AUGUST 28, 2001
Ferrari's secret transmission
FERRARI is rumored to be developing a completely new transmission system in partnership with Sachs which could revolutionize the powertrains in F1 and make conventional clutches obsolete.
A clutch is a friction device which engages and disengages the engine from the transmission to allow changes of gear. With advanced electronic control systems the clutch operation has become virtually automatic and back in the early days of the F1 electronics ban there were suggestions that some teams were experimenting (and perhaps even using) complicated friction-devices in the differential.
Differential development in recent years has been a closely guarded secret with advanced electronic control systems allowing such thing as torque-steer (although this is now banned) but with the freeing up of the regulations, the top teams are all now experimenting with systems which will move the clutch operations to the differential. According to reports in Italy, Ferrari's system will have two small torque-controlled friction devices which will (in theory) reduce the amount of power lost between the engine and the wheels. A more important advantage however will be that the existing clutch will disappear and while the saving of weight will be minimal, it will means that the lowest part of the transmission will disappear and that will mean that the engine can be mounted lower in the chassis with a resulting lowering of the center of gravity of the entire car.