How will the Formula 1 cars of the future be?

Several Formula 1 teams have designed the cars they dream of running 30 years from now.

Photo: Renault F1

Formula 1, in its essence, is the living image of a handful of crazy minds that dream what the future will look like, visualize it, trap it and bring it to the present. What we see on the track today is ahead of our time. It is a window to the world that we will see in 15 or 20 years. From time to time, this handful of restless minds makes bigger and bigger jumps. If the current cars of F1 are our future, the future of F1 is a frontier of time that we can not even imagine. Only them.

Formula 1 has dared to dream, and even design and build, the cars that will compete on the tracks within 20 years; 20 years of life on a Formula 1 scale, 40 years on a human scale. The Renault team of Formula 1, was the last one that looked to the future. A few days ago, the French brand presented the design of how their cars would be in 2027. It joins other teams such as Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren who have done similar exercises.

Read more: This is how a Formula 1 driver reaches his physical fullness

Photo: Renault F1

Between the characteristics of the futuristic design of Renault emphasizes a closed cabin, which has been one of the most recurrent discussions of the Formula 1 and a debate that has faced the dilemma between the security and the aesthetics. The Renault solution is a glass dome that opens from the side, and also does not affect the visibility of the pilot. The cockpit of the car would be manufactured entirely by 3D printing, and the helmet would be transparent, to allow fans to see the face of the pilot.

The car would have an even greater electrical influence than today, but it would retain the same six-cylinder turbocharged hybrid engine that is now used in the series. The electrical systems would deploy a mega watt of power, and the system of recovery of energy, the KERS. Engine power would rise from the current 950 horses to 1,300. The car would weigh around 600 kilos.

The design would have four-wheel drive, thanks to an electric motor that would be housed in the front, something that has been difficult to do today. It could be driven in full electric mode in certain parts of the race, since the gas tank would be reduced from the current 105 kilos to 60.

Photo: Renault F1

In addition, it would have adjustable aerodynamics and an autonomous driving mode that would be applied in turns under the safety car and at the entrance to the pits. 

Photo: Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari presented its concept in a web page, where it only includes two images, and does not explain much about the technology of its car. However, at first glance it can be seen that the rear spoiler is much lower than what was used in 2015 when it took out its design, and may be more attached to the rules in force in 2017.

Photo: Scuderia Ferrari

Also in 2015, McLaren presented its own concept, the MP4-X. Perhaps the most ambitious of all futuristic designs, the concept of McLaren was the most technologically advanced with active aerodynamics that are reconfigured curve after curve and that converts into plasma the air flow around the ailerons.

The cabin is closed, but with absolute visibility of 360 degrees, and with technology in the helmets that resembles that of the fighter pilots, where the crucial information of mapping, situation in the competition, alerts and others, will be presented the pilot in his visor.

Photo: McLaren F1

The concept of McLaren proposes to return the “ground effect” to cars, one of the greatest innovations in the history of motorsport, which however was banned in 1982 in Formula 1 due to cost issues. This is to channel air under the car to make a kind of suction of the car to the ground and increase speed and stability in the corners.

Photo: McLaren F1

In 2010, Red Bull had also made its own futuristic car model. The X2010 concept was designed by none other than Adrian Newey.

Photo: Red Bull Racing

The concept followed an idealistic philosophy, one in which there were no rules. “If we did not have rules, there would be the opportunity to design a car that was obscenely fast along a lap, although it would be quite uncomfortable because the G forces would be very high,” Newey explained about its design, which was made for the video game Gran Turismo 5, although the construction of a conceptual model was carried out in real size, but without operation.

Photo: Renault F1

At first glance, it resembles a prototype racing car more than a real Formula 1, and Newey himself seems to make it clear when designing without sticking to rules, because it is precisely these rules that make F1 cars what they look like today, while the rules in prototype racing are more liberal and diverse. As in the prototypes, the concept has covered wheels, while the pilot’s area is also covered much like the dome in the cockpit of a jet fighter.

The silhouette of a Formula 1 car, throughout history, has been a work in constant process. The evolution is permanent. All the time, a handful of clever minds mix science, art and bureaucracy. The objective: read again and again the rules to find legal loopholes that can exploit scientifically to achieve greater speed and stability, without losing beauty in the construction of the car. In those bastions, Formula 1 has become strong.

Photo: Renault F1

And fruit of the astuteness of those minds, inventions arise that a few years later reach the street cars. Formula 1, the nest of innovation, we handle it daily in our lives. Some of those inventions that won world championships today are common in today’s cars. That is why, when F1 men dream of the future, we must pay attention. A lot of attention.

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