Posted by: drracing | May 5, 2013

WEC – Spa: looking to the car live!

This weekend FIA WEC had its second race of this season in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Probably one of the most beatiful car circuits in the world and one of the few ones still keeping its “old style fashion”, mixing very fast corners (like the famous Eau Rouge compression) and high speed sections to some very slow turns.

Incredibly the wether was nice both on friday and on sunday (in my experience in Spa there is always at least a rainy day per race weekend!), with sunny days and spring temperatures, thus making the two days in Spa even better.
It was quite strange for me to be on a race track as a spectator/fan only. During the last ten years, at least, every time i have been in a race circuit i was somehow working!
It has been really beautiful and i had the possibility to focus on a lot of things that i would have never seen if i was there for a working race weekend. My mind would have been so busy with my work and i would have had no time to look to other cars for such a long time. Nor to go along the track to look to cars action so closely!
Moreover, it was for me also a chance to spend some nice time with my father, who came here from Rome for this occasion and joined me to the race track!
I actually missed a bit the possibility to look to data acquisition to confirm my finding, but i think no one was willing to show his/her data to me!

The action on track has been absolutely interesting, both on friday (with free practice and qualifying) and on Sunday (the 6 hours race has been very exciting, at least untill the fastest Toyota has been on track).  From the beginning, it has been immediately clear that the cars were faster than in 2012 (as in Silverston, first race of 2013 season), although i honestly think that Audi was not pushing so much last year (i don’t know exactly in which conditions they qualified and raced in 2012, although i was in Spa working on other cars during the same weekend).
This weekend the track was very clean and probably very fast. Audi went up to a 1.58.934 with Di Grassi at the wheel (interesting enough, the fastest car in qualifying was the number 3 Audi, the only Audi with a Le Mans aero package, so with an Aero configuration which should be wrong for Spa!), so more or less 2.6 second faster than in 2012. Di Grassi ideal lap is 1.58.640. In any case, even if we consider the ideal lap time, Di Grassi was aroung 0.5 seconds faster than any other Audi, surely showing  he’s not too bad but probably also that the third Audi was not  slow at all!

Anyway, also the new Toyota gave me a very good impression. They have been quite fast during the race (although a bit slower than the best Audis) and they were able to make longer stints with a full tank. I think Le Mans will definitely be very interesting this year!

The Race has been finally won by Audi n°1 (Lotterer, Treyleur, Fassler): during the race their car was clearly (in my opinion) the more consistent, although they lost some time at the beginning because of a bad first lap and because of an early puncture that forced them to pit earlier then planned during stint 2.

As a side note, my admiration and respect go also to the Rebellion Team guys, who had a very good handling car (looking it going through the corners was really a nice show) and that had very small gap from the top manufacturers team, at least in qualyfing. If you think they are privateer, with no official support and with a Lola chassis (if i am not wrong, Lola has finally gone bankrupt last year) some years old, their results are even more remarkable!

Beside the pure and very enjoyable sport action, it has been a very interesting week end for me also from a technical perspective (more or less also in regard of the drinving simulation).
First of all, i had the possibility to take a lot of very intereting pictures of several cars (but above all Audi and Toyota). You can find them in the picture section of this Blog. Some of them clearly show how Audi is using a sort of blown diffuser on their cars this year. This explains probably not only the improved 2013 performances, but also why they need more fuel than in 2012 to complete a lap.
Some others are showing the differences between Audi Le Mans aero pack and the Spa one, mainly connected to a different rear wing assembly.
I also had the possibility to take some nice shots of the front suspension, while Audi Team was dismounting and remounting the complete front assembly (including Hybrid halfshafts) after FP1 (don’t know why, maybe only maintanance?) on all their cars. Some of this pictures will be useful to discuss one of the next post, dealing again with rFactor modeling of Audi R18, in particular to the suspension geometry i have used.
Hope you will like them. I think Mulsannescorners Facebook group guys do!

Regarding my rFactor modeling process, an interesting detail i noticed going around the pits was that Audi R18 front and rear rims, as expected, look a bit different one to the other (Toyota ones are clearly different, also in shape). Front tires are slightly smaller than the rear ones (in my model i am assuming they are the same: actually the difference is pretty small on the real car, but i would still expect a different behaviour between front and rear; and probably it’s something that Michelin wanted and achievied also with different construction solutions, not only with different dimensions…who knows!), but this is something we already knew. But also the wheels are somehow different: on the web i found front rims should also be slightly bigger than the rear ones. But probably they also have a different ET that somehow could influence suspension geometry.
I don’t have the details anyway, excluding some nice picture!

As i said, on friday the week end, i also had the possibility to go on the side of the track in some interesting points of the circuit, looking to cars and to drivers way of driving. It was very nice to see how some of the performance factors, like braking points, were very similar to the ones i could use “in game” with my model. Overall the real car behaviour looked very similar to the simulated one. At least, some of the assumptions i have described in my previous posts should then be right!

Now…time to go back to the simulation!

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Responses

  1. It is more and more clear that one of things i wrote is not correct. Audi is probably not blowing the diffuser the F1 way, although their exhaust is exiting on the die of the diffuser itself.

    So the increased fuel consumption probably simply comes from a more aggressive engine strategy to optimize power instead of fuel efficiency…They have probably seen that this strategy is paying more.

  2. I am a mechanical engineering student that is currently working at Honda research and development and I would love to try and get more involved with motorsports. If you could give me some suggestions on how to become more involved that would be great.

    I love your blog!

    • Hi,

      thanks for your comment.

      First question i would ask you is: are you really sure you want to get involved in motorsport? Second question is: are you really really sure??

      Ok, not joking now, i think it really depends on what you would like to do. The word motorsport doesn’t say much in itself. From what i know, you could like to be a driver, a race engineer, a truck driver…

      If your dream is to be involved with track action, unless you are not asked by any company to go and work on track with them, no matter how big your experience is, i would suggest the easiest thing to do is trying to help a (small?) team running their cars. It could be an easy way to get a feeling of how track work runs and get some experience, although probably at the beginning you would have to deal with a non properly-Structured organization (but they are anyway the biggest part of all the teams running cars in the world).

      If you want to be a designer, for example, to have some track experience helps, but it is not probably absolutely necessary.

      There are some websites advertising race car positions, like racestaff.

      Most of the times, they advertise high level companies looking for specialist in a certain field. You may like this or not. Most of the times, when you are a specialist, you don´t have a full picture of what is running around the car. On the other hand, you normally know a lot of your field, which could also be cool.

      Another important point is also where are you based. Some countries, like England, offer probably much more than others.

      It is really up to you. Motorsport is a small and complicated world. Sometimes, at least from a purely personal perspective, it could be also pretty bad. So i guess the first thing would be to know what you would like to do, at least to be sure you are also ready to face the challenges connected to this particular activity.

      I wish you anyway the best of luck! Race cars are overall very beautiful objects to work on!


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