"Underwear?" Jarno Trulli has had
to make many sacrifices to reach the pinnacle of motorsport,
but stripping down to his underpants must rank among the more
the comfiest driving position in your Corolla or Avensis is
easy because the seats and steering are designed to adjust
for a wide range of body shapes and sizes. A Formula 1 car
has to be packaged to suit each individual drivers at the
design stage - but the techniques used to achieve these disparate
aims are remarkably similar, even down to using the same CATIA
Wrapping the TF105 around Trulli (and Ralf
Schumacher) begins with a careful set of measurements supervised
by Panasonic Toyota Racing partner Dassault Systèmes.
Millimetres count here, which is why Trulli undergoes the
first few passes in his smalls.
shape of the cockpit is defined by the rules," says John
Litjens, project leader in Panasonic Toyota Racing's chassis
design office. "What we have to do is fit the driver
into the space we're allowed. We like the driver to sit as
low as possible, to aid the weight distribution, but he also
needs to be high enough to see out of the cockpit."
They also have to consider the impact of the
technical regulations. The driver's feet, for instance, have
to be behind the front axle line.
"For safety reasons the FIA have imposed
precise measurements on the dimensions of the monococque [the
central 'tub' of the car, which incorporates the crash structure],"
says Francois Barrovecchio from Dassault Systèmes.
"Being able to fix the position of the driver without
having to build physical mock-ups saves a lot of time. Using
the CATIA software enables the team to cut down on the design
and manufacturing time. That's not only important for reacting
to changes in the regulations, but also developments within
the racing season - this year there are 19 races, some only
one week apart. If the team discovers a design problem, they
need to be able to create new parts quickly."
There are 103 different measurements - width
of the nose, head, hands, feet, circumference of the head,
and so on - which are fed into the computer to create a 'mannequin':
what you might call a 'virtual Trulli'. This can be positioned
in a virtual cockpit.
"Once our software has created the mannequin
we try to move it into exactly the same posture as the driver
will have in the cockpit," says Eric Coutu, an ergonomist
with Dassault Systèmes. "That's where we use the
scanner to 'map' the real driver's posture. The aim is to
get the best visibility, the comfort for the back and reach
to the controls.
"We can do it in two hours, but the timing
depends on the measurements we take. And we like to do this
three times, too avoid errors. We also do it with and without
clothing to find out what impact the thickness of the clothing
has on cockpit comfort. We'll even measure the soles of his
Jarno is relieved to be able to don his suit,
shoes and a helmet for the next stage of measuring up, for
this isn't the warmest corner of the factory. He poses for
a series of 'posture' readings with the scanner, which looks
rather like an x-ray device. Then he replicates the pose in
a full-size dummy cockpit complete with seat and a cockpit
surround, discussing the minutiae of the seat position with
Litjens and race engineer Ossi Oikarinen.
"We can decide to simulate an entire population,"
says Coutu. "So we can say, 'OK, this is the smallest
person we can get, and this is the tallest person we can get'.
We'd use those mannequins for a wide design - for a typical
road car, where people of all shapes and sizes must be able
to sit comfortably, to have a good view and to reach all the
"What we're doing here is to narrow our
'population' - to focus on two particular drivers, Jarno Trulli
and Ralf Schumacher, make specific measurements and create
detailed mannequins of them."
his environment for the new car is shaped with such care,
one wonders how much Trulli had to compromise when he first
arrived Panasonic Toyota Racing, shortly before the 2004 Japanese
"When Jarno joined us it went quite smoothly,"
says Litjens. "He came here for a seat fitting and went
testing straight away. But for sure there are some compromises;
Jarno wanted his head to be further up in the TF104B and that
wasn't possible. We incorporated these lessons into the TF105,
so it was useful for him to have started so early.
software can also simulate the driver's viewpoint from within
the cockpit, showing lines of sight to front and rear. This
helps the design team arrive at optimal mounting points for
mirrors. Since Toyota produces its F1 engines and chassis
under one roof at the factory in Cologne, the synergy that
has enabled the engine and chassis departments to work in
a more closely integrated way can also help to work out what
the driver will see in his mirrors (note, for instance, the
way the exhaust 'chimneys' have changed size and shape).
"The complete car is on our database,"
says Barrovecchio. "We're able to measure the weight
of each component and calculate the effect it has on the centre
of gravity. We also simulate the effects of varying fuel loads.
"A digital part is easier to change. You
can see how those changes will affect the rest of the car.
Each driver weighs around 73kg, so his position affects the
centre of gravity of the entire vehicle - with the mannequin
we can test the effect of lowering it even by a centimetre."
Another benefit of doing so much detailed work
in software is that it enables the team to streamline its
operations and cut costs - especially important in the current
climate, in which the sport's governing body (the FIA) has
introduced new rules with a view to reducing the expense of
F1. Computerised design cuts down on line drawings and model
making, and can improve quality control. The aim is for all
the parts to arrive in the workship ready to be slotted together
- no filing down components to make them fit. The team has
learned from Toyota's expertise in the science of road car
manufacture to improve its processes - for instance, the Toyota
Production System (TPS), which strives to drive down costs
and weight while maintaining durability and increasing speed
of manufacture. It was Toyota that pioneered 'just in time'
manufacturing techniques, syncopating the arrival of parts
so that there is no wasteful surplus or costly stockpiling
there is still no substitute for the final stage, that of
getting out onto the road for real. It's at this point where
you encounter the unexpected, no matter how hard you've worked
to make sure everything fits.
"At the design stage you can get the driver
environment 90-95 percent right," says Litjens. "When
they're driving, and the g-forces are acting on them, sometimes
there are effects on the muscles that can't be foreseen by
- source: Toyota -