Buy a Gift: Caterham Fastest Blogger Challenge

Buy a Gift –

Buy a Gift are a website offering “Driving experiences” with a variety of themes.
Buyagift was founded in 1999 by Dan Mountain. We started in a bedroom at Dan´s family home in Muswell Hill and after eleven successful years Buyagift HQ is now a lively, open plan office in New Barnet with over 70 employees. We have also recently expanded into Europe with our French operation,, in Paris and in Spain.
Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our team we continue to grow every year; currently at a rate of more than 20 per cent. Buyagift Plc made sales of over £20 million last year in the UK and is also proud to be part of an international group of gift experience companies Smart & Co. Smart & Co operates in over 20 countries worldwide and annually makes sales of over €350 million a year.
Buyagift also has its own corporate sales division; Buyagift Corporate who specialise in incentive schemes, loyalty rewards, team building activities, long service awards, corporate gifts and prizes.
Our corporate team work with large and small companies to serve a range of needs, as well as offering competitive discounts and an unbeatable service to help you serve your clients more effectively.
For this event the theme was obviously Motorsport with 17 bloggers from a variety of backgrounds taking part. Not simply Motorsport bloggers, but health, lifestyle and general news blogs. The aim of the day was to see who was the blogger with the best skills in drifting. Clearly previous experience of any form of motorsport was not necessarily an advatange.

The car –

The cars we used are Caterham 7’s, these are based on the classic Lotus 7. They are the latest incarnation of the breed, with 1.6l 150hp Ford Engines. The chassis is a steel spaceframe with independant double wishbone front suspension and a De Dion rear axle. To suit the Drift challenge the cars are set up with softer compound front yres and harder rears, no front antirollbar and a stiff setting on the rear ARB.


The Track –
Set out in a car park at the Silverstones circuit, there were three track layouts used as we grew in expereience. Firstly a single short cuve followed by solitary for completing a rolling donut around. This then progressed into a figure of eight track, with longer turns to drift around. After lunch the “Uber” drift course was set up with a long slalom followed by a donut cone, then another more open slalom with a final donut cone.


Unlike track driving or road driving, drifting is a more aggressive form of driving. More abrupt inputs are used to get the rear tyres unloaded and spinning. The process is to brake hard into a turn, put on lock as the brakes come off then stabs at the throttle. The usual smooth transistion from on-off throttle and braking to turn in aren’t rewarded. It takes several runs to understand the style that is required. As the car switches from drift to grip the steering needs to return to on-centre rapidly, faster than you can turn the wheel so releasing the wheel is required to let it lightly spin through your hands before regaining a grip and steering into the next turn.

The experience

We started on the simple course with trying to get the cars tail kicked out, each driver gets two runs to perfect the technque. In the morning we had three runs on thge simple course and two runs on the figure of eight course. After each run the instructors point out issues with your technique, the constructive advice soon finds you making step improvements on each run.
Common pitfalls are using the cones as apex markers and you ending up running wide for the rest of the turn or worse oversteering into the subsequent cones. A wide entrance is required, with you needign to be 3-4 metres away and alongside the cone before turn-in, then as you come off the brakes, add steering lock and once you’re turned-in stab the power. This kicks the rear wheels out and then you keep reapplying stabs of power to keep the slide going. Being smooth like in circuit racing will just see you running quickly through the turn and not getting into a full tyre spinning slide. Every run you become more aggressive with the throttle. By the time we’ve had a few runs on the afternoons “Uber” drift track, you find the aggression is still there, but you’re merging the slides into a constant drift even with a direction changes.

After a full day with lots of runs, we had the finale. This was a single practice run, followed by more feedback, then a final run for which you’re judged by all the professional drivers and given a score. All 17 of us were given a score based on our drifting skills, which lead to the prizegiving. I came fifth with a score just 6 percent off the leader. I was pleased with that result and overall I was extremely pleased with the Caterham Drifting Driving Experience. Its not a conventional driving day, its part race driving skills and part Top Gear style hooning around with smoking rear tyres. I’d thoroughly recommend it to any petrol head

RenaultSport: Technical Feature on Engine Mapping/Tyre Management

Spanish Grand Prix Technical Feature

I rarely post press releases in their entirety.  This feature from RenaultSport was so interesting I though it worth sharing with you all.

