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Robotics Challenge winners Hall Park Academy visited Renault's Formula One testing facility. Libby Reddish blogs about what they discovered.

13 Oct 2016

Invited guests are greeted outside the building a swipe card and code are required to get past security. They must then use these to access the correct door which swings open onto a bright white corridor.

There are few clues where to go from here but it’s a dazzling, high-tech entrance, and a perfect welcome to the secretive world where Formula 1 cars are made.

Inside the impressive facility hundreds of staff are working to echo the building's perfect design as they build the racing cars that are driven by world champions.

The machine shop is humming, the giant autoclave, where the car chassis is cooked at 300 degrees Celsius (572F), is baking and, as we peek around the design room, blueprints are hastily furled and tucked away from prying eyes. I soon find out how complex the manufacturing of a F1 car is with its 76,000 parts.

It appears that there is a race both on the track and off the track with Renault wanting the fastest machine, the fastest software, the fastest EVERYTHING.

The car is covered in sensors which collect data on aerodynamics when it's being tested in the wind tunnel and let the engineers know a huge amount of information. There's a massive super computer too, which fills four walls and collects, analyses and stores data on every possible output of the car. 

Renault supercomputer

Next up I visit the 3D printing workshop. 3D printing is being used for the wind tunnel model (60% of the size of an F1 car). But to go from that scale to the final part on the car technology has still to go another step forward. Although it is now being used to make some parts for the real model it cannot be used to manufacture parts that are as strong or as light as carbon fiber, however when this technology advances –which will no doubt be very soon, Renault would like to see car parts that are actually made trackside during a grand prix rather than being flown around the world at great cost all of this is possible thanks to engineers.

Libby Reddish — Hall Park Academy

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