F1 Forensics: The Minardi FRIC system

There is a website called http://www.minardi.it still going strong today. They have just published the following in Italian so we have translated if for you.

Former Minardi and Scuderia Toro Rosso engineer Gabriele Tredozi the ‘father’ of many a car from Faenza explains the origins of the present fashionable FRIC systems.

Firstly, you have to go back twenty years, when active suspension rapidly gained popularity. This technology had the ability to electronically manage the suspension through a number of parameters such as ride height, roll and pitch. All this was no longer done through a conventional spring system, but hydraulically.

The system was composed of actuators placed on the struts. The spring-damper actuators received the oil under pressure through a pump and the electronic controllers handled the front and rear ride height, roll and pitch, thus obtaining a benefit in terms of aerodynamics.

This project can be separated into two parts: a passive part, with the hardware of the hydraulic suspension and active, or electronic.

Martini’s and Fittipaldi’s M193 was equipped with a passive hydraulic system. There was an external pump which pressurised the system, but the car was also equipped with traditional suspension. It worked on the springs controlled by hydraulic lines with the strut that sent the circuit under pressure.

This was the starting point and then we made the system fully active the following year. Unfortunately, the FIA banned the system, so we found ourselves with very advanced, but not exploitable suspension. However, in 1994 we continued to use it without making it active.

The goal was to minimize the variations in height between the front and the rear during braking and acceleration. In order to passively manage pitching of the car, we used cross-connection (link) of the front axle with the rear.

In this way, when the vehicle was under braking, the front actuator created a vacuum in the back, occupied by the oil from the rear, so the rear also crushed to the ground. Doing so kept the height difference unchanged. Cross-connection also helped in the corners.

When the load was greater on the outside rear wheel, intervened on the inside front wheel limiting body roll. The same operation, but the opposite was the case when accelerating and the load is transferred back raising the front. The pressure of the actuators avoided it squeezing the nose to the ground. Doing so decreases the understeer during acceleration.

At the end of 1993, however, the connection was banned. With the M194 then we continued with the hydraulic suspension, but no longer connected. A portion of the benefit was therefore missed. On the other hand, today’s Formula 1 has reappeared this link using a system similar to ours 20 years ago.

TJ13 comment: In that 1993 season there were 16 Grand Prix and between the 2 cars Mindardi have 15 retirements. the following season when the active systems were banned with the same number of races Minardi had 17 retirements.

How we forget….

10 responses to “F1 Forensics: The Minardi FRIC system

  1. And Formula1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport technology but they use 20 year old technology? πŸ™‚

    Still a very interesting article though. Thanks for publishing!

  2. I have always wondered why it’s legal today if it was banned in the past. Any ideas?

    • The ‘active’ part was banned and still is. Minardi ran a passive FRIC system in 1994 after the ban on ‘active’ systems had begun.

      • I mean the link between front and rear suspensions as a single circuit (“At the end of 1993, however, the connection was banned. With the M194 then we continued with the hydraulic suspension, but no longer connected”). My understanding is that the system was banned and never reintroduced to the rules, however that’s what Mercedes and Red Bull last year and now several teams are doing, isn’t it, balancing the suspension thru a linked circuit?

        • I believe it was the electronic controls that were made illegal and they were key to making that ‘link’ work properly on the Minardi.

          I may be wrong

  3. There was a company called kinetic suspension not that long ago in my home town of Dunsborough, Western Australia (thing they closed down). But they developed this passive system and it was used in the WRC around 05 (if my memory serves me right) for a couple years but then banned. I had thought it was banned in F1 as well because I looked it up at the time but apparently it’s back, can anyone elaborate on this legality?

    Good tech.. even got licenced by Toyota for the Land Cruiser and our Uni’s (UWA) world beating formula SAE car had it on board (flatter attitude than a go kart)

    • Hi Chris and welcome to the TJ13 community! πŸ™‚ Don’t think I saw you on here before?

      As far as I know the way FRIC works is not illegal as long as it is passive with no driver input. What was banned in F1 was the electronic active suspension system that was found on the Williams FW14B and on the FW15 of 1992.

  4. Hi !! Yup, knew to the TJ13.. Love the community so far and quite a bit of the analysis about the weekend pace is the same as mine which is very interesting to me. Keep up the good work

    Cheers, Chris

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