Gearbox

Gearbox
Internal-combustion engines run at high speeds, so a reduction in gearing is necessary to transmit power to the drive wheels, which turn much more slowly. The gearbox provides a selection of gears for different driving conditions: standing start, climbing a hill, or cruising on level surfaces. The lower the gear, the slower the road wheels turn in relation to the engine speed.

Internal-combustion engines run at high speeds, so a reduction in gearing is necessary to transmit power to the drive wheels, which turn much more slowly. The gearbox provides a selection of gears for different driving conditions: standing start, climbing a hill, or cruising on level surfaces. The lower the gear, the slower the road wheels turn in relation to the engine speed.

As part of the major rule changes that Formula One introduces for the 2022 championship, there are also some important novelties regarding the way in which teams are allowed to use gearboxes during a season, by adding a similar limitation on the parts as is already in place for the components of the engine.

During the last few years, the rules regarding for gearboxes were not so complicated. In caae a  competitor was able to complete six consecutive Grands Prix (including qualifying and the race) with the same gearbox, then the team was allowed fit the car with a new one without penalty. In case a team was forced to use a different gearbox before those six consecutive events had passed, the car in question would be given a five-place grid penalty for the following Grand Prix.

 There was one scenario in which a driver could use a new gearbox: if he retired from the race. In this case, a new gearbox could be fitted at the next event without penalty. Drivers could also turn back to fit older, used gearboxes if desired, which was usually done for practice, leading to the terminology of the ‘practice gearbox’.

However, some important changes have been made ahead of the new season, which means that grid penalties could become more prevalent this year.

One major change is the fact that is the rules for penalties have separated out the gearbox from the internal components it encloses. In this regard, a different limit has been set for component usage when talking about the outer casing mounted on the cars, as well as the cassette that houses the gear change and driveline components.

The 2022 regulation will impose a three casing and cassette limit on the cars taking part in the Formula 1 campaign.

As a result, each competitor is only allowed three ‘gearboxes’ for the season, and can select and decide from that pool of three to get through the entire year. Like the power unit rules, this means that drivers could run short on working gearboxes in their pool by the end of the championship.

Once a driver requires a gearbox in excess of that three-component rule, they will receive a five-place grid penalty for the following event, with the same penalty being imposed for every subsequent gearbox introduction.

Yet a different restriction will be imposed on the components within the gearbox cassette itself. For the more intricate gear-change components and mechanisms, and the components involved in the transmission of torque between the gearbox and the driveshafts, Formula 1 has introduced a strict limit of four new components for the season.

Once a driver requires more of any of these components, a five-place grid penalty will be imposed – the same penalty being imposed for any subsequent changes.

Just like the upcoming engine freeze, which kicks in on 1 March, F1 has introduced a specification freeze on gearboxes which will remain in effect until 2025.

The individual gearbox designs (referring to the casing, cassette, driveline and gear-change components) will all be homologated at the same time as the power units.

Once these have been signed off on by the FIA’s Technical Department, the teams/manufacturers will be bound to their designs until 2025. Just a single upgrade will be permitted between now and the 2025 season, with that upgrade only allowed between individual seasons.

In the event of a manufacturer supplying a customer team with a gearbox, the teams must each use the same design – whichever one the supplier has homologated.

Just like the engines, modifications may only be made to resolve issues related to safety, reliability and not yield any performance advantage.

In order to be given permission to change the design, the manufacturer must write to the FIA with a summary of the issue, evidence of the research undertaken to solve the problem and why they believe the solution will fix it.

The FIA will discuss with other gearbox manufacturers to evaluate the viability of the fix, and will permit the modification if satisfied.

To be updated…