Technical: Formula 1's impending FRIC ban

Technical: Formula 1's impending FRIC ban

10 July 2014 – A shadow of uncertainty has been cast over the Formula 1 field ahead of next weekend's German Grand Prix, with governing body the FIA clamping down on the use of FRIC suspension systems. GPUpdate.net technical guru Matt Somerfield overviews the life of the concept and looks at the implications of the ban.

After the British Grand Prix, the FIA and more specifically Charlie Whiting issued a technical directive to the teams concerning the use of 'FRIC' suspensions going forward, with an imminent ban looming as close as the German Grand Prix. Only a unanimous agreement by the teams will see the decision staved off until 2015.

For those uninitiated in front-to-rear-interconnected suspension, its use is not exclusive to Formula 1 and it is something that has been prevalent in the sport for many years (decades even). The first examples pre-date even that of 'active' suspension used in the early 90s, most effectively by Williams. This is an important crossroads as FRIC or interconnected suspensions are passive and must not be confused with their active cousin. Active was an assisted system that relied on onboard computer systems and electronic actuators, whereas interconnected suspensions and more recently FRIC are passive using the standard hydraulic system (albeit with hydraulic elements replacing the standard heave elements) alongside accumulators to match the effect seen at both ends of the car. 



FRIC therefore controls a cars' pitch and roll (pitch is most prevalent under braking and acceleration, whilst roll is most prevalent when invoking a change in direction), making the car both mechanically more compliant but also creating a more consistent aerodynamic platform. The movement of hydraulic fluid front to rear (and vice versa) allows the designers to run the car at a consistent baseline and in more of an aggressive stance (rake) which creates consistent and more downforce than if the systems weren't employed.

This control of pitch and roll also has its benefits in terms of tyre wear with both being tuned to allow the drivers and engineers a more expansive operating window, making the tyres conducive to more or less heat and therefore wear, dependant on the prevailing track and weather conditions.

So if they have been around for such a long time, it begs the question 'Why now?' The directive explains more.

"Having now seen and studied nearly every current design of front-to-rear linked suspension system, as well as reviewing future developments some teams have shared with us, we are firmly of the view that the legality of all such systems could be called into question, particularly with respect to compliance with Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations," the directive reads.

"As these systems, in one form or another, have been in use for some time we are inclined to permit their continued use for the remainder of the current season, however, we feel we would need the agreement of all participating teams to take this approach. We would therefore be very grateful if you could indicate whether you may be in a position to agree with such an approach.

"Failing this, we would have to consider making a report to the stewards about the non-compliance of any car fitted with a system which appears to allow the response of the suspension at either or both of the rear corners to drive the response of the suspension at either or both of the front corners (or vice versa)."

Reading through the directive, we must remember that these are not regulatory. This is a forewarning by Whiting that the FIA will no longer stand for a breach of the regulations that has been maturing over the last few years. 

Just because everyone is cheating, it doesn't make it right.  

It is a shot across the bows, designed to make the teams aware that for 2015 this practice will cease to be legal, especially with the changes made by the FIA in 2015's regulations and ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) a few weeks ago pertaining to the skids and plank. These changes will make it difficult to run with such an aggressive rake, due to the now mandated material of Titanium for the skids (whereas most teams have been using Tungsten over the last few years as it wears less). If the topic of FRIC was left alone the teams would make concerted efforts in this area to overcome the changes made to the skids for 2015, nullifying their effect. This change is being introduced to force the teams to run with less rake and to further rob them of downforce, creating a car more focused on mechanical grip, an objective of the new regulations (2014/15).

A wholesale change of this magnitude mid-season is frankly not possible, some of the teams' solutions can't simply be deactivated and replaced with conventional suspension elements. Although not as dangerous as when the FIA cut off active suspension development, a sudden loss of these systems could have huge aerodynamic implications, with cars designed around the suspension's consistent platform failing to create the correct forces and worst of all flow detachment in critical areas of the track causing mass instability.

The teams that have the least mature solutions would of course benefit if they didn't agree to the continued use of FRIC but performance will be relative. Those with the money and resources are most likely to excel under new conditions too. Lotus nee Renualt was the first to re-develop this technology during the last ruleset (2009-2013). But that's not to say they have the best version, with Mercedes' iteration seemingly the most advanced of the current grid. Even Marussia's stride toward the midfield is owed in part to their adoption of a FRIC suspension.

