McLaren MP4-12C: Designed From Formula 1 - SHAKEDOWN

Uploaded by drive on 24.02.2012


LEO PARENTE: Two things influenced this Shakedown.
Number one, this week's Chris Harris Drive video showing him
about town and track with the McLaren MP4-12C and its
hydraulic active suspension.
And number two, one year ago today, save one day, I started
that Shakedown with the exact same "two things influenced
this Shakedown" words.
That show was all about the F1 tech transferring into road
cars, just like the active hydraulic suspension in this
newest McLaren road car.
Commenter Doc Wolf added inspiration with this snarky
cross-reference to hydraulic suspensions in the 1960s
Citroen DS NSMs and the 1950s Packard Caribbean cruisers.
Even in Matt Farah's Monday show about the 700 horsepower
tuned BMW M3, that factored in, as there was this whole
discussion about how the power was or was not over-playing
the E92 chassis.
And M3 is stuffed with active assist, dynamic stability
control, M Dynamic mode, electronic dampening, the
variable M dif and traction control.
So all in, I knew where today's show had to go,
interesting tidbits about active suspension in racing to
give the Chris Harris McLaren video some racing context.
By the way, in the video Chris also said this.
Who asked him what it's like to work with me?

The McLaren MP4-12C has the most racing-derived technology
of any road car ever.
Well, that may not be true.
But I've been watching the Harris and Farah videos very
closely to learn how they're so good.
And the over-the-top platitudes, and the "I'm
showing you the most awesome thing the world you can't see
anywhere else" definitives seem to be part of the road
map to their success.
Oh, am I giving way too many Drive secrets?
Point is, true of not as to having the most F1 tech in the
MP4-12C, this McLaren certainly does get its
suspension design from racing heritage, not this MG liquid
suspension Indy car from way back 1964, '65, and '66.
So it's not a factory effort, but the epiphany of a West
Coast MG dealer and well-known race car builder Joe Huffaker.
The intent was to highlight the performance of the MG 1100
Hydrolastic Suspension and help sell more MG cars.
It was the first time a production suspension was
built into an Indy car.
The advantage was supposed to be balance, to allow the tires
to achieve uniform wear.
The three MG race cars were going to eliminate tire
changes during the 500.
But like many things in racing, theory and practice
often conflict.
I've left a link for you to read if you want to know more.
And it was not this 1981 Brabham F1 car, the BT49C,
with its hydropneumatic suspension.
This was built to not only help the race car be better by
lowering and leveling the car on track but to sidestep the
rules that banned side skirts touching the track for
aerodynamic undertray sealing by raising the car when it
returned to the pits where the
scrutineers check for legality.
Looks OK to me.
It's not touching.
See, it was all legal because downforce lowered the car,
check valves kept it low on track, and a microfilter let
the hydraulics raise the car when going real slow, like
back to the pits.
Brabham, by the way, was owned by Bernie Ecclestone at the
time, so you figure out the story there.
No, you have to look to the Lotus F1, the real Lotus, not
this stuff from the past few years.
And again, 1981.
Lotus, with all its aero knowledge, knew their
suspensions had to control the platform, to stabilize it, and
to maximize aerodynamic performance, just like with
today's F1 designs.
But now teams are doing it with hydraulic fluid inerters,
a shock-like part that also offsets
motion and mass transfer.
Inerters are rules-legal.
It's a rules-legal form of active suspension and mass
motion control, I think, which is why we're going to do a
Skype which ScarbsF1 blog writer Craig Scarborough, a
real racing tech guru.
He's agreed to do it.
We're just picking the right time.
So back to the Lotus in 1981, when they started researching
active suspension.
By 1983, Lotus had Nigel Mansell run a
few races with it.
Wasn't competitive, but Nige proved that the active
suspension could withstand 180 mile an hour racing abuse and
3G laterals.
Development continued and active re-appeared in 1987
when the Honda-powered 99T Lotus won three races in the
hands of Ayrton Senna.
Now this 1987 car was pretty much where the
McLaren MP4-12C is today.
Computer controls, sensors around the car collecting
data, hydraulic actuators doing the dynamics control
versus traditional shocks, springs, and stabilizer bars.
That Lotus read 87 parameters to create the inputs to manage
ride height and suspension performance.
God knows how many parameters this McLaren is reading.
I mean, Chris, do you know?
Here's an interesting bit of Lotus 99T video.
One of the inputs was air speed via Pitot tubes.
At high speeds, the hydraulics need to push back against the
downforce to maintain ride height.
At low speeds, not so much.
So here's a crew guy blowing into the Lotus Pitot tube.
Now I do not want to see any jokes about this in the
comment section.
Rick Santorum would not approve.
Back to the racing.
By 1991, Williams F1 took the active suspension mantle.
Second in the F1 World Constructors' Championship,
but really, with its 1992 driver and constructor P1, the
Williams FW14, designed by one Adrian Newey, took active
suspension to its highest racing levels.
Then in the '90s, active computer control suspensions
were banned.
And if you've seen the Senna film, you know all about how
he moved to Williams just as the rules cost
that team their advantage.
But the point is this.
All that past F1 work got McLaren and their supplier
Tenneco to go in this direction with the MP4-12C
suspension to find the ultimate chassis performance
in any situation, in any environment, with any driver
of any caliber to create a massively versatile and
extremely fast driving experience, as Chris Harris
presented to you.
And that's just the suspension.
We haven't even touched on the racing lessons learned and
outlawed in racing but still apply to the McLaren and other
road cars, such as active aero, brake
performance, gearboxes.
I read the Matt Farah defense of paddles for fast driving
versus the floppy paddle laments from
those Clarks and Coulters.
Low weight and high-strength materials, turbos, engine
management, and more computers in dynamic
controls and design itself.
Hey, even Morgan is embracing the tech
that's available today.
McLaren did it with the MP4-12C and it's all good.
Check the links for additional background info.
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Oh, this weekend, the first rally for the Intercontinental
Rally Challenge in the Portuguese Azores, the
Bathurst 12 Hour GT race in Australia, and something's
going on in the Daytona Beach, Florida area.
We'll have all the racing news on Monday.
The racing season's starting, so send me the schedules of
series or big events that you think you'd want Shakedown to
know about and mention.
I got the majors covered, but there may be stuff that I
don't know about, solo events, time attacks
in the US and outside.
And yes, JF, Targa Newfoundland is a big deal.
I hear you're making plans to race it.
But guys, spare me the lemons and chump car schedules.
Oh, and here's a tease of something I'll be driving at
the Sears Point Raceway in early March.
300 horsepower, 900 pounds.
It's not a McLaren and I'm not going to drift.
But it will be bloody fast.
Thank you in advance Palatov and Simraceway
for making it happen.