Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Psychological and physiological demands of F1

Dr Robert Child - Elite Sport Group, United Kingdom
Grand Prix motor racing represents the pinnacle of engineering, applying space age materials and technology to the design and construction of Formula 1 cars. Despite the huge focus on the cars, which costs hundred of millions of pounds to develop, improving the performance of the driver provides a frequently overlooked opportunity to enhance the performance of driver-car package.

Superficially competing in a Grand Prix is a much less physiologically challenging than riding a stage of the Tour de France, but closer analysis reveals this is not the case. Completing in a Grand Prix places extreme requirements for strength, fitness and mental concentration, which can push even the fittest drivers to the limits of their physical capacity.

Loads on the body

One of the most obvious challenges for the modern Formula 1 driver is coping with the huge forces applied to the body. These are usually expressed relative to the force of gravity (g) and at rest a force of 1g acts on the body. Acceleration, deceleration and cornering all apply loads to the body and high performance road cars such as the Porsche 911 generate around 0.7g accelerating, 1g braking and 1g cornering. In contrast, a 2014 F1 car generates up to 1.2g accelerating, 5g braking and 6g cornering. These forces are applied to the whole body, but particularly affect the head as this is only supported by the neck. In fast corners such as Silverstone's Copse corner, or turn 8 at Istanbul Park the lateral load on the neck is equivalent to half the drivers body-weight. Even under braking the forces applied to the body are similar to those experienced by fighter pilots. The application of high g forces results in large fluid shifts within the body, which even in the physically fit causes blacking out at around 6g (ref. 5). Modern day fighter pilots can safely be exposed to 10g by minimizing fluid shifts with pressurized suits, however these are too heavy and cumbersome for use in Formula 1.

Figure 1 relative maximum g force for road and Formula 1 cars

The exceptionally high loads generated by modern Formula 1 cars, require drivers generate high muscle forces. These typically involve isometric muscle activation (where muscle length is constant); and eccentric muscle activation, where muscles are forced to lengthen under load. Both types of muscle activation generate very high muscle forces on fast or bumpy tracks. It is the generation of high muscle forces rather than lactic acid, which actually produces muscle damage (ref. 2). This is accompanied by soreness and weakness 3 and impairments in neuromuscular feedback, resulting incorrect perceptions of limb position and muscle force generation (ref. 11). This means that as a Grand Prix progresses it becomes increasingly difficult for drivers to apply the correct level of throttle to get optimal drive out of corners and apply the correct braking force to have the ideal corner entry speed. One overt manifestation of impaired neuromuscular feedback is driver errors. These can result in excessive throttle when exiting corners, causing the back end to slide and lock ups under braking.

The need to keep cool

The accumulation of heat is another challenge faced by Grand Prix 1 drivers, which can significantly impair driving performance. The engines powering 2014 Formula 1 cars are around 40% efficient at converting the chemical energy in fuel to mechanical energy. This means that when an engine produces 750 horsepower more than 300,000 Watts of heat must be dissipated to stop the engine overheating. This is equivalent to neutralising the heat output of 150 electric ovens cooking a Sunday roast dinner ! Engine heat is radiated to the driver, adding to his thermal load. This can be a problem even in cool weather because the driver himself generates a significant amount of heat. Humans are much less efficient that Formula one engines and rarely convert more than 25% of the energy available to mechanical work. This means 75% of the energy available from carbohydrates and fat that could be used to generate muscle force actually gets converted into heat.

The energy demands of Grand Prix racing have not been directly calculated, but estimates have been made using heartrate data. These suggest an average power requirement of around 150 Watts over a 90-minute race, which is significantly lower than power outputs observed in professional cyclists. For example Tour De France riders routinely generate in excess of 400 Watts over the same time period as a Grand Prix. Despite the comparatively low energy demand, the Formula 1 driver still needs to dissipate around 500 Watts of heat to stay cool, about a quarter the heat output of a domestic oven. This can easily be achieved when cycling, as the exposed arms, legs chest and face all provide effective body cooling. In contrast, an F1 driver’s body is completely covered by a fire retardant Nomex® race suit and helmet; which greatly reduces body cooling even with air speeds of 200mph! This makes staying cool a major challenge for the driver, both because of his own heat generation and the heat radiated to him by the car. Racing in hot weather, especially on physically demanding circuits such as Austin Texas, is likely to result in body temperatures in excess of 40C. Such hyperthermia (overheating) can result in heat illness, which elevates brain temperature and compromises normal brain function (ref. 6). For F1 drivers even tiny decrements in cognitive performance have serious consequences. For example being late of the brakes at the end of a straight provides a key on track overtaking opportunity. At 200mph out-braking by one car length equates to being just 50 milliseconds later on the brake pedal; less than a quarter of the time needed to blink. So even small judgement errors can have disastrous consequences!

