How Carbon Fibre Technology Is Shaping F1’s New Era

By: Seat Earnings

Carbonfibre may have been ubiquitous on Formula 1 cars for more than 40 years, but it would be wrong to say it’s an area of technology that ever stands still.

Just like with every other area of current grand prix machinery, teams are constantly seeking marginal gain improvements to help make them winners. Taken down to its most basic element, this means making things lighter, and stronger – and ensuring that every part is totally fit for purpose.

Solvay has witnessed many rule changes over the years and has had to respond to the increasing demands for tougher materials to withstand ever-stricter crash tests. But F1’s new rules era for 2022 has thrown up some specific challenges, as teams have found themselves battling to get down to the weight limit.

Such was the desperation to trim off the extra kilograms, that some teams had to attack their liveries to strip back any excess paint – leaving the bare carbonfibre exposed. Steele explains that Solvay had to play its part too in producing materials that could help on this front. 

F1 teams and companies like Solvay are always looking to the future and where improvements will come from next. But it’s important to state that end goals are changing for all competitors. 

Solvay sees scope for greater use of carbonfibre parts in electric motors. These can contribute to less inertia and higher rotational speeds of internal components to allow them to spin up and slow down much faster. 

But there are hints too of revolutions to come in overall battery technology, which could be pivotal when F1 moves to its new engine rules era from 2026. Perrin adds: “We also working on the chemistry of the battery itself. Today most people are using I would say conventional batteries, but there is new technology on batteries that we can foresee in 2025.

“This will completely change things in terms of energy density, so the capacity of the battery, and also the global weight that you need to carry for the same amount of energy, will drastically be reduced. “It's not ready yet, but that's something that we see coming on the horizon.”

Carbonfibre helped open a new era for F1 back in the 1980s. It looks set to play a key part in shaping its long-term future too. 

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