They’ve been the talking point of the season so far: Pirelli’s P Zero tyres. As the sole point of contact to the track, and thus the point through which an engine delivers its power to the circuit, tyre wear is of vital importance to Renault Sport F1’s engineers too.

And, as Renault Sport F1 Williams’ track engineer David Lamb divulges, its importance is something of which engine engineers are only too aware.

“For the first couple of races tyre wear really wasn’t so high, but in Shanghai and Bahrain the tyre wear was a lot more noticeable and became one of the key performance differentiators. The rears are generally the first to go because of the stress they are subjected to under braking and accelerating, so we immediately knew we could help in preserving the tyres.

“When a driver lifts off the throttle, the rears are unloaded, but when the power is reapplied, the forces going through the tyre are accentuated. This constant on-off pressure really increases the wear rate and if you lock the tyres under braking it doesn’t just cost lap time, it also heats the tyres up, which accelerates wear.

“The first thing you can do to reduce locking and improve the wear rate is to keep some torque from the engine when the driver lifts his foot off the pedal, so even when you’ve got zero percent input from the pedal you can still ask for some torque from the engine. This will be done in the way you map the engine. It squares up the rear of the car, stops it from locking and reduces the tyre wear as a result. It is actually still a negative torque because it is illegal to ask for a positive torque from the engine if the pedal is at zero percent. The driver will have probably three or four options available to him, dependant on in-race scenarios.”

The concept thus seems simple enough, but it will come as little surprise to learn that the benefits of utilising such a technique must be measured against its shortcomings.

“The big downside to this is that fuel consumption will, of course, go up: it increases incrementally depending on how much of a push you use. The fuel consumption increase can be as high as one or two percent per lap, so you’re looking at maybe an extra three kilos of fuel at the start of the race. The weight leads to slower lap times, to the tune of a few hundredths per lap. It’s an irony that you can use the push to help tyre wear but carrying the extra weight of the fuel to facilitate this push may have a negative impact on tyre wear!

A further disadvantage is that operating temperatures can increase: “As you are using the engine on overrun and therefore using it for longer over the lap, you are also looking at a slight increase in operating temperatures. Generally it shouldn’t be a problem in Barcelona, but in Bahrain where ambient temperatures were a lot higher we were on the edge.”

Firing on overrun is not the only tool available to Renault Sport F1’s engineers however. As David explains, throttle mapping has never been more crucial.

“The other factor in terms of tyre wear that is important to factor in is the use of pedal maps; that is, the percentage of pedal application in relation to percentage of torque being used.

“A crude example could be if a driver says, ‘OK, when the throttle is at 30 percent, I want 15 percent of the engine torque.’ A soft pedal map is when a driver has quite a bit of modulation initially, but correspondingly he will always have less progression at the higher throttle positions because 0% and 100% throttle position have to correspond to minimum and maximum engine torque (again as per the rules) – i.e. anything you take at the start to increase progression will be paid for with a loss of resolution at somepoint later on.

“This, of course, has a huge effect on the manner in which the tyres are used as we have to be very specific for each driver, from track to track and even corner to corner to ensure as little wheelspin as possible. As engineers, it is in this mapping that one of the more enjoyable challenges lies.

“There are, of course, limitations that have been placed upon pedal maps so that a version of traction control doesn’t edge its way back into the sport and the FIA is quite strict on how we use pedal maps, especially on launch procedure. But Fridays now see us working incredibly hard to make sure that we hone our pedal maps for each corner and for each driver to make sure that they are happy with throttle application and power output.”

Renault Sport F1 certainly seems to have got on top of the challenges presented by the new competitive face of Formula 1 in 2012, with the running order at the last race a clear sign of the progress made over the opening rounds of the championship.

“The Bahrain result was fabulous for everyone at Renault. To have the top four powered by Renault was a great result. It gave everyone a boost going into the Mugello test and now this race in Spain.”

