Think those jet-looking speed-freak machines are just around for competitive sports? They’ve achieved far more than that! Aside from creating legends like Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, the cutting-edge technology used in the motorsport has found its way into the consumer market.
A backwards glance.
Like, for instance. That rear-view mirror you find handy to tell if traffic behind you is coming too quickly or whatever the situation might be, was first used in F1 Racing. Why? To keep an eye on the competition, of course! That’s probably the most low-tech thing on the list of improvements F1 has made to our lives as consumers – imagine not being able to see who’s speeding up right on your tail!
And there’s a high-tech example. We might not even have electric cars on the roads today if it wasn’t for F1. Basically, the lithium-ion battery is key to powering the engine so they don’t rely on petrol and combustion.
The initial problem with lithiu-ion batteries was that there wasn’t enough power. It wasn’t a case of energy from the battery being enough – it was a question of power density. Power to the nth? The equivalent of packing all world leaders into one super leader? In other words, it was a question of making use of the space you had allocated to you. In the same was as cellphones today have far more computational power than the super computers in the ‘60s that landed man on the moon.
Well, F1 raised the bar, literally, if you’re talking about the power indicator left in the life of your battery. They managed to squeeze in 100 x the power density into lithium-ion batteries, making it conceivable to not only have vehicles with electric engines… but even high-performance sports cars.
Getting cars back in the race with surgical precision.
You know what else is amazing? How getting tyres with burning rubber off an F1 car in mere moments has the potential to save your life in the surgical theatre. True. See, we all have off-days. Imagine the pressure of being a surgeon, where an off-day can mean someone goes home without a spleen… or not at all.
Well, when it comes to getting a win in a Formula 1 race, every split-second counts. So, the F1 teams developed augmented reality technology that allows them to shave off time and improve their performance in getting their guy back in the race. How it works exactly? They’re able to see what adjusts need to be made in a fraction of the time as previously.
And when applied in the operating theatre, a surgeon is given real-time data as to how they’re performing when it comes to the surgery. This literally can make the difference between life and death. At the very least, the difference between fast recovery time and complications.
Safety at 300 kilometres per hour.
When you’re driving at blindingly fast speeds down the track, a crash is going to be a heck of a lot worse than some fender-bender with an old lady who reversed out the parking bay without doing her checks. It’s going to mean someone has a career-ending injury. Like death. Sadly, there have been numerous infamous fatalities such as that of Ayrton Senna. There were actually two fatalities during that specific event, with Roland Ratzenberger dying in qualifying the day before.
Many of the safety features we find in cars these days, such as ABS braking, have their origins from the safety developments made for Formula 1 drivers racing at speeds of around 300 km/h.
So that’s just some of the ways F1 has improved your life. Grand Prix means grand improvements! And as the sport continues to evolve, there’s no putting the brakes on continued enhancements now.