Sweating is the body’s key response to minimize overheating and with appropriate physical training sweat rates of 2 to 2.5 liters per hour, can be achieved. This means that over a typical 90 minute Grand Prix drivers can potentially lose 3 to 3.75 liters of sweat, which around 5% of body weight. The ability of drivers to take on fluid during a Grand Prix is often limited to 500ml; which is just a fraction of their sweat losses. This means Formula 1 drivers can finish Grand Prix more dehydrated than professional cyclists who have ridden a 200km mountain stage of the Tour De France. Dehydration of this magnitude is associated with compromised body cooling, higher temperatures of blood flowing to the brain, as well as elevated brain temperatures (ref. 6, 9). When the brain gets too hot its metabolism is altered 8 and its function is impaired which may ultimately resulting in brain injury (ref. 9, 10, 12). Laboratory studies report dehydration of just 2% (less than 1.5 liters of fluid) is sufficient to impair tasks requiring visual-motor tracking, short-term memory and attention (ref. 7). These tasks have some commonality with the mental demands of racing a Grand Prix car. Therefore the combination of high sweat losses and brain temperature suggest cognitive performance may be impaired in the latter phases of a Grand Prix. Driver errors may be a manifestation of this; such as missing an apex. Serious judgment errors can have a direct impact on the race outcome; such as flat spotting tyres, failing to engage the speed limiter, overshooting the pit box and off track excursions.

Figure 2 Sweat losses, fluid intake and dehydration at hot Grand Prix and a mountain stage of the Tour de France
Cool dry weather conditions greatly reduce the physiological demands of Grand Prix racing as the forces applied to the driver are lower and there is less heat for the driver to dissipate. However, when rain falls there are additional psychological demands for the driver. Poor visibility caused by spray makes the sighting cues used by the driver for braking and track position more difficult to spot, creating even higher demands for sustained concentration. Similarly rain produces rapidly changing track characteristics, which increase concentration demands particularly when drivers are trying to maximize performance on every lap.

Understanding the physiological demands of Grand Prix racing is of more than just of academic interest to Formula 1 teams. With understanding of the limiting factors to human performance, it is possible to increase the overall effectiveness of the driver-car package. Every Formula 1 team employs fitness trainers to improve the physical condition of the drivers. Invariably they focus on resistance training (typically with weights) to increase muscle strength, which over time greatly reduces susceptibility to muscle injury 1. Endurance work is also included to improve cardiovascular fitness and sweating responses, so that drivers can cope with long hot races more easily. However physical conditioning only provides a limited level of adaptation to the demands of Grand Prix racing. More advanced Formula 1 teams have invested in giving their drivers advantages far beyond simply improving driver fitness and providing a competitive car.

One such team is McLaren, who were one of the first Formula 1 teams to experiment with a driver cooling system. This was specifically designed to be lightweight, and as consequence was only suitable for cooling the head (http://elitesportgroup.org/clients-endurance-training/mclaren-f1-nutrition/). Despite this, it still provided an effective strategy for minimizing the risk of brain hyperthermia.

Formula 1 teams give their drivers carbohydrate electrolyte drinks prior to and during Grand Prix races. This practice has become popular to help maintain blood glucose levels (essential for brain function) and to replace some of the fluids and electrolytes lost as sweat. Many sports drinks such as Red Bull also contain caffeine, which is the primary ingredient responsible for improved alertness and reaction times (ref. 4). Caffeine can have adverse effects such as being a mild diuretic, so potentially contributing to dehydration. Caffeine can also reduce response accuracy in tasks with high cognitive demands, which could be detrimental to performance.

Food supplements are now available which provide the same benefits for mental performance as caffeine, but with fewer side effects. They have the potential to improve pre race hydration and cognitive performance in mentally demanding tasks, particularly in stressful environments. Recent research trials have also identified a spectrum of ingredients, which are useful for reducing dehydration and decreasing muscle damage. Although some of these nutrients are included in commercial supplements, they are present at too low a level to actually be effective. Provision of nutrients at efficacious levels can provide significant advantages regarding hydration, muscle performance and mental functioning. To overcome these issues many professional teams source scientifically formulated non-commercial products. Such products have already been used in successfully in competition at events such as Tour de France and some are undergoing evaluation by the military.

Dr. Robert Child is a specialist in performance biochemistry and human physiology. He is currently consultant to MTN-Qhubeka professional cycling team and the UK military. He previously worked with McLaren Formula 1, was Head of Nutrition for the Cervelo Test Team and was Head of Research for the sports nutrition company Maximuscle. His experience in top-level sport is extensive having worked with World Champion and Olympic medalists from British Sailing, Olympic Boxing and Olympic Swimming. He can be contacted via the Elite Sport Group (http://elitesportgroup.org/contact-the-elite-sport-group/).

