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Doing the unthinkable, What relaxing the rules
changing software on F1 electronics means
midway through a car to the engineers

June 2001 • Vol 11 No.6 UK £3.95 • USA $7.95

Tunnel vision
Airflow analysis with
Reynard’s CFD

● Ford’s Super 1600 challenger ● Understanding Ackermann part 1


Heavenly angles
If you think Ackermann is merely he defining characteristic of a ‘wheel’, is that it is a structure
which will roll freely in a direction perpendicular to its ‘axle’, but
about turning the inside wheel will resist movements in the direction of its axle.
tighter than the outside then It follows that if you want a racecar to go fast in a straight line,
then all four wheels should point in the same direction – straight-ahead.
read part 1 of our Ackermann But if you want the racecar to go fast around corners – that is, you want
guide and think again the car to accelerate sideways by using the wheels’ resistance to axial
motions – then in just which directions should the wheels point?
During cornering should the front-wheels toe-in, remain parallel, or
toe-out? How will these toe changes affect the dynamics of the car? And
when we have decided which way the wheels should point, how should
we design the steering geometry to point the wheels in the right
directions? This series of articles attempts to answer these questions.
It should be noted that it considers mainly the steering of the front-
wheels of a rear-wheel-drive car being driven on a sealed road. However,
many of the principles also apply to rear-steer, or front-wheel-drive, or
dirt, clay or ice road surfaces.
The analysis is based on a simplified two-dimensional plan view of the
car. No suspension geometry is considered. ‘Zero-point steering’ is used
i.e. a vertical steering axis passing through the centre of the tyreprint
(giving zero scrub, trail, castor-angle and kingpin-angle). Camber-angle is
also zero. Only changes to the ‘steer-angles’ are considered. The analysis
uses specific dimensions – the car has a wheelbase of 2.6m, and a front
track of 1.6m. Different dimensions will yield different results.

70 June 2001 Racecar Engineering © IPC MEDIA


Tyres actual direction of travel, and the curves bend to the right. As the rear
Since a car’s performance is so dependent on the interaction between the section of the tyreprint slides, the ‘vector’ of the distributed tyreprint
tyres and the road, we should briefly consider this area. forces moves forward, causing the self-aligning torque of the tyre to
Figure 1 shows two sets of curves. One set diminish and the steering to feel lighter.
is for a wide, low profile, radial-ply tyre. The curves reach their peak-axial-force
The other set is for a narrow, tall, cross-ply when most of the rear section of the
tyre. Each set indicates performance at two
different vertical loads on the tyre. The
horizontal axis indicates the so called ‘slip-
angle’ that exists between the horizontal
“ if you want the racecar to go
fast around corners then in just
which directions should the
tyreprint is sliding. Beyond this point the
axial-force drops off slightly, and then
levels out as all of the tyreprint slides.
There is now almost no directional control

heading of the wheel-hub, and the actual from the steering – small changes to the
horizontal direction in which the wheel is wheels point? steer-angle of the wheels will not
travelling. The vertical axis indicates the significantly change the axial-force.
force Fy that acts between the tyre and the As the vertical load, Fz, on the tyre
road. This force acts at ground level, and is, by definition, horizontal and increases, the peak-axial-force increases by a lesser ratio. For example, if
parallel to the wheel’s axle in plan view. This force is often referred to as the vertical load is doubled, then the peak-axial-force is less than
the ‘tyre lateral force’, but to avoid confusion with the lateral forces that doubled. There is a reduction in the apparent ‘Coefficient of Friction’ (Cf
act on the chassis, we shall refer to it as the ‘axial-force’. = PeakFy/Fz) of the tyre as the vertical load increases. Another effect,
The graphic to the side of the curves depicts the situation at the lower which we will come back to later, is that as the vertical load increases, the
part of the curves. Here the tyreprint isn’t actually slipping on the road. peak-axial-force is developed at a greater slip-angle.
Rather, the cornering force causes the flexible sidewalls to distort During accelerating or braking there is a ‘longitudinal’ force (horizontal
elastically, with the greatest distortion being towards the rear of the and perpendicular to the wheel axle) developed between the tyre and the
tyreprint. This distortion allows the circular ‘hoop’ of the tread to adopt road. The curves for these longitudinal forces are similar to Figure 1, with
a different camber-angle and steer-angle to that of the wheel-hub. The the exception that ‘slip-angle’ is replaced by ‘slip-ratio’ (which can be
change in steer-angle of the tyre tread allows the wheel-hub to ‘crab’ defined in several different ways).
sideways despite minimal slippage between the tyreprint and road. The creation of the longitudinal forces involves an expenditure of
As the axial-force increases, the rearmost parts of the tyreprint start to energy. During acceleration the forces are creating kinetic energy, and
slip. This increases the angle between the wheel-hub heading and its thus require fuel to be burnt. During braking, the previously created ➔

