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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
2009 Formula 1 - Engineering
Image: © 2009 Daimler AG

KERS and Aerodynamics Improve The 2009 Formula 1 Car

Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton put down some quick laps at the Portimao, Portugal race track recently (see photo), and the 2009 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 that he was testing was very revolutionary in its engineering design. For 2009, the Formula 1 season has new FIA regulations imposed that impact both the aerodynamics, the tires and energy efficiency in powertrain design.

For the powertrain, the significant element that has been added to the Grand Prix formula this year is KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems). In effect, the new 2009 F1 cars have become true hybrids. The KERS recovers an F1 car's braking kinetic energy and stores it for future power application within a lap. For the 2009 F1 season, FIA regulations limit the amount of recovered energy that each team's car can store from braking up to a maximum power output of 60 kW with a duration power discharge of 80 bhp for 6.66 seconds per lap.

The other beneficial change for the season is that aerodynamic regulations have been created by FIA to improve passing capability of F1 cars. A FIA OWG (Overtaking Working Group) formulated the new aerodynamic regulations to reduce the amount of 'dirty air' produced behind F1 cars, which had previously made passing virtually impossible in high speed conditions.

The OWG was led by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Engineering Director Paddy Lowe, Ferrari's Rory Byrne, and Renault's Pat Symonds, who met throughout 2007 to formulate the 2009 FIA design parameters for aerodynamics. The new 2009 FIA aerodynamic regulations reduce the forward facing area of the rear wing and ban rear air deflector add-ons, so as to improve the amount of laminar (smooth flowing) air flow released from the rear wing. The other significant change to the FIA regulations has been the return of slick tires from the previously required grooved tires.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' CEO Formula 1, Martin Whitmarsh, says, "Such profound changes to the sport make it difficult to predict which teams will have most successfully developed their cars for the new technical regulations. These rules have presented us with considerable challenges throughout the design process of MP4-24, but we have thoroughly interpreted all their ramifications in order to design a car that we can feel proud of."

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