1) Brown SJ, Child RB, Day SH, Donnelly AE. Exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage and adaptation following repeated bouts of eccentric muscle contractions. J Sports Sci. 1997 Apr;15(2):215-22

2) Child RB, Brown SJ, Day SH, Saxton JM, Donnelly AE. Manipulation of knee extensor force using percutaneous electrical myostimulation during eccentric actions: effects on indices of muscle damage in humans. Int J Sports Med. 1998 Oct;19(7):468-73.

3) Child R, Brown S, Day S, Donnelly A, Saxton J (1999) Changes in indices of antioxidant status, lipid peroxidation and inflammation in human skeletal muscle after eccentric muscle actions. Clinical Science (1999) 96, 105–115.

4) Giles G, Mahoney C, Brunyé T, Gardony A, Taylor H, Kanarek R. Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine and glucose. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Volume 102, Issue 4, October 2012, Pages 569–577.

5) Henry J. Gauer O, Kety S. Kramer K. Factors maintaining cerebral circulation during gravitational stress. J Clin Invest. Mar 1951; 30(3): 292–300.

6) Kanaya N, Kobayashi Y, Yamakage M, Tsuchida H, Watanabe A, Namiki A Cerebral blood flow velocity and electroencephalogram for the evaluation of intraoperative brain function during intrathoracic hyperthermia]. Masui. 1993 Mar;42(3):450-4.

7) Lieberman HR. Hydration and cognition: a critical review and recommendations for future research. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Oct;26(5 Suppl):555S-561S.

8) Nybo L, Møller K, Volianitis S, Nielsen B, Secher N. Effects of hyperthermia on cerebral blood flow and metabolism during prolonged exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 Jul;93(1):58-64.

9) Nybo L, Secher N, Nielsen B. Inadequate heat release from the human brain during prolonged exercise with hyperthermia. Journal of Physiology (2002), 545.2, pp. 697–704.

10) Nybo L. Brain temperature and exercise performance. Exp Physiol 97.3 (2012) pp 333–339

11) Saxton JM, Clarkson PM, James R, Miles M, Westerfer M, Clark S, Donnelly AE. (1995) Neuromuscular dysfunction following eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 27, 1185-93.

12) Yarmolenko PS, Moon EJ, Landon C, Manzoor A, Hochman DW, Viglianti BL, Dewhirst MW. Thresholds for thermal damage to normal tissues: an update. Int J Hyperthermia. 2011;27(4):320-43.

Monday, July 14, 2014

F1 through the viewfinder

We all enjoy the nice images that capture the 300+ km/h action in Formula 1.

Some of us enjoy the close-up technically detailed ones, while others favor the creative action of an unusual angles and effects.
All this is brought to us by a selected group of photographers, who are shooting the F1 circus by no accident. You may probably know or don't know that F1 photographers are quite literally an elite group, whose work is being re-evaluated every year and thus you get your permanent or temporary permission to shoot. This means that even if you consider yourself a lens-ninja and you pay an entry fee, it won't be possible. So, the cream of the crop.

Fortunately, today we have on board one of them. His name is Vladimir Rys. Born in Prague 30+ years ago, Vlad becomes one of the leading figures behind the DSLR viewfinder that brings a stunning photographic quality. Here's what he has to share with all of you. But, before we get there, congratulations Germany on your football world title - photo of Nico Rosberg by Vladimir Rys:

Why did you start doing this
Cause of my love to photography and to the excitement of capturing a whole story in one single image and
maybe also cause I always liked to see things differently to what I have been told by others and transformed this into pictures.

What are the most iconic races you've shoot
Monaco - every Monaco is amazing, Singapore - I love that race too and probably Monza, which you can’t really not love...

The most incredible shot I've ever done
I have a few shots I quite like, but I always hope the most incredible one is the next one maybe...

P.S. I've picked up an incredible shot myself #KeepFightingMichael

How hard it is - what obstacles you face?
F1 has always been the hardest place to work for a sports photographer. Not only it is so difficult to get in, but also it is very expensive to travel around to all races being most of the season somewhere overseas. But also at the track we have a lot of hurdles to get over, more and more every year actually, "health & safety" has grown at some countries to a ridiculous level, where common sense doesn't work anymore and photographers really struggle to work. But these rules are same for everybody, so you have to get on with it and deliver.

What are the technical details
I work with Canon cameras and lenses, but occasionally use also Carl Zeiss and one Nikon lenses mounted on my Canon 1Dx's and "f-stop gear" supplies me with top class camera bags to travel and ship all my equipment safe around the World. Getting into more technical details we could spend the whole day speaking about apertures, lenses, filters, etc., but the only thing that really counts is the eye... If you have the eye to see something different. the technical skills and the instinct than you get something special. Balance all these into one moment and you get something special. Still, some numbers: I use variety on lenses starting with 14mm, 24mm, 35, 50, 85, 100, 200, 400. The only zoom I have is the 70 - 200mm lens, but I normally don’t use it for shooting F1.

