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Rolling Bearing Manufacturers Have Been Supporting Formula 1 For 70 Years

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Rolling Bearing Manufacturers Have Been Supporting Formula 1 For 70 Years
Rolling Bearing Manufacturers Have Been Supporting Formula 1 For 70 Years

Video: Rolling Bearing Manufacturers Have Been Supporting Formula 1 For 70 Years

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Formula One starts its 68th season with a new boss on March 26th. Bernie Ecclestone has left the top of Formula 1 after more than 40 years and is inherited from Chase Carey. The effects of this on racing are still open - but the race for the top technical performance of the racing cars remains. The latest changes in the rules place enormous demands on all components of the racing cars, and so they are starting again this year with many technical changes such as wider tires and more effective aerodynamics.

Individual bearings for Formula 1

The SKF company has been supporting many racing teams with technical innovations for years. The drive technology manufacturer has been working as a warehouse supplier since the first days of Formula 1 and in 1947 entered into a partnership with Scuderia Ferrari. Today the company works with many other racing teams. The products are used in numerous places in racing cars - the company supplies ball, roller and plain bearings for wheel hubs, gearboxes, clutches, motors, turbos and suspensions. Depending on the racing team, there are also auxiliary devices such as high-speed condition monitoring systems for the performance analysis of drive components on the test benches.

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"The products that we develop for the Formula 1 teams and make available to them are tailored to the individual application," says Andrea Rifici, SKF application engineer for Scuderia Ferrari. "But as individual as our solutions per racing team may be - all our solutions have in common that they reach the limits of what is technically feasible."

Racing bearings: Short lifespan, extremely resilient

In order to clarify the differences between conventional bearings for vehicles and those for Formula 1, Rifici aims at their lifespan: “Every normal driver wants the installed bearings to have a maximum lifespan in order to keep the maintenance costs for his vehicle as low as possible “, He explains. In contrast, Formula 1 customers have other priorities: "Of course, the reliability of the bearings also plays an important role in Formula 1," says Rifici, "but here the bearings do not necessarily have to survive more than five races." -Lager “has a comparatively short lifespan, but must withstand extreme loads within this period.

Such loads in Formula 1 include enormous forces, speeds or operating temperatures. Despite such requirements, the bearings should of course be as small and light as possible. Special materials are required to meet such contradictory requirements. “For example, we use very hard sintered metals for gearbox and wheel bearings,” explains Jeroen Wensing, Head of “Racing Innovations” at SKF. "For turbo applications, for example, we use metals with a high nitrogen content, such as our proprietary 'Nitromax' aluminum or 'M50', an extremely hard and heat-resistant tool steel."

Rapid development pace in Formula 1

For Formula 1, the company also uses ceramic bearing rollers to minimize friction and weight as much as possible. Depending on the application, the bearing cages are also made from the high-performance polymer polyether ether ketone or titanium. The company also manufactures plain bearings for suspensions and similar applications in steel, titanium or aluminum. Special bearing shells made of polytetrafluoroethylene or ceramic-coated balls are also not uncommon in this high-performance sector.

Development in racing is progressing very quickly, which is why SKF has established special product development and production processes. "Compared to the automotive industry for the broad end-user market, the pace of development in the racing sector is really enormous," says racing expert Jeroen Wensing from SKF. “In a single season, multiple product updates are usually required to optimize vehicle performance. And that demands a great deal of flexibility from our specialists - from product development to manufacturing in the factory.”(Kj)

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