V8 Supercars introduces Beru f1 Systems tyre sensors for Perth
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By V8 Supercars
V8 Supercars will introduce tyre sensors on all cars from the next event in Perth, a move which Red Bull Racing Australia team manager Mark Dutton says will make his job of keeping the many challengers at bay even harder.
Every car will feature the Beru f1 Systems sensors from Perth with the primary rationale a safety mechanism so deflating tyres can be detected before a serious incident is triggered.
Teams have also quickly identified they will have live information about pressures of the Dunlop hard and soft control tyres fed back to the pits for the first time.
Previously, with sensors not allowed, teams could only gauge hot tyre pressures after a session or race. Tyre grip and durability is a key ingredient in extracting pace from a V8 Supercar.
"This should serve as a bit of a leveller again," Dutton told v8supercars.com.au.
"We like to think we do our job on the tyres pretty accurately and pretty spot-on and now we are going to learn if we do, or if some of the assumptions we have made through the years are wrong.
"Do we spend more time on tyres than other teams? I don't know, but I do know we put a lot of emphasis on them. So for other teams if they weren't spending as much time on their tyres, now it is being gift wrapped and handed to them om a platter.
"So this could mix things up a little bit. I am excited about it, I think it's going to be great."
Triple Eight Race Engineering, which races as Red Bull Racing Australia, has won six of the last seven drivers' championships with Jamie Whincup and six of the last seven teams' championships.
Dutton predicted it would take around three meetings for each team's engineers to learn and understand the new data they would have access to.
"It will be a pretty cool and interesting thing just from a learning point of view," he said.
The decision to allow sensors comes via the V8 Supercars Commission after the V8 Supercars technical department validated the system during early season testing.
V8 Supercars is supplying a tyre pressure sensor kit to each teams which includes 16 sensors (for four sets of wheels), a wiring loom to install an alarm in the cockpit so the driver knows he has a tyre issue.
The sensors fit flush to the inside rim of the control Rimstock 18-inch wheel and communicates wirelessly via a receiver fitted within the wheel arch.
Cost has been the most consistent argument against the use of tyre pressure sensors but Dutton said the price of the kit was "not silly".
Nissan Motorsport team manager Scott Sinclair endorsed Dutton's view that the set-up opportunities the sensors delivered would be significant.
"This puts us more in line with the rest of the motorsport world in terms of the analysis we can do," he said.
"For a long time this Dunlop tyre has been a bit of an unknown and to a certain extent the teams have put it on the backburner a little bit and elected to concentrate on suspension and other changes to try and make the car perform better.
"But this opens up big scope of information that we haven't really had so it's pretty interesting.
"I think the engineering focus in the short term will shift to what's happening with the tyre. Ultimately the tyre is the most important part of the car.
"I think everybody's understanding of the tyre has been a bit of black art."
Championship leader Jamie Whincup was recently almost a victim of the notorious turn eight wall at the Clipsal 500 when he elected to stay out on a deflating tyre in his Red Bull Holden Commodore VF which he hoped had only collected rubber 'pick-up'.
Dutton said this was an example of the sort of situation that sensors would avert.
"The most difficult thing is that a delaminating tyre can feel the same as a tyre going down, can feel the same as if you have got pick-up, can feel the same as if you have got a slow leak," he said. "So we are relying on the driver's feel and a leaking tyre can feel nothing as well.
"So it will take the guesswork out of it with the sensors."
However, the introduction of sensors won't avoid instant catastrophic failures of the type suffered by Fabian Coulthard on the opening lap of the 2010 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Lee Holdsworth at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 last year in his Erebus AMG racer.
"It doesn't solve everything, but it I am a massive fan," said Dutton.
The introduction of the sensors comes at the corresponding event 12 months on at Barbagallo Raceway where both Holden Racing Team Commodores Erebus Motorsport V8 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs suffered left-rear tyre failures related to running soft tyres on low pressures as a performance gain.
Since then V8 Supercars has mandated a minimum 17psi tyre pressure. The introduction of sensors will streamline the enforcement of that rule.