How to Build a Car 2020

It was overcast that day, and the weather forecast said it was raining. Under the gaze of the surrounding eyes, I stuffed myself into the cockpit of FW15. Accompanied by the creaking sound of the seat, I realized painfully: 35 years old, with 10 years of work experience, and winning two manufacturer championships, I am about to officially drive a F1 car on the track for the first time— —Actually, it was the first time I drove a real car on the track, and that was it.

It was 1993, and I was the chief engineer of Williams. Frank Williams, the big boss, listened to the opinions of others and wanted a reporter to drive a few laps in our car, which is what you call a promotional drive. This idea has attracted the attention of many people. Padric Hyde, the partner and technical director at the time, felt that senior engineers, that is, he, me, and Bernard Dudot, who was in charge of Renault engine development at the time, should also run a few laps.

So, I came to the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France and sat in the cockpit. From the driver’s perspective, I felt things that I would hardly notice as an engineer: the steps to start the car, the whistling and howling of the engine. ——This is the feeling of being alone in the cockpit. The strong sound waves shake the bones, and at the same time your body is firmly fixed. I suddenly felt a strong fear of claustrophobia.

Before this, I was warned, "The clutch should be controlled gently, or you will turn off the flame."

Of course I don’t want to turn off the flames, just from my self-esteem, after all, I designed this car; I really don’t want to turn off the flames—just like a champion wants to defend his title.

I turned off. This kind of carbon clutch is too fierce. You need to increase the speed to about 5500 rpm, which is near the red line area of ​​the family car. But at this time you have barely stepped on the accelerator.

They fixed the car again and I successfully started. I don't have much in my heart, but I still want to show my level. I took the car to the big straight and adjusted the traction control high for stability, but even then I didn't feel like I was driving, but fighting with the car. I am wearing a motorcycle helmet, this thing may be sucked from my head at any time, and my chin strap is strangling my neck. I thought the constant anger would only occur when the car stopped, but on the track, it was like a world war broke out in the cockpit. The air intake is above my head, and the V10 is like shouting at me. At the same time, there is the explosive forward force. The feeling of the car trying to break free from my crappy operation is simply suffocating. . We are accustomed to the feeling of fully controlling the machinery, but I can’t control this: the FW15 weighs about 500 kg plus the driver, but it has 780 brake horsepower, so I think it’s almost 580 kg, but this is also a Very, very high horsepower-to-weight ratio. And this is really amazing.

The clutch at the time was still a left pedal-it has now been moved to the steering wheel, and you will only use it once, at the start. Your left leg is idle the rest of the time. The right leg should naturally remain on the accelerator, even if the ape brain behind the steering wheel keeps sending signals to step on the brakes. Shifting was done with paddles, which was still a novelty that was basically unseen on street cars. The lights on the instrument panel are lit-green, green, yellow-representing the rising speed. The limit I set is 14,000 revolutions.

At 13,500 rpm, the green light is on and you are ready.

The second green light began to flash when it reached 13,700 rpm, and it was coming.

The yellow light turns on at 13900 rpm.


This sequence takes almost half a second.

Slowly I got used to the noise, and I started to feel that I was driving this car, not the car driving me. I feel that controlling the car is so straightforward. Green light. Green light. Yellow light. Shift. This allows me to observe Paul Ricard from another perspective and understand how to drive an F1 car from another perspective. I actually didn't even plan to drive a car until I was in my 40s-but this experience left a bud in my heart.

It's raining, and it's not too rainy. I originally felt very good, but an inexperienced (but confident) driver is not a good thing to hit rainy days. My engineer's brain started to care about the idle left leg, thinking about whether it could change to a more aerodynamic position, so I was distracted. Before I realized it, I had already completed a maneuver with FW15.

One advantage of Paul Ricard is that there are so many buffer zones. Unless you draw a long dragon, you can't hit anything, which means I didn't crash, and yes, I was a beat slower than the clutch, so yes, I turned off again.

There is no starter in the car. If you spin and turn off again, then you will face two problems: first, because the engine is not moving, you can only wait for the technician to bring a starter over; second, the car will get stuck in gear, and because of shifting It is hydraulically controlled, so you cannot change gears without starting the engine. But don't forget, the technician cannot start a car that is in gear, or the car will rush out directly. They had to bring a small ratchet wrench, and while shaking the car back and forth, they played with the end of the gear lever with the wrench until the car returned to neutral.

So I just waited there. After almost five minutes, the technicians came over in a rented car. This made them happy, yes, I was instilled some kind jokes by them at the time. After everything was in order, I drove on the track again and ran a few more laps. Now I have come to feel, there is a feeling of the unity of man and vehicle. What about the speed? I knew you would ask this. The car can run 220mph on the straight at Monza, and that day I drove to 175mph in Paul Ricard. This is obviously not a speed comparable to Prost and Hill, but for a 34-year-old engineer who is on the track for the first time, it is already fast.

Indeed, in June after that, when Christian Fittipaldi (translator's note: Emerson’s nephew) and Martin Brundle drove the FW15 to climb at Goodwood, I drove Very comfortable. After all, driving an F1 car is relatively easy. Throttle, green light, green light, yellow light, gear shift. Brake, turn the steering wheel, point to the center of the bend, and then step on the accelerator. It's simple, just like an arcade machine.

The real challenge is how to drive faster than others without losing control. This is a completely different level.

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