Pat Sy­monds


The Wil­liams tech chief, also F1 Rac­ing’s reg­u­lar colum­nist, takes part in a very spe­cial Q&A, trans­lat­ing the more sci­en­tific as­pects of the sport into plain English in his inim­itable style

Hav­ing worked in For­mula 1 for more than 30 years, Wil­liams’s chief tech­ni­cal ofcer knows a thing or two about the sport. Ev­ery month in F1 Rac­ing, Pat Sy­monds brings his wis­dom to our monthly ‘In­side Tech’ col­umn, but we thought it was time he an­swered some of your tech­ni­cal ques­tions di­rectly.

It’s our pol­icy not to show our in­ter­vie­wees their ques­tions ahead of time, but we made an ex­cep­tion in Pat’s case – not for cen­sor­ship, but rather be­cause he was keen to re­search any for which he did not al­ready have a thor­ough an­swer on the tip of his tongue. In­deed, as you will see, quite a bit of work with a cal­cu­la­tor was needed at one point, and Pat thanked our read­ers for test­ing the lim­its of his knowl­edge.

We meet at Sil­ver­stone and re­treat to the mid­dle deck of the Wil­liams mo­torhome in the pad­dock. But when we’re only halfway through the ques­tions, Pat has to leave for an­other en­gage­ment. “Don’t worry, stay put,” he re­as­sures us. “I’m en­joy­ing th­ese so much I’ll come back and an­swer them all.” In­deed, so com­pre­hen­sive were his re­sponses that this month we’ve de­voted a lit­tle more space than usual to an­swer your tech­ni­cal queries.

Can the en­ergy cap­tured by hy­brid en­gines be saved for ex­tra sec­onds of power the driver needs it, or must it al­ways be used on the next lap? Ken­neth Trask, Canada The an­swer to this one is that th­ese are true hy­brid power units, so the elec­tri­cal en­ergy and the en­ergy from the nor­mal in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine are al­most one and the same thing. When a rac­ing driver presses down on the throt­tle, the sys­tem de­cides how much power comes from petrol and how much is elec­tri­cal. In qual­i­fy­ing, we’re us­ing ev­ery­thing we can, whereas in the race we tend to be bal­anc­ing it that lit­tle bit more.

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