Features - Technical
JANUARY 2, 1997
BY JOE SAWARD
The Arrows A18 car is the first car to be built by the team since Tom Walkinshaw bought a majority shareholding in the team in March last year. The 1997 season is being hailed as the start of a new era for the team which failed to win a race in 19 years of Formula 1 racing under its previous management.
"We have several new beginnings," says Tom Walkinshaw. "It is a new beginning for Damon Hill; a new beginning for the Arrows team and a new beginning for me. We have put together a strong technical and sponsorship team, but I don't think any of us doubt that we have a lot of hard work to do."
A lot of hard work has already been done since Walkinshaw took over. In June the engineers who were left in the Arrows drawing office - technical director Alan Jenkins and senior designer Dave Amey having moved to the new Stewart Grand Prix in March - transferred their operations the 35 miles from the Arrows factory in Milton Keynes to the new TWR Technical Centre at Leafield, near Witney. The six Arrows men were joined by seven TWR engineers - most of whom who had been working with Walkinshaw and his technical director Frank Dernie at Ligier team in the winter of 1995-96. The chief engineer of Arrows Paul Bowen was appointed chief designer and work began on the design of a completely new car for 1997. According to Tom Walkinshaw everything on the A18 is new.
The all-important aerodynamic work was done in the Arrows team's own 40% rolling road windtunnel - built in the original 1977 Arrows team factory - by Simon Jennings, who had joined the team in the middle of 1995 after a period working on the design of Lola Indycars. Jennings was involved in aerodynamic work on the Arrows FA17 and knew the windtunnel well, while Ligier refugee Eric Lacotte was drafted in to help him. The team modified the windtunnel to make it run faster than it had previously been.
The design process was delayed somewhat because Walkinshaw did not sign an engine deal with Yamaha until mid-September and was further disrupted at the end of that month when Tom signed Damon Hill. Hill has particularly large feet and the Arrows designers had to change the footwell area inside the chassis to ensure there was enough room for Hill's feet.
Although on the surface the Arrows-Yamaha A18 looks like a fairly conventional modern F1 car and the team concentrated on building a simple car which could be made reliable, there is at least one radical idea beneath the paintwork.
"We didn't want a complex car," says Tom Walkinshaw. "It is conventional but it is also a little bit innovative because the chassis continues over the top of the engine cover structure of the car and goes right back to the gearbox. This means there is a lot more beam strength in the car and it spreads the loads to try and stop - or help reduce - the twisting of the engine from the loads it has to carry."
When Walkinshaw signed with Yamaha, the tiny Japanese engine was not in demand. The Yamaha OX11A engine - which is prepared for Yamaha by John Judd's Engine Developments company (in which Sir Jack Brabham is a partner) in Rugby, England - had been new and impressive in 1996 but it proved to be desperately unreliable and because the Yamaha men were trying to solve this problem, development suffered.
The TWR Group includes a competition engine department under former Cosworth engineer Geoff Goddard and has been involved in the development of the OX11A in the last few months.
"We were asked to put some of our designers with Engine Developments and Yamaha to review the engine with them and establish an evolution engine," explains Walkinshaw. "The work is being done by Yamaha in Japan and by Engine Developments. I think we have identified what was going wrong and we are working flat out to remedy that. It's a good light little engine. Probably they went a little too far trying to save weight and that is what caused them some of the problems. So we have put on a little bit of weight and I think that should solve a lot of the problems. There is a huge effort going on in Japan and at Engine Developments to improve the engine and the performance but an engine is not an easy thing to change. There are long lead-time items. We will be doing three stages of evolution in the course of the year. The first evolution engine will test just before Melbourne. That will have all the modifications designed for reliability and that should be run in Melbourne. We will have the first major evolution for Imola, which will be a performance improvement and it is planned that we should have a further performance boost by the British GP."
Part of Walkinshaw's master plan to make Arrows competitive was a tyre supply deal with Bridgestone. The Japanese company has been testing F1 tyres since 1989 when Paolo Barilla and Christian Danner did the initial running with a modified Formula 3000 Reynard. In 1990 the company bought a Tyrrell-Mugen which was driven by Volker Weidler and Johnny Herbert.
A Tyrrell 020 followed with drivers Aguri Suzuki, Mauro Martini and Heinz-Harald Frentzen all doing development work. In total these tests totalled 21000km of running between 1989 and 1994. There was no testing in 1995 but this year Jos Verstappen, Aguri Suzuki and Tarso Marques have completed another 8000km with Bridgestone's Ligier-Mugen JS41 and with the regular Footwork-Hart FA17s.
