I’ve come to the ZIC (Zhuhai International Circuit) for a test session of the Formula Geely, hosted by Champ Motorsport ( http://eng.champ.cc/ ).
For the official article go to: http://eng.champ.cc/news/html/?142.html
Brief explanation of Formula Racing is at the end of this post, please refer if necessary.
For the first time, I’m getting into the pilot seat of the Formula car. It feels rather tight, as in not much space spare in the cockpit. You sit on a FRP (fibre glass mould seats), with your body sloping at near 45 degrees angles. The chassis beams stretch parallel to your legs, with a conventional car pedal setup (Right to left; throttle, brake and clutch). Your right hand reaches the sequential gear lever, pull to shift-up and push to shift-down. Left hand reaches for the natural and reverse engagement unit. The suede leather wrapped steering wheel, was integrated with RPM warning lights at the top, and a RPM display in the centre, while surround by other functional displays. Fitted and measured, registered and briefed, we’re ready to take our Formula cars out for the test.
Exiting the pit with limited visibility comparing to touring car, I got into 3rd gear into T1 (T = turn), light dap of brakes with a light heel-toe action relieve the car from 3rd into 2nd gear, and back on the throttle… Responsive, as I dash through the gears 2nd -> 3rd -> 4th, in a heavy ballet, where the shift was crisp but needed a fair amount of encouragement. T4, 90 degrees left hander. The AP racing brakes kills off the speed swiftly, the turn-in sharp with my hand on the steering wheel feeling the monocoque chassis snatching the cornering G-force, shooting me back into the path of T5. As I familiarize myself with this first ever test session with the Formula, sycronizing myself to the rhythm of the car, I go further and further into the limitation. On 2 occasion, as I turn into T11 with speed that are slightly over the limit of tire traction, I can see the front inner tire sticking up in mid air, turning the car into a tripod… This was superb fun, though not ideal, as the weight of the car is shift to the rear as I open the throttle, lowering the front grip. The session end with me clocking a 1:54’s lap time, the ballistic feeling of a Formula car is just sinking into my veins, I’m loving it.
We head back to the training office and discussed where there are area of improvements. Later braking and more aggressive turn-in was high on the agenda for all the drivers, the brake had massive area where it can be exploited, and on the higher speed corner, a late but aggressive turn-in will prove fruitful in the following straight stretches. With the more frequent report of food poisoning throughout the local areas, we opt’d for some takeaway lunch from a place called Euro-Deli, they specialize in sandwiches, salad and pasta, and it sure was good.
After trying to sink all the information into my mind, we’re back out to do our second and final session. The temperature has risen quite a lot since morning, having done a few laps, I can feel drips of sweat inside my helmet. I tried to open a slit from my visor, but the head on wind just pushes it straight back down, and the air in-let is totaling inefficient with letting cold air inside the helmet. As we focused on getting a good time from our session. I pushed progressively further forward the braking point, grab the racing line by a more aggressive style, as I push the limit further, I can sense I’ve been improving my time, the gear changing points, were different, the entry speed was different, the racing line made it’s adjustments.
I’ve said time and again, some people are very good at doing qualifying, and some are not so good. A good qualifier executor would know when he cannot make one mistake in one whole lap, people keep saying if I put this sector time with that sector time, my time would be the best. In the real world, there is only 1 fast lap that matters. Your concentration must be at 120%, senses tensed going all out for that one lap. I made a 1:52’s, for the first time in a Formula car, I’m satisfied, but be sure I’ll chase down the time next I sit in a Formula car again.
Formula Racing is a term that refers to various forms of open wheeled single seater motorsport. There are 2 primary forms of racing formula: the open formula that allows a choice of chassis and/or engines; and the control or “spec” formula that relies on a single supplier for chassis and engines. Formula Three is an example of an open formula, while Formula BMW, Renault, Geely and Campus are control formula. There are also some exceptions on these two forms like Formula Ford where there is an open chassis formula but a restricted single brand engine formula.
A bit more about the car. The Formula Geely car is a semi-monocoque British Van Diemen chassis [i.e. engine directly bolted to the chassis, like an F1 car] mated to a Geely 1.6L engine. Due to its favorable power to weight ratio, top speed on the straight at ZIC is approximately 200kph [220+ at SIC] with 0-100kph in less than 5 seconds. Featuring European suspension components, the car will exceed 2.5G’s in cornering capability [for reference: Porsche Twin-Turbo = 1.1Gs cornering capability]. Internationally, the Van Diemen is raced in several professional ‘feeder series’ as Formula SCCA and Formula 2000. (If you want more info about the car you can e-mail me for details: firstname.lastname@example.org )