It’s always exciting to teach such a challenging course to a new class. Moreover, it’s a pleasure to see how new students are amazed when they discover how the physics they studied at the university turns out to be so useful: you transform boring and tedious equations into quick and clever algorithms and you see how your virtual worlds come to life!
In the last months many words have been spent about the bad handling of Ferrari’s F1 car (the F14T project). Debate revolved mainly about the unusual pull-rod front suspension scheme.
Now, there’s a lot of speculation about the new Ferrari F1 project, about this topic: a pull-rod scheme will be used again for the 2015 car?
In my opinion, the problem of the F14T has never been the push or pull-rod scheme. The problem is with the configuration of the double-wishbone.
For aerodynamic reasons the attachment points of Ferrari front wishbones are very high; this solution gives an highly “sloping” configuration of the suspension arms, a thing that is immediately noticeable from a front picture of the car. Such a solution makes the front tyre, when the suspension moves, travel not only in the vertical direction, but also laterally; in other words, whenever there is a pitch movement of the car nose, the wheel track changes.
Of course, too much lateral movements of front tyres increase tyre wear, because additional lateral slip is added; so, this suspension may work only if combined with very stiff setups. And a stiff front setup means, usually, understeer.
So, the real problem about the new Ferrari F1 project is not whether it will sport again a pull-rod scheme or not; the real problem is that, unless the front suspension is heavily modified (attachment points etc.), the car will be again heavily understeering; and given the fact that both Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, don’t like at all an understeering car, that will be really a problem!
It seems, from rumors, that James Allison, the new Ferrari technical director, is making changes to the original project (as designed by Tombazis), especially in the front part of the car; let’s hope that such changes will positively affect the new Ferrari F1 car handling!