Words and illustrations Erik Zapletal

© IPC MEDIA Racecar Engineering June 2001 71


Figure 1: Slip angles

kinetic energy, and its fuel cost, are dumped as heat. On the other hand, travelling along a straight road. The slip-angles (equal to the static-toe-
the tyre axial-forces are almost free. There is a small slip-angle-drag cost, angles) and the forces acting on the wheels are shown. It can be seen that
proportional to slip-angle size, which we will come back to later. But while everything is symmetric, the forces will be balanced.
because the axial-forces are almost orthogonal to the direction of The lower parts of Figure 2 show what happens when a small steering
motion, they can accelerate the car towards the centre of the corner at movement is made to the left, while the car is still travelling straight-
almost no energy cost. Cornering power not only wins races, but, ahead. Alternately, the whole car can be considered to have been yawed
thermodynamically speaking, it is almost free. slightly to the left. Now one wheel has zero steer-angle, and zero slip-
The above mentioned reduction of Cf of a tyre with load, often called angle, and thus only a rearwards rolling-drag force (or some rearwards
the ‘tyre-load-sensitivity’, can be used to adjust the braking-force). The other wheel has an increased steer-angle and slip-
understeer/oversteer handling balance of a car. For example, if two of angle, hence it has an increased axial-force, plus the same rolling-drag or
the radial-ply tyres in Figure 1 are fitted to one axle of a car, and each braking-force as the first wheel. In each case the ‘wheel-co-ordinate’
carries a vertical load of 4kN, then they can together develop a total
axial-force of about 10kN. If during rapid cornering only the outer-wheel
is carrying the combined vertical load of 8kN, then it can only develop
an axial-force of about 8.8kN – a difference of 1.2kN. These ‘lateral-load-
transfer’ effects can be achieved by changes to the roll-centre height and
spring-rates of the axle, compared with the roll-centre height and “ Cornering power not only wins
races, but, thermodynamically
spring-rates of the other axle.
Often the roll-centres and spring-rate changes are considered to be the
most important influences on handling balance. However, it should be
noted that a change in steer-angle of only 1 degree, on just one of the
speaking, it is almost free

forces are shown as hollow arrows, while the same forces in lateral and
above wheels carrying a vertical load of 4kN, can produce a change in longitudinal ‘car-coordinates’ are shown as solid arrows.
axial-force of 2kN. A 1 degree change in steer-angle of the same wheel In both of the lower parts of Figure 2 there is the same total of lateral
carrying a vertical load of 8kN, can produce a change in axial-force of force and longitudinal force acting on the front of the car. However, in
3kN. Before making adjustments to roll-centre heights or spring-rates, the Figure 2a – Toe-In – there is a greater longitudinal force at the right-
engineer should ensure that the wheels are pointing in the right direction. wheel, then at the left-wheel. The difference in these two longitudinal
forces acts to yaw the car to the right. Conversely, in Figure 2b – Toe-Out
Static-Toe – the greater longitudinal force is at the left-wheel, and the ‘differential-
‘Static-toe’ refers to the steer-angles of the front wheels, relative to the longitudinal-force’ – DeltaFx – acts to yaw the car to the left.
car’s centreline, when the steering-wheel is in the straight-ahead If the steering is turned further to the left, while the car is still
position. Static-toe angles are small, typically less than 1 degree. travelling straight-ahead, then both wheels will have a leftwards steer-
Figure 2a depicts a car with static-toe-in, and Figure 2b depicts a car angle, and an associated leftwards axial-force. For equal left and right
with static-toe-out. The upper parts of Figure 2 depict the car when wheel loads, the wheel with the greater steer-angle (which is its ➔

72 June 2001 Racecar Engineering © IPC MEDIA


Figure 2: Static toe

effective slip-angle) will generate the greater axial-force. But even if we greater steer-angle has a short moment-arm for its axial-force about the
assume that the left and right axial-forces are equal, then the Toe-In car car’s centre-of-mass. With toe-out, the wheel with the greater steer-angle
will still have the greater longitudinal force at its right side, and the Toe- has a longer moment-arm for its axial-force.
Out car will have the greater longitudinal force at its left side. As a generalisation, the differential-longitudinal-forces are stabilising
This difference in the left and right longitudinal forces arises from the with toe-in (giving stable high speed cruising, and ‘sluggish’ turn-in), and
difference of the steer-angles of the two wheels. For a small angle A (less destabilising with toe-out (giving ‘nervous’ straight-line driving, and
than about 10 degrees), sinA ~~~ A, and cosA ~~~ 1 (A measured in radians). ‘sharp’ turn-in).
For small steer-angles the size of the longitudinal component of the axial-
force, fy, will be approximately equal to the steer-angle x fy. That is, the Dynamic-Toe
longitudinal component of force is directly proportional to the steer- ‘Dynamic-toe’ refers to the change in steer-angle of one front-wheel,
relative to the other front-wheel, as the steering is turned away from
straight-ahead. Dynamic-toe is a function of the steering geometry. At
full-lock, dynamic-toe can result in a difference of the two front-wheel

