Slipstreaming or Drafting

The dark art of slipstreaming or drafting has long been a staple of motorsport as well as many other sports such as cycling. But what is actually going on when it happens and why doesn’t it work for F1 cars?

The Science Bit

The principle is actually quite simple. As a car moves through the air it creates a pocket of lower pressure behind it. This partial vacuum will allow another car to move with less air resistance.

The lower resistance will allow the second car to move faster but also to move using less power, which means less throttle and less fuel. The principle is the same in water and for any object moving through any medium.

There is, however, an advantage to the front car too, in some cases. By filling the vacuum behind the lead car, the amount of air pushing down on the rear of the lead car is also less. This, in turn, can help the lead car move more efficiently too.

NASCAR

If anyone in motorsport is asked for an example of drafting, they’re highly likely to say NASCAR. The long tracks and relatively simple shapes of the cars make it a perfect place for it. It was actually “invented” at the Daytona 500 in the 60s.

You can easily see long lines of cars all bunched together in NASCAR races. It may look like close racing but they are actually all using each other to increase the overall speed and reduce fuel use and pitstops. Of course, at some point each driver has to pull out and make a leap for the lead, and this is where it can get very exciting.

F1

If you watch F1, you will hear a lot of talk about running in dirty air. It often seems like being behind a car is really bad and goes totally against the principles discussed above. There is, however, a reason for this.

While drafting can help in straight lines or long, banked high speed corners, it does not help in tight twisty bits of track. It also causes issues when cars have very complex aerodynamic systems. F1 cars are very delicately set up and though in one instant they may get a bit of help being behind another car, the minute it comes to a corner it all goes wrong. The vacuum changes shape and the aero is negatively effected by the “wash” from the car in front changing direction.

The 2017 Mercedes cars were designed to lead; they worked best in clean air so if Hamilton fell behind and got stuck trying to pass someone, it made the car handle very badly.

Having said all of that, on the straight the slingshot pass still works in F1. This is where the following driver will gain extra speed in the vacuum behind the lead car and then move out rapidly to overtake and slingshot past them. Of course, this is increased with the use of DRS and the like but the principle is still important.

If you race in any kind of motorsport, then get in touch to find out more about our fire suppression systems. We supply and fit fire extinguisher systems to classic cars, track day car and even F1 cars!

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Get Well Soon Niki!

Image source

According to doctors, the legend that is Niki Lauda was very close to death before he had his lung transplant last week in an Austrian hospital.

It turned out that Lauda’s lungs could no longer absorb enough oxygen due to inflammation of the alveoli, the small air sacs inside the lungs. This inflammation is a kind of auto immune response, meaning the body attacks itself. He was given drugs to suppress the reaction but they did not work well enough. After a spell in intensive care, the point came where the doctors said he needed a new lung. Without having to wait too long, thankfully Lauda was able to undergo a full lung transplant with a couple of days.

The Future

It will come as no surprise to any motorsport fan to hear that Lauda is a fighter and that it would take a lot to bring him down. In true Niki style, he is recovering well and with a bit of luck will be able to carry on just as he was before the problem. At 69 years old, it certainly takes some strength to go through that kind of health issue but we are pretty sure if anyone can take it in their stride, Mr Lauda can!

The Past

If perhaps there are people that didn’t know about his previous brush with death, Lauda was trapped in his F1 car on 1st August 1976 at the infamous Nürburgring. He had raised concerns about the safety of the track that day but raced anyway as he failed to get enough votes for a boycott. He was trapped inside his own burning car for over a minute. This not only severely damaged his skin on many parts of his body but also his lungs, as he was breathing in burning fumes.

After being pulled out, many thought he would never race again but Lauda fought and pushed for a fast recovery and actually ended up racing again in the same season when most people had totally written him off. Just 6 weeks after his crash and after many operations to clear his lungs and rebuild his face, he finished 4th in the championship despite not being able to see very well and still being covered in bandages. They even made him a special helmet that was bigger to accommodate his dressings.

We are very pleased Niki is doing well; he is a true hero and a true fighter. He is also someone who came very close to perishing in the fire we work so hard to keep drivers safe from and, because of that, he will always have a special place in our hearts.

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Budget Classic Cars

Budget Classic Cars - Image 1Image source

There is no doubt the classic and historic car market is still growing – is it ever going to slow down? As interest rates remain flat, it seems buying even the most budget of classics is almost a sure fire way of turning over a few quid in just a handful of years. However, along with this seemingly fun and easy way to make money comes a whole host of warnings about buying a bad car, driver safety and more.

Under £10K!

Since the really valuable classics are all but unaffordable for anyone other than the super-rich, the minor classics and newer cars are gathering interest but can still be got for under £10,000.

