A magnetic solution to track limit abuse?

The discussion goes on regarding the abuse of track limits and what to do about drivers who are exploiting the paved run-off areas in Formula 1. Some argue the tire issues experienced in the Belgian Grand Prix were due to the aggressive use of the curbs and the FIA discussed the situation at the Italian Grand Prix with teams.

Not too long ago, gravel was introduced in the run-off areas but this created its own issue of flipping cars that dug in to the gravel and that’s never good. It also prompted a series of retirements when cars innocently went wide at slower speeds and got stuck.

Then the circuit placed higher, orange curbing behind the initial rumble strips but this tended to launch cars into the air when they hit them too hard or fast. Now there are suggestions that a series of raised white lines would not launch cars but slow them down and make life difficult for the driver.

Magnetic appeal

Perhaps we could use technology and even be sustainable in the approach? Maybe F1 could lead another technology innovation block with the deployment of magnets?

I’m no engineer but I was thinking the other day that having strips of electromagnets just behind the curbs that could be powered by local solar panels might be a fun exercise in slowing cars down.

If the FIA legality planks were changed to react with these super-magnets, that would retard the speed significantly enough to slow the cars that tried to take advantage of the run-off’s. It would be a negative impact to lap speed and then, naturally avoided. No one wants a tree or fence there to mentally prevent a driver from running wide because accidents happen and people make mistakes. It just needs to retard the speed enough to penalize a driver from intentionally making use of the run-off’s to gain advantages but not impact the driver who has made a mistake and gone wide with a penalty of flipping, launching or damaging their car.

Whether it be electromagnets, ferrite magnets or neodymium magnets, I’d leave that to professionals but Volvo has been working with magnets in their autonomous vehicle project to help guide cars on the road.

A F1 car running at full speed isn’t going to be instantly arrested by a magnet but if it shaved one, two or three tenths off the speed, then drivers would avoid it because the sport is measured at the thousandth of a second so every possible retardation of their speed will be avoided.

If the run-off areas were made of giant strips of super sticky tape that worked like big pieces of fly paper, that would be great but it’s not realistic because we all know that sometimes it can be raining on one corner of Spa and be completely dry on another.

Some have argued for sensors that would reduce the power unit output when triggered by going too far over the line. That might be a more realistic option but hey, I was trying to make F1 road car relevant or at least magnet technology relevant. How else are we ever going to get the skateboard from Back to the Future if we don’t start working with magnetic fields?

So what’s your idea on how to solve the issue?

Okay, that’s my ridiculous idea of how F1 could put solar-powered electromagnet strips behind curbs that would react with a new legality plank material and instantly slow the car down but what’s your concept? What do you feel the FIA should do to keep paved run-off areas yet make the abuse of these areas a hindrance to the goal of setting the fastest possible lap?

Do you think the white-painted raised strips would be a simple solution? Should they use sensors to slow cars and what happens if that malfunctions and wrongfully slows a car on one of the straights? Back to gravel? What is it?

Let’s brainstorm this sucker and see if we can’t come up with some interesting ideas? Who knows, we may discover Warp driver here. Or at least a cure for the common cold.

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Junipero Mariano

GPS based engine cutoff would be almost entirely computer based, right? Install the system in the spec engine management computer and all it would need is location data, i.e. the teams can’t accuse race control or the other teams of interference. The tracks wouldn’t have to do much beyond ensuring clean gps signals, especially in locations where it rains on one part the track, and yet dry in another part. The GPS in your phone may not be up to the task, but inch accurate GPS technology is being developed for small drones. I had a funny thought about the… Read more »

Negative Camber

LOL…hadn’t thought about reversing it and using it to go faster. Great thought. :) The concern I have about GPS is its accuracy as you point out or a failure in the system that would kick in when it wasn’t supposed to.

jakobusvdl

I think there would be simpler ways of introducing penalties for exceeding track limits than your electro-magnets Todd, but I do fancy the idea of electro magnets as part of the next step in F1 / Formula E power units, they could drop the ICE and just have electrical power ;-)

Negative Camber

I’m just trying to brainstom here. just spit-balling and seeing what we all come up with. :)

jakobusvdl

It’s certainly sparked some good discussion, so misson accomplished – and with a technical topic too!
Nice work Todd

DRS_Matt

Engine control units = Complicated

Ridiculous electromagnets = Easy

I see you arent an engineer, todd. Considering the bimmer, Finance i presume?

rambaldi

GPS would be great but I believe they still have issues surrounding the accuracy in tight city streets like Monaco. Although there track limits aren’t really an issue for other reasons…