It remains to be seen if the teams will unanimously agree to keep it in place for the rest of the campaign.

Stay tuned to GPUpdate.net for further technical features throughout the 2014 Formula 1 season

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Tuesday 2 September 2014

  2. Daly dropped by Lazarus ahead of Monza 19:07

    Daly dropped by Lazarus ahead of Monza

    Conor Daly has been dropped by the Lazarus team ahead of this weekend's GP2 round at Monza. Daly, 22, represented the...

    GP2
  3. Donington gets 2015 British MotoGP round 18:29

    Donington gets 2015 British MotoGP round

    Donington Park will stage MotoGP's British Grand Prix next season after the Leicestershire venue came to an agreement with...

    MotoGP
  4. Haas changes name of Formula 1 team 16:50

    Haas changes name of Formula 1 team

    Gene Haas has altered the name of his new Formula 1 team, which is set to join the grid in 2016. The American's squad,...

    F1
  5. Barbados to host 2014 Race Of Champions 15:34

    Barbados to host 2014 Race Of Champions

    The 2014 Race Of Champions will take place in Barbados, after the country overcame rival bidders. The Bushy Park Circuit...

    Misc
  6. Red Bull's Gasly joins Caterham GP2 team 15:16

    Red Bull's Gasly joins Caterham GP2 team

    Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly will contest the final three GP2 rounds of 2014 with Caterham Racing. The 18-year-old...

    GP2
  7. Ferrari open to Ross Brawn return 14:42

    Ferrari open to Ross Brawn return

    Ferrari's new Team Principal, Marco Mattiacci, has said that he would welcome back Ross Brawn, should the latter desire to...

    F1
  8. Video: Räikkönen puts on show in Rotterdam 13:28

    Video: Räikkönen puts on show in Rotterdam

    Look back at Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen's demo runs at the VKV City Racing event in Rotterdam.

    F1
  9. McLaren looks to consolidate fifth position 11:39

    McLaren looks to consolidate fifth position

    McLaren says its aim for the rest of the season is to secure fifth in the championship standings. The Woking-based team...

    F1
  10. Two DRS zones retained for Monza 10:41

    Two DRS zones retained for Monza

    The FIA has retained the traditional pair of DRS zones for this year's Italian Grand Prix. Since the introduction of the...

    F1
  11. Alonso insists he will stay at Ferrari 09:14

    Alonso insists he will stay at Ferrari

    Fernando Alonso insists that he has no intention to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2014 campaign. The Italian marque,...

    F1
  12. Sochi grandstand named in Kvyat's honour 08:23

    Sochi grandstand named in Kvyat's honour

    Russian Grand Prix organisers have named a grandstand at Sochi Autodrom in Daniil Kvyat's honour. The grandstand in...

    F1
  13. Honda open to customer teams from 2016 07:12

    Honda open to customer teams from 2016

    Honda says it would be open to supplying customer teams in Formula 1 from the 2016 campaign, having clarified that its power...

    F1
  14. Monza memories: Closest Formula 1 finish 05:07

    Monza memories: Closest Formula 1 finish

    Relive the closest finish in Formula 1 history at the 1971 Italian Grand Prix. Peter Gethin took the chequered flag first,...

    F1
  15. Monday 1 September 2014

  16. Video: Ronaldo, Button go for a spin 18:57

    Video: Ronaldo, Button go for a spin

    Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo went for a spin with McLaren driver Jenson Button at the Circuito del Jarama on...

    F1
  17. I won't give up in title fight, Hamilton vows 18:04

    I won't give up in title fight, Hamilton vows

    Lewis Hamilton insists that he will not give up in his quest for the 2014 Formula 1 title, as he looks to cut Mercedes...

    F1
  18. Van der Garde gets another FP1 outing 16:00

    Van der Garde gets another FP1 outing

    Sauber reserve Giedo van der Garde will get his seventh practice outing of 2014 at the Italian Grand Prix. The former...

    F1
  19. Honda can match Mercedes, Arai reaffirms 14:09

    Honda can match Mercedes, Arai reaffirms

    Honda's motorsport chief, Yasuhisa Arai, has reiterated his belief that the Japanese brand will be able to match current...