For example, we saw a 1978 Alfa Romeo Alfasud 1.3 Super on sales for under £8,000. While rust is eating its way through most of these little Italian crackers, this one seemed clean and would make for a great modern classic. The best thing was it only had 15,000 miles on the clock!

Budget Classic Cars - Image 2Image source

If you find yourself yearning for a British classic, then the Triumph Dolomite Sprint could be for you. We saw a 1980 model with a 2.0 litre 16 valve engine in yellow for under £8,000. This was the one that did 0-60 in under 8.5 seconds which really wasn’t bad at all for the time. Again, rust and rot are issues for these cars but get a well kept one and you could have a lot of fun!

And what about a Sierra? We found a 1984 XR4i for under £10K. Now this might seem a lot for a Sierra if you are old enough to remember driving one, but this was the 2.8 litre 16v version with 160bhp and 0-60 in 7.8 seconds. It may not be a Cosworth but it’s a great value alternative and as time goes on it will become very rare!

Take Care

While we can all get carried away with the idea of owning something from our childhood (or just something that might make some money at some point!) buying classic or historic cars can be tricky. Doing years’ worth of research is important, knowing which bits rust and the difference between original parts and replacement can make all the difference.

We have a lot of customers who come to us to for a fire extinguisher system or a handheld unit for their classics. These cars are old and things can go wrong. A small electrical fire could easily get out of hand and the materials used back in the 70s and 80s were certainly not as fireproof as what we use today.

If you are thinking about buying a classic or already have one, drop us a line to find out more about how we can help protect you and your car against fire.

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Beware of the Ring!

There really isn’t a petrolhead out there who isn’t aware of the Nürburgring. And it is highly probable that there are only a handful of petrolheads out there who haven’t at least thought about heading there for a track day – certainly thousands have already done so and will do it again. But despite its popularity, the Nürburgring really is a place that holds a great deal of danger and should be something to consider very carefully…as the video above shows!

There are Track Days and Then There is the Ring!

If you own a performance car it’s only natural to want to take it somewhere you can really open it up. This is why track days are still highly popular but there is a big difference between heading to Rockingham for a session and heading to arguably the most dangerous race track in the world.

Green Hell

The track was nicknamed ‘Green Hell’ because of the number of (green!) trees that line the winding and massively long track. It is also worth noting that when the Nürburgring got its name there was not much in the way off fencing, as Jackie Stewart found out, so the green bit was even more of a factor because of the risk of ending up in the trees! The ‘hell’ part of the name came from the sheer fact that the Nürburgring is not only a brutal and technical track but also such a long one!

Be Prepared

As you can see in the video, people crash – a lot! This is just from a recent collection and there are hundreds of videos showing the crashes each month. It is key for anyone wishing to give the Ring a go to prepare. Not only prepare for the driving by practicing on less tricky tracks locally but to also have the safety side of things covered.

You really do not need much in the way of kit to be allowed on the Nürburgring and you don’t have to have a fire extinguisher on board, but we would certainly recommend that you did. If you want to take your beloved car to the beast that is the Ring, then a simple handheld system would be a great choice along with a helmet, gloves and ideally a race suit!

If you are planning a trip or you plan to start doing track days, even just once a year, then get in touch and we can discuss the options in terms of handheld fire extinguishers that could literally save your life if you have a bad off but may also be useful in a small crash involving fire.

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The new Ford F-250 BTCC Safety Truck

Ford F-250 BTCC Safety Truck ImageImage source

It will come as no surprise that we are pretty keen on motorsport safety here. We love the thrills and even the danger of the sport but feel strongly about safety playing a critical role in keeping the sport alive and well in all its forms. So it was really interesting to find out about the new British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) safety truck…it’s a beast!

The Idea

While the BTCC series has support vehicles already, there was potentially a need for something more. They use a Porsche Panamera at the moment to get a doctor to a scene quickly and a Ford Galaxy to ferry any heavier cutting equipment and the like.

But Alan Gow, the series boss, was inspired by the American NASCAR and IndyCar idea of using a big powerful truck to get heavy things and more people there quickly! Seeing as the idea for the truck came from the US, it seemed only fitting for Gow to order a thumping great American truck rather than “a pathetic local one”, as he put it.

The Truck

The truck itself is an F-250 with a 6.8 litre Ford V8 in it. That is a lot of power, and for good reason. The truck has to carry a huge amount of gear and 4 people, which it can do easily. But the added bonus of all that lovely torque is that it can also be used to tow a car out of a ditch or into a different position, if a driver is trapped for example. The Galaxy was good but ultimately the F-250 holds a lot more and can still get there fast. The 250 was a little more expensive though at over £200,000!

The Kit

The truck carries a lot of equipment to cover many different issues. It obviously has a great deal of medical support equipment and other useful things like self-heating blankets, tarpaulins for privacy and towing ropes. But it’s some of the more heavy duty tools that are really exciting.