What about wide apertures? Love shooting wide open f1.2 - 1.4 It’s very hard and tricky, but if you get it sharp than it’s worth the risk.
Does the size matter? Average RAW image size is at around 20 MB so it is quite a loads of data at the end of the day. An edited JPG image could come out something between 6 - 15 MB at the end.

Spain 2013
Final words 
The only thing I would like to add is that variety of styles and looks are changing now and than, but if you have your own signature and style you are recognized for, than this is timeless and priceless. 

Once again, you can check Vlad's F1 work here - http://www.vladimirrys.com/formula_one/ and get in touch on Twitter - https://twitter.com/vladimirrys or Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vladimir-Rys-Photography/143416292356370

Thursday, June 12, 2014

F1 on the TV and Internet

Hello again, dear readers.
After some time off, the blog is back with another F1 related matter, namely the way F1 is broadcast and the way FOM handles the coverage in social media. Let's separate that in sections. I know I may sound harsh with the words below, but F1 fans should be treated with the best.

F1 on the TV

As some of you may know, I co-host the national-wide TV show for F1 in Bulgaria. Hence, this question is of paramount importance for me as a TV pundit and tech analyst, but most importantly, what the viewers get on their screens. This is how the studio looks like (but now always):

A little secret: when we are on air, we watch the same global wide HD feed that comes from the track and it's up to the FOM TV director to show you what he thinks is important. The most recent example of that was the crowd on the Canadian GP, which has had its 15 minutes of glory. Or more. Literally. Certainly, people on the track have paid quite a lot and it's always fun to show them, or capture a precious moment, but this time this was done at the wrong time, as there was a quite a lot of action on the track.

One of the other striking issues is that the camera action is simply slow this season. The way that the race is shown makes it look like it's actually 20 seconds slower than it is. Example is a static camera frames from a helicopter view at the middle of a straight. Few cars just pass by and that's it. No tracking them down to the hairpin, no movement. It looks like a static police traffic camera for electronic speeding tickets. Come on, guys, you could surely do better. So, watching the sport the way it is transmitted right now doesn't make it exciting - neither for the fans, nor for us, the commentators. I sometimes find it hard to sound ecstatic, as there's simply nothing to talk about. This is an onboard edit of the race from Canal Plus (hats off!). I don't know for how long is it going to stay, so let's enjoy it. It's much more thrilling than what we have been presented on the TV feed.
The video is here thanks to Matt Somers, who pointed me to the right place.

Fortunately, there's the team radio we could intercept, and there are guys like Kimi Raikkonen who don't care what's get transmitted or not and they talk straight. This is, of course, entertaining. Way to go, Kimi.
One thing on the positive side: the thermal camera. But that's pretty much all. I can't count the live graphics and comparisons as something that has to be praised, as this is a must.

Next we have the TV ratings, which are definitely seeing decline. This fact has large context around it, and we cannot really blame FOM alone for that.
The TV ratings are closely tied with the way the season unfolds and how drivers are faring.  In Germany numbers show 10% decline, despite names like Mercedes, Vettel and Nico Rosberg shining under the spotlight. In Latin America the numbers are close to the mind-blowing half-slice 50%! Italy and Spain are tethered to Ferrari and Alonso success (or lack of). There we see an average of 20% down.
Again, this has its roots back to the Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel's dominance during the last four years. Don't get me wrong - they were more clever than the rivals and they wiped the track with them. This is what Ferrari did before and now it seems it's time for Mercedes to raise the game and step up on the podium many times. This is likely to lead into another drop of the numbers, but some have done better job than others, have invested large amounts of money and cannot de-tune their engines just for the sake of equality on the track. The 2014 sound issue adds another bitter ingredient to the whole story.

Further decline is helped by the move to a paid TV channels. While this is not unusual, it is certainly a factor. Almost half of the channels worldwide are paid now. On some occasions, I must admit I find the channel prices bit too high. I cannot accept the argument that the real F1 fan will pay whatever it takes to watch his favorite game. We are all still feeling the effect of the global economic crisis and people have different bills to pay. Having said that, money are now spent well and wisely, in my humble opinion. And if the product isn't worth, there's no deal. Here it's time to say that the extras on the paid channels, such as dedicated pit lane and onboard channels are available only to Sky group and BBC.
The idea of having Sky to control and manage the global feed seems inappropriate to me, as the moment with the national bias will be inevitably crashing the wall. Moreover, the idea of the local-enabled broadcasters isn't a good one either - there have been many bad examples.

