Formula 1 cars are the fastest in the world. These advanced cars have an average speed of 200 miles per hour. The sound of a Formula 1 engine is music to the ears, and the aerodynamic features and chassis are astounding. The power units are stronger than any other cars. Simply put, an F1 car is a beast. Formula 1 car parts are carefully curated by the best in the business. The teams have extremely talented engineers working on their cars.
The sport has the most technologically advanced cars in the world. The car design, the engine, the gearbox, the electronic system, and so on have evolved drastically over the years. Even the number of gears is now more than it used to be. The cars go through multiple corners. Hence, the driver will move through a series of speed ranges.
The cars are packed with innovative technologies that make them as light and fast as possible. The F1 gearbox has a number of unique parts, it includes the Sequential Gear Selector, Paddles, Selector Forks, Collar or Dog Clutch, Gear Selector, and Selector Pins. Since 2014 there has been an upgrade in the number of gears. Let’s dive into the topic and discover everything about Formula 1 gears.
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How Many Gears Does a Formula 1 Car Have?
The Formula 1 car concept has constantly been changing over the years, and so did the gearbox. Some regulations must be followed while developing an F1 car. As per the current rules, there must be eight forward gears and one mandatory reverse gear. Before 2014, there were seven gears. The new gen cars have more gears to increase the speed. These are the fastest cars. And they want to achieve over the speed limit. There are new engine regulations for 2026. There might be modifications in the gearboxes.
What is the reverse gear in a Formula 1 car?
The Formula 1 driver often runs outside the track. It happens during most of the Grand Prix races. However, they can reverse and rejoin the race. The procedure to get an F1 car to reverse is quite long. Normally, the drivers spin 180 degrees instead of engaging the reverse gears. To use the reverse gear, the drivers must select the first gear, keep the clutch held, press neutral, and then press and hold reverse. These cars are not designed to go backward, though it is compulsory to have reverse gear according to the regulations. The FIA made it mandatory to include this gear for safety purposes.
Does Formula 1 driver shift the gears manually?
Formula 1 drivers have not been changing gears manually for over 20 years. They use semi-automatic transmissions. However, the drivers should select gears using the paddles behind the steering wheel. Unlike in the olden days, the drivers do not have to shift the gears using a stick. Even so, it is not an easy job, as Formula 1 drivers must have a quick reflex to change the gears in the right mode to enhance performance.
The drivers are used to the Formula 1 track because of experience and, most importantly, the simulation run. Experienced drivers like Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have an advantage in this aspect. However, the other drivers put in an equal amount of hard work and trained in the simulator. This is how they know where to use which gear.
What is Semi-automatic transmission in F1?
A transmission is a device that uses gears to change the speed or direction of the car. A semi-automatic transmission also serves this purpose, a part of its operation, like the actuation of the clutch, is automated. However, a Formula 1 driver’s contribution to the car’s launch from a standstill and manually changing the gears is required.
Semi-automatic transmissions with paddle shift operation have been used in racing cars. In 1989, Ferrari 640 was the first Formula 1 car to use a semi-automatic transmission. Hydraulic actuators and electrical solenoids were used for clutch control and shifting in the car. The gear changes have been revised, and since 2014, Formula 1 cars have used 8-speed paddle shift gearboxes.
Traction and launch control, fully automatic gearboxes have been banned in Formula 1 since 2008 and 2004, respectively. This was done to ensure the Formula 1 teams do not use these systems illegally. The organization did not want the teams to have a competitive advantage and keep the costs low. They wanted to have driver involvement and to see them exhibit their skills in controlling the Formula 1 car.
What is the Sequential Gearbox system in Formula 1?
The Sequential Gearbox system is used by modern Formula 1 car. It helps the cars shift smoothly and continuously. The steering wheel has two gear levers. One is used for the upshift and the other for the downshift. The two components that differentiate a sequential gearbox from a manual one are the sequential gear selector and the selector shaft. These two are the most important components in the sequential gearbox. The mode of operation of the three components of the selector shaft, selecting forks, pins, and the collar, is the main difference between a Formula 1 car and a normal road car.
How many transmission packages can a Formula 1 driver use a year?
There are rules regarding how many gearboxes the teams can use per season. Before 2022, the Formula 1 teams were allowed to use six gearboxes per season. However, in 2022 it was lowered to four. The teams must use each gearbox for several races before taking a new one.
If a team happens to swap their old gearbox for a new one before it is time to do so, they will be served with a penalty. The penalty for exceeding the gearbox components (Gearbox case and cassette, Gearbox driveline, gearchange components, and auxiliary components) limit is 5 places. The drivers will get 10 place penalty for going over the gearbox allocation. F1 drivers can take grid penalties at the track of their choice. For example, in 2021, Lewis Hamilton took a penalty in the Brazilian GP rather than Monaco.
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