Articles, Blog

How Does Suspension Work on a Formula One Car?

How Does Suspension Work on a Formula One Car?


The suspension system of a Formula One car forms the critical interface between the performance generating components of Power Unit, chassis, aerodynamics and tyres. It comes as no surprise therefore that the design, manufacture and set-up of suspension is an extremely complex affair. We manufacture all of our suspension in-house. This is because they are very complex and also, they are what we call safety critical items. They are structural items and the safety of the car and
the driver depend on them. We make them in-house because we can control the quality, we are using expensive materials and we need precision. The biggest challenges in designing Formula One suspension are to make the trade-offs between the strength, the weight and the physical size of the suspension. And I say the size, because these components are in the air stream. They have a huge effect on the car aerodynamics, so we need to minimise that effect. But, at the same time, they are structural, safety-critical devices and we have to achieve the strength.
And then, we have to minimise the weight. So, this means all together this is one of our big structural challenges and big manufacturing challenges that we have in Formula One. Now we can look at the three main parts of a Formula One suspension system. We have the inboard suspension, hidden away underneath the bodywork, where we have the springs, the dampers and the anti-roll bar. And here hidden away under the tyre we have the outboard suspension, which is the upright, the wheel bearings and the axle. And in-between, the parts that you can see, which are the wishbone elements and the steering rod, which are the only items that really see the external airflow. In designing all three of these, the common theme is stiffness. We have to have the wheel position controlled as accurately as
possible. Outboard, we’re looking at the challenges of high temperatures, they’re close to the brakes. Inboard, we have the complex components, the hydraulic system, the dampers, the springs, the anti-roll bars, and in the middle, in the leg elements, we have the structural and aerodynamic challenge. You’ll hear a lot in Formula One drivers and engineers talking about balance. The reason is that these four tyres behave differently every part of the track, every corner of the track. What we want to do is to control the relative amount of grip of those four tyres, as the driver goes through the different phases of the corners of the circuit. What the suspension allows us to do is to change minutely the amount of grip that those four tyres generate at any one point on the track. And the way we do that is by adjusting the inboard settings of the suspension, by adjusting the damping and by adjusting what we call the
mechanical balance. That’s because, with that adjustment we can control the change of grip from the rear axle to the front axle, and that depends on the car speed and the track conditions. When we are running the car on the track, we make sure that we look at the suspension loads we are generating. Sometimes we take that from sensors on the internal suspension and sometimes we take that from sensors built into the suspension itself. And it’s very critical for us to understand the real loads the suspension sees. So, the maximum loads that we design the suspension for are based on simulation and are based on previous years’ experience, and also a collection of unusual loads that we have recorded over the years in unusual conditions. Spinning the car, going backwards over a kerb, hitting the brakes while the car is in the air and
landing. And these are all critical additional load cases that have to be dealt with in the suspension design and testing. The suspension systems on a road car provide two functions and we call those ride and handling. Ride is about dealing with the surface of the road, undulations, bumps, kerbs, changes in camber, ensuring that the grip is spread correctly between the four tyres. The handling is about dealing with the dynamics of the car. How the car behaves under braking, how it changes direction, how it does what the driver wants to do. Now, a Formula One car has got the same demands of ride and handling, dealing with lumps and bumps, kerbs on the track, dealing with more aggressive dynamics of corner entry, braking, steering, acceleration. But, the Formula One suspension has a third function which we call platform control. Because Formula One cars generate enormous vertical forces from their aerodynamics, the suspension has to deal with literally tonnes of extra load on the car at high speed and we have to make sure that the position of the car relative to the road is well controlled, because this has a very important effect on the aerodynamic performance of the car. Road cars and Formula One cars are very similar. They both have ride, and both have handling control. The difference is with the Formula One car, that it needs the platform control as well because of its dominant aerodynamic effects. We’ve been working with Daimler, in particular the ride and handling group, for many years developing our tools for developing suspension systems. In the early days we had Daimler engineers working directly with us and as we’ve evolved our relationship, we’ve been developing the models, the tools that allow us to design. And the interesting thing is that although these components look very different, the fundamental physics is very similar, and we’ve been able to
share lots of techniques in designing and analysing these complex systems, particularly the complex hydraulic components of the suspension. And some of these components on the road cars now share very much the same design philosophy as the Formula One components. So, the suspension is just one of the many systems that link the Formula One car to the road
car and show the bi-directional link between Daimler and Mercedes-Benz Formula One.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

100 thoughts on “How Does Suspension Work on a Formula One Car?