Nissan and PlayStation GT Academy: virtual-to-reality racing competition

Nissan and PlayStation have once again joined forces to run a fourth instalment of the innovative GT Academy virtual-to-reality racing competition. While the four previous GT Academy graduates line up in top-level race series in 2012, the programme that set them on their path to motor sport fame has once again opened to competitors, starting on 1st May 2012.

Jann Mardenborough, the 2011 GT Academy winner, has got his career off to a flying start. He achieved a podium finish in the Dubai 24h race in January and is now competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series in a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. We have been following Jann during his preparations for the 2012 season and in his first race in the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza. The link below is a film of Jann competing at Monza. I hope you agree it demonstrates the emotional side of the sport, highlighted when the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 was in 14th place overall and slowed to an agonising crawl at the final corner of the three-hour Blancpain Endurance race. The GT Academy RJN team managed to bring the car across the finish line in 34th position overall. Jann and his team mates will be competing in the next round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, at Silverstone on 3rd June.

Red Bull: Bahrain Sidepod Analysis

Having been slightly off the pace in the opening three races, Red Bull clearly do not have the RB8 working as they had expected. Pole position in Bahrain doesn’t prove their issues are over, but the car sports a revised sidepod set up this weekend and this has perhaps has unlocked the potential in the car. The new sidepods are a revision of the Version2 spec sidepod/exhaust set up. The Bahrain spec simplifies the sidepod, removing the complex crossover tunnel under the exhaust ramp.

Exhaust Versions

Sidepod Version1

At the cars launch the RB8 features a simple Version1 exhaust set up, aimed at being a benign solution to get the bulk of testing out of the way, without interference from complex exhaust issues. Then later in testing the focus could switch to the greater potential performance offered by the V2 set up. The V1 set up placed the exhaust in board and rearward, blowing under the top rear wishbone. The exhaust flux blew along the tail of the bodywork and under the beam wing. Despite suggestions at the time that this set up was a novel exhaust blown suspension set up; the solution was never intended for race use.

Sidepod Version2

Then on Day11 of the 12 day preseason testing schedule, the V2 sidepod\exhaust appeared. A more complex solution than either the McLaren or Sauber set up, the sidepod aimed to both direct exhaust flow at the diffuser and route the sidepods undercut flow to the centre of the diffuser. To do this the sidepod had a more outboard and rearward exhaust position.

The exhaust blows down the tail of the sidepod, over a ramp made to try to attach the exhaust flow to the bodywork via a coanda effect to direct it in the correct gap between the rear tyre and diffuser. This is the same area the teams aimed their exhausts directly at last year. This area helps both seal the diffuser from flow blown laterally from the rear tyres and also the greater mass flow of the exhaust plume creates more flow through the diffuser, with both effects adding downforce. This solution follows the same path as the much applauded Sauber solution. Although the two systems were developed in parallel and RBR did not copy the Sauber after seeing it launch. The RB8 always was planned to run the V2 set up.

V2: a tunnel is created under the Exhaust ramp bodywork (yellow)

V2: Flow from the sidepod undercut passes through the tunnel (yellow)

To keep the airflow passing over the top and centre of the diffuser, teams direct the fast moving flow from the sidepods undercut to this area. In Red Bulls case, the path of this flow is obstructed by the exhaust ramp and plume. To overcome this Red Bull have simply created a tunnel for the air to pass under the exhaust ramp and remerge towards the centre of the diffuser. This solution looks like is major aim was to direct flow to the start motor hole, an area exploited by ductwork on the 2011 RB7. Having more airflow passing into the starter motor hole, makes the hole act like a blown slot, making the airflow better up and under the middle section of diffuser for more downforce. Creating a crossover effect is somewhat like McLarens bulged exhaust fairing, that allow both the exhaust to be directed down to the diffuser edge by the downwash flow over the sidepod, but also creates a channel beneath the exhaust bulge to allow the undercut flow to reach the centre of the diffuser.
So it seems Red Bulls V2 floor make the best of the Sauber Coanda solution and the McLaren undercut solution.

