The last person who died in a Formula One crash was the great Ayrton Senna in 1994 – 18 years ago. Since then, safety regulations in F1 have been tightened immeasurably, to the point of obsession. Crashes still happened, but the drivers invariably walk off the scene and live to race another day. Heck, Nelson Piquet Jr even survived a deliberate crash of his Renault against the wall at Singapore in 2008.
It is often argued by authorities that speed kills, and if that argument holds true, Formula 1’s safety record since the late Senna’s passing is nothing short of sensational. The drivers who survived all those horrific crashes have their car’s structural engineers to thank for, as each Formula 1 racer is engineered to a high level of safety.
Formula 1 cars utilize a monocoque chassis made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) to form their backbones, and that same material will be used by Lamborghini for their as-yet-unnamed replacement of the Murcielago, widely-rumoured to be called the Aventador. Unofficial computer renderings have flooded the web in recent weeks, but all we have from the horse’s, or shall we say bull’s mouth is a computer rendering of its monocoque frame (pictured below).
At the front and rear ends of the monocoque are rigidly attached aluminium sub-frames on which the engine, transmission and suspension components are mounted. Lamborghini claims a high degree of stiffness for the structure, with torsional rigidity rated at 35,000 Newton meters per degree of twist, and also light weight, with the entire body-in-white tipping the scales at 229.5kg – the CFRP monocoque accounting for 147.5kg. Lambo further claims that stringent quality controls are in place for every monocoque, with tolerances not allowed to exceed 0.1mm.
The other detail we know of the new car is that it will feature push-rod suspension, inspired once again, by Formula 1 technology. It is similar to the double wishbone suspension but with the crucial difference being the spring and damper are not located on the wheel mounts, but connected inboard to the bodyshell structure and mounted transversely at that too. According to Lamborghini, this setup has the advantage of allowing wheel control and damper to remain separate from each other. This setup is also claimed to allow for a better balance of ride comfort and handling prowess.
That’s all we have on the Murcielago’s successor for now. Rest of the details shall be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011.