Semi-automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted controls (1989)
Magneti Marelli had the opportunity to work with Ferrari on a revolutionary gearshift concept, derived from an idea by John Barnard.
Increasingly smaller passenger compartments made shifting with a traditional gearshift lever less comfortable, while the high lateral accelerations harder and harder for drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel. This led to the decision to develop a semi-automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted controls and with no mechanical connection between the control device and the gearbox. Two paddle shifts on the steering wheel generate the electrical command when downshifting and upshifting, which is then transmitted to a system consisting of solenoid valves and hydraulic pistons that select and engage the gears.
Intelligent steering wheel (1994)
Again in collaboration with Ferrari, and as a natural consequence of the developments associated with the new type of gearshift, Marelli developed the technology to define a new machine-driver interface.
In the ergonomics of the driver’s seat in a racing car, it is crucial for the driver to have the highest quantity of information/functions on hand while taking his eyes off the racing track as little as possible. When the number of “by wire” functions mushroomed, all the bulky mechanical adjustment were gradually moved from the dashboard to the steering wheel itself, which became the actual “control centre” of the car. The steering wheel structure was replaced by a printed circuit that houses sensors for the transmission of controls sent by means of the various levers, pushbuttons and knobs, a display on which an endless amount of information is displayed and a series of luminous indicators. The intelligent steering wheel is in fact an “intelligent” node of the car that offers considerable flexibility.
Engine-vehicle control system with distributed architecture and miniature components - Step 10 (2000)
The constant increase in electronically-managed functions and the simultaneous development of aerodynamics on F1 cars had almost led to the collapse of the previous systems due to three main reasons: wirings had become tremendously complicated and bulky, the number of sensors and actuators had increased but not the space available on the car, the number of “raw” data to be sent to a central unit for processing purposes had become so high as to require increasingly high calculation capacity of the same central unit. A single “box” would have been so big that it would not have been possible to fit it on the car without penalizing its architecture. Marelli thus developed a solution with distributed architecture. At the same time, it continued the miniaturization process already underway on sensors and actuators.
ADVANCED TELEMETRY IN REAL TIME (DST Data Stream Telemetry, 2001)
With DST (Data Stream Telemetry), in the beginning of the year 2000 Formula 1 telemetry also experienced a generational leap.
Telemetry systems prior to DST in fact allowed only a few vital car parameters at low frequencies to be monitored in real time.
Thanks to DST, Magneti Marelli was able to provide engineers in the pits with real-time telemetry of thousands of car channels at extremely high frequencies.
This resulted in accelerated operations on the racing track, increased control in terms of car reliability, and added possibilities for sophisticated data analysis in real time. With DST, Magneti Marelli also introduced an equally important evolution of its data analysis tool (WinTAX) and it developed data distribution systems on the track and via satellite up to the Teams’ headquarters.
KERS (2008) data sheet already available