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Red Bull's legal traction control explained?
Tuesday 08th October 2013, 23:33 by Ryan Wood
© Sutton Images
Many theories have been circulating the internet and the paddock as to how Sebastian Vettel was so dominant in Singapore. Those theories grew stronger when former team-owner Giancarlo Minardi suggested Red Bull, at least on Vettel's car, were running a form of traction control.
It would obviously be absurd for Red Bull to do such a thing as traction control is illegal and would be fairly easy to identify as all the teams use a homologated electronic control unit (ECU) produced by McLaren Electronics.
However, Vettel's two-second a lap advantage around a slow, corner heavy circuit such as Singapore - the perfect layout for traction control - cannot simply be down to talent alone.
There must be something different on the RB9 of Vettel, surely?
An interesting theory published by Racecar Engineering offers up some interesting insight and it might just provide the answer to Red Bull's dominance.
According to the article, Red Bull might just have found a legal way of controlling the car's traction through suspension shocks, sensors and KERS.
THE THEORY EXPLAINED
Additional sensors on the shocks at the rear of the car are controlling the KERS and the engine to provide the correct amount of power at exactly the right time.
When the shocks are fully compressed, i.e. when the car is pushed into the ground and therefore the tyres have good contact with the surface, the sensors tell the throttle to deliver maximum power from the engine.
When the shocks are extended, i.e. when the tyres don't have good traction with the track surface, the sensors activate the KERS charging phase, reducing the torque through the rear-wheels as it increases the speed of the harvesting process.
This would, when fine tuned, reduce the amount of wheel-spin on the exit of a corner, regardless of whether the German has his foot fully-depressed against the accelerator or not.
This would explain why Vettel can 'get on the power' far earlier than his rivals, as pointed out by Minardi and Lewis Hamilton recently.
"Sebastian was able to [accelerate] 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included," claimed the Italian.
Whilst Hamilton said: "If you look at the onboards, [Vettel] is on the power at least 20 metres before everyone else, which is a huge advantage."
Could Red Bull's KERS and alternator issues last year and the year before that also support such a claim? The demands placed on the system would be far greater than that of a 'regular' system which harvests power only under braking and could explain why Renault's earlier units kept failing.
Obviously there is no concrete proof Red Bull are doing anything, legal or illegal, which could be imitating traction control, but the idea is certainly possible...and legal.
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