“How to build a first four wheel drive CFRP monocoque formula car in the Nordic
countries with only ONE year” or also known as The 2015 season summary by FS Team Tallinn
As with every other season this one also began in 2014 fall, when the team had just returned from the main testing ground of our prototypes – the competitions. The team was
exhausted, but highly motivated. Members had only big ideas in their minds about what to do next. Two main things rose higher than others – carbon monocoque and four wheel drive.
We had been developing a steel tubular frame for already eight years – and with those years we can say we had acquired extensive know-how and it was honed down to near perfection. So to put it simply, we wanted to try something new and challenging. The only way forward was using carbon also for structural elements. Carbon fibre monocoque gave us the possibility to shed weight from the main structure of the car and add stiffness. So as a team this was decided as the first goal for the new season. We knew that this significant change in the concept meant a lot of hard work, but we were ready for it.
But to make thing even more difficult, we also wanted to redesign the drivetrain of the car. Before we had used a single Yasa motor. It would have been only logical to just make one big change in the concept of the car, but when we found out that we are eligible for the support of AMK – german company that manufacturs small and lightweight motors specially for formula student cars – we were certain that we need to change the drivetrain as well… Rear wheel drive and one electric motor was the past for us and we saw the future in four separate motors attached to the wheel hub.
How we were going to achieve all this was unknown at that point but members had a
certain glare in their eyes and all of us were full of hope. Firstly, the new team had to be assembled. The number of members grew by roughly twenty new members. This meant that we had assembled the biggest team in our history. So the first months went by sitting by the computers and designing and analyzing the new car. Everything had to be simulated and scrutineered to a great extent – all this to ensure the safety and great lap times on the track. When finally, the model was finished the manufacturing phase was initiated. There our greatest fears were realized. We had taken a too big of a piece of pie for this season. There were many delays in the manufacturing phase. But we refused to back down and although the assembly phase of the car was really tense we were able to finish the car just before the competitions. For many, this tight schedule meant staying in the garage for weeks without going home.
The first competition for us took place in Spain. The final test was finished just hours before packing the car and starting the long drive to the other side of Europe and then everything worked fine. So the team was highly motivated to show good results already on the first competition. However, after this “race before THE RACE” to arrive to Spain on time we discovered that something had changed after our final test – the car malfunctioned. The first ideas were that the electronics got harmed by the vibrations during the long ride in the trailer. The long process of finding out what component might have been harmed started. After three days of virtually no sleep we had found the faulty component – the main microcontroller chip of the ECU. However, it was impossible to get the new one down to Spain quickly enough. So despite all our efforts we weren’t able to get the car running and we had to watch others race. But still the competition was useful for us, because we were able to pass through the scrutineering of judges and actually we got good feedback about our general quality of the car and most of the judges praised the stiffness of our aerodynamics package.
After an exhausting week in Spain we packed our stuff again and started the drive to Czech Republic, where the necessary components were already waiting for us. The local team was the perfect host for us. We were able to use their facilities to repair the car. Within two days our car was ready to race again, although, it wasn’t running as good as we initially had hoped. The technical scrutineering was passed with flying colors. Again our car’s looks, the overall quality and our attention to detail was brought out. In the end we can also be satisfied with the results of the dynamic events.
So to conclude the results of the competitions, we got a DNF from Spain and 6th place from Czech Republic. The fact that we got the car running in Czech Republic and we were able to be competitive was a nice end to a very tough season.
To sum it all up, we can say that within a season we were able to build a first ever four wheel drive electric formula with a carbon monocoque in the Nordic countries. With this year the team was able to acquire tons of new knowledge and to bring also this know-how closer to Estonia. From this point forward we can only rise higher on the podiums and show what we are capable of doing.