Paul KieferJr

I was advocating the use of sensors to relay a signal to the stewards / race director / whatever is appropriate so that they can push a button that reduces the engine horsepower by remote control to slow them down until they returned to the track. However, yours is probably a viable alternative. To that end, we must consider the following if your idea or mine or whichever they come up with is to be implemented: 1. That’s going to require some buried or imbedded wiring / cabling. Will the cost of performing this task be low enough that it’s… Read more »

subcritical71

I like the idea of slowing cars, but anything that does it without the drivers control (and therefore awareness of what is around so that he can do it safely) should probably be avoided. Imagine a car is suddenly slowed with a car a few millimeters behind. I think one possible solution would be to have sensors that if tripped would require the driver to give back some time in some predetermined time or position on track. Much like the VSC it puts the burden on the driver to ensure he maintains a safe driving speed while ensuring he takes… Read more »

rambaldi

Maybe you could remove the drivers access to their KERS the next lap? or reduce the amount of power they have available for deployment? It doesn’t affect their immediate pace but will hamper their race pace. Although I could see that used tactically surrounding in laps and out laps. (ie hold off a challenge now as I am heading into the pits to have better track position after the stops)

grimreaper

@negative camber: Slight flaw cars are mainly carbon fibre which unfortunately is not magnetic.

Paul KieferJr

There are parts that are metallic in nature. Engines, for example, even if they are made of exotic metal alloys, are still metal.

grimreaper

Typical metal parts: Engine (aluminium & titanium alloys), Exhausts (Inconel steel), Ballast (tungsten and lead), Magnesium (wheels), Shock absorbers (aluminium), radiators (steel & aluminium), bulkheads (aluminium), 

The engines are not magnetic in F1 in decades.

So how magnets will slow a car down?

Negative Camber

I was advocating making the legality plank underneath the car (it runs the length of the chassis) a magnetic material.

grimreaper

Steel or Iron? Very heavy! What other magnetic metals are there?

PaulR

Make the tray underside electrically conductive (e.g. aluminium layer) and have strong permanent magnets on the kerbing. The velocity of the car combined with the eddy currents generated in the tray will provide a significant drag force.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy_current#Electromagnetic_braking

Of course this will be expensive given the current cost of Neodymium, and other rare-earth’s but maybe the Chinese conglomerates that control the world supply could sponsor the event :)

http://investorintel.com/technology-metals-intel/chinas-six-giants-to-further-control-domestic-rare-earths-production-quotas/

Andreas Möller

It might be tempting to throw some technology at this problem, with planks infused with metal and magnetic arrestors in the run-off areas, or engine cut-off technology that senses when you are outside the line. However, the best solutions are often the lowest tech ones. The huge run-off areas are fine – just make sure to direct the traffic with those styrofoam advertising boards, so you can’t keep your foot down and just drive a wider arc if you’ve overshoot turn 1 at Red Bull Ring (for instance). Those boards won’t cause too much damage if you happen to run… Read more »

jakobusvdl

I agree with the principles that there should be some effective penalty for exceeding track limits, and the penalty should be immediate and self policing. I think it wouldn’t be too difficult to set up a proximity detection system that has transmitters embedded in the track edge and detectors attached to the car underside. There are lots of such proximity systems inductive (like the coils in the road that activate traffic lights) and capacitive (like phone touch screens), there are bound to be systems that could be adapted to this purpose. Given the current power units, I think the penalty… Read more »

Andreas Möller

It would be relatively simple to embed proximity systems in the track at specific points, and since the width of both the car and tyres is fixed through regulation, all you’d need to do is specify the sensor location on the car. Then you could have a system that reacts to the exact moment when the last tyre goes outside the line, and using that system to temporarily disable the ERS would be a doddle. However, you’d still be left with parts of the circuit not covered by the proximity sensor system. Mandating that such systems be put down all… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Not even a bite in the Honda joke, very disappointed – sigh…… I suspect that in the big scheme of what has been spent over the past 50 years on track safety – removing obstructions, putting in tyre walls, putting in armco, putting in gravel traps, putting up fencing, taking out gravel traps, and putting in tarmac, etc, adding the proximity sensors to the entire track wouldn’t be an insurmountable cost. I did consider the ‘barrier’ solution you propose, the reasons I don’t favour it are;- the barriers would have to be of a solid material and anchored down, so… Read more »

Andreas Möller

I saved my Honda joke for the Manor 2016 car thread… :-)

