Friday, March 16, 2007

Ahoy Mate

I found myself trying to figure out what Steve Matchett was clambering on about in regards to F1 team’s keel designs. What? I thought I was watching the Formula 1 practice session, not the America’s Cup.

During one of his pit reports, Peter Winsor brought up the topic of the team’s front suspension designs. And “Professor” Matchett said: “Yes that’s right Peter. Even Ferrari is running a Zero Keel now. In fact everybody is running the Zero Keel except for Renault who’s still using its V-Keel.”

So what the HELL is all of this Keel speak about? This terminology refers to the design layout of how the front suspension mounting points are attached to the chassis. I believe the fad of “Twin Keels” began at Arrows. This involved splitting the traditional single solitary connection of the lower wishbones to attach directly to each side of the monocoque in a desire to improve aerodynamic efficiency. Yet the “Big” teams shied away from this initially.

Then everybody except Ferrari went to this layout, with Ferrari’s ex-Technical Director Ross Brawn claiming that they hadn’t seen any appreciable gains in the wind tunnel. Yet Ferrari’s new design team has incorporated a Zero Keel layout for the new F2007.

So if you’re still unclear about all of this Keel-speak, check out these illustrations for: Zero Keel and V-Keel.