Friday, January 20, 2012

Lotus and the anti-dive system

Much has been recently written about the alleged system Lotus-Renault will use in its 2012 competitor.

The system is aimed to be of anti-dive type, thus help maintaining standard ride height during braking, while the usual movement would be to plunge onward and down.

Here's a technical diagram: 

Image courtesy of Omnicorse, original here.

At the same time Ferrari have reported that they are working on the same type of system, but they are 
awaiting final approval from the FIA over its legality.

Reportedly, FIA said OK to such system, as it has been found legal according to the rules, so lots of noise has been created about how the rest of the grid will have to copy that setup.

Red Bull, in the mean time, say that "there's no reason to rush and copy", as 
"Things have to work as a package rather than as individual components."
It has been reported that in the past Red Bull have tried similar approach, but it has been abandoned, perhaps in favor of working more deeply and actually developing the winning EBD concept, as I've described (translated) here.

On the other hand, the news on the Red Bull front have been virtually equal to zero, so I would assume they are quite busy at this time, which might explain why the unveiling of the car will be done online.

Let's rewind on the anti-dive systems, that's hardly the first time we hear about it. 
  • Back in the 70's we had Lotus 72, which had very advanced suspension geometry, including such anti-dive system. 
  • Then we have Honda's TRAC system, seen in the CB900F model, which was again back in the time, namely the 80's. 
So, those examples are here just to illustrate that such system isn't new to the world. Now, back in F1 and if you prefer the visual style, here's a video explanation.
Note: Personally I see a bit of contradiction with : 

10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to the suspension system while the car is in motion. 
But honestly, I don't know what's really going to happen.

Some speculate that such setup could be a real gainer, with selective quotes up to 0.5 seconds per lap, but personally I would disagree. Such ride height control systems are present in the cars to some extent, depending on the car setup and overall philosophy, and I don't find it such a great gizmo that can greatly boost the performance of any team.

I'd rather call it an "aid" to a properly thought of and crafted car, as the suspension travel is very small, thus the gain would be max if one can utilize the effect of the travel along with the rest of the setup of the car.
This means that such system will have effect if the front end of the car is designed carefully around it, as well as the rest of the package.

There's a pretty good advantage, however, on the fuel load side, as the cars start with about 150 kg of fuel, and lighten up throughout the race. The inference is up to you.

Certainly, what's really going to happen, we're about to see.

UPDATE: 28.09.2012 - James Allison told PMWM about the system: "It was complicated. “Done wrong, you could get quite a nasty brake judder with this bouncing caliper. Engineering it so the car moves up exactly the amount that it would otherwise have dipped down by – that’s all quite beautiful when you get it right. We were rather proud of having done it and were looking forward to using it.”