09:00 Tuesday 22nd October 2019

Keynote – Composites in Motorsport: A Historical Perspective

Whilst simpler types of composite material had, undoubtedly, been employed in Motorsport for many years beforehand, the introduction of ‘advanced’ composites to the industry from 1981 represented a step-change in racing car development. In particular, the application of composites using carbon-fibre reinforcement and epoxy resins – supplied in ‘prepreg’ form – to primarily structural duties in Formula 1 fundamentally altered the way in which cars would be built from then on. The initial interest in composite of this type began when it was realised that existing designs exhibited significant deficiencies in their stiffness performance. This restricted engineers in their wish to exploit recent advances in other design fields, particularly those of aerodynamics. In addition to the foremost aim of reducing lap times, a significant additional requirement in F1 since 1985 has been that of improving driver safety; a feature for which it, historically, had never been noted. The introduction by the governing body for motorsport, the FIA, of chassis impact and strength demonstration testing – and its regular incremental changes in severity ever since - has increased the demands of the design task markedly over years. Alongside this, design, simulation and production techniques have advanced rapidly and many efficiencies have resulted. This presentation will take you on a journey on the development in the uses of composites in Motorsport from the perspective of an engineer involved continuously from its beginning to the present day. The changes will be described and illustrated by examples from designs over that period of time.