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2018 F1

A Halo, 3D Printing and Future Plans for F1 Parts

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What makes one F1 car better than another? Depending on who you ask the answer will vary from the driver to the engine or the design itself. Really, it’s a mixture of all these things and importantly the parts that go together to form such high-powered and ridiculously fast cars.

Ahead of every season there are always new parts being developed and refined by the engineers behind the scenes and 2018 is no different. Already there’s been some controversy and debate around various F1 car parts.

The Controversial Halo

Some think it’s a novelty that appears ugly and ruins the aesthetics of what are otherwise beautiful vehicles, while others see it as an essential life-saving part and welcome its addition. The halo head protection device has got a lot of people talking, especially after Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said he would take a chainsaw to the halo if he could. While that is clearly an overreaction, he’s not the first critic of this new part.

Niki Lauda, the retired triple world champion, also claims that the device will prevent new fans and drivers getting closer to the spectators. There are concerns for the drivers too, that it will infringe on their view of the start light gantry and stop/go signals in the pits.

However, these didn’t occur in any of the pre-season testing and this new part has been introduced with good intentions. It’s designed to protect drivers’ heads from any flying debris or being hit by bouncing wheels that can be deadly. Despite the criticism it looks like it will be here to stay for the 2018 season anyway.

3D Printing of F1 Car Parts

F1 cars are constantly undergoing work, whether it’s replacing worn out parts, swapping them out for top performance or tweaking the vehicles. For this reason, many F1 cars will get through a lot of different parts each season. As these include specialised parts which can often take weeks to be delivered, some teams are looking at alternative sources for parts.

McLaren has begun using 3D printing to modify parts on its race cars. One of the first jobs they did was to replace a rear wing, which took one and a half weeks, compared to the five it would have otherwise taken. They hope to develop this process to form parts out of carbon fibre in the future and there could be 3D printers in every team’s pit stop not too far away.

Even Out the Grid

In order to even out the competition in F1 there have been a range of measures suggested in the past year or two, from budget caps to the latest standardising of parts. This would see certain components of every F1 car be the same without dumbing them down.

At the moment, this has just been a suggestion with no particular parts identified for being made standard. Surely it would only be parts which don’t have much impact on performance and that fans wouldn’t recognise, though there is still likely to be some criticism if this does ever pass through.

Parts Delivery Logistics

Another area which could see change may be the logistics of F1 car parts getting to the track. From the delivery to collection of F1 parts, it can be a lengthy process which is less than ideal when they are required quickly before a race. The likes of drone deliveries and further developments could see this improve.

Between races and test sessions, every team travels around 100,000 miles a year. Getting parts to the correct destination on time is essential for their cars to be performing at the best possible level.

F1 parts could develop in a few ways in the next few years and decades, making the most of developing technologies.

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