Formula 1 | The cars under the magnifying glass of Quebec know-how

When trying to improve the performance of a Formula 1 single seater, every millimeter counts. To level the playing field between teams, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) turned to Quebec expertise. Software developed by InnovMetric has been combing the cars since the start of the season.

Posted at 6:00 am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

precision work

We don’t notice it in the paddock of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit, but behind one of the many garage doors there is an obligatory passage for single-seaters. Here they come under the microscope of the team led by Nuria Encinas, Permanent Technical Commissioner of the Inspectorate for the Application of the Regulations.

“Our job is to try [les écuries] don’t cheat,” she said during an interview in the paddock. “If they cheat, it’s because we didn’t do well. »

Mme Encinas offered a guided tour of the place The press.

Traditionally, the FIA ​​used physical jigs – custom tools – to measure the wings, chassis, ride height and wheelbase to make sure everything was in order.


Photo courtesy of innovmetric

Nuria Encinas, Permanent Technical Commissioner of the International Automobile Federation

It’s hard to tell the difference with the naked eye, but in the pinnacle of motorsport, a millimeter error can make all the difference when it comes to overtaking competitors on track.

“That’s a lot!” calls m.me Encinas.

The current season marks a break with the past. With all the changes in aerodynamics, the FIA ​​has decided to put away the physics templates for good. The high-precision work was entrusted to a laser sensor.

“Every car is different,” says the Permanent Technical Scrutineer of the FIA. We couldn’t have a template for every single seater. Now everything can be measured. »

How it works ?

The FIA ​​​​​​adopted the PolyWorks platform, InnovMetric’s flagship product. Essentially, this software enables high-precision measurements.


Photo courtesy of innovmetric

The FIA ​​Garage is a must for single-seaters at the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit.

Parked on a lift, the single-seaters are measured using a large number of spherical reflectors installed at specific points. At the control of a laser tracker, the data is sent to a database for comparison to an approved digital model.

The goal: Make sure everything is in order in five minutes.

“It’s really very easy for the person doing it,” explains Jean-Sébastien Blais, engineer and expert in deploying the enterprise solution at InnovMetric. “One person can do the inspection with a laptop and a laser tracker. This is exactly what our platform enables you to do. »

A mid-season rule change? No problem, says Mr. Blais. Just adjust the software data. The FIA ​​​​does not have to order new templates, which are often bulky and expensive.

natural relationship

How did the FIA ​​​​choose InnovMetric?

The Quebec company is well known in the automotive industry. Major car manufacturers use PolyWorks to ensure that various parts, such as B. doors, comply with the regulations.

The company claims that more than “80%” of teams use the platform.


Photo Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, DIE PRESSE

Jean-Sébastien Blais, Engineer and Enterprise Solution Delivery Expert at InnovMetric

“By mastering this technology, when [les constructeurs automobiles] If you have a racing team like Ferrari, they can apply it in different ways, says Mr Blais. The FIA ​​realized they needed this type of technology to be effective. »

In education

The Canadian Grand Prix is ​​the ninth event of the season. As the holder of a license from PolyWorks, the FIA ​​​​continues to refine the software to adapt it to their needs.

Improvements can therefore still be expected in the implementation.

“You have to interpret the data and understand how everything works,” says Ms.me Encinas. It’s more complicated for that, but we can do a lot more in terms of audits. »

InnovMetric has a network of offices around the world. In the event of problems, the company’s specialists are therefore quickly available. When it comes to technology, “it always has to be readjusted,” adds Mr. Blais.

InnovMetric in a nutshell

  • Year of foundation: 1994
  • Headquarters: Quebec
  • Direct international presence: 16 countries
  • Customers: 18,700

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