So, bottom line - FOM can certainly do better in providing the most exciting parts of the race, because this is what F1 fans deserve. The highlights of the race which are posted on Formula1.com are, well, sometimes under the average and I can certainly call them mediocre, considering that there are much better race edits done by fans. Another problem is the fierce pursuit of any F1 related videos on sites like YouTube, for example. The easy exchange of F1 video snippets is hard due to the closed proprietary commercial model. On that matter I definitely think that F1 can be more 'open-source'. For example, the race edits could be done as a competition where the best one wins and gets his name featured on F1.com. Open the video data, provide it to those who wish to re-master and re-mix it and then select the best. Does it sound idealistic? Yes. Is it going to work? For sure. We live in a global world where getting in touch happens with just a few taps on the phone screen. Which leads to the second part of the article. The way information is being shared and handled in the social media.

F1 on the social media

It sounds like an impossible love affair, right? F1 barely has any presence in the social media, where again, sharing F1 info, such as videos, is being pursued by cyber cops. While I can't say I support digital piracy, well, the 'clients are asking for it' and the clients are us, the viewers and the fans.
Last week the almighty Bernie Ecclestone said that he doubts the social media will last. Seconds of silence for that sentence. He's so unbelievably out of touch, says a neurosurgeon from Canada on Twitter. Because as we agreed, we live in easily accessible global world. Mr. Ecclestone, however, in my view will be soon leaving the house, and I truly hope that his successor will be inline with the new technology world.
At the same time, Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery believes understanding what fans want from the sport is one of the biggest issues facing F1.

"We look at how many people are watching the sport and what they think of the current F1. Viewing figures so far this year are extremely disappointing - there's no doubt about that."
But with BBC figures suggesting that iPlayer growth was 33 per cent last year, and live radio audiences jumping by 53 per cent, there is a growing view that the way people consume F1 is changing dramatically.
The proposal of having a pay-per-view per race F1 model will be further taking the TV figures down, but one has to wonder - is that necessarily a bad thing? Wouldn't the same sponsors and advertisers have their logos in the digital world as well? This is a fairly known and successful model. Today there's no legal way for you to watch an old race, in case you have missed it for some reason. Period. You can't even pay for it.

One good example of how social media and highlights are handled, is the National Basketball Association in US, which has excellent communication with the fans, a YouTube channel that feeds quite interesting and quality content.
However, F1 continues to employ its closed commercial model, which is against what people really want. Social media aren't going anywhere - some may fade, but others such as Facebook and Twitter, are destined to stay as a core part of online communication. Not to mention that almost entire F1 world lives in Twitter.
You can find me there at @Kiril_Varbanov

Bottom line: F1 has to embrace social media as a way to communicate and to stay inline with the rest of the world.

Footnote: I understand from the number of messages I receive that this is a sensitive subject. Anyone who is willing to co-author the article - feel free to email me and I'll add your text.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

F1 and Big Data

This combination seems like an obvious love affair, right? But in order to answer that question, let’s have a deeper look at the participants.

Posting this in an F1 related source surely means you know what F1 is like. Big Data, however, is a lovely term that has reigned the Internet quite fiercely these days. Certainly, as the time advances, we are likely to hear it more and more, simply because the digital data arrays we accumulate are becoming larger. I will try to simplify the explanation of “Big Data” - it’s a term describing massive and complex amounts of data which traditional tools are unable to process. Real world example - each engine of a jet on a flight from London to New York generates 10TB of data every 30 minutes – just to get a practical grasp of what this really means. Although most of these operational information arrays are lost after flight completion, the companies are looking at various ways to collect, extract and analyze the meaningful bits.
This situation would require special handling. Other example of Big Data is Google’s collections of websites information, which cannot be just inserted inside a normal database. Fortunately, there are already standard parameters that define the most important characteristics of that domain. They are called the 3V - Velocity, Variety and Volume.

I’m not really keen to delve deeper into the IT side of the problem, but I’m likely to use them throughout the text as references and for consistency.
So, how does F1 and Big Data get along? That relationship has been really helped by the standard data acquisition package we have today, provided by Mclaren Electronics.
Let’s display some numbers (which are likely to be updated once 2014 season unfolds technically)

  • The F1 car has around 300 sensors streaming data back to the garages. (Variety)
  • Around 750 billions pieces of data are sent in total from all cars during the race weekend (Volume)
  • The raw unstructured data collected for one single car over race weekend is around 15 GB. 
  • The peak data transfer (throughput) during the race is about 2 MB/s. (Velocity)
  • On average, for every lap, a Formula 1 car produces 35 megabytes of data (Source: Ferrari)

That is certainly quite a lot of data to look at. Add to that equation the data flowing from the strategy group and you’ll get the big picture. Teams definitely need a refined and quick way to go through that data jungle and make quick decisions. The emphasize is really on “quick”, just in line with the fast sweeping nature of Formula 1. That ability to mine, analyze and present meaningful data out of the big array has proven to be very important for the teams. How do they cope with the data pressure?

