Laser-Guided Legality in Formula One

A PolyWorks® Case Study

PolyWorks F1 case study

In 2022, the manner in which the legality of cars was checked changed, and the FlA implemented a new laser scanning system that formed part of the scrutineering process at every race weekend. FIA Single-Seater Technical Director Nikolas Tombazis explains how it works...

Q: What changed in 2022 and why was the change made?

A: The aerodynamic regulations have become quite a lot more complex, as it's not a matter of deciding whether you are in a box, there are a lot more regulations determining the geometry permissible. Because of that we needed to up the game on checks, so we have gone for a fully electronic state-of the-art scanning system.

Q: How does that work?

A: We check the cars on a computer to make sure they satisfy all the geometric constraints, and we have done that with all teams, and then we check the physical car against the computer model by scanning the car and that's the process we are using now. The system consists of a tracker that detects the position of a device held by one our scrutineers. We either scan the surface by holding a sensor over the surface or we check specific points on the car which are then checked against CAD, on the coordinates, and based on those measurements we can draw the final conclusions.

Q: What checks will be made?

A: We have two checks: a quick check where we look at basic parameters - width, height, making sure that the car isn't running too low etc - and then we have a more detailed check whereby we scan the whole surface of the car, which takes a bit longer.

Q: How will it be implemented across race weekends?

A: We hope to eventually do the quick scans on the cars across a race weekend, but we are still learning about the process, especially in a race weekend environment. The more detailed scans will take place on a more random basis probably a couple of cars per race and that means the team or teams selected won't know they will be scanned, thus promoting compliance. Clearly, if a car does get protested or if we have serious concern about the legality of a car or a competitor has concerns, then we may individually pick a car to be scanned in order to obtain the information required to deliver a ruling. So far the system has been working quite well. There is still quite a lot to learn but it's a step in the right direction to further improve our capability at the track.