Ideally, the safety team like to dismantle a car to get someone out, but in some cases cutting is the quickest and best way to get a driver out. To that end the truck is packed full of battery powered Holmatro tools. These include saws, rams and cutters. There are also a lot of spare batteries onboard.

It is great to see investment in safety going on across motorsport and this is certainly a big move towards an even safer BTCC series. If you would like more information about our fire suppression systems, then please call 01243 555566 or get in touch with our friendly team here.

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Historic Formula Ford Fire at Cadwell Park

A few weeks ago, we were all shocked to hear about a crash at Cadwell Park where a historic Crossle ended up on its roof and on fire. But thanks to quick thinking spectators and a fellow driver no-one was seriously hurt.

Nelson Rowe is a double historic Formula Ford champion, so is no stranger to racing, but everyone gets caught out from time to time. He ended up flying over the top of Cameron Jacksons’ Lola only to finish on his roof. The engine caught fire immediately and Rowe was still trapped in the car.

Callum Grant saw the incident and stopped his car to help. Sadly he was not able to roll the car over himself. He was quoted as saying Rowe’s eyes were closed but he was shouting “get me out”. After the incident, Rowe said he was awake the whole time and could smell the petrol. He felt something wet on his leg but, thankfully, it was just the fire suppressant that was triggered as the car rolled.

Two spectators jumped the fence to run and help Grant get the car back on its wheels. Grant complimented them on their bravery as they were only wearing T-shirts and shorts and certainly nothing made of Nomex! Once the car was righted, Rowe was able to free himself and, with some help, got clear of the car. One of the spectators then ran back to grab a Marshal fire extinguisher to help put the fire out.

Rowe was later spotted drinking tea with his wife and daughter in pretty good health, though he had cracked his helmet and singed his race suit. He is said to have recovered well and only suffered some minor stiffness. Grant, on the other hand, was in somewhat of a state of shock and once back on the grid was sat down under some trees with veteran racer Don Hardman. However, when the race was back underway he went on to take a very emotional 3rd place.

This kind of incident really shows how important fire extinguishers are, not only in racing but also for any road going performance or historic car. The direct plumbed in systems we offer allow the suppressant to be released straight into the engine bay and can give the driver precious minutes to get out, as we saw in this accident.

Of course, for a lot of levels of motorsport this type of system is compulsory but getting the right system and the best suppressant is important. You may have to have one, but you can choose to have the best there is! If you would like more information or to discuss installing one of our systems into your racing car get in touch today.

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Will Alonso Leave F1?

Fernando Alonso

In a recent interview, the mighty Fernando Alonso suggested that he will decide on his future plans after the summer break this season. If he leaves, it will certainly be a blow for the sport, as it is when anyone so important chooses to leave.

It is no secret that Alonso has not been happy with the cars he has been given over the last few years but he did state he was currently pleased with the improvement and direction McLaren was going in. The former world champion has not seen a podium since 2014 and not stood on top of one in F1 since 2013, which is a long time in anyone’s book.

Triple Crown

This all comes as Alonso tries to get the triple crown of motorsport with an F1 world title and World Endurance wins, and he is pushing for his Le Mans 24 Hour win next month. He is running his 2018 F1 fight alongside racing in the World Endurance Championship for Toyota in which he won his first race at Spa recently.

Time

One of the issues Alonso seemed to allude to is a lack of time. The F1 calendar is very busy this year and it seems that he might be struggling to fit everything in. Despite F1 being the pinnacle of motorsport in many peoples’ eyes, it may soon be playing second fiddle to the Endurance Series for Alonso.

F1 – Predictable

In the interview, Alonso seemed sad about what he called the predictability of F1. He suggested it had got to such a state that you could predict qualifying times for most races and more. He said it was sad that everything went in the direction it did.

When talking about his future plans, it was clear he was using these issues to weigh up his future in F1. He certainly doesn’t seem to want to leave motorsport but it doesn’t look very good for his presence in F1 itself.

Alonso is clearly one of the best drivers in the world, and during recent years battling hard for mid field positions he has put in some of the best drives of his life. We really hope he stays; it would be great to see him grab another title before he called it a day on racing altogether.

While we cannot offer you help and advice on your chosen form of motorsport, we can cover everything to do with fire safety and motorsport fire extinguishers. FEV provide systems for F1 teams, WRC teams and cars in almost every aspect of motorsport. Contact us today for more information.

Fernando Alonso during Formula One Test Days

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Here Comes the Sun!

Driving a classic convertible car on a sunny day

It’s here… no wait, it’s gone again… now it’s back! This spring may be a bit fickle but the summer is on the way and for many classic car owners that means it’s time to whip off the covers and get out on the road. But as the classic car market gets more and more valuable, have you thought about fire protection?