One of the oldest examples I’ve got on the list is Mclaren. Everything from Woking screams: “Hi-Tech!”. Back in the days, the team has started a partnership with SAP, the technology giant. This move also involved one of the most prominent technologies in that domain, called HANA. While this is purely a commercial product, its core strengths lie in the memory. HANA is a mixture of acquired products, eventually making it into extremely fast analytical engine, built over column-oriented, in-memory database. This type of technology allows very quick mining through large datasets, which is what an F1 teams needs. SAP HANA enables McLaren’s existing systems to process data 14,000 times faster than before.
The attempts that Mclaren and SAP had resulted in something which looked like that: 

Click on the image to get the larger version

As you can see, this is a prototype dashboard displaying all vital parameters for both drivers. This would be an ideal tool for engineers - essential, data-rich and clean and readable, at the same time.

We have the drivers on both sides, separated by the track layout and the current position of both cars. The data for every car is easily distinguishable by the colors - blue for Button and yellow for Hamilton, in this showcase. The entire screen is actually a live application and data changes automatically as the cars are progressing. As you can see, there are all vital parameters available, along with current tire compound, the life of the set, the pressure of all four.

What is very intriguing is the Predictive Timeline at the bottom of the screen. This is the module which adjusts the race strategy in real time based on many predefined and historical factors.
The partnership between SAP and Mclaren appears to be progressing, so we are likely to update the content in the future, especially when it comes to the new engines.

If you want to get into details about pit-wall concept, this is the link - http://stillbrandworks.com/sap/pit-wall/

The next stop is Enstone, where a while ago Lotus has announced a similar partnership with iRise. While the details remain secret at this time, an image has leaked some time ago, which can definitely tell us something.

While we don’t know whether this is a prototype, Lotus are apparently looking at fast and convenient way to visualize information.
The screen has three tabs and one main body displaying static information at the upper right corner. On the Setup tab there are car parameters used to set up the car, obviously. Again, we don’t know just how much of these fields are dynamics, but it would be waste of space and time not to be dynamic, right? So, again, this is an example of how data could be harvested and used to display the most vital characteristics of a car or those who are pertinent to the race.

More on Lotus and one of their technology partners - EMC. According to them, the above-mentioned characteristics look like this:

  • Variety - Over 150 sensors logging data 
  • Volume - 50 GB of data per race
  • Velocity - 15 MB of data per lap

Next usage of the big data models is the historical race information. All those little data pieces we see are stored and then subsequently used when making a decision - based on a temperature value, tire compound or front wing angle of attack. Or a combination of all these. 

This is the short story of how F1 teams are handling the Big Data issue and actually making it to work for them. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Renault 2014 engine

Hi readers,

I have never done any advertisment or press release posts, but F1 is allegedly going to sustain the most anticipated and earth-braking overhaul ever, so certain details are important. The next post is totally sponsored by Renault Sport, meaning that every accredited media outlet has access to it. Not all of you, however, which is the reason why I'm posting it with extensive image material. Note that all images have larger sizes.

• 1.6l turbocharged V6 internal combustion engine
• Direct injection
• Max engine speed of 15,000rpm
• Potent Energy Recovery Systems incorporating two motor
generator units – the MGU-H, recovering energy from the exhaust
and the MGU-K recovering energy from braking
• Electrical energy recovered stored in a battery
• Combined maximum power output of 760bhp, on a par with previous
V8 generation
• Double restriction on fuel consumption: fuel quantity for the race
limited to 100 kg (-35% from 2013) with fuel flow rate limited to 100
kg/hr max (unlimited under V8 regulations) – cars will therefore need
to use both fuel and electrical energy over one lap
• Engine development is frozen during the season, only changes for
fair and equitable reasons are permitted
• 5 Power Units permitted per driver per year


In short:
V6 is shorthand for an internal combustion engine with its cylinders arranged in two banks of 3 cylinders arranged in a ‘V’ configuration over a common crankshaft. The Renault Energy F1 V6 has a displacement of
1.6 litres and will make around 600bhp, or more than 3 times the power of a Clio RS.

The challenge:
Contrary to popular belief, the ICE is not the easiest part of the Power Unit to design as the architecture is very different to the incumbent V8s. On account of the turbocharger the pressures within the combustion chamber are enormous – almost twice as much as the V8. The crankshaft and pistons will be subject to massive stresses and the pressure within the combustion chamber may rise to 200bar, or over 200 times ambient pressure.

One to watch:
The pressure generated by the turbocharger may produce a ‘knocking’ within the combustion chamber that is very difficult to control or predict. Should this destructive phenomenon occur, the engine will be destroyed

In short:
All Power Units must have direct fuel injection (DI), where fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber rather than into the inlet port upstream of the inlet valves. The fuel-air mixture is formed within the
cylinder, so great precision is required in metering and directing the fuel from the injector nozzle. This is a key sub-system at the heart of the fuel efficiency and power delivery of the power unit.

