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What type of composites do Formula 1 race cars use?

asked 2016-05-10 21:09:55 -0500

What type of composites do Formula 1 race cars use? Are they impact resistant?

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answered 2016-05-10 21:28:55 -0500

Conrad_Marr gravatar image

updated 2016-05-29 16:14:34 -0500

Carbon fiber composites are the most widely used material in a Formula 1 car accounting for around 75% of its construction. Composites are defined as "materials in which two or more constituents have been brought together to produce a new material consisting of at least two chemically distinct components, with resultant properties significantly different to those of the individual constituents".


In the production of the race cars the aim is to keep the number of composite materials to a minimum. This enables a tighter control on logistics and quality control, and allows for a more complete understanding of their properties. Materials selection is defined by a “rolling specification”. The incumbent in each materials class is used to define the property requirements. Should a new material prove superior, following extensive testing and trials, it will simply replace the old one. The aim is for the highest possible stiffness and strength whilst maintaining an acceptable minimum value of impact related properties (strain to failure, damage tolerance, matrix toughness etc.) as defined by testing and experience. Anisotropy of fibre composites means that a complete structural characterisation of a composite material requires far more property definition and data collection than is necessary for metals and alloys. The properties of fibre reinforced composites are also statistically complex such that one measures a distribution of properties rather than a discrete value. Unlike metals, composite production requires the carrying out of a complex chemical reaction, the cure. The successful execution of the cure is vital in determining the properties of the composite. Finally the properties of the composite are particularly sensitive to fibre alignment.

Ref: http://www.formula1-diction...

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answered 2016-05-29 19:55:29 -0500

Johann Heun gravatar image

Other materials used for the construction of F1 cars include polymeric fibres such as aramids, Zylon, and highly oriented polythylene filaments. However, aramids lose out when compared to the higher strength intermediate modulus carbon fibres, coupled with thermoplastic toughened epoxies. Aramids are still mandatory for use within the front wing end plates and other aerodynamic fittings found at the front end of the car.

Zylon is a very strong fibre made up of rigid-rod chain molecules of poly(P-Phenylene-2, 6-benzobisoxazole) (PBO). A Zylon applique armour panel is a requirement in the monocoque of F1 cars, in order to stop penetration and protect the driver from injuries.

Highly oriented polyethylene filaments are known by their trade names 'Dyneema' and 'Spectra'. This material's specialty is high strength coupled with very low density, but it is not suitable for high temperature environments, as it melts at 133-136°C (271-277°F). In most cases, hybrids of these materials are woven along with carbon fibres for use in impact structures. Ref:

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Asked: 2016-05-10 21:09:55 -0500

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Last updated: May 29 '16