Formula Student Car

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The design of a Formula Student race car: a case study
A Mihailidis*, Z Samaras, I Nerantzis, G Fontaras, and G Karaoglanidis Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece The manuscript was received on 28 November 2008 and was accepted after revision for publication on 5 March 2009. DOI: 10.1243/09544070JAUTO1080

Abstract: This paper presents the procedure followed in order to design the first Formula Student race car of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Despite the restrictions imposed by the Formula SAE rules, the designer has a broad range of freedom in creativity and innovativeness. The design concept of the main vehicle parts, such as the frame and the suspension, is described and the design objectives and assumptions are analysed. The paper also focuses on several new features regarding the suspension adjustments, the steering system, and the engine modifications. Following this procedure, it was made possible to build a competitive and reliable car in a period of just 9 months. Keywords: Formula Student, Formula SAE, tubular space frame, suspension design, drivetrain, engine



Formula Student (or Formula SAE (F-SAE)) is a worldwide university competition, organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which encourages university teams to design, build, and compete with a Formula-style race car. To participate in the competition the vehicles must comply with the F-SAE’s strict rules [1]. The competition is split into static and dynamic events. Static events include vehicle presentation, cost, and design analysis, while dynamic events include four racing contests: acceleration, skid pad, autocross, and finally the endurance and fuel economy event. Common characteristics of all dynamic events are the very tight corners, the intense speed fluctuations, and the need for good vehicle handling. More information about the competition can be found in the F-SAE rules [1]. This paper presents the design procedure that was followed in order to design and build a fully operational and high-performance single-seater race car. It was decided that the car should not only fulfil the requirements set by SAE but also should be *Corresponding author: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University Campus, Thessaloniki, 54124, Greece. email: JAUTO1080 F IMechE 2009

durable and easy to adjust over a wide range. This decision was based on the intention to use the car as a running test bench that should allow for on-track measurements as well as for suspension and motor set-up evaluation. Data from on-track experiments will serve as a valuable feedback for future similar efforts. In addition, the paper focuses on the new features introduced and the implementation of their design. They include the fully adjustable suspension mechanism, the steering system, the spherical joint mounts, the fuel tank, and the intake manifold. Following this procedure the first Formula Student race car of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, was designed and built. The vehicle participated in two competitions and proved to be reliable, finishing all dynamic events with good scores. In the following, the design of the frame is described first (section 2) because it is clearly one of the most important parts of a race vehicle, as it affects strongly its drivability and performance. Moreover, once manufactured, major modifications are usually difficult and expensive. However, it is not the first task of the overall design procedure shown in Fig. 1. Several decisions regarding the overall dimensions, the suspension, and steering system as well as the powertrain have to be met first, as outlined in sections 3 and 4 respectively. Further, it can be finalized only after the design of the subsystems. Proc. IMechE Vol. 223 Part D: J. Automobile Engineering


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