Audi R18 for WEC 2016: New Le Mans car in F1 design

Audi R18 for WEC 2016
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N oh the bitter defeat against Porsche, Audi has the R18 for completely redesigned the 2016 season. The differences to the predecessor can be seen at first glance. Audi relies on a new chassis. The aerodynamics concept has been completely turned inside out. But even under the hood, no stone was left unturned.

Audi R18 for 2016 with innovative aerodynamics

The narrow and high nose is almost reminiscent of an old Formula 1 racer. The front fenders are more contoured. The rearview mirror is better integrated into the car. The air inlet on the roof is much narrower. The side boxes have been pulled further back. The Audi designers also went a new way with the rear wing.

The low tire wear should again become the trump card. In 2015, Audi used a hydraulically controlled chassis (FRIC) for the first time, in which the front and rear axles are actively connected in such a way that the aerodynamics platform remains almost stable in all driving conditions - and thus also the downforce. While Porsche has expanded the system again, Audi remains true to the technology.

The articulation points of the front axle on the monocoque and the position of the drive shaft of the hybrid system have been rearranged. The chassis kinematics has been heavily revised. Newly designed wishbones now take over the wheel control. The lift and roll spring damper elements are actuated on the front axle via push rods. The kinematics on the rear axle have also been optimized. As with the predecessor, the spring /damper elements are controlled by pull rods.

Audi R18 with new aerodynamics concept

The aerodynamics trend in the new Audi R18 is on the Clear at first glance: the flow over the car tends to lose its importance. Instead, it is about a lot of downforce in the front axle area and a lot of downforce through flow and underflow, recognizable by the high nose.

With the vertically positioned front wheel arches, the lateral air distribution is clearly in the foreground, not the achievable downforce the wheel house and not the overflow over the chassis towards the rear. What is striking is the rearward-moving cockpit, recognizable by the starting point of the windshield as well as by the high nose through which the driver's footwell is automatically moved backwards.

In addition, the upper end of the cockpit is significantly less arched and thus flatter than its predecessor. Even with the cockpit it seemsthe focus is not on the overflow, but on the lateral division of the incoming air. The tail area appears more conventional, with the exception of the wing end plates on the sides, which have been given a bizarre cut.

More downforce above the underbody

At the rear, the air exits through the diffuser. It thus generates a significant part of the contact pressure under the car. With the new monocoque, the proportions have been changed within the specified maximum length of 4,650 millimeters and all assemblies have been designed accordingly.

'The new proportions influence weight distribution and aerodynamics,' explains Jörg Zander, Head of Technology at Audi Sport . 'Our main concern was to improve the air flow.' At the front of the car, the air flow must be directed over the racing car and between the wheel arches, flow through the body into the cooling ducts and optimally flow against the underbody. 'No air turbulence should form, because that costs energy,' says Zander.

Audi increases hybrid share

As already mentioned, the Audi technicians also tackled the drive. The R18 has a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries instead of a flywheel as energy storage and an efficiency-optimized V6 TDI engine with 4.0 liters. In addition, Audi is switching from 4 to 6 MJ class. The energy is generated via the brakes on the front axle.

The basic concept of the V6 TDI engine dates back to 2011. With its twin-flow VTG mono-turbocharger, 120 degree cylinder bank angle, the exhaust side within the V-angle and innovative detailed solutions, it is considered to be rather unusual.

The initial displacement from 3.7 liters increased to 4 liters in 2014. 'We are using the basic engine concept for the sixth year in a row. That shows how good the basic idea still is,' says engine boss Ulrich Baretzky. 'By increasing efficiency, we are partially compensating for the lower amount of fuel.'

In the tests before the season, Audi will primarily focus on making the new energy storage system stable. In contrast to the previous mechanical solution, the batteries radiate significantly more heat. Because MGU-K and batteries take up more space than the old flywheel, other elements had to shrink, such as the monocoque.

New Gearbox contributes to lightweight construction

The gearbox is also newly designed. According to Audi simulations, the engine should also allow a very good spread with low speed jumps in conjunction with 6 instead of the previous 7 gears. The turbocharger has also been made lighter, with improved efficiency at the same time. But weight was not only reduced in power transmission.

Audi has also continued to pursue lightweight construction in the rest of the vehicle structure. New solutions for the actuators of individual systems in the Audi R18 also reduce weight. In the predecessor, electric acuators were still active in the steering, brake, transmission and engine systems. The new Audi R18 relies on a completely newly developed high-pressure central hydraulic system.

The regulations stipulate a minimum weight of 875 kilograms for the LMP1 hybrid sports car. Audi does not exceed this value despite a significantly more powerful and therefore inevitably somewhat heavier hybrid system.

AMOLED screen as rearview mirror

In the area of ​​active safety, Audi drivers have a wealth of aids at their disposal. The driver information screen for displaying flag signals from the race management in the cockpit is required by the regulations.

To this end, Audi supports its drivers with several other solutions: In conjunction with the Audi laser light, the matrix LED headlights optimize the light cone of the racing cars with speeds of up to 340 km /h. A light and economical camera system in conjunction with an AMOLED screen, which acts as a digital rear-view mirror, enables a particularly good view to the rear.

Like Porsche, Audi will compete with two cars in the 2016 WEC season . Also at the season highlight in Le Mans, only 2 of the hybrid racers are in action. In our gallery we have the first pictures of the new Audi R18 from 2016.


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