Technology in motorsport is something that changes from season to season; looking through the many iterations of Formula One you'll find tweak after tweak of the aerodynamics. In a recent Challenge, tyre brand Dunlop put industry experts to the test, asking them to come up with their ideas for the future of racing.
The many ideas and visions were then handed to legendary Le Mans and GP designer Sergio Rinland, who set about creating a visionary race car utilising the many ideas of the industry experts. What you see here is the end product of Sergio's labour - it's called the 'Future Race Car' or 'FRC'.
The Future Race Car is, as you can imagine, an incredibly innovative vehicle that is completely electric. Featuring an electric motor in each wheel the FRC would benefit from the ability of torque vectoring. Powering the FRC would be a small hydrogen fuel cell generator and a lithium ion battery that acts as a power buffer; Sergio's vision is that one day the Future Race Car would also feature 'Induction Charging Pads'. Race tracks of the future would be electrified and therefore allow the FRC to draw its power straight from the track, replacing heavy batteries and increasing performance.
Sergio has placed a massive emphasis on aerodynamics when designing the Future Race Car. Talking about removing drag and adding performance Sergio said:
“You would like maximum performance from minimum use of resources."
Anything that isn't completely needed hasn't been added to the FRC. Details like wing mirrors have been removed from the body and replaced with cameras – allowing 360 degree vision of what's happening around the driver but not sacrificing aerodynamics.
The body is made from an innovative new piezoelectric material and can change in shape depending on the situation. The body would adapt to reduce drag on the straights and increase downforce in the corners. The cars 'active aerodynamics' remove the need for aerodynamic features like a rear wing that would add unnecessary drag.
In an effort to further remove 'avoidable resources' the FRC doesn't feature brakes. Sergio envisages a time where energy recovery systems will be so advanced that they can be used in lieu of conventional brake discs. Sergio remarks on how ERS will one day be able to harvest 100% energy, subsequently slowing the vehicle in the same way as brakes.
To go with Sergio's incredible design, Dunlop have developed ground-breaking new tyres that would not only feature in-built sensors but would also adapt to different situations by changing shape. The technology, which is currently in development at Dunlop, would completely change the role that tyres play in a race.
In-built sensors allow the tyres to speak to the driver and team, allowing them to give feedback on current state, life and various other metrics. The sensors would also hold the ability to let the tyres intuitively adapt different vehicle settings, for example – the suspension or braking system.
The use of intelligent materials, like that of the bodywork, will let the tyres adapt their shape, temperature and pressure during a race. Just like the bodywork they would adapt to increase their performance; reducing their rolling resistance on the straights and increasing contact during braking and corners.