2017 has been a fruitful year for Queen’s Formula Racing having recorded seventh overall and two awards at Formula Student UK, making ‘17 its most successful year to date. The challenge presented was taking this success and building upon it, to again challenge the top ten teams in the ‘18 event.
Having lost some highly skilled members of the team due to graduations and industrial placements new members of the team were brought in from the final and penultimate years of the mechanical and aerospace engineering degrees through an interview selection process. The decision was also taken to expand the team to refine the ’18 design, ensuring we remain competitive. This resulted in the formation of QFR’s largest-ever team comprised of 33 students and three PhD supervisors.
With a strong team selected, the focus turned to the 2017 car and what improvements we could make to it. From seeing the car perform first hand in competition it was clear that its handling and cornering were severely holding back the car’s powertrain. This was in part due to a dated design but mainly due to a lack of testing. The decision was taken to start from scratch with the suspension geometry which meant that a new space-frame chassis would also be required. Two teams of six Stage 3 MEng students were selected to redesign the suspension and chassis. By designing these side by side it was hoped that a more optimal design could be reached, saving weight and improving performance.
Other areas of the car that’s being investigated include the powertrain, steering, fuel tank, oil tank, seat and unsprung mass. By considering each component separately the existing design was evaluated, and a decision made on whether the design should be refined or started from new. As QFR has usually featured less than twenty members, there were many parts of the car that had been carried over for a number of years that were far from optimally designed. This gave the team the opportunity to remove a significant amount of mass from a wide variety of components.
As we prepare to start the second semester the team has made extremely good progress in the design of the 2018 car. A lighter, neater space-frame chassis has been designed to complement the all-new suspension geometry. Alongside this, refined brakes, hubs, uprights and wishbones have been designed to reduce the unsprung mass. A new pedal box, anti-roll bar system, fuel tank and dry sump tank are just a few of the components that have also been designed, now awaiting manufacture. With over 90% of the car designed, QFR is focused on manufacturing ahead of final assembly in February.
With such good progress made on the design of the car there is a good opportunity for the team to carry out a large amount of testing. This will involve component testing of the car, such as the strain gauging of components, but also track testing allowing verification of the car’s reliability. Through this phase, designs can be further optimised with a focus placed on moving to lightweight composite replacements to reduce the mass of the car.
With a clear plan for manufacturing, assembly, testing and optimisation I believe that 2018 could be the best year yet for QFR so please follow us on this journey to Silverstone by following our social media pages.