Composites in Formula 1 – Composite Wheel Safety Tethers

Future Fibres has been playing a key role in the development of composite fibers for more than a decade. Building on its know-how, the company is now the standard for innovation and quality in the rigging industry. With supreme technical knowledge, Future Fibres was also succeeded in using composites for motorsport wheel tethers. The company teams up with international governing bodies, major teams and circuits and consequently becomes the only manufacturer able to provide tethers that meet the break strength and energy absorbing specifications of the FIA and US Circuits.

Wheel Tethers for Motorsport

Wheel tethers for motorsport typically fall into two product categories, namely break strength tethers (BSTs) and energy absorbing tethers (EATs). BSTs are specifically engineered to withstand at a predetermined load. This approach is largely selected by the US-based motorsport, where the goal is to prevent the detachment of the wheel and other parts from the chassis during the failure of the structural components.

On the other hand, EATs employ composite characteristics and sophisticated production processes to dissipate the energy discharged in the event of a crash in a safe, reliable and controlled mode. This reduces the risk of injury to the driver, audience or race officials. The specifications of BSTs and EATs are listed in Table 1.

Table 1.

BST Diameter (mm) Weight/m (g)
50kN 6mm 48
70kN 7mm 60
100kN 9mm 91
EAT Diameter (mm) Weight (g)
2kJ 9.0 45
3kJ 9.5 52
4kJ 12 83
6kJ 13.0 100

Future Fibres' continuous loop technology is employed in both systems in order to obtain a lightweight yet highly flexible solution, which delivers reliable performance across the length of the cable. At present, Future Fibres supplies its products to a wide range of customers, from independents to large works teams and whole circuits. Moreover, the company is well positioned to handle specific customer requirements and has an extensive range of circuit specific cables.

Technical Data

Future Fibres has a research and development department with extensive in-house test facilities, specially designed for applications related to motorsport. Hence, the company has the capability to optimize the intrinsic material properties of strength bearing fibers to fabricate lighter and stronger tethers.

Moreover, all motorsport tethers offered by Future Fibres are homologated subsequent to rigid testing at the FIA approved TRL Laboratory located in Berkshire, England, and by the SFI located in San Diego, California. Selected examples of composite and high strength materials are listed in Table 2.

Table 2.

Composite & High Strength Materials Custom Terminations Protective Shroud (Covers)
PBO poly (p-phenylene-2, 6-benzobisoxazole) 'Future Fibres Soft Loop' (an alternative to metal spool type fittings) Heat protection
Carbon Fibre Metallic Spool or Thimble, Aluminium, Stainless Steel) Flexibility
Kevlar Delrins, Nylons, Peek and Plastics Custom braids
Technnora Crumple Zones Moulded sections
Twaron - Chafe resistance
Nomex - Strength
Spectra - Aero sections

The incorporation of safety tethers offered by Future Fibres offers the following benefits:

  • Improved safety
  • Weight reduction
  • Reliability
  • Stability at high temperatures

Other Formula 1 Applications

Building on its expertise and collaboration with Formula 1 teams, Future Fibres has developed the following composite components for the high end racing market:

  • Cables that are engineered to serve under tension and compression
  • Extremely light, high-strength floor stays that connect individual components to structural members

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Future Fibres.

For more information on this source, please visit Future Fibres.

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