Mercedes look to solve ‘electrical noise’ issue in Austria

2020 Austrian Grand Prix, Sunday - LAT Images

I am not sure I completely understand what Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin is referring to when he says “electrical noise” but it seem the team understand what their issue was in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

“On Friday you saw that Valtteri had an issue at the end of one of the sessions so that was first a sign that we had a problem, we’ve had recurrence issues over the course of Saturday and going into the race we were expecting it because it seems to be a feature of the model,” he said. “So, at the moment if we build the car and run it this problem will appear at some point – it’s just a question of how soon.

“It’s not manifesting itself as one thing, no they are related it’s basically a build-up of electrical noise that starts to interfere with the various systems so with Valtteri we saw that halfway through the race, got progressively worse, with Lewis it appeared later. But it’s electrical noise that’s then affecting a lot of different things.”

As I mentioned, I am not entirely sure I understand his point and to be honest, it’s one of those things where you would have to be part of the team or a person in a similar role to most likely have a full understanding. Electrical noise is an interesting comment, however.

The issues Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were having in Sunday’s F1 race were said to be sensor related and caused by running over the very pronounced and aggressive curbs at the Red Bull Ring.

I am curious if the amount of data and continuous flow of that data, due to the vibrations created by running over the heavily serrated curbs, caused real issues for the system. In this sense, could it have been creating an overwhelming amount of data the system had to process?

I recall a few example in my day job where devices on a network were terribly chatty and the system was continuously polling all devices connected. You can imagine that even this continuous polling of devices created a lot of network noise and overwhelmed the system.

Not saying this is what happened but just trying to make sense out of the “electrical noise” comment. It very well could be noise that was being generated by EMI or RFI or simply noise created by the sensors themselves due to the load of data they were generating from the curbs.

Difficult to know what was meant exactly but the team are working diligently to cure it.

“Austria’s just a really horrible circuit for the cars,” he added. “Normally you start the season somewhere like Melbourne, and Melbourne’s a track where it’s very difficult to overtake, and when it’s difficult to overtake you can then afford to look after your car and people aren’t going to get by.

“This is a circuit where it’s quite easy to overtake and as a result if you don’t use the kerbs, if you don’t push hard, you’re at risk. That’s one of the factors, but it’s the kerbs themselves that are very, very violent and you spend a lot of the lap running on them. For us, that was that issue and it probably doesn’t help that it’s nearly 30 degrees here, the air’s a bit thin so it’s hot, there isn’t as much cooling as you normally get, and all the temperatures inside the car are high.

“But every year this is a race of attrition and having it as the first race and then having two of them, one after the other because we think we can make some strides to improve some of our problems but others aren’t going to get better on the same track. So a lot of people you’ve got another dose of it coming up, so it’s a race against time to try and make a bit of headway into those complications.”

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said he was confident his engineering team would fix the issue ahead of F1’s second race in Austria this weekend.

“We have a great group around [trackside engineer] Simon Cole on trackside reliability and he and his team are going to solve that problem for [this] week,” said Wolff.

“What I understand is that there are solutions that we can at least improve the situation. Austria is for sure stressing these parts on the car most in all of the season. So if we find a way around of protecting the car next weekend, we should be fine. I think we have ideas.”

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Any electrical connection can cause noise if it is not perfectly conducting. A poor connection, caused by excessive vibration, will allow the junction to act as a diode and rectify the signal passing across it. This will generate harmonics of the original signal, and if two or more frequencies are passing through the junction you can get intermodulation between these signals. See ‘rusty bolt effect’,dirty%2520connections%2520or%2520corroded%2520parts.%26text%3DRusty%2520objects%2520that%2520should%2520not,harmonics%2520and%2520other%2520unwanted%2520signals.&ved=2ahUKEwi8gtnilLvqAhXKWRUIHRmZAJAQFjACegQIDRAH&usg=AOvVaw2McphrrmXoFW4W1RDjk_bC&cshid=1594125691941 Stopping the vibrations causing these imperfect connections is what I assume Mercedes are trying to do. Alternatively they could instruct the drivers to drive only on the circuit (that bit of tarmac between the… Read more »

Cam Lummus

In the aircraft industry, the amount of increasing carbon fiber parts have caused a increase in electrical bonding issues. Carbon fiber parts need to be laid out with a fine mesh screen material to facilitate bond with the electrical ground of the plane. Bad bonding especially near a sensor can cause “P Static” issues that present as noise in electronics. Very serious in aircraft. If you ride near the trailing edge of a wing you can see small spike looking things sticking out. Those static wicks help dissipate the excess static electricity generated from going fast thru the air. Hope… Read more »