Aluminium might have been around for a long time, but even the highest-performance racing cars continue to make use of this wonderfully adaptive material. As the margins in motorsport come down to fractions of a second, track cars that need to whip around corners at breakneck speed are heavily reliant on materials to get the job done
Fortunately, aluminium hits the mark in numerous respects. Due to its rare combination of strength and durability, while also remaining remarkably lightweight, the quickest racing vehicles in the world are often produced from aluminium components. Here, we consider how world-class race cars make the most of this highly malleable metal.
A racing vehicle’s components must be engineered to the highest possible standards to set a record time around the track. This includes the birdcage – a type of four-linked chassis suspension system – which is hugely influential on how a car handles. In the past, this essential structure used to be made from steel, but the considerable weight of this material harmed performance.
However, as people realised the performance benefits of aluminium, the birdcage was redeveloped with this type of metal instead. With aluminium birdcages providing the same strength benefits as steel, but with a dramatically reduced toll on weight, overtaking the competition just became a little bit easier.
There’s a constant debate between racing engineers about which material is best to design the engine. After all, it’s undoubtedly the heartbeat of the entire vehicle. But with some deciding that iron is the ideal metal to cast an engine block in, aluminium is also a worthy contender thanks to some considerable advantages.
When it comes to achieving pure speed, aluminium engine blocks weigh about half as much as the iron alternative. As the front of the car is less heavy, it provides a racing team with more options for weight distribution. The manufacturing process behind aluminium engine blocks also allows for considerably more customisation and repairability, helping to maximise performance and minimise costs.
Wheels and Components
Another area where aluminium is commonly found in the racing industry is the wheels. While alloy wheels are also regularly seen in the commercial world, motorsport benefits massively from the outstanding strength and lightweight nature of the material.
As every racing engineer wants to achieve the best performance for the lowest kilograms, you can also find components made from aluminium throughout a racing vehicle. This includes everything from suspension components and brake housing to the body structure.
Speak to the metal experts
Speak to the team at Airport Metals to learn more about our aluminium products. Get in touch today by calling 03 9310 5566, send an email to [email protected] or leave your details on our easy-to-complete online enquiry form.