2 November 2019

A lot of noise...

A Formula 1 car is a complex piece of machinery and all the different systems on it do sometimes disrupt one another. The cars have a great deal of electrical noise - undesirable electrical signals - which can distort or interfere with the desired signals. This is vary hard to master.

On Saturday morning in Austin, the FIA issued a technical directive to the F1 teams detailing a system that Red Bull had proposed that might have allowed the team to run more than the allowed amount of fuel flow, based on using electircal noise to disrupt the sample pulses sent from the fuel flow metering units, that make sure the teams do not use too much fuel. The system was, of course, rejected by the FIA as being illegal.

It is clear, however, that Red Bull did this for a reason, knowing the suggestion would be rejected, but in order to have the FIA clarify what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. And thus draw a line in the sand. Red Bull is believed to have suspected that other teams might be using such a system, or something similar to it. Using more than the allowed fuel flow could create a situation in which a team might be able to burn more fuel at certain points in a race weekend, which would give the engine a little bit of extra power when it was most needed, particularly when accelerating at slow speeds, which would allow the car to carry the additional speed up through the acceleration curve and so produce a higher top speed.

It seems that the system that Red Bull created, based on experiments it conducted, allowed pulses going from the fuel flow-metre, which samples what is going on, to be disrupted by external electrical “noise”.

This grey area has now been closed and it will be interesting to see if it has any impact on the different levels of performance of the different F1 teams.

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