What are the issues?
However this tunnel is compromised by the post-2009 area rules. Sidepod bodywork 50mm above the floor (actually 100mm above the reference plane) must meet tangential and minimum radius regulations. This means Red Bulls tunnel is limited to slightly less than 50mm in height, with a sharp top edge.

It seems it’s this crossover tunnel on the V2 sidepod that is an issue with the car. Recent flowviz tests in free practice were focussed specifically on the tunnel, as well as tests with an array of aero sensors trailing the diffuser in Bahrain. Also an insider tells me that the Red Bulls starter motor might not be creating the accelerating airflow into the steep middle section of diffuser that was envisaged. Instead the starter hole works better when blocked off. Perhaps this crossover tunnel is not flowing correctly to the centre of the diffuser and altering the accuracy of the exhaust flow towards the tyre\diffuser intersection.
If the exhaust flow cannot reach the tyre\diffuser gap accurately or perhaps more importantly consistently, then the driver will have a car that sensitive to throttle position.
Red Bull have been alleged to have clever engine mappings, cutting down to four cylinders at larger throttle openings at lower revs. This could either have the effect of a softer power delivery for better traction, of greater exhaust flow for more downforce at lower revs. Red Bull and Renault may still be finding ways to gain performance from exhaust mappings and these mapping have been investigated the FIA and shown to be within the regulations.
With several issues around the way the exhaust affects the cars handling, Red Bull said in China that the V2 sidepod was the potentially better solution, but the V1 set up gave Vettel more confidence. Horner admitted that it was possible to get the performance of the V2 with the feel of the V1. At Bahrain it appears that this is what RBR have done.

Sidepod Version 2.1

V2.1: With no tunnel the exhaust flow can pass without interference to the diffuser

These issues may explain the Bahrain sidepod upgrade. This new sidepod set up appears to be a rework of the V2 sidepod, most of the shape remains the same and the exhaust appears to be in the same position. So it looks like the moulds were altered to close off the cross over tunnel create a V2.1 sidepod.
With the tunnel closed off the issues complicating the exhaust and starter motor hole flow have been cleared up. But there still remains an issue with how the sidepod undercut flow reaches the rest of the diffuser. Sauber appear to manage this, but there still may be some potential airflow performance that is lost with this set up. Although the overall effect of an exhaust aimed accurately at the tyre\diffuser gap may be a greater gain that that loss.
However with the tunnel gone there is a less complex route for the exhaust to reach the diffuser. With the exhaust flow better managed the intended exhaust effect will more consistent resulting in a better feel for the driver at different throttle positions and car attitudes.

V2.1: Slots in the floor aid the effect in sealing the diffuser

It’s notable that Red Bull have also reintroduced the slots in the floor ahead of the rear tyres, these haven’t been seen for a couple of years, their function is to inject some higher energy airflow into the gap between the tyre and diffuse. This, like the exhaust blown diffuser, offsets the sidewash (known as ‘Squirt’) created by the rear tyres impinging into the diffuser. Again this will all result in greater rear downforce.

If this is the first solution for Red Bulls woes, then it will be interesting how the team develop from the V2.1 sidepod. Perhaps the tunnel will reappear in revised form or a McLaren style solution will be tried.

Red Bull KERS: Floor Mounted Super Capacitors?

In the second year of their use of RenaultSport’s KERS, Red Bull appear to have found a new mounting position and format for their KERS energy storage with what appear to be floor mounted super capacitors.  Super Capacitors (Supercaps) are an alternative energy storage to Lithium Ion batteries, using very much the same technology as smaller capacitors used in electronics

2011 was Red Bulls first year with KERS, having chosen not to run it in 2009 as it compromised their design too much. As is typical for Newey, Marshal and their design team the KERS installation was unique and uncompromising, with its energy storage in two packs either side of the gearbox and a smaller unit inside the gearbox. Reliability issues plagued the team throughout the year, with the batteries succumbing to heat and vibration.

