Stroll
Williams Racing Robert Kubica & George Russell

Each season sees driver changes and new rules and regulations come into play. These changes are to make the racing as fresh and competitive as possible, and exciting for spectators, whilst keeping the safety standards as high as possible. Last years major change was the introduction of the Halo device to increase driver safety.

This year they include:

There are 21 races in the 2019 schedule with the season running from mid-March and running into December for the first time; the Chinese Grand Prix in April with mark the 1000th race to take place.

March 17 Melbourne Australia
March 31 Sakhir Bahrain
April 14 Shanghai China
April 28 Baku Azerbaijan
May 12 Barcelona Spain
May 26 Monaco Monaco
June 9 Montreal Canada
June 23 Le Castellet France
June 30 Spielberg Austria
July 14 Silverstone Great Britain
July 28 Hockenheim Germany
August 4 Budapest Hungary
September 1 Spa-Francorchamps Belgium
September 8 Monza Italy
September 22 Singapore Singapore
September 29 Sochi Russia
October 13 Suzuka Japan
October 27 Mexico City Mexico
November 3 Austin USA
November 17 Sao Paulo Brazil
December 1 Yas Marina Abu Dhabi

The monocoque chassis

A Formula One car is a single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel racing car with substantial front and rear wings, and an engine positioned behind the driver. The regulations governing the cars are unique to the championship. The Formula One regulations specify that cars must be constructed by the racing teams themselves, though the design and manufacture can be outsourced.

The monocoque or shell is a construction which uses the external skin to support most of the load, so the chassis is integral with the body of the vehicle. The monocoque chassis provides safety to the driver in extreme situations and must therefore be almost indestructible. Safety is of the upmost importance in the racing world, and has improved at an incredible rate in recent years; research and development in this area is continual and has the highest priority.

Carbon fibre & aluminium honeycombThe journey to the modern-day Formula One monocoque started in the early 1980s with the use of carbon fibre composite materials for chassis manufacture. This composite material is twice as strong as steel but five times lighter; up to 12 layers are used, each with individual threads which are five times thinner than human hair. According to the anticipated loads on varying areas of the structure, fabrics with differing weave patterns and in varying orientations are applied. A layer of aluminium honeycomb is then inserted between these mats, which increases the rigidity of the monocoque chassis without increasing the weight significantly. It also has impact resistant properties and is non-combustible which offers further protection to the driver. The whole shell is then heated in the autoclave, a giant oven and under negative pressure. As a result, the monocoques are strong enough to protect the drivers even in the most serious of accidents. A monocoque can weigh as little as 35 kg (5.5 stone) and still absorb very large impacts.

Williams RacingThe FIA (the governing body of Motorsport) have very high safety standards and constantly raise the standards expected from the vehicles.  Since 1985 they have specified crash tests for the monocoque chassis and for other parts of the car, which have become increasingly stringent. To protect the driver’s legs at the front of the car, the FIA imposed a rule that the first inside layer must be made from Kevlar, an extremely strong synthetic fibre, which is highly resistant to penetration forces. It is used on the body and tyres of Formula One cars and also in the driver’s helmets. It can be made into a honeycomb structure and inter-layered as a composite. Nomex, another synthetic fibre can also be used in its honeycomb form for lightweight structural support in the car as it has flame resistant properties and will not melt, drip or support combustion in air.

Each constructor varies the design of their car to gain a competitive advantage, to maximise its speed and performance. Aerodynamics has become a key to success, with great investment in research and development in this field. Each Formula One car is a work of engineering excellence, created by a hand-picked team of engineers and craftsmen and women. The essence of Formula One is to provide the ultimate challenge for man and machine on the track!


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