Over the past weeks I have been using my visits to Fortec Motorsport to learn about the detailed workings of the car in order to further my understanding and continue to improve my ability to relate to my engineer and the team regarding adjustments during a race weekend.
The first topic I have covered was the clutch, which I knew the basics of but felt I needed a more in-depth understanding of it. I knew it was more complex than I thought, but was amazed at just how much more complex it actually is; and how much different they are between regular road cars and race cars. The carbon clutches in the F3 are incredibly light, and they also have very little momentum/inertia which is why they require firm application as opposed to road cars which are designed for comfort and drive ability. I also found it interesting that a clutch which is 500g lighter than another reduces the car’s effective weight by more than 500g as it is a rotating body and thus also has a torque force when the car is running.
I’ve also covered roll-bars and Ackerman which are somewhat simpler than the clutch. In regards to roll bars, I knew what affect they had on the balance of the car, but not specifically how they actually worked. This surprisingly reminded me of karting where the aim is to lift the inside-rear wheel off the ground in order to corner well. Roll bars essentially do the same thing, as the car corners, lifting the inside wheel to affect the car’s balance. So the stiffer the rear bar, the car will have more oversteer tendencies as the rear inside wheel is essentially having grip taken away.
Ackerman is also an interesting topic as it is to do with different rates of steering each front wheel, which can be beneficial because if the inside wheel is turned more than the outside, the inside wheel has more drag, and thus the car corners better as the inside is being ‘pulled’ around the corner.
I have lots more to learn so I am sure Mick will keep the lessons (and tests!) coming over coming weeks until I head back to Perth for Christmas.