Motor racing has always been at the forefront of R&D as every team looks to shed precious seconds per lap. To encourage automotive engineers of the future, Formula SAE is a global student competition that pits a variety of university teams against each other to develop small, Formula-style race cars. When the racing department at Italian university Politecnico di Milano, Dynamis PRC, was looking to improve the performance of its car’s steering column and suspensions, it partnered with Exel Composites.
Dynamis designs and builds formula-style vehicles to compete in the Formula SAE. After a reasonably successful year in 2018, when the team secured top 10 finishes in all its competitions, Dynamis needed to push the following year’s car even further.
“We had finished a successful year, but knew that our vehicle could perform better,” explains Andrea Vezzoli, technical director at Dynamis. “We had two main objectives: to reduce the car’s weight and to improve the suspension.”
Singling out the steering column as the main area for weight reduction, Dynamis began searching for new materials.
After reviewing the focus areas with the racing team, Exel Composites suggested a variety of carbon fibre tubes. “Using carbon fibre was a real breakthrough for reducing the weight of the driving column,” said Vezzoli. “We were able to shed 15kg of weight, which helped shave two seconds off our lap time.”
With the carbon fibre pieces installed, Dynamis took the car to four Formula SAE races. The first race took place in Holland, where the team won overall. Returning to Italy for the third race, Dynamis saw another victory. Held in Germany, the homeland of many of the world’s largest car manufacturers, the final race was the toughest. Yet even against some of the most competitive teams in the world, Dynamis achieved a strong third-place position, making the season one of its most successful to date.