It didn't have to succeed but it needed to be an option that might have caused a sense of competition in Dallara with its design. Lotus and Panoz might have helped, too.
It didn't have to succeed but it needed to be an option that might have caused a sense of competition in Dallara with its design. Lotus and Panoz might have helped, too.
Its not like its up and gone, Just wait till Le Mans next year. Even the guys building it say it was a little to radical for Indy to sign off on, but its gonna be a game changer. Now they have time to develop it better, using better parts. They seem to be doing just fine without Indy. Lets Just hope the guys can get all the bugs worked out before they run it on the ultimate world stage.
Yes and i especially miss the Swift!
Could have been a good story being an American company and all.
"The single-seater aero era has held sway since flimsy wings first scraped the sky in late-60s Formula One. However, the unseen hand of downforce, allowing drivers to corner with their right foot hard in, is the enemy of all other efficiencies. Big, thirsty engines towing draggy barn-door advertising hoardings 'wings' if you prefer down straights have long been red rags to the Greens, and of no long-term interest to mainstream car manufacturers.
People who view motor racing as escapism will shrug: lots of noise, please, plus whiffs of unburnt fuel and some overtaking. But those who believe the sport must play a role in transport's overall story worry that highly sophisticated aerodynamics are a dead-end.
THE SLIDE RULE
Formula One, of course, will prosper come what may. It has the money and global status to continue to screw itself to the Tarmac, to power on with wind-tunnel vision. But lesser series, such as the Indy Racing League are not so blessed. It has survived on a puritanical regimen of regulatory homogeneity since 1997. But starving itself of innovation has caused it to shrivel in the shadow of media boredom.
Enter the IRL's optimist-in-chief, British-born designer Ben Bowlby, chief technical officer at Chip Ganassi Racing. He has seen all sides of the sport, from British Clubmans to American IndyCars via Formula 3000, BTCC, NASCAR and Grand-Am. He's been in a buzzing, creative motor-sport rush for 20 years, but the nagging ache/fear could be ignored no longer, especially because he felt partly responsible.
"When I led the design, in 1996, of Lola's one-make F3000 chassis, I thought we were doing something smart, something to make the racing better and more sustainable," he says. "What we found over time, though, was that everything became suppressed: less newsworthy, of less value, so less money came in."
IRL's most recent slide has felt depressingly familiar. "Motor sport today is a function of comprehensive regulations that are increasingly out of alignment with newsworthy trends," says Bowlby. "Motor racing lost its way when we thought that one-make racing was a good idea."
But, let's repeat: Ben Bowlby is an optimist. And one now vindicated by the announcement that the DeltaWing will race at Le Mans 2012, from 'garage 56' reserved only for hors de categorie racers. Bowlby's an enthusiast steeped in engineering; a lateral thinker, to boot (just wait till you read his proposed revisions to the rules in a page or two). Hence DeltaWing the most radical racing-car design since Benz's 1923 'teardrop' grand prix car, the Tropfenwagen.
Siamesed front wheels, no wings, a stabilising shark fin Bowlby's DeltaWing didn't break with the norm it nuked it. Yet it would have been more extreme still had the FIA not deemed a three-wheeler a motorcycle and thus beyond its jurisdiction.
Though it seems a flight of fancy, this baby is grounded in first principles and best practice. Shock-and-awe speed (a 230mph flat lap of Indianapolis on 300bhp from 1600cc) without the fuel greed of its forebear; a racecar for an efficiency era that its designer is adamant will re-engage the manufacturers' sporting interest and so re-energise America's premier single-seater series. Given the chance, that is. Designed and built but not yet run in the hope of being the basis of 2012's IndyCar of the future, IRL rejected it in favour of Dallara's more conventional approach, a neat-but-meek tweak by comparison.
Former FIA technical consultant Tony Purnell was a member of IndyCar's ICONIC advisory committee that made the decision: "If you're gambling a series on a new car, you've got to be sure. Quite a few members really admired his design and tried to make it happen. But the car hadn't run and there was so much innovation that it was a bit overwhelming."
Le Mans organisers, the ACO, however, have been bolder, safe in the knowledge that the future of the 24 Hours doesn't rest on the efficacy of one design.
A QUESTION OF TOAST
"I was saddened by the IRL decision, not surprised," says Bowlby. "There is safety and security in sticking, but if you can't adapt, you're toast. I had to respond to an environmental shift. Okay, they weren't ready for it, but they could have seen it developed, owned a piece of it, done something for the future. When we launched in Chicago in February 2010, there was a scrum; we received thousands of hits on Google and YouTube; it was properly newsworthy. We kick-started a resurgence in IndyCars, while IRL supplied us with a world platform, so everybody was happy." Then, the giveaway: "Sort of." He was right to be disappointed this is the car motor sport can't afford to ignore.
"Frankly," says Purnell, "if the IRL had been a wealthy formula, funding the build and testing of some DeltaWings could have happened.
"But there are desperate commercial realities. Owners say they can't afford anything at the moment. Just building a new car is a battle. And there is no reason why a DeltaWing would be cheaper than any other car. Ben's a visionary and his is a well-worked scheme, but don't go thinking there weren't doubts about it. If he'd had a car running, preferably two to see how they'd interact, I'd have been surprised if IRL did anything but welcome it, trial it, even do demo races. That would have removed a lot of doubt."
But now they'll get a chance to evaluate their risk-reward values in France next June.
Peter Wright, the keen mind involved in some of F1's most remarkable innovations and performance leaps Lotus's ground effect and active suspension, both ultimately banned, of course is an FIA Institute technical consultant and another DeltaWing admirer: "The tools to analyse a radical concept like this are mature, and Ben is a thorough engineer. There's no reason why it can't be made to work."
Weight with driver 475kg
Horsepower 300 330 BHP
Wheel base 2.925m
Aerodynamic drag Cd 0.24
Front track 0.6m
Rear track 1.7m
Front tyre 4.0/23.0 R15
Rear tyre 12.5/24.5 R15
Fuel cell capacity 40 Litres
KEY TECHNICAL FEATURES:
Engine and transmission are non-stressed chassis members, allowing the installation of a wide variety of powertrains
prototype features a 4-cylinder 1600cc turbo engine: approx 300bhp/8000rpm weighing 70kg
Prototype transmission is 5-speed plus reverse longitudinal with electric sequential paddle-shift. differential has efficient variable torque steer/diff speed-controlled planetary final drive reduction layout. entire transmission weighs only 33kg
Vehicle weight distribution is necessarily more rearward than usual with 72.5% of the mass sitting on larger rear tyres
76% of the aero downforce acts on the rear end of the car
Rear-wheel drive, coupled with rearward weight and aero distribution, greatly enhances acceleration capability
Uniquely among today's racing cars, more than 50% of braking force is generated behind the centre of gravity permitting a dynamically stable response
Locking propensity of unladen front wheel at corner entry is greatly reduced as there's virtually no lateral load transfer, owing to the narrow front-track/wide rear-track layout. steered wheel scrub drag moment is almost zero, so improving tyre utilisation
Advanced computer modelling of structures, impact energy management, aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics and tyres has been used to develop the DeltaWing design
Driver position, restraint layout and energy absorbency facility incorporate the latest data on occupant survival criteria
METHOD, NOT MADNESS
Bowlby is soon answering questions almost before they're asked. Were he not a polite middle Englander, you might label him a zealot. He's erudite and persuasive as he relives the extraordinary voyage of design discovery that produced DeltaWing. And once explained, it all seems laughably simple and right, and of-a-piece. He even convinced Bridgestone and Firestone. This is method, not madness.
"When it all started to fall into place, I was completely surprised and somewhat frightened," he admits. "It's not like I've been thinking about it for ever; there was an element of 'What have we done?' Not everyone believes me when I say that form followed function, but DeltaWing is absolutely not just a styling exercise. It met all its targets we had a long fit-for-purpose hit list and I saw no reason to hide it away just because it's a little wild."
Quite right. Why shouldn't the future look futuristic and beautiful? It doesn't always follow that if it looks right, it is right, but it rarely does any harm. Concorde was a delta wing. So was Avro's Vulcan. It's a symmetry that pleases as well as making theoretical sense.
"Our goal was to create a car that was twice as efficient for the same speed," says Bowlby. "No engine is twice as efficient, so first you must downsize to reduce the fuel burn. Then you reduce weight. But most of all, you must reduce aerodynamic drag; we aimed for 60 per cent less. Fair in the wheels, fit enveloping bodywork, easy. Ah, but that's a sports car, not a single-seater. Nor would you stand to make the gain we did when we brought the front wheels into the centre-line and made it, in effect, a three-point plane."
Purnell: "As an aerodynamicist, I know the shape is going to work. It's a little more challenging in terms of vehicle dynamics. Experts had concerns about the car's stability in an accident, so the jury is out. When you haven't done something before, there is risk, and you don't always get it right first time. Of course, I may just be worrying unnecessarily."
Bowlby: "There were follow-on discoveries. The vehicle dynamics of a 'single' front wheel with appropriate weight distribution and tyre capacity means it uses its rubber more efficiently. Throwing away a quarter of a car causes a cascade of lightness too. You no longer need a chassis with torsional stiffness because you don't have to redistribute an unbalanced tyre loading around the car. This allows a huge weight saving, and the majority of what remains plus all the roll stiffness you put across the rear wheels to maximise acceleration."
No carved-in-stone was left unturned. Use of the engine as a stressed member, the epitome of neatness and cleverness in motor-racing design for more than 40 years, was shunned, too. Lotus's Colin Chapman will be turning in his monocoque.
"You'd be negligent if you didn't use the structural integrity of a socking great V8 as the car's biggest bracket, but it's highly inefficient to beef up a smaller engine to use in this way," says Bowlby. "Put it in its own cradle, a structural component with a big cross-section but light weight, and isolate-mount the gearbox within this structure, too, making it much more like a road vehicle, and it won't shake the car to pieces. Hey presto, yet lighter components."
Yeah, yeah, but how will it handle? Understeer springs to the Luddite's mind.
"It's counterintuitive," says Bowlby, "but this isn't an understeer-limited layout. It has a very rearward weight distribution, so the appropriately small front tyres won't have to accelerate more mass than their corresponding ratio to initiate a turn. It will respond to steering inputs incredibly quickly and completely. And because the roll stiffness is entirely generated between the rear wheels, the characteristic is responsive turn-in with an oversteering tendency towards the limit."
OK, but how will it race?
After two years on the project, Bowlby has every base covered: "I've designed it to maintain downforce at up to 10 degrees of yaw. With a conventional single-seater, if you get past four degrees the wake from the outside-front impinges on the underbody and rear wing. That quickly rolls off the downforce to the point where the driver loses control. We moved away from short-chord highly optimised aerofoils because their efficiency dips rapidly in turbulent air. The DeltaWing has a Gurney flap on the trailing edge of the body. This is much less affected by turbulence and onset flow angle. It energises the underbody and allows you to easily alter the downforce level and drag without changing the L over D [lift over drag ratio]. A DeltaWing following closely in the wake of another car can be made to have more downforce than the car in front. I learned that in NASCAR!"
It's a startling concept, a real eye-catcher. Yet, compared with Bowlby's other proposed far-reaching make-over new rules, new methods of engagement and enforcement it's actually almost ordinary.
GO WITH THE FLOW
A fuel-flow formula, mooted by Chapman and Cosworth's Keith Duckworth in the 1970s, is now possible thanks to silicon-chip accuracy and security. Rather than issue a car with a set amount of fuel for a race, which produces a pointless economy run before a wasteful dash to the flag, a set rate of flow promotes flat-out racing throughout, because hoarding fuel means extra weight sloshing in your tank.
"Efficiency becomes the primary performance objective," says Bowlby. "Reducing exhaust heat, friction and unburnt fuel in the exhaust pipe will be paramount. It would be simple to slow the cars, and do so in a way that encourages efficient innovations rather than removing them because they make the cars too fast. But we say, 'Keep it. Just burn less fuel.' That's the storyline the auto industry wants. 'Relevance' is the watchword. The industry has to keep cars desirable, meet government-set emissions targets, and deliver on performance and safety.
"Racing must respond to conflicting requirements, too, and become a catwalk for the industry again, selling people on ideas and concepts, on what is desirable and what the future will look like. It's about the next dream. It hasn't done that since the mid-80s. Road-car technology far outstrips us, and that's sad. Don't lock race-car designers into a bad situation, give them freedom as much as anyone can stomach."
PUBLISH AND BE PRAISED
Bowlby wants no more secrets. DeltaWing embodies a change of attitude, none bigger than Opengate, the most exciting and radical leap of all. Cagey, covert, cryptic Formula One designers look away now.
"We propose a pre-approval process triggered by publication of our designs the costs, the lot," he says. "A sanctioning body would then have a total understanding of a standard car, and you'd create a cost-cap within the original price. Tyre companies won't want to reveal their secrets, but otherwise, if you can measure it or scrutineer it, it should be out there.
"Car makers give each other baseline models; motor sport is out of kilter in that respect. Plus, open-source access is demanded by youth. If my kids can't get all the info on something straight away, or they can't download it or have to pay for it, forget it. The digital age has changed how people perceive product, and we have to adapt. Publishing designs is not an impediment to competition. It's a driver of efficiency."
Both Peter Wright and Purnell are intrigued by open-source as a method of controlling costs. Is it "a little rose-tinted" in the current climate, Purnell muses, but concedes that attitudes may have to change rapidly.
"Quite often, when you have an idea, you don't spend too much time dwelling on why it may not work," warns Purnell. "But, yes, it's radical, I like the sound of it, and I believe that its time may come."
Wright: "I can envisage a social backlash against 700bhp cars. They burn a lot of fuel to do what they do. That moment is not yet upon us, but when it does happen, the sport will wish it had done something earlier. We'll be scrabbling for solutions."
Purnell: "When I was at the FIA I was passionate about getting the sport to act before society forced it to. I can see fuel prices soaring and something happening that turns the public against us. We're not great at helping ourselves, and we should react, but we're miles off that right now. The DeltaWing is ahead of its time, but I know from my experience in F1 that the time does come for a good idea. And a move away from performance at any cost to treating every drop of energy as something precious is a good idea."
The problems DeltaWing addresses efficiency, sustainability, economy are global and are issues leading engineers believe the sport as a whole should tackle. DeltaWing is a bold and brilliant riposte. Don't forget Le Mans 2012. Then we'll see how it works.
Prime Minister of Gackland
DW12 handled better today, still lapped several mph off the old car. The weight saved on the back was ballasted to the front, so it looks like it will remain 80-100 lbs over the target weight. The HP was turned up on the engines but still couldn't overcome the drag, just like California. Basically it's going to take money and multiple solutions to chip away at it. The problem is nobody wants to pay.
80-100 lbs? I can see Dale Coyne hiring jockeys this year.
And that is what all this noise is about, The Delta Wing. Let's trash talk the dallara. No, I don't miss it.
And as Paul Harvey said, 'the rest of the story'.
Get your head out of your past!!!
He11 NO, you thinks the Dallara has teething problems. New style, New concept, New Driving Dynamics, entirely new manufacturing concept!!!!
You cannot wrangle chaos. You can only try to plan for it.
Every race I run in is in preparation for the Indianapolis 500. Indy is the most important thing in my life. It is what I live for. - Al Unser Jr.
Everything I ever wanted in my life, I found inside the walls of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. - Eddie Sachs.
Only wierd thing about Swift is that they said they would only have 25 chassis by the '500 in 2012 had they been chosen. Wasn't a good selling point.
Don't miss the Delta Wing a damn bit.
It really gets me that so many posters with their negative agenda post their gripes here and expect everyone to agree with them, thinking everyone is such a sourpuss malcontent as they are.
Just keep dumping money that was never meant to spent! Go Go Go! We need to show that this new car is perfect but maybe not as first planned!
Just as much as I miss the Swift/Lola/every damn thing else NOT named "Dallara" being involved.
Everytime I get in bed with my wife I get "up". No. I don't miss the DW. In fact, I occasionally need rest. My wife doesn't need to be looking at that all the time!
"I think there's only so many people that can take care of themselves, and can take care of other people. And the rest of the people they're useful in terms of compost for the whole planet, you know." - Bill Murray
From FIA Institute Quarterly - Thanks for posting, interesting read Interplanet. I can't wait to see the Deltawing race at La Mans in 2012. I get the feeling that its debut will turn some heads in the racing world. Right now the progress reports on the the Dallara in Indy car are beginning to give me a headache.
No, I don't miss a car that looked like a rolling schlong.
If the computer simulations couldn't discover all of the problems that this DW12 is having, I can only imagine the kind of problems the Delta Wing would have had.
Sure the simulations said that the Delta Wing could turn well enough to take the hairpin at Long Beach.........but these same computers also said the DW12 would be fast and nimble.
**** This Sport