The challenge:
One of the central design choices of the ICE was whether to make the DI top mounted (where the fuel is sprayed at the top of the combustion chamber close to the spark plug) or side mounted (lower down the chamber).

One to watch:
The option still remains to cut cylinders to improve efficiency and driveability through corners.

In short:
A turbocharger uses exhaust gas energy to increase the density of the engine intake air and therefore produce more power. Similar to the principle employed on roadcars, the turbocharger allows a smaller engine to make much more power than its size would normally permit. The exhaust energy is converted to mechanical shaft power by an exhaust turbine. The mechanical power from the turbine is then used to drive the compressor, and also the MGU-H (see below). The challenge: At its fastest point the turbocharger is rotating at 100,000 revolutions per minute, or over 1,500 times per second, so the pressures and temperatures generated will be enormous. Some of the energy recovered from the exhaust will be passed on to the MGU-H and converted to electrical energy that will be stored and can later be re-deployed to prevent the turbo slowing too much under braking.

One to watch:
As the turbocharger speed must vary to match the requirement of the engine, there may be a delay in torque response, known as turbo lag, when the driver gets on the throttle after a period of sustained braking.
One of the great challenges of the new power unit is to reduce this to near zero to match the instant torque delivery of the V8 engines.

In short:
On conventional turbo engines, a wastegate is used in association with a turbocharger to control the high rotation speeds of the system. It is a control device that allows excess exhaust gas to by-pass the turbine
and match the power produced by the turbine to that needed by the compressor to supply the air required by the engine. On the Renault Energy F1, the turbo rotation speed is primarily controlled by the MGU-H
(see below) however a wastegate is needed to keep full control in any circumstance (quick transient or MGU-H deactivation).

The challenge:
The wastegate is linked to the turbocharger but sits in a very crowded area of the car. The challenge is therefore to make it robust enough to withstand the enormous pressures while small enough to fit.

One to watch:
On a plane there are certain parts that are classified as critical if they fail. By this measure the wastegate is the same: if it fails the consequences will be very serious.

In short:
The MGU-K is connected to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Under braking, the MGU-K operates as a generator, recovering some of the kinetic energy dissipated during braking. It converts this
into electricity that can be deployed throughout the lap (limited to 120 kW or 160bhp by the rules). Under acceleration, the MGU-K is powered from the Energy Store and/or from the MGU-H and acts as a motor to propel the car.

The challenge:
Whilst in 2013 a failure of KERS would cost about 0.3s per lap at about half the races, the consequences of a MGU-K failure in 2014 would be far more serious, leaving the car propelled only by the internal combustion engine and effectively uncompetitive.

One to watch:
Thermal behaviour is a massive issue as the MGU-K will generate three times as much heat as the V8 KERS unit.

In short:
The MGU-H is connected to the turbocharger. Acting as a generator, it absorbs power from the turbine shaft to convert heat energy from the exhaust gases. The electrical energy can be either directed to the
MGU-K or to the battery for storage for later use. The MGU-H is also used to control the speed of the turbocharger to match the air requirement of the engine (eg. to slow it down in place of a wastegate or to accelerate it to compensate for turbo lag.)

The challenge:
The MGU-H produces alternative current, but the battery is continuous current so a highly complex convertor is needed.

One to watch:
Very high rotational speeds are a challenge as the MGU-H is coupled to a turbocharger spinning at speeds of up to 100,000rpm.

In short:
Heat and Kinetic Energy recovered can be consumed immediately if required, or used to charge the Energy Store, or battery. The stored energy can be used to propel the car with the MGU-K or to accelerate
the turbocharger with the MGU-H. Compared to 2013 KERS, the ERS of the 2014 power unit will have twice the power (120 kW vs 60 kW) and the energy contributing to performance is ten times greater.

The challenge:
The battery has a minimum weight of 20kg to power a motor that produces 120kW. Each 1kg feeds 6kw (a huge power to weight ratio), which will produce large electromagnetic forces.

One to watch:
The electromagnetic forces can impact the accuracy of sensors, which are particularly sensitive. Balancing the forces is like trying to carry a house of cards in a storm – a delicate and risky operation.

In short:
The intercooler is used to cool the engine intake air after it has been compressed by the turbocharger.

The challenge:
The presence of an intercooler (absent in the normally aspirated V8 engines), coupled with the increase in power from the energy recovery systems makes for a complicated integration process since the total
surface area of the cooling system and radiators has significantly increased over 2013.

