Ferrari has evoked a controversy over high-tech suspension systems. With the onset of 2017 season, Scuderia Ferrari has lodged a complaint to the FIA about technology masterminded by Mercedes.
Mercedes installed a fully-legal hydraulic system last season to improve the overall stability of the chassis. Moreover, the systems were used to circumvent the banning of Front and Rear Interconnected (FRIC) suspensions in 2014. This was realized by placing a heave behind the rocker assembly to control vertical displacement of the suspension. As a result, it helped its drivers to be more aggressive under braking and with kerbs. It also aided tyre management.
That concept helped Mercedes stay ahead of its ‘Red’ rivals last year. Meanwhile, Red Bull also made significant gains over the course of 2016. They exploited similar ideas with the RB12’s radical rake angles. To question the use of such systems for the upcoming season, Ferrari has written to the FIA. This is a standard practice for every team when it comes to the interpretation of rules so as to determine whether the modifications are legal.
Ferrari’s letter has asked whether a system which would imbibe FRIC without a physical connection between the front and rear of the car — parallel to the Mercedes concept in question — would be accepted under regulations.
Article 3.15 of the F1 regulations states that “any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance must remain immobile about the sprung part of the vehicle.” Basically, this rule effectively bans moveable aerodynamic devices.
As mentioned by Motorsport.com, Ferrari’s chief designer Simone Resta wrote in a letter :”We are taking into account a family of suspension inventions that we think could offer a performance enhancement through a response that is a more complex function of the load at the wheels than would be attained through a simple combination of springs, dampers, and inerters”.
Resta’s letter went on to look into whether two suspension features, in particular, were considered legal by the FIA:
1) Displacement in a direction opposed to the applied load over several or all of its travel. Regardless of the source of the stored energy used to achieve this.
2) A method by which some of the energy retrieved from the forces and displacements at the wheel can be kept for release at a later time. As a result, extending a spring seat or other parts of the suspension assembly. Furthermore, these suspension’s movement should not be outlined by the primarily vertical suspension travel of the two tyres.
If you really want to get behind the marvelous engineering in formula 1 suspensions: