For many car enthusiasts, the idea of sitting behind the wheel of an F1 car is a dream, exciting to contemplate but far from possible. Very few of us could handle the speeds – not to mention the insurance. Yet what they don’t know is that Formula One vehicles have influenced everyday road cars in many significant ways.
So, why is it that there’s so little to compare between Hamilton’s latest hundred-million-pound Mercedes and your beloved family steed on the front drive?
Well, besides the high speeds and the car insurance premiums, many automotive industry features that we now take for granted were actually developed for the racetrack.
In this short article, we’ll look under the bonnet to find out exactly how Formula 1 has helped improve road cars.
All modern cars sport rear-view mirrors. Yet this wasn’t always the case. They were first introduced on the racetrack, to obviate the need for a second driver in the cockpit. Moreover, innovative F1 mirrors spark debate even today. Since their introduction in 1911, they’ve become ubiquitous among public vehicles and have thankfully made roads much safer.
Between the invention of the internal combustion engine in the late 19th century and the start of the 21st century, its efficiency only increased by roughly 15%. This same percentage increase was achieved again just a few years later – thanks to research conducted by Mercedes’ F1 team.
F1 cars now use hybrid engines that are some of the most fuel-efficient in the world. Their engines need to perform at the highest possible level while taking a lot of punishment, providing the perfect subjects on which to perform cutting-edge experiments.
The leaps and bounds that make F1 cars perform better help the rest of us too. The same developments that improve racing cars are applied to the fuel efficiency of road cars.
Formula One engineering teams use lots of innovation to try to give their drivers the edge over the competition. Because of this, their models see many new parts on a regular basis, never really making it out of the prototype phase. This means that the teams need to be able to develop and manufacture parts as quickly as possible. Of course, this drives progress in general car production capabilities.
In the past, production machines were good at one thing: automation. But today, our technology is increasingly able to handle new and different tasks on the fly. This wouldn’t be possible without all the testing and innovation that takes place on F1 production lines.
There are many ways that Formula One has helped improve road cars. Which do you think is the most significant and why?