Car Time – September 2021

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Formula 1 has Influenced You Whether You Know It or Not

    Do you follow Formula 1 racing? Maybe you don’t, but that hasn’t stopped it from influencing your driving life.
   Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. Manufacturers push themselves to beat their competitors by over-engineering and, in some cases, inventing industry-firsts to gain an edge. Because of that, it plays a crucial role in the auto industry, spurring and trickling down innovation to normal commuter vehicles.
   Drive a vehicle with paddle shifters? Thank Formula 1 for that. Paddle shifters were developed by Ferrari in the late 1980s and by the early 1990s many racing teams adopted their use. They eliminate the need to have a shifter and clutch pedal, greatly reducing the loss of power transfer while changing gears.
   Imagine gear changes that happen in a blink of an eye or even less, compared to how long it would take to change gears with a traditional manual shift with a clutch pedal.
   Over the decades, this technology has massively improved, and since its conception, it’s made its way to common vehicles by way of semi-auto and dual clutch transmissions. It is dual purpose; the primary goal in commuter vehicles is to help fuel efficiency while a performance feeling is its by-product.
   Another widely adopted technology is variable valve timing. In the late 1980s, Honda reliably developed VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control). While winning consecutive Formula 1 World Constructors Championships, the company kept pushing the envelope to beat the competition both on and off the track.
   Honda implemented a clever way of having more power while being fuel-efficient. Its engine camshaft had different profiles. Depending on the RPM, the computer chose which profile to use.
   High RPM equals high profile (more power), and low RPM equals low profile (fuel efficiency), manipulating how much air goes inside the cylinders. This innovation was quickly marketed and adopted to Honda’s vehicles, first to their performance lineup and later developed to better help fuel efficiency and emissions in the fleet’s common lineup as well.
   Other manufacturers picked up on the improvement and created their own versions. BMW’s is known as Vanos; Toyota’s VVT, to name a few.
   These are just a couple examples of many more innovations that have helped all consumers. The list would also include aerodynamics and hybrid power units in modern Formula 1 cars!

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