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GP Week : Issue 181
A lot has been written recently about what appears to be Formula One’s latest must-have technical gizmo, nicknamed FRIC in typical F1 fashion. More plainly, the device is known as the ‘front and rear interconnected system’, but the paddock needs to make dry things sound cool. Billed as the device to have in 2013 and cited as among the reasons for Mercedes’ revival and Lotus’ success, FRIC basically connects the front and rear suspension via a network of pipes and uses hydraulic pressures to alter a car’s ride height, or the gap between the bottom of the car and track. But how does it work and what benefits does it bring? Formula One cars are typically run with the front of the car lower than the rear, something called the angle of ‘rake’. Former Jordan designer and BBC’s Formula One technical guru Gary Anderson gave GPWEEK the benefit of his expertise, explaining FRIC in layman’s terms. Anderson feels one of the main advantages of the system is that it allows for the rear of the car to drop down at high speeds, thereby reducing straight-line drag and allowing drivers to run more wing to help them corner more quickly. With the system helping keep the rear ride height low under braking, the car is also more stable when a driver hits the brakes. “My two advantages would be drag reduction at speed – because of lowering the rear ride height – and braking stability, because of lowering the rear ride height,” Anderson explained. “You can only lower the rear ride height if you are taking the deflection that's on the front suspension and using it in some manner to drop the rear of the car. Initially you distribute it to the front and then at a certain point you distribute it to the rear. So the car will go along coming down normally and then the rear will start to come down more and the front will stay there. “It's a bit like road car technology, where they have load sensing suspension where if you put six passengers in the car and baggage it will still sit at the same sort of attitude and ride height to [the same car with] one passenger.” But why is it suddenly being talked about now? Mercedes have been working with the system for a couple of years now, while the concept and principle itself goes back decades. “The reality of it is that I don't understand that either,” Anderson said. “The systems have been around [for years]. The first time I ever saw a [FRIC] system was on a Ferrari, I think in 1988. That was a cable operated system.” F1 >>> NEWS SO WHAT IS A FRIC, ANYWAY? BBC’s Formula One technical guru Gary Anderson 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: