What about a pre-season tidy up? Lots of “stuff” happening this winter! 01 February 2017

Where to start is the problem…(Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop. Ed) (Don't tell me you made that up, that’s from Alice in Wonderland! Ed’s Assistant)

Let us start with Autosport – did you go? If not you missed some wonderful engineering again, especially if you like the latest in prototyping. Every year the technology makes a leap forward; some years it is evident, some years a little more subtle and this year was one of the subtle ones, with not so many of the big shiny things jumping out at you as you passed.

Autosport Engineering NMA

Image source

So it was easy to miss what I think will be the biggest thing in a long time to hit us racers – the real commercial availability of Additive Manufacturing. If you haven’t heard the name before, you may recognise the term “3D Printing”. Whilst they are not the same, you can at least see the heritage.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is best described by one of the best in the business 3T RPD Ltd who say “AM is a revolutionary technology that produces 99.99% dense parts directly from 3D CAD data using the powder bed fusion process known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).  Metal AM is fast, accurate and cost-effective for the production of prototypes as well as series production parts which can be used for testing or as final production components.  Parts are manufactured without the financial or time costs required for conventional tooling.

Metal AM is an ‘additive’ technology that works by fusing together very fine layers of metal powder using a focused laser beam.  This powder bed fusion process can produce complex geometries which might not have been possible using traditional manufacturing techniques, such as; undercuts, channels through sections, tubes within tubes and internal voids.”

Seeing new casings, housings, rockers and the like that have been made directly from a drawing at a cost that allows many more racers to have evolutionary parts (if your series allows them of course!!) is wonderful and I suggest you take a look if you can. After all, my local Library in Stafford has a 3D printer for the public to take CAD files and get their creations.

 

Red Bull hydraulic actuator assembly optimised by Additive Manufacturing Image Source

Next – How is your budget for the 2017 season?

A few weeks ago the £££ numbers were reported for the 2016 F1 season and some VERY big numbers they were indeed. OK, so they were down on the Toyota spend of a few years ago but so were the employee numbers, testing and wind tunnels - However, Ferrari, if it were a country on its own, with that budget of £330million, would have a GDP between Dominica and Tonga and the whole F1 paddock budget of £1.72 billion would place “The Republic of F1” at around 160th in the world!

Whilst the size of the total budget is truly mind boggling, the disparity across the grid is even more so – in fact it is downright ridiculous. At the pointy end, even though they didn’t win a race, Ferrari managed to spend £330 million yet Manor “made do” with £85m. But the star of the show has to be Force India. With a £90m pot they managed to whoop Williams (£105m), McLaren (£185m), Torro Rosso and Haas (£100m) and Renault at £150m.

F1 Team budget NMA

How an F1 team spends £158m – Image Source

So, I return to the sub heading – how is your budget this year? Hopefully you will be a Force India and do some giant killing on the track with what you have managed to accumulate.

F1 sold to Liberty Media

It wasn’t a secret as the sale has been dragging on almost as long as Bernie has been complaining that he is going to take the race away from Silverstone……………oooh, yes, there is another story we spoke about last year, the sale of Silverstone. Did you notice that JP of MSVR fame had a look and walked off to do a deal with Donington instead? – Methinks that the Silverstone bed is not one in which to lay down.

 

Image source

Back to the sale – so that was not a surprise but one of the faces that popped up was – Ross Brawn. Yes, he of the gazillion championships and multi winning designs stretching back into the mist. The whole deal may have together a little too late to influence 2017 but here we have a man that the racing fraternity can have faith in – Watch that space I say. Whilst on the subject of Ross, have a read of the book he co-authored with Adam Parr, (ex Williams big wig who got Bernie’d) – It’s called Total Competition and it explains his philosophy and strategies in racing; there are some absolute gems in there.

 

Image Source

So there you have it, a quick round up of stories and well, well, well we are back to racing again – The National Motorsport Academy team headed off to the GT Cup awards dinner at the weekend to pick up some silverware; Let’s hope we can go one better in 2017 and get the BIG pot.

I look forward to seeing you at the circuits; please come and say Hello!

Roger Grimshaw - NMA Tutor