Alot are of the opinion that F1 technology rarely makes it into road cars because of the completely different way of doing things when it comes to racecars, but with F1’s budget cuts forcing components to last longer (i.e. more than just one race), R&D to improve durability can definitely benefit road car usage, or at least transmission maker Xtrac strongly thinks so.
Xtrac is a name that alot of you will probably be familiar with. They make the 4WD gearbox that goes into our Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car. According to Xtrac’s chief metallurgist Steve Vanes, the latest specification of steel being required to significantly extend the life of a Formula One gearbox could be broadly applied to a wide range of vehicles to improve their driveline reliability and efficiency.
“From a cultural point of view the world of motorsport has changed considerably, and the costs and relevance of its technology to wider consumer markets has become more important. For example, the trend towards engine downsizing in road vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions can be complemented by the downsizing of transmissions, requiring the intervention of new technologies and manufacturing processes for stronger and more lightweight components,” says Vanes.
According to Vanes, the recent cost-cutting measures in F1 have lead to the development of a brand new specification of steel necessary to extend the service life of gears, shafts, bearings, dog rings, hubs, selector forks, final drives and other highly stressed driveline components. Vanes claims that until recently the typical life of a set of gears for a main shaft was approximately 350,000 cycles. To quantify the improvement that this new Xtrac steel development as the result of F1 R&D is an extension of typical service life to more than 2.5 million cycles.