“ At full-lock, dynamic-toe can

result in a difference of the two
front-wheel steer-angles of 10
steer-angles of 10 degrees or more.
If the steer-angles of the front-wheels remain equal to each other as
they move from straight-ahead to full-lock, then the steering geometry is
said to have ‘parallel-steer’. If the front-wheels toe-in relative to each

other as they move towards full-lock, this is termed ‘dynamic-toe-in’. If
degrees or more the front-wheels toe-out relative to each other as they move towards full-
lock, then the steering is said to have ‘dynamic-toe-out’.
angle. The longitudinal component of the drag or braking-force, fx, will Dynamic-toe-in is often referred to as ‘negative-, or anti-Ackermann’,
be approximately equal to fx – that is, it remains unchanged. It follows while dynamic-toe-out is sometimes called ‘positive-, or pro-Ackermann’.
that the wheel with the larger steer-angle will have the larger total The term ‘Ackermann’ doesn’t have a universally accepted definition.
longitudinal force. Figure 3 indicates the ‘Kinematic Steer-Angles’ (KSA) of the front-
Variations in wheel loading will change the size of the axial-force for a wheels of a car, as the car rotates around various ‘Instant Centres’. Note
given slip-angle which, in turn, will change the sizes of the lateral and that these angles don’t refer to the actual steer-angles of the front-
longitudinal components of the forces. But in general, putting more toe- wheels. Rather, they indicate the direction that the centres of the
in on the car will generate differential-longitudinal-forces that act to yaw wheelprints are travelling, relative to the centreline of the car, for any
the car away from the turn, putting more toe-out on the car will generate specific motion of the car. They can be interpreted as the steer-angles
differential-longitudinal-forces that act to yaw the car into the turn. that are required of the front-wheels, so that the axles of the wheels will
Another way to look at this, is that with toe-in the wheel with the be pointing directly at the instantaneous centre of the car’s motion. ➔

© IPC MEDIA Racecar Engineering June 2001 75


Figure 3: Kinematic steer angles

The horizontal axis indicates Alpha(Outer), which is the angle between the curves will eventually return to zero dynamic-toe-out, when the
the centreline of the car, and the direction of travel of the outer- outer-wheel has rotated a full 180 degrees. The curves are asymmetric in
wheelprint. The vertical axis indicates Alpha(Inner)-Alpha(Outer), which this format because the outer-wheel becomes the inner-wheel part-way
is the dynamic-toe-out of the inner-wheelprint’s direction of travel, through its travel.)
relative to the outer-wheelprint’s direction of travel. If a car has a small rear-slip-angle – due to either slow speeds, stiff rear
Three curves are shown. The rightmost curve indicates the KSA of the tyres, or rear-wheel-steer – and the car is turning a reasonably tight
front-wheels when the centre of the rear-axle has zero slip-angle – that corner, then quite large values of dynamic-toe-out are required if both
is, when the Instant Centre lies on an extension of the rear-axle-line. This front-wheels are to operate at similar slip-angles. For a 5m radius corner,
is typical of low speed travel when the horizontal forces on the rear tyres about 8 degrees of dynamic-toe-out is required. For a full-lock turn more
are low, and thus their slip-angles are minimal. than 16 degrees of dynamic-toe-out may be required
The other two curves indicate the KSA of the front-wheels when the As the rear-slip-angle increases, then the car needs progressively less
centre of the rear-axle has a slip-angle of 10 degrees and 30 degrees. This front-wheel steer-angle to negotiate corners. If the rear-slip-angle is
rear-slip-angle is depicted in the graphic. It refers to the direction of large enough, and if the corner radius is also large enough, then the front-
travel of the centre of the rear-axle, relative to the centreline of the car.
If both rear-wheels are aligned with the centreline of the car, and if

there is a significant amount of rear-slip, then the outer-rear-wheel will
have a slightly smaller slip-angle, and the inner-rear-wheel will have a As the rear-slip-angle increases,
slightly larger slip-angle, than that of the centre of the rear-axle. This
would suggest that if the rear-wheels are to run at equal slip-angles, then
then the car needs progressively
they should be set-up with some static-toe-in. On the other hand, if the less front-wheel steer-angle to
car has some form of rear-steer, such as that available on some
production cars, then it is possible for the car to run with large, but still
equal, rear-wheel-slip-angles, while the rear-slip is kept to a small value,
for instance you could say 0 degrees.
negotiate corners
wheel Kinematic Steer-Angles are negative – that is, opposite-lock. The

Also indicated on each curve are the radii of cornering (prefixed with dynamic-toe-out required in this situation is also negative – that is,
‘R’ and taken to the centre of the car) for different KSAs. The leftmost dynamic-toe-in. This condition of opposite-lock and dynamic-toe-in
point of each curve indicates when the car is travelling in a straight line occurs when the Instant Centre of the car’s motion is in front of the front-
– infinite radius. The curves end at a rightmost point which can be axle-line.
considered to be ‘full-lock’. For now we’ll leave it there, but next month we will be considering the
(Steer-angles beyond this point are only applicable to high- anti-Ackermann argument and looking at the application of all this theory
manoeuvrability vehicles. They are partially presented here to show that in a real world. ●RE

76 June 2001 Racecar Engineering © IPC MEDIA

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