The Joys of Driving in the Summer

One of the best things about driving a classic car in the summer is the fact the roads aren’t literally shooting mucky salt and water directly into the wheel arches and every other possibly gap in the chassis. It means you can drive and enjoy your car without wincing when you go through a puddle.

Dry roads also bring a smile to most performance classic owners – it’s a time for just a touch more throttle and to really enjoy how good some cars handle, even considering their ages.

Too Hot

The downside to summer driving with classics is sometimes it just gets too hot and some cars do have a habit of overheating. This is fine if you have time to let it cool or a good collection of other owner’s club drivers to help out, but it can be a pain.

Another Year

While summer is certainly welcome, it also marks another year to the age of every classic car on the road. With that comes more responsibility to maintain these cars for future generations. Having a good fire extinguisher system becomes more important than ever.

In many cases, classic cars are not in the least bit fire resistant and can go up in flames very quickly. They are, by their nature, also prone to breakdowns and other issues, some of which can potentially cause fires too.

Handheld fire extinguishersAt FEV, we have worked with 1000s of classic car owners, from people who take part in historic racing to private owners who just want some extra peace of mind when driving. Our systems can be installed in keeping with the car – they do not have to be obvious – and they can prove invaluable in the event of an issue.

Having a good handheld fire extinguisher on board can also be useful if a fellow owner has a problem and is unable to put the fire out.

While we would never suggest tackling a fire alone, one of our systems can be a great first defence and potentially save the car before fire takes hold.

If you are about to get your car out of winter storage, get in touch with us now to discuss how we might be able to fit or provide a suitable fire extinguisher system for road use or racing.

Couple driving on beautiful road at sunset

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New FIA 8865 Products

FX G-TEC2900R3 Image

After a great deal of testing, we were really pleased to get the seal of approval from the FIA on our 8865 products some time ago. They have proved very popular and once again take great steps forward in safety for drivers. Because of the demand for more products that meet the 8865 standard, we have launched two new extinguishers that are now available to order.

The FX G-TEC2900R3-D and the FX G-TEC2900R3 are both at the cutting edge of motorsport fire safety. These units are essentially the same, apart from the size and shape of the cylinder. This variation gives customers a choice when it comes to placement in the cockpit. Both units consist of a remote charge FX C-TEC+ADS Extinguisher with 2 engine nozzles and 1 cockpit nozzle.

The 8865 standard is already in place in the WRC as well as for S2000 cars and R5 cars. Although not compulsory, it is recommended for all FIA racing and will come into force in the GT categories this year.

These extinguishers are compact and use just a single cylinder. They are affordable and highly effective. The FX G-TEC gas is excellent at suppressing a fire very quickly as well as reducing the overall temperature of the fire area which, in turn, helps prevent re-ignition.

One of the key factors about this systems is the suppressant itself is designed to be safe for the cockpit occupants as well as performing well against fires.

The control box is water resistant and all the parts have been developed to deal with very high temperatures without failing. Racing is hard on equipment, but it is paramount that your fire suppression system can cope with the physical strain put on it. These systems have been designed for racing and can cope with anything a race track or rally course can throw at them.

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New Closed Road Hill Climb in Cornwall

Watergate Bay Speed Climb Image

Thanks to some brand new legislation, Watergate Bay in Cornwall will play host to the first closed road hill climb in the UK this year. The legislation enables motor clubs to organise events and to close a section of road for them. This, of course, only works with the permission of the local councils and the MSA but it brings a new lease of life to small motorsport events and hopefully lots of fresh spectators and competitors.

The event will take place on the 15th and 16th of September at a beautiful location in Cornwall. A maximum number of 90 cars will be allowed to compete, which should give spectators a great range of cars and times to enjoy.

It seems since the new option to organise events like this was announced last year, this is the 3rd permit to be granted. With any luck, this is just the beginning. The idea of more events springing up across the UK is really exciting because it allows local people to turn up and enjoy some real motorsport right on their doorstep. Many will hopefully go on to go to more events at tracks as well as closed road races. This kind of event can also provide the inspiration for many younger people to take up the sport.

Hillclimb Cornwall Image

We provide fire suppression systems for a huge range of motorsport classes from Autotest to F1, and hill climbing has always been something we all enjoy. We work with 100s of customers who run their own hill climb cars so we know the cars and the needs to the drivers very well. For many people, it is a case of installing an extinguisher in their weekend fun road car or even their day-to-day road car. For others it is about working with a specific custom built car or bike or bringing something historic up to date in order to be allowed to race. Whatever the car, we can help make sure it has a world class fire suppression system on board.

If you would like to discuss your vehicle then get in touch with our friendly team today. If you are new to motorsport, please feel free to call us and ask about MSA regulations and what you may need in order to enter a hill climb near you!

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