|The Benetton B197|
|The making of a
Formula One car
Team solidarity and performance are key parts to the success of any area of a Formula One team. But none more so than in the process of designing, developing and constructing the race car itself.
This is a paramount process and Operations Director Joan Villadelprat is quick to acknowledge that teamwork plays an intrinsic role as the car takes to life from computer screen to race track.
"It is everything really, he confirms. Each area is worked specifically by certain people and they all need to gel together. You have people working on composite, machinery, fabrication, assembly -from people putting the car together to the painter. It is a team effort all the way."
Joan estimates the birth of a Formula One car takes 'normally' up to five months and as the car begins to reach the final product, the team members involved, simultaneously increase.
"Firstly it starts off at the drawing office and then production gets involved and then everyone gets involved, so the whole company works towards the same end," he explains. "You probably have 30 people to start with, then you end up with about 110, and then by the end you have everyone else."
A long and exacting process, the advent of new rules and regulations with increasing competition does not just have its affects in the heat of the race, but also in the walls of the team factory, as Joan highlights the one piece of machinery which is attributed most time on.
"We have some new systems in the B197 this year. Power steering is one of many new items we have never had in the car before and the implementation of these needs to be included in the schedule which you try to stick to."
"From our side, because we do not produce the engine, the gearbox the gearbox takes the longest to make. It takes four and a haklf months and you have a dedicated group of people working on it. At the end of the day when the chassis is done it takes very little time, but the gearbox is a delicate part.
"First you have to do the design and then patterns before the castings are done. These have to be confirmed and then you need to machine the castings, do the internal arrangements, so it is quite a big job."
And mistakes.... "Mistakes at the different stages get caught in the methods and systems we have in the company. From the inspection department to quality control."
BENETTON-RENAULT B197 - COUNTING THE COST
· Gearbox -
between casting and machining £10,000 added.
with internals,another £100,000
· Brake calipers £28-29,000
· Tyres (each) £600
(supplied by Goodyear)
· Nose cone £10,000
· Chassis £70,000
· Wings(rear} £4-6000
· Engine cover £3,000