Floor mounting

So with a year’s understanding under their belt and the newly confirmed status as the RenaultSport factory team, the RB8 has taken a step forwards in KERS packaging. Now the energy storage appears to be slightly revised, with the unit inside the gearbox swapped for floor mounted units. In this exclusive picture from MichaelD in Melbourne, we can see the units remain fitted to the floor when it’s removed. The two carbon fibre cases are closed with aluminium tops and are provided with electrical and cooling connections. They sit in the final section of flat floor known as the boat tail.
Having the units placed on the floor, as opposed to between the gearbox and engine, means they can lower the Centre of Gravity. Also being quite heavy they are placed near the rear axle line to suit the mandatory weight distribution. As mentioned the units are supplied with a common cooling circuit, one pipe routes around the back of the floor to link the devices. There are also a number of electrical connections for both connecting to the KERS Power Control Unit and for monitoring their status. Quickly detachable connectors are used to allow rapid removal of the floor keeping the units in place.

What are they?
While trying to confirm these items as part of KERS, I’ve learnt some new facts about KERS in F1, which might help to explain these devices. It might convenient to call these units ‘batteries’; however their actual design and purpose might not accurately tally with that term.
It’s possible they could be part of the energy storage system for the KERS, either as Li-ion Batteries or Super Capacitors (supercaps), or they could be an energy dump used to reduce the load on the battery when harvesting power under braking.

Energy dump
The way the FIA F1 KERS rules are written there is a limit on the amount of energy that can be stored and reused. These limits are not in line with what is actually achievable with current technology. Teams are effectively capped on energy, as they could store and re-use far more. Part of the problems is that under braking, the energy harvesting is capable of producing more power than they are allowed to put into the battery. So the teams control the harvesting rate according the driver’s style and the circuits demands. Even then the harvesting potential is hard to predict. Rather than stopping the harvesting mid braking, which would unsettle the car. The teams keep the same harvesting rate, but dump the energy through a series of fixed rate resistors. Obviously these resistors quite large and create a huge amount of heat. This would explain their low position and cooling requirement.
These floor mounted devices might be the energy dumps, but they are particularly large and with increased experience of KERS teams are getting better at controlling the harvest rate, so shouldn’t need such a large dump. So it’s possible, but unlikely these are energy dumps.

Energy storage solutions

Li-ion batteries
Typically current F1 cars use dozens of Li-ion cells packed into an array forming a ‘battery’ pack. This KERS Battery Pack is commonly a single part sat under the fuel tank. Although often used as a single battery, the unit can be broken up into a set of batteries in series.
In 2011 Red Bull clearly split this part up into several smaller Battery Packs, there being the two aforementioned units either of the gearbox and another in the gearbox. Although interconnecting these parts with cooling pipes, high current cable and sensor cabling adds some weight, this does provide a nicer packaging solution. It’s logical to explain these new floor mounted parts as batteries. However they do not look like the battery packs seen in the gearbox last year, or on other cars. Being on the floor of the car they are subject to even more danger from impacts as well as the heat and vibration that caused issues last year.

As their design does not tally with existing Li-ion battery packs, then they might still form part of the energy storage element of KERS. So if not Li ion batteries then they might be the next bet alternative ‘super capacitors’. Supercaps have far more energy storage than the capacitors we common see on household electronics. They are far more efficient in storing and releasing energy quickly, with less losses and do not degrade as quickly as Li Ion batteries do. However they are not as efficient in storing larger amount of energy for longer periods.
A link between Red bull and supercaps is RenaultSport. Renault already uses supercaps as onboard storage for both formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5. In the 2012 FR3.5 series, the KERS only uses Supercaps, not a conventional battery.
So it’s possible the Red Bull RenaultSport KERS uses hybrid storage with a mix of Li ion cells and Supercaps, using the supercaps for short term storage and for more immediate bursts of acceleration. While the Battery provides the longer term storage between corners and for more sustained discharges of energy.
It’s believed that other teams are already using a mix of supercaps in their KERS Battery Packs to reduce the unit’s size and provide the option for a quick storage\release of energy.  So I believe that most likely these devices are Supercaps.  With revised KERS regulations coming for the new Powertrain in 2014, more use canbe made of Supercaps in both the Kinetic and Thermal Energy Recovery systems.  Experience of these componenents now, will be an important part of the development of the 2014 systems.

More on Supercap KERS via Race Engine Technology Magazine