"I believe that at half of the races there will be little or nothing to choose between Goodyear or Bridgestone," says Walkinshaw. "At the other 50% of the race there will be a performance advantage dramatically one way or the other. If we are reliable we will be in a position to exploit that tyre advantage when it swings our way. I don't think you could have anyone better to take advantage of that than Damon Hill if we can put a reliable car under him.
"I think we have to aspire to have a car which is capable of finishing in the top three reasonably consistently in the second half of the year. If we can do that there is no reason at all why Damon could not win one or two races. If we didn't have a tyre advantage I wouldn't be saying that we could win races in our first season in Grands Prix. I haven't got stardust in my eyes or rose colored glasses. I'm being very analytical. We have one technical aspect of our car which should give us a significant advantage over the opposition in 25% of the races. It is up to us to put a reliable car under Damon to enable him to take full advantage of that."
But Walkinshaw knows that winning will not be easy.
"In terms of equipment we probably have the same as the other big teams but what you have to do is get people working in harmony as a team. What you need to do is to define exactly what you want everyone to do and keep them 100% focussed on doing that job and for them to have faith that their colleagues are doing their bit just as well. Then it all works.
"It will take us all this year to start building up that confidence. That is why I always say that it takes three years to win a Championship."
FRANK DERNIE - TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
"It's a conventional car but it is all new, although we have got something on the car which no-one has ever done before. That was my idea. The engines have got lower and lower. That is good because it gives the car a lower centre of gravity. That also means that the top engine mounts end up being halfway up the chassis rather than in each corner. I decided to make the top section of the rear bodywork structural. If you look at it is an obvious thing to do so I decided to do it. Obviously the smaller the engine is in section the less stiff it will be and the more it will twist in the chassis. When you are building an engine it is very difficult to know how stiff is stiff enough. I thought that if we built a cantilever at the top and attached the engine to it that would make the package stiffer and reduce the twisting and at the same time would take a lot of the loading out of the engine which will hopefully mean that the engine will be able to produce more horsepower.
"The car was designed in the Arrows windtunnel as it was - although we did do some modifications to the facility so that we could run the tunnel faster than it had been run in the past. We are now upgrading the tunnel in terms of the instrumentation which will bring it right up to state-of-the-art performance. We bought all the new equipment and it arrived about six weeks ago but we felt we should not install it because it would have required the tunnel to be stripped out and we would have to have stopped work on the A18 and so we finished the car with the old equipment. That has all been ripped out now and the new equipment is going in now. We've got three people in the aerodynamics department Simon Jennings and Eric Lacotte having been joined by a new guy from Bristol University.
We have done all the composite work in-house at Leafield. WE have our own brand new composite shop which is really a superb facility so we have down pretty well all the stuff ourselves. We do have access to Tom's Astec composite company in Derby - which is part of the TWR Group. Tom owns it but we tend to treat that like any other sub-contractor. They have helped us with bits and pieces but it is a separate company.
"We are going to have a completely new team of race engineers in 1997. Allen McDonald (who engineered Jos Verstappen last year) has gone to the PacWest Indycar team and Rod Nelson (who worked with Ricardo Rosset) has moved to Benetton. We have hired Vincent Gaillardot from Renault. He is going to be Damon's chief race engineer. He worked with Damon as a motor engineer when they were together in the Williams test team back in 1991 and 1992 and Vincent has worked as a motor engineer with Renault ever since but he started out as a chassis engineer with ORECA and DAMS in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 so he will be able to do the chassis work while also being able to understand what is going on with the engine.
DAMON HILL ON DRIVING FOR ARROWS
"Tom is a great motivator. He's motivated to win and that is good. I have been impressed by the respect and the affection that people in the team have for him. It's quite obvious that everyone believes in Tom and that is reassuring. He puts the right people in the right places to do the job and that's good.
"I am under no illusions this is going to be a very tough year for me. I don't know when I am going to see a clear track in front of me again but that's a motivating factor.
"The new car will have a performance which will be established from the very first running. We will know early on what its potential is. In all probability it will be somewhere round the middle of the grid but we just do not know until the car runs. Then it is a question of whether the team can produce development parts during the season. That is really the most difficult thing to do because when you are running a racing team you are fire-fighting to keep the team running. To be able to produce development parts is very hard. It is all very well to say we know what will make it work, but you have to produce those parts as well and put them on the car.
"The Bridgestone factor is going to shuffle the pack quite a bit. There will be times when they get it more right than Goodyear and we will do better. And there will be times when they get it wrong so it could be up and down a bit."
Carbon composite chassis, manufactured at Leafield by Arrows
Suspension is pushrod-operated with a triple damper systems front and rear.
