Gear ratio selection at Silverstone

© Renault Sport F1, 6 July 2012
© Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic/Williams

The Formula 1 championship heads to Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand Prix. With such high speed challenges as the Maggotts-Becketts complex, Copse and the Hangar Straight contrasting with the slower corners such as the new loop and Luffield turns, the British track remains one of the great Grand Prix circuits.

Pastor Maldonado’s Renault Sport F1 engine engineer at Williams, David Lamb, explains how careful engine management and gear ratio selection can be a key to success at Silverstone: “The engines have a power band, or a range, in which they are optimised and work particularly well.

“The difficulty with Silverstone is that the corners are all at different speeds: you have everything from second gear corners all the way up to sixth gear at Copse. The selection process was more straightforward at Valencia two weeks ago, where the corner apex speeds are more closely aligned.

“The team will simulate gear ratios to take into account this continual trade-off between the need for initial acceleration and a good top speed. If you prioritise initial acceleration out of a corner, you make your lower gears shorter, but in order to achieve a good top speed you need to increase the rev drops between the higher gears. This could have the effect of making the engine feel sluggish for the driver.”

“At somewhere like Silverstone, it’s not an easy call as you are in fifth sixth and seventh gear for a long time, but there is also the slower stuff to deal with. The lap time benefit is mainly found in the higher gears, but the drivers cannot feel this because here the acceleration is less and they are generally more sensitive to acceleration out of the corners. What feels instinctively beneficial for the driver could be a contradiction to what ultimately produces the optimum lap time.”

“Somewhere along the line you have to make a compromise. How you make that compromise is what you play with, and most of that comes from how the driver uses the gears on the circuit at certain corners. What you don’t want to do is to have a change mid corner which can unbalance the car.”

Unfortunately, the selection of these gear ratios is not a completely free choice, as Lamb explains: “You’ve only got 30 gear ratios that are homologated at the start of the season. Bearing in mind that there are more high speed circuits than slow ones, you tend to have quite a big range of top speeds. You’ll have a greater number of ratios available in fifth, sixth and seventh to cater for those scenarios, which means in reality you have only one or two available for first or second, maybe three for third and then increasing numbers into the higher gears. It doesn’t give us a lot to play around with at a circuit like Silverstone.”

Lamb though can’t wait to get started at what will be a home race for the English engineer. For him, as for almost everyone in F1, Silverstone poses a unique challenge.


Want to be the fastest to lap up F1 content? ‘Follow’ us on TWITTER and ‘like’ us on FACEBOOK.




Nike Air 1999 Jordan 5 Fire Red size 8.5 DScheap jordans for sale2008 NIKE AIR JORDAN COUNTDOWN PACK COLLEZIONE CDP 16/7 MULTI COLOR SIZE 11cheap jordans for saleNike Air Jordan Retro 6 VI GMP Gold Medal Size 12cheap jordans for saleAir Jordan Retro XIII 13 Low Midnight Navy/Hornets 310810-107 Size 10 No Boxcheap jordans for sale(937) 100% Authentic Nike Air Jordan 21 Playoff Sz 13 White/Black/Redcheap jordans for sale2003 Nike Air Jordan I 1 Retro Black Patent Metallic Gold sz 9cheap jordans for saleNike air foamposite pro pure platinum Jordan Size 12 PADS Retro 1 3 4 11 13 Bredcheap jordans for saleNike Air Jordan Flight Runner 2 Black Red 8 New in box NIBcheap jordans for saleNIKE AIR JORDAN RETRO 1 HIGH OG "SHADOW" SOFT GRaY/BLACK 555088 014 men SZ 10.5cheap jordans for sale