The Red Bull Air Race pilots are elite athletes who have to be at peak performance, not only physically but also mentally. To help them improve, the pilots were invited to the Red Bull Diagnostic Centre. Each pilot spent five days at the centre and were put through their paces. Here we look at the process they go through...
Shark Skin is not the newest modification to raceplanes, but unlike winglets it's not caught on as fast. Hannes Arch had them on his raceplane when the series returned in 2014. It has been slow for other pilots to also decide if it's worth adding, but the number is growing.
Considering that the teams are not allowed to modify the engine or propeller of their raceplane, they have to look at ways to make the aircraft as aerodynamic as possible, to create the minimum amount of drag, and one of the modifications is shark skin.
The cooling system turned heads in Abu Dhabi when other teams spotted a 'gill' on the side of the engine cowling. It's a panel on the side that can be opened and closed to better control the engine temperature. "That Gill is part of the oil cooler system," explained Paul Iscold, Team Chambliss' aerodynamicist. "It is the exit for the air. This system is an optimised version of the one that I designed for Paul's [Bonhomme] raceplane. On his plane the "gills" are on the bottom of the belly panel," he added.
You can almost guarantee that the season opener in Abu Dhabi will be a hot race where temperatures can be more than 25°C. This means keeping the engine's temperature low will be essential in posting a competitive time.
The technicians in the Red Bull Air Race know that the air inlets of their raceplane can create the difference between winning and losing. The engine needs enough cool air to be sucked in and it needs to get the hot air out pretty fast as well. Optimising the airflow over the cylinders and the oil cooler is a difficult challenge for every track and climate.
The G3X replaces the traditional gauges used in the raceplane and other aircraft. It gives the pilots the data they need on one screen so they can focus 100% on their racing. The G3X can also collect all the data necessary for the team analyst to help the pilot improve his race line.
Three teams have installed the G3X so far in their raceplanes. Team Goulian and Team Garmin arrived in Abu Dhabi with their new displays. And Hannes Arch had his put in place ready for the race in Spielberg.
It's a dramatic difference that will be apparent to those that see it. One the team hopes will make the raceplane not only more efficient, but lighter. The ultimate goal is to get the raceplane under the minimum limit of 696kg so that they will have to add weight: which will give Team Hamilton the opportunity to optimise the raceplane's centre of gravity precisely for Ivanoff's style of racing.
RIEGL Laser Measurement GmbH recently scanned the entire Red Bull Ring racetrack with its RIEGL RiCOPTER remotely piloted aircraft system that carries a lightweight laser scanner. From there, the team created a 3D point cloud which gathered information for the Red Bull Air Race aviation team.
Racetrack Ops will be on site earlier in the week to undertake the racetrack build – a mighty task that falls to the specialist team of Airgators. The Airgators are responsible for the pylon construction, repair, maintenance and disassembly, and along with the rest of the Racetrack Ops team, are typically at each race location for up to two weeks before and one week after each race.