Transmission: Arrows-designed six speed in-line semi-automatic gearbox
Clutch: Automotive Products (carbon composite)
Wheels: BBS one-piece moulded
Front track: 1m65cm
Rear track: 1m60cm
Overall length: 4m70cm
Weight: 600kg (with driver and TV cameras onboard)
72-degree V engine with 10 cylinder
Valve mechanism: direct overhead cam, direct lifters driven by cam gear
Fuel injection by Zytek and ignition by Magneti-Marelli
Weight: less than 105kgs
PAUL BOWEN - THE DESIGNER
A graduate mechanical engineer from Aston University in Birmingham, Bowen joined British Aerospace before being recruited by Marconi Avionics as a stress engineer. He stayed with Marconi for seven years, the final two being spent as head of the company's structural analysis department. In this role he was responsible for granting airworthiness certificates to British defence machinery. During this period he became a chartered engineer and a member of Royal Aeronautical Society.
He was hired by Arrows in 1987 as one of the engineering team Ross Brawn built up after becoming technical director in December 1986. He worked on the A10B and was project engineer of the A11 chassis and rear wing assembly. In 1989 he began to race engineer, gathering racing experience working with Eddie Cheever, Michele Alboreto and Gianni Morbideli. In 1991 he became chief engineer of the company, transferred to TWR in 1996 to become chief designer.
THE YAMAHA OX11A ENGINE
The Yamaha OX11A was introduced in Formula 1 at the start of 1996. It was a "no compromise" engine which was incredibly small and light. Problems with the casting processes meant that the engines suffered a large number of failures last season and this meant that Yamaha engineers were unable to do much development work and so the Tyrrell-Yamaha package became less competitive as the season went on. In order to sort out these problems Engine Developments - in its fifth year of a five-year Yamaha contract - has increased the staff involved in its F1 programme. John Judd's engineers have been helped by Yamaha designers in Japan and by members of the TWR competition engined department from Leafield. Their aim has been to keep the engine as small and light as possible while making the units solidly reliable and then being able to increase the horsepower and make the engine more driveable by widening the torque band. The initial engine will be called the "Spec C" and will feature a new bottom end with a revised sump, crankshaft, oil pump and water pump. This has been designed to produce more power by reducing the internal friction losses. The "Spec D" engine will be introduced at Imola and will feature a new top end with revised cylinder heads, new camshafts, valves, intake system and pneumatic valvegear. This is intended to improve horsepower and driveability by improving the airflow to and from the combustion chambers.
According to official figures the revisions have already produced a 5% increase in horsepower - which is around 35 horsepower more than last season.
The TWR F1 operation began quietly in the summer of 1995 when Tom Walkinshaw hired ex-Benetton team manager Gordon Message to lay out and coordinate a Formula 1 facility in the new TWR Technical Centre at Leafield. This facility housed research and development engineers when Walkinshaw was working with the Ligier team in 1995 and many of these moved with Tom when he quit the French team in March 1996. These included technical director Frank Dernie, operations director Tony Dowe, engineers Steve Clark and Emmanuel Janodet and aerodynamicist Eric Lacotte, marketing men Daniele Audetto and Richard Grundy and public relations officer Patricia Guerendel. In April Walkinshaw acquired Arrows and its 120 staff. Many have since left but Walkinshaw has retained the core of the old Arrows engineering staff.
In the course of the last few months Arrows has hired a new team manager, John Walton joining the operation from Jordan; a new chief mechanic, Les Jones moving across from Williams to continue to work with Damon Hill; a new race engineer, Vincent Gaillardot joining from Renault Sport; and a new press officer, Ann Bradshaw leaving Williams to join TWR.
THE SPONSORSHIP PACKAGE
Danka is one of the world's leading providers of photocopiers, fax machines and printers. It employs over 20,000 people in 35 countries and has a turnover of $3.5bn following its recent takeover of Kodak's office machinery business earlier this month. It is based in Florida and was founder by American Dan Doyle, who has sponsored a variety of cars in IMSA and was a personnel sponsor of Nigel Mansell when he raced Indycars in 1993 and 1994.
The other major new sponsor is Zepter, a multinational company which deals in health-related products including kitchen appliances and natural cosmetics. It has annual sales of $1.2bn and has previously been involved as a sponsor of a team in the Porsche SuperCup.
Former TWR Arrows sponsors Parmalat, Power Horse and Quest continue with the team but are joined by Brastemp, a Brazilian company which owns the Whirlpool domestic appliance brand and ice cream company Kibon (which is owned by Philip Morris, the parent company of Marlboro cigarettes). The team also has backing from German sportswear company Bogner Sports.<\#026>