Formula 1 cars can be some of the fastest, most advanced machines on the market. They also have elements that are reminiscent of spaceships. But they are cars and share many features with regular roads cars. I wonder if F1 cars are equipped with a clutch.
F1 cars come with a clutch. However, it doesn’t work the same way as it does in road cars. F1 cars have a semi-automatic seamless shift transmission, and the clutch works electro-hydraulically. F1 cars’ clutches are designed to allow drivers to shift gears with maximum power without sacrificing speed.
Another difference between F1 cars and standard cars (except for automatics) is the fact that they only have two pedals. F1 cars do not have a clutch pedal. They instead have a clutch paddle at the steering wheel. Let’s go into details to understand everything about F1 clutches.
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How does the clutch of an F1 car work?
The clutch operation in Formula 1 cars is not much different from road cars. The clutch is what connects the crankshaft to the gearbox in a road car. The crankshaft converts the pistons’ reciprocating motion into circular motion.
The flywheel is located at one end of the crankshaft. Its function is to prevent vibrations from the alternating movements of the pistons. The engine flywheel is able to move in a circular fashion like the crankshaft. Both transmit the movement to the gearbox.
Depending on whether the clutch is released or depressed, the clutch discs can be rotated together or apart. The clutch pedal is depressed to release the transmission from the engine. This allows for easier shifting between gears.
The wheels don’t get any power during this time. Release the clutch pedal to turn the engine on and off, allowing the car to move forward. It works in F1 the same way but through the clutch paddle.
What is the difference between an F1 clutch and a normal one?
They work the same way but F1 has some unique characteristics:
- F1’s actuation system uses a pull-type system. This means that the clutch must be pulled to release the discs. In a road car, the springs can be pulled to release the clutch. In F1, these springs can be stretched, while in a standard vehicle you can push them.
- An F1 clutch is multi-disc. It usually has 3 to 4 inner discs and 3 to 4 outer discs. A regular clutch only has one plate.
- The clutch of an F1 works electrohydraulically, so the driver does not act directly on the clutch but instead emits a signal. Hydraulic actuators are used to perform the action.
- The clutch is not used for starts. This is to move the car away from a stop. To change gear, drivers use the paddles at the steering wheel. It is extremely fast and efficient.
- In some cases, a standard clutch system may weigh over 50kg. A clutch installed in an F1 car only weighs 1.5kg.
- The F1 clutch measures only 150mm in length and is made from carbon fiber and titanium. A standard road car clutch, on the other hand, is typically cast iron and high-carbon steel. This is due to the high speeds (up to 240 mph) and temperatures (up to 500ºC) that an F1 clutch must withstand.
- The standard clutch lasts more than 100,000 kilometers, but the clutch on an F1 car must be replaced often due to the extreme stress.
Why Don’t F1 Cars Have Clutch Pedals?
F1 cars were originally equipped with three pedals similar to road cars until the 1990s. Ferrari introduced a paddle-shift transmission for F1 in 1989 at the Brazilian GP. This was on the Ferrari Type 640 F1. The innovation was quickly adopted by most teams, who switched to paddle-shifting transmissions at the 1989 Brazilian GP.
Paddle shifters are a better choice than 3 pedals. The 1990s saw only two pedals. This allowed for a thinner and more aerodynamic nose. Shifting with the paddles is also a great way to shift and avoid damaging the engine.
Drivers can also use left-foot brakes, which are very effective on the track. Paddle shifters allow for precise driving because the driver can have both hands on the wheel at all time.
How does an F1 car start?
The clutch is used only for starting an F1 car, as we have said. The shift paddles are used by drivers to change gears.
F1 wheels have two clutch pedals. Each has the same function. However, the paddle that is most pressed takes precedence. The driver must press one paddle fully and the other half halfway before the engine can start. The driver releases paddle #1 when the lights go out. This causes the clutch pressure to drop from 100% to 50%. Next, paddle #2 is gradually released to move forward, gain traction, and give the driver throttle control.
For a perfect start, you need to use your throttle and clutch. This is the same as 2008, when launch control was removed from racing. In this way, race starts depend more on the driver’s reflexes and skill and are more complex.
F1 cars are equipped with a clutch, as they have a gearbox. F1 cars, which are some of the fastest and most advanced cars in the world have a clutch. While the clutch works in the same way as a normal car, there is a lot that distinguishes it.
F1 cars are equipped with a clutch designed for maximum efficiency and speed. F1 cars have a semi-automatic seamless shift transmission, and the clutch works electro-hydraulically. It is an essential element, especially for race starts.