A year-long collaboration between the FIA Institute and Formula One teams will see F1 cars feature a new, advanced side impact protection system next season, designed to improve crash performance in angled impacts.
Currently, side impact protection is provided by crushable tube structures attached to the side of the chassis. While effective in normal, direct impacts, these can break off during oblique impacts, such as that famously suffered by Robert Kubica in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.
Marussia, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull all engaged with the FIA Institute to help find an improved solution and the result—based on a Marussia design optimized by Red Bull—was an evolution of the current tube system, but using high-performance carbon fiber with a bespoke external and internal geometry and precise layup configuration.
The tubes do not shatter on impact, but progressively crush and decelerate the car in a highly controlled manner. During testing, the structures were able to absorb nearly 40kJ of energy in both normal and oblique impact directions—a major improvement over current designs.
With the design of the structures and how they are attached to the chassis to be standardized in the F1 regulations, the new system will also save teams money by reducing impact test costs.
For more, visit www.formula1.com.