Formula One is an extremely popular sport, with people tuning into races to watch the participants racing at exhilarating speeds. However, the work of Formula One designers hasn’t only had an influence on the sport itself – a number of elements have also impacted on the car industry in general, from safety and engine specifications to speed and style.
Formula One racing takes place at high speeds, with drivers not being able to let up for a second if they want to stay on the track. These demands mean that cars need to be exceptionally safe. Race cars are designed to protect the drivers, with a strong carbon fibre body that reduces the extent of injuries in an impact. The same principle of protecting drivers and passengers is behind the safety cages that are fitted into standard cars. These cannot be seen, but are an essential component of the vehicle, vital if you are involved in an accident.
One of the major influencers of Formula One safety over the years has been Max Mosley. He has had a large part to play in improving safety features in both Formula One cars and standard vehicles. These actions have saved many lives and further information on his work can be found in Formula One and Beyond: The Autobiography.
Style and design
As well as performance levels, design is a large part of a consumer’s decision when they are purchasing a new car. In Formula One racing, all the elements of the car need to have a purpose and enhance performance. This has led to the proliferation of sleek and smooth exteriors that improve the aerodynamics. These elements have also been included into production cars, alongside elements such as air dams and spoilers, to enhance the look as well as the performance of the vehicles.
Formula One teams have extensive budgets to spend on designing new cars and developing technologies that are more advanced. These areas of research are not wasted and some of the work is then translated into standard production cars. Racing cars have used push button ignitions for years, as they are faster to start than turning a key. This technology has now been transferred to road cars. Some of the vehicles still require a key to be inserted, while others work automatically with the use of an electronic fob.
Most drivers don’t consider their car’s suspension too much, unless there is something wrong with it and their comfort is compromised. However, this area has been influenced heavily by Formula One technology. This has led to improved suspension systems being fitted into our cars. Whereas Formula One cars focus on performance levels when developing and adjusting their suspension, production cars look more at the comfort factor.
The technology behind Formula One cars is shaping the future of the automobile industry generally. In the coming years we will likely see further improvements that have been transferred and diluted from Formula One technology to the performance and design of road cars.