One to watch:
Integration of the intercooler and other radiators is key but effective cooling without incorporating giant radiators is a major challenge and key performance factor


Displacement 1.6L V6
Number of cylinders 6
Rev limit 15,000rpm
Pressure charging Single turbocharger, unlimited boost pressure
(typical maximum 3.5 bar abs due to fuel flow limit)
Fuel flow limit 100 kg/hr (-40% from V8)
Permitted Fuel quantity per race 100 kg (-35% from V8)
Configuration 90° V6
Bore 80mm
Stroke 53mm
Crank height 90mm
Number of valves 4 per cylinder, 24
Exhausts Single exhaust outlet, from turbine on car centre line
Fuel Direct fuel injection
MGU-K rpm Max 50,000rpm
MGU-K power Max 120kW
Energy recovered by MGU-K Max 2MJ/lap
Energy released by MGU-K Max 4 MJ/lap
MGU-H rpm >100,000rpm
Energy recovered by MGU-H Unlimited (> 2MJ/lap)
Weight Min 145 kg
Number of Power Units permitted per driver per year 5
Total horsepower 600hp (ICE) + 160hp (ERS)


Under acceleration (eg. down the pit straight) the internal combustion engine will be using its reserve of fuel. The turbocharger will be rotating at maximum speed (100,000rpm). The MGU-H, acting as a generator, 
will recover energy from the exhaust and pass to the MGU-K (or the battery in case it needs recharging). The MGU-K, which is connected to the crankshaft of the ICE, will act as a motor and deliver additional 
power to pull harder or save fuel, dependent on the chosen strategy.

At the end of the straight the driver lifts off for braking for a corner. At this point the MGU-K converts to a generator and recovers energy dissipated in the braking event, which will be stored in the battery. 
Under braking the rotational speed of the turbo drops due to the lack of energy in the exhaust which, on traditional engines, leads to the curse of the turbo engine - turbo lag. This phenomenon occurs when the driver re-accelerates: Fuel injection starts again and generates hot exhaust gases which speed up the turbo, but it needs time to return to full rotational speed where the engine produces 100% of its power. To 
prevent this lag, the MGU-H acts as a motor for a very short time to instantaneously accelerate the turbo to its optimal speed, offering the driver perfect driveability.

Over the course of the lap, this balance between energy harvesting, energy deployment and (carbon) fuel burn will be carefully monitored. ‘The use of the two types of energy needs an intelligent management,’ 
Technical Director for new generation Power Units, Naoki Tokunaga, explains.
‘Electrical energy management will be just as important as fuel management. The energy management system ostensibly decides when and how much fuel to take out of the tank and when and how much energy to take out or put back in to the battery. ‘The overall objective is to minimize the time going round a lap of the 
circuit for a given energy budget. Obviously, if you use less energy, you will have a slower lap time. That’s fine. However, what is not fine is to be penalised more than the physics determines necessary. In the 
relationship between fuel used versus lap time, there is a borderline between what is physically possible and the impossible – we name it ‘minimum lap-time frontier’.
‘We always want to operate on that frontier and be as close to the impossible as we can. The strategy is subject its own limits, namely the capacity of the PU components and the Technical Regulations. The 
power output of the engine subject to its own limits, plus MGU-K power and the energy the battery can deliver to it are all restricted by the rules.

In 2014, the fastest car on a Saturday will still start on pole since the sessions will be run ‘flat out’. The cars will still be limited by the fundamental fuel flow restriction of 100kg/h but the 100kg fuel limit will be irrelevant since very little fuel is burned over one lap. The driver will therefore be able to use 100% of the allowed fuel flow and the entire energy budget from the battery store for his qualifying lap. 
However, should he choose to use all the energy on one lap, he will not be able to complete two flat out timed laps and will instead have to wait until the store recharges. This will lead to some even tenser 
sessions and a number of different strategic calls.


Unless he drives for more than one team, each driver may use no more 
than five Power Units during a Championship season. 
If a sixth complete Power Unit is used the driver concerned must start 
the race from the pit lane. 
However this year the power unit is divided into six separate elements:
• Engine (ICE)
• Motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K)
• Motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H)
• Energy store (ES)
• Turbocharger (TC) 
• Control electronics (CE)
Each driver can use five of each of the above components during a 
Championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a 
car at any one time. 

The first time a driver uses a sixth of the above six elements a 10 place grid place penalty will be imposed at the next race. This then starts a new cycle so if another (different) part is used for a sixth time, he will 
receive a 5 place grid penalty. If a driver wants to use a seventh of the six elements, he starts yet 
another cycle so he will get a further 10 place penalty. The second time he wants to use a seventh part he will get a 5-place grid penalty. If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver’s grid position is such 
that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied at the driver’s next race. However, no such remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one GP

That's the long story short. Certainly, there will be much more as the season advances.
Finally, I made a small experiment from the crypt-analysis days. I counted the most repeated words to check where the focus is. Here are the results:

The small numbers on the right side of the words are the number of occurrences in the text above.
Evidently, the focus goes to Energy, Power and Fuel, if we limit the choice to Top 3.
Welcome to 2014 season!