F1 formula cars and fighter jets are related in more ways than one; they go fast. The North American X-15 currently holds the highest speed record for the fastest aircraft. With a top speed of 4,520 miles per hour, it is revered by many and piloted by few. Formula One race cars can reach speeds up to 220 miles per hour. While the speed differences may seem significant, these two adrenaline rushing vehicles share similarities that make it possible to reach these top speeds.
If you ask any racing enthusiast whether it be for cars or any other high speed sport, they all share a common concern other than going fast. Aerodynamics; aerodynamics is an important consideration that should be made in any vehicle that is going to be traveling at high speeds. This feature involves studying how objects move through air and how best to construct an object so the air will flow around or over it. By paying special attention to this consideration, higher speeds can be achieved because air is no longer an obstacle. This is what aerodynamics is all about. If the object happens to be a plane or a jet, the aircraft needs to be able to maintain high enough speeds so they can remain in the air. To do this, the plane also needs to encounter as little air resistance as possible.
When the air passes directly over the wing, a lift is created allowing the plane to stay in the air. F1 cars however function on the opposite principle. F1 car wings are specially designed to allow air to pass on the lower surface of the wing instead of over it. More pressure is created on the top surface instead of the bottom. This is where the word Downforce comes from. The higher the downforce, the better the grip the car has on the race circuit. Aerodynamics is tricky to navigate. Too much tampering can create too much drag which slows the vehicle down.
Just the right enough tampering may make the difference between winning on race day. Formula One race car engineers are constantly finding ways to get the best of both worlds. One of the most under looked considerations is the underflow. Underflow refers the air that goes directly under the car. This is why most race cars have a particularly low stance.
If the plane you’re driving doesn’t have a reliable set of tires on it, they’ll be in shreds in a matter of seconds upon take off. Even worse, they’ll be useless when you decide to land the high speed aircraft. Specially designed tires are relied to bring a fast moving plane that is going about 12400 miles per hour to a complete stop. This requires a tire that is capable of standing pressure, high volumes of weight, and blistering speeds. Next to the engine, the tire is one of the parts of a vehicle that take the most beating. Engines are constantly being tweaked to develop the most power and speed, and tires are constantly touching the ground.
It would come as a surprise to some that these tires perform the best when they’re lightweight. Bulky tires would do nothing but slow the vehicle down and possibly cause mishaps. A typical race car tire is capable of reaching the high temperatures of about 120 degrees just from doing a few laps about the race circuit. These temperatures are more than capable of cooking food with. So what goes into the creation of these amazing tires? The tires owe their success to three main ingredients: Oil, Carbon and Sulfur. These three ingredients are key to creating a winning tire. Oil will create a soft tire, but it will also grip the track with ease. It’s not just the ingredients that go into making these tires that make them successful in stopping these powerful machines, it’s how they’re inflated too. Jets and top performing race cars have their tires inflated with Nitrogen. Nitrogen enables these tires to achieve high speeds and high temperatures without exploding like an air inflated tire would do.
F1 race cars and high speed jets do share differences when it comes to comparing the oils that fuel these fast machines. The similarities are easily realized as soon as you consider that you can’t take a drive to your local gas station and purchase the same oil that these planes and race cars need to function properly. The exactly formulation of the oil isn’t top secret, but the mixture is heavily supervised to avoid any tampering. Some of the chemicals that are found in the commercial gasoline you pump into your car would be considered un-acceptable if found in jet or facing fuel. F1 racers may create several kinds of mixtures of racing fuel to achieve the results they’re looking for. Some formulas may even be used on different tracks depending on the circumstances.
The pilots or drivers that are behind the wheel of these machines need to be able to focus on the road in front of them. Adjusting or monitoring the vital settings would be distracting and could potentially cause a disaster. On top of that, these drivers need to be capable of making fast decisions and hope they’re correct. Specifically designed electronics takes all the guess work and enables the driver to focus on the road ahead of them. These electronics can monitor everything from the amount of fuel going to the engine, oil pressure, and even wing angles. Special sensors may make the adjustments necessary and even record the information in special logs so problems can be prevented before they occur.
Carbon Fiber can be found on both jets and F1 racing cars. Despite being a lightweight material, carbon fiber is capable of surpassing the strength of most metals. The light weight nature of this material is not only sleek, but it also goes a long way toward increasing speeds.