As for the advertising boards, they’re already in use around the F1 tracks (some with ads on them, some as DRS/braking distance markers). I’d just position them in such a way that they discourage going off-track and keeping your foot down through the run-off area, but rather force drivers to slow down and turn back on to the track. Kimi’s crash at Silverstone last year is a prime example of a situation where some strategically placed ad boards would have made quite a difference.

jakobusvdl

I’ll check your Honda joke out. I would agree that some form of backing off would have made a heck of a difference. I was imagining you meant lines of barriers along the trackside, but even strategically placed boards are still obstructions to seeing the cars, and what do you make them from so they are not a hazard, and don’t require a safety car to clean up if hit? I’d prefer a different solution. What other options have you got? How about a rubberised surface for a few metres from the track edge, that will absorb energy and slow… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

I like the idea of relatively harmless foamcore or styrofoam barriers around the corners. It would be an easy and immediate reaction to try to not hit them. The stewards have an quick way to determine whose gone off track. Drivers would likely die of embarrassment being seen hitting one, unless, of course, you’re sponsored by PDVSA.

MIE

I read this and thought of Scalextric magnatraction – basically a magnet under the rear of a slot racing car that stuck to the rails to increase cornering speed. Changing the plank material for a ferrous metal may not be a good idea, the weight penalty may be an issue, and the wear rate will be different so the original purpose of the plank (to prevent teams running the cars too low) May be lost. With an increasing number of Global Navigation Satellite Systems coming on line (GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU and Galileo), the accuracy of these systems is improving (as… Read more »

Yash Gogineni

STFU AND LET THEM DRIVE.

Negative Camber

Charming.

jakobusvdl

Why not just take the post down Todd?

DRS_Matt

de·co·rum
dəˈkôrəm/
noun
behavior in keeping with good taste and propriety.

ci·vil·i·ty
səˈvilədē/
noun
formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.

SurveyorTom

Perhaps I am the outlier here, but I am of the opinion that any solution which is technology-based is just one more step down the road to irrelevance. I mean, is this motor racing or a video game? We have gotten to the point where a largely invisible alphabet soup list of technologies (KERS ERS DRS or what the hell ever else) make the cars faster, now are we going to add another technology to make them slower too? If so might I suggest the acronym Track Underlay Race Delay System – TURDS for short. As an alternative, might I… Read more »

Andreas Möller

You’re not the only one – we’re at least two old farts here, who thinks additional technology would be overworking the issue a bit. I’m fully with you on the grass strip – they have them at Suzuka, and it seems to work fine.

Negative Camber

I’m with you. I thought about the grass idea too and I would imagine they would feel that the grass could put the car in a spin and out of control. I know that’s the point, to keep them off the grass but it is, after all, about safety. :)

jakobusvdl

Hi Tom, Proximity sensors are very ‘road relevant’, it was just on thr news here that 10 manufacturers (including Mercedes, Honda and Renault/Nissan) are to introduce Smart Brake to their road cars, a proximity detection system that will slow the car down, so I can’t agree that a technological solution would be irrelevant. Grass strips, would probably have to be hi-tech astro turf, and introduce a bunch of new hazards to manage (causing spins, preventing braking or steering, becoming detached, etc). The rumble strips, most if the tracks also host Motorcycle racing, and they (and the grass)would be make the… Read more »

runnah

Consistent stewarding would solve this problem completely.

jakobusvdl

Consist Stewarding – teehee!
Maaate, you’re dreaming ;-)
Pastor will be WDC in a Manor before that happens

runnah

Sorry I was wearing my rose tinted glasses when I posted this.

jakobusvdl

No harm in dreaming, after all its F1!

Sir Andrew

When I was a kid, we took part in a science competition. We had to make a car stay on and follow a white line. We used light sensors to detect the lightness of the white line and it adjusted the car accordingly. Couldnt they use sensors to detect the lines and cut the ERS? Im pretty sure Citroen was using a system that detected white lines and keep a car between them in case a driver falls asleep. Tracks seem to have pretty chunky white lines, and if more than two wheels go off (personally I reckon all wheels… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Thats good Sir A, an optical based system could be relatively easy to implement, and the technology already exists from a road car manufacturer – so relevant technology, nice.
Moving on to the next stage, how easy would it be to sabotage? How long before someone comes up with a laser on their car that triggers the sensor on the car ahead or behind to disable their Kers at an opportune moment ;-)

Sir Andrew

Wacky races here we come! Except for McHonda. They wouldnt have enough electrical power available to use it!