  1. This is a fantastic series. Thank you so much for posting it. I was thinking… I drive a 'Mercedes', but it couldn't be more different, and more primitive. It is actually a Brazilian Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 (Bandeirante) With a Mercedes-Benz OM 364-LA Turbodiesel engine, originally intended for the MB-914 truck. Here is the 'primitive' part; my suspension is leaf spring with two rigid axles, and PU shackles.

  2. thanks for sharing guys, your pickup points and cantilever pushrod hybrid suspension leaves little to be desired. its the best design ive ever seen. is that the 2017 front setup ?

  3. Soft advertisement subtly introducing the fact that Mercedes race and road cars have a lot in common. Pretty effective.

  4. Compared to most high-rung professionals who get dragged out of their work setting to explain their team's work on camera, this guy is very good at speaking on camera.

  5. This video answers the question I've had for decades; what goes on in the unseen part of the suspension?

    Now for the next video I want them to show the rear suspension, but I'm betting they won't.

  6. Titolo: come funzionano le sospensioni di una formula 1.
    Video: tizio che parla senza spiegare assolutamente nulla.

    Se uno guarda un video di questo tipo si aspetta dati, dimostrazioni, simulazioni al CAD, mica uno che mi dice "le sospensioni servono ad assorbire i colpi", caspita chi l'avrebbe mai detto.

  7. Why do people watch Formula 1 Racing if they don't like it? Bunch of bitches in the comment's of every video about, to, from, on, off Formula 1.

  8. With all this great technology…. why isn't it mass produced? What a waste if only 100 people in all of humanity can experience this type of engineering.

  9. I love mercedes car…but i cant afford any of latest mercedes car…it would be a miracle if mercedes can low their car prices …high tech cars are for everyone to enjoy

  10. This. This just shows why Merc is the lord of hybrids like how Ferrari reigned the V12-10's (newish to F1, so this is an inaccurate analogy)

  11. Just 1 car cant be compared to any other for speed and stuff. That is…. The undeniable the undisputed the ALL TIME greatest car ever, F2004 Ferrari Car. Anything mercedes can do still can never beat the OP F2004 Ferrari Car, and imagine on 2004 there wasnt the 2019 technology and ferrari did possibly the best f1 car in history, yes we know the Mclaren MP4 was OP too but nah m8 the f2004 is on another league

  12. That was very fascinting to watch, those CAD animations looked really impressive. Keep those technial videos coming.

  13. suspension nowadays is VERY easy, theres not many things new that we dont know about that can make a difference

    heres the 3 major aspects to worry about when it comes to suspension (everything else is nearly irrelevant in a normal car):

    – bumps, holes (vertical suspension)
    – acceleration, breaking (vertical suspension + vector suspension)
    – handling (vertical suspension + vector suspension + independent wheel suspension control)

    Now, formula one suspensions are limited due to restrictions rules from formula 1

    For example, a Tesla can have MUCH better suspension and handling than any formula 1 suspension.
    Telsas can pretty much bring the suspension system up to a stall in evolution, while fomula 1 are limited to conventional methods.
    Tesla cars not only do everything I said above, but they also electronically account for the aerodynamics force and adapt to your own driving style.

    Formula 1 is dead in terms of suspension evolution. No normal car will ever use formula 1 prehistoric traditional methods in teh future.

    So yea guys, ignore this video as it is rapidly becoming obsolete in todays world, formula 1 needs to redo their rules and restrictions if they want to stay relevant.

    PS: and this might be actually part of the reason why mercedes doesnt care about giving away information that every other team already knows nowadays.

  14. Yes, Mercedes is a German car maker but this is the side that most people don't know/see, MADE IN BRITAIN, baby 😉

  15. That is nothing but confusing, point out bits on the front but showing drawings of the rear. Those sobs. Just flip the rear drawings upsidedown in your head and it will make more sense visualizing the fronts. It's really not that complicated

  16. Ok. Now that you’ve made a video for 10 year olds how suspension works, maybe do one for people actually interested in F1 cars? This was a waste of time.

