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Formula One is always ripe with new innovation. The aerodynamic black art has been the main focus, rightfully so, for a long time and each component of an F1 car is designed with intense scrutiny. Materials used and designs made are the latest technology and innovation can muster. the latest of these innovative areas of design is centered on the suspension of an F1 car.

The technology is know a FRIC or front and rear interconnected suspension. It seeks to connect the front and rear of the car for balance and neutrality. As AUTOSPORT nicely points out, the teams did address this back in the 90’s with active suspension but that was banned and some claim the Williams chassis without the active suspension was con contributory to the Ayrton Senna crash.

A nice piece by AUTOSPOT today quotes Ross Brawn as suggesting this will be the magic bullet that solves Mercedes AMG’s performance deficit:

“I think it is too early to draw any conclusions,” he said. “I don’t know if the pecking order has been established yet and I don’t know what the other teams are doing.

“I feel we have made good progress with the car compared to what we had last year but it is very difficult to judge what other people are doing, why they are doing and whether it is contributing to their performance.

“We have improved in lots of areas and that has at least given us a step forward this year. It is not enough but it is a step forward.”

Could be the next black hole of resources that usually accompanies any new innovative area in F1:

“You want a nice softly sprung car, but you cannot do that because you compromise the aerodynamics too much.

“So every year I have been in F1 I have always tried to seek that ideal balance between suspension performance and aerodynamic performance, and it is no different today to how it has been for many years.”

F1 teams have a  way of pouring money into an innovative notion that they feel could be revolutionary for their performance and give them an edge. If the FIA doesn’t determine the FRIC technology to be out of the regulations, teams could spend millions in their quest for the perfect system.

 

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • tom

    Since Mercedes isn’t dominating F1 as of yet, FRIC certainly isn’t a magic bullet of any sort. It may be a good way to carve off a couple of tenths per lap, so as a single innovation, it might very well have a relatively large impact, but it’s far from being “revolutionary”.

  • JTW

    Hmmm, what’s old is new again. Didn’t the Citroen D21 have hydraulic, adjustable, compensating, suspension years ago? True, it didn’t race but it had to deal with pot holes, curbs and whatever else the road threw at it.

    • It all comes full circle. Next stop? Vettel with a mullet. ;)

  • charlie w

    So, FRIC is active suspension without the computer brains and sensors needed to be fully active. The question is-which team will be the first to protest its use and how soon will it be banned by the FIA? Because it will happen eventually-a protest from one of the poorer teams which has not the funds or means to develop their own or one of the wealthier teams that get their version of FRIC to work. Then comes some ruling from Charlie Whiting with some obtuse interpretation of the Technical Regulations.

    • I think you may be right on this one. A team that can’t fund the R&D for FRIC will most likely protest at some point if it starts to be an advantage.

    • Jack Flash (Aust)

      No. FRIC is a passive suspension augmentation system. Not active.

      If it was actively controlled, rather than passively reactive; it would already be illegal kit under FIA tech regs. JF.

      • MIE

        How is this conceptually different from the system that Renault (now Lotus) was running on the front of their car a couple of years ago. That system was banned by the FIA on the basis that its purpose was to regulate the ride height (and thus front wing angle) and so was seen as a ‘movable aerodynamic device’. Surely this system while also passive and outside of the direct control of the driver, has the same primary purpose?

        • Jack Flash (Aust)

          I guess they must be selling it to the FIA scrutineering team as primarily a mechanical grip and balance. The bit where ride height is maintained is put forward as secondary. Maybe… I don’t know… Who can really tell what judgement magic 8-ball the FIA uses? JF

  • AntioBob

    I think it’s possible that FRIC is quite important. But all it’s done is catch Mercedes and Lotus up to RBR. With suggestions that the turbo V6s will create more torque and wheel spin out of corners, having a firm understanding of suspension and mechanical grip may be seen as an important investment. Add to that the Perelli era issues, this may be a less sexy, but ultimately important source of development.

  • Rapierman

    “AUTOSPOT”? Not “AUTOSPORT”? ;-)

  • quidam

    Mercedes has the FRIC since 2011 and nobody complaint so far, legal for FIA.

  • JakobusVdL

    It would be great if F1 would allow active suspension again. I wonder if a powered active solution would be cheaper than having to engineer a ‘reactive’ solution to make the input forces to the car ‘activate’ its suspension behaviour? I’d imagine that ‘active’ suspension would be a technology much more relevant to road cars than FRIC – great for developing the sport

  • Sigster

    LOL I thought frick was Lewis Hamilton’s fav word when he’s angry and talking to the media. Now he’s going to use it more often.

  • mg5904

    F-duct that fric’n Fric. Frak.

  • Dominic Anderson

    I think practically all the teams run a FRIC suspension of sorts, certainly Matussia do so I can only assume Caterham do as we’ll. This suggests that it’s been deemed legal by the FIA