    F1
  20. Lotus drivers back Parabolica changes 13:42

    Lotus drivers back Parabolica changes

    Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have backed the decision to replace the gravel trap on the outside of Monza's...

    F1
  21. Ricciardo collects Lorenzo Bandini trophy 12:50

    Ricciardo collects Lorenzo Bandini trophy

    Daniel Ricciardo collected the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini at a ceremony in Brisighella, Italy on Sunday. The trophy, awarded...

    F1
  22. 11:13

    Photos: 2014 VKV City Racing Rotterdam

    F1
  23. Álex Márquez seals Moto2 promotion 11:07

    Álex Márquez seals Moto2 promotion

    Álex Márquez, the younger brother of reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc, will step up to the Moto2 class with the Mark VDS R...

    MotoGP
  24. Force India duo confident over Monza chances 10:37

    Force India duo confident over Monza chances

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez are hopeful of putting together a more competitive showing at this w...

    F1
  25. Márquez had 'score to settle' after 2013 09:14

    Márquez had 'score to settle' after 2013

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he had a "score to settle" with Jorge Lorenzo at this year's British Grand Prix, having...

    MotoGP
  26. Monza memories: Button caught out at restart 05:00

    Monza memories: Button caught out at restart

    Relive the drama as Jenson Button is caught out by a slow Safety Car restart at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix.

    F1
  27. Sunday 31 August 2014

  28. Aleshin's condition upgraded to stable 15:57

    Aleshin's condition upgraded to stable

    Mikhail Aleshin will remain in hospital but his condition has been upgraded to stable following his huge IndyCar practice...

    Indy
  29. Verstappen damages wing during Rotterdam run 15:42

    Verstappen damages wing during Rotterdam run

    Dutch youngster Max Verstappen has had a minor crash during his first public Formula 1 outing at the VKV City Racing event...

    F1
  30. Williams plans to retain Massa, Bottas – Smedley 14:31

    Williams plans to retain Massa, Bottas – Smedley

    Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley says the team plans to retain current drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri...

    F1
  31. 13:51

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  32. Márquez beats Lorenzo for 11th win of 2014 13:50

    Márquez beats Lorenzo for 11th win of 2014

    Marc Márquez came out on top in a battle with Jorge Lorenzo to claim his 11th victory of the season in the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  33. Lotterer open to more Caterham outings 11:49

    Lotterer open to more Caterham outings

    André Lotterer says he is open to more Formula 1 outings with Caterham, having made his debut in the sport with the team at...

    F1
  34. Gastaldi adamant Lotus can revive fortunes 10:09

    Gastaldi adamant Lotus can revive fortunes

    Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi is adamant that there is 'plenty to look forward to' at Lotus, despite the squad...

    F1
  35. 06:00

    Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday at Fontana

    Indy
  36. Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana 05:54

    Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana

    Will Power's voice cracked audibly as he spoke to his team on the cool-down laps at Fontana on Saturday night.  Three times...

    Indy
  37. Video of the Day: Formula 1 in every Renault 05:00

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 in every Renault

    Renault drivers receive an unexpected, special welcome whilst arriving at a supermarket car park.

    F1
  38. Saturday 30 August 2014

  39. 18:24

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  40. Márquez beats Dovizioso to Silverstone pole 15:01

    Márquez beats Dovizioso to Silverstone pole

    MotoGP championship leader Marc Márquez claimed pole position for the British Grand Prix in cool and cloudy conditions...

    MotoGP
  41. Maldonado anticipating tough Monza weekend 13:18

    Maldonado anticipating tough Monza weekend

    Pastor Maldonado is anticipating a tough time for Lotus as Formula 1 heads to the high-speed Monza for next weekend's...

    F1
  42. 12:30

    Photos: Red Bull's 50 Formula 1 wins

    F1
  43. Márquez quickest despite fall at Silverstone 10:48

    Márquez quickest despite fall at Silverstone

    Marc Márquez set the fastest time during the third practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, before...

    MotoGP
  44. Aleshin in 'serious but stable' condition 10:09

    Aleshin in 'serious but stable' condition

    SMP Racing driver Mikhail Aleshin is in a 'serious but stable' condition following a violent accident during practice for...

    Indy
more news