  17. Fascinating video, as a mech-eng student I find this very interesting, and know that students in higher years than me have been on placement with Mercedes F1. Had no idea there was so much going on under the bodyshell!

  18. This is a critical formula 1 engineering company displaying its most important racing element. I'm sure Senna is watching in heaven with proud tears.

  19. People who truly know what they're talking about, can talk about very complex subjects in a way a 10yr old can understand, and these guys prove it. Excellent cars, excellent team, excellent video.

  20. I'm too sexy for my car to sexy for my car…oh wait wrong song. C'mon Mercedes nobody wants to hear the strip club music we want to hear the man speak

  21. I knew it was more complicated than "usual" push rod suspension setup but damn. Imagine adrusting that thing for every race perfectly what driver wants allmost gave me angsiety attack. I got stupid question: Could you get rid of power steering and make it more simple to save some weight? Like F1 cars back in the days.

  22. And that folk is how Mercedes get around the F1 budget limits – just use as much money as they want from the road car division to pay for R&D in the F1 team and it will go undiscovered – he even touches on it, how they "work closely" with the road car division – yeah a lot more closely than he'd like you to think.

  23. Kudos to Mercedes for bringing the technology one stop closer to the fans. F1 has gotten far too complex for the average person to even begin to understand!

  24. I spotted this on utube and thought wow this could be really interesting, but of course it wasnt. The interesting stuff was kept securely hidden from their competitors. Yawn!

  25. This is why I want to go into aerospace when I'm older, it's so interesting. What a piece of engineering, to be able to incorporate such complex elements so elegantly is truly amazing!

  26. How can the private teams ever compete with the resources of these giants………… rip f1

  27. It's very sad, that the adjust of the suspention (and many other things) it's allowed during the race, from the pit! That's why F1 today is so flat and boring.

  28. J'ai regardé la course F1 2019 Autriche a la télé. Ils ont expliqué que vous avez du faire des trous a cause de la chaleur. Veuillez nous expliquez les ennuis que vous avez pendant la courses f1 Autriche 2019 tks to explain us what happens exactly with The racing tks a lot

  29. Merci pour l'explication de la vidéo. mais il serais bien de voir selon les fautes commises par LH44 lors de la course F1 2019 Autriche les dégâts sur la voiture effectivement. Tous va si vite dans la course F1 2019 qu'on n:a pas le temps vraiment de voir quesque le bordure jaune a fait sur le véhicule. car, ils ont changer le devant de la voiture. OK le dégât réel ne sait pas vu. Merci

  30. Il a commis des fautes qui sont rare chez LH44. Je veux juste qu'on comprend mieux en slow motion de voir les dégâts. Car, je ne vois pas a la television entre les replays, les bavardages de certains pas toujours explicatif pour la F1 2019 et les pubs et le reste… Il reste peu de temps pour voir et comprendre. Ce n'est pas parce que tu perds que je suis pas avec toi. Car, tu as gagné tous depuis longtemps.

  31. so, it all depends on suspensions. So, this IS MERCEDES BIG SECRET(?)…
    They revelead it now, because anyway the rules for designing these elemens of the car won't matter. The F1 2021 cars will have a totally different design and regulations…

  32. Does that mean if the suspension didn't hold the car body off the road the aerodynamic forces could push the body into the road surface and destroy it?

  33. Thanks I have not an opportunity to drive your F1 car for real or on a SIM,but I have driven that road car in race trim on a SIM..at Barber MOTORSPORTS TRACK…and it was the best handling GT class car suspension and control if any other GT class and quite a notch above spectacular keep up the great work…

  34. Hwe about getting the CAD files correct for what you're tallking about.Showing ancient rear suspension setup whilst explaining front inboard pushrod suspension.

  35. Amazing how brits design some of the most dominant cars like McLaren and Mercedes, but can't even build range rovers anymore.

  36. Thank you for using the correct engineering term of ‘Damper’ . F1 teams are at the pinnacle of engineering excellence and American terms such as ‘shock absorber’ should stay with marketing companies.

  37. Why aren’t you connecting the downforce creating surfaces directly to the wheels? Let the main body float like a pod. Only the wheels need the downforce.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *