F1 Racing’s Influence, from Wheelchairs to Mars Landers

Formula 1 racing, which each year produces some of the most intensively engineered vehicles on earth, is a well-spring for design innovation. The New Scientist just rounded up some examples, and here are the the best:

F1 race cars have monocoque hulls–rather than being formed of a frame with a composite skin, the skin itself is a single sheet of composite that provides all the structural rigidity. This wheelchair borrows the same concept, thus producing a lighter, stronger design:


F1 pit crews are masters of operational efficiency, performing dozens of maintenance tasks in less than thirty seconds. A London hospital studied their processes, to streamline its own ER procedures. The hydraulic dampers on F1 cars absorb all the of the sudden shocks of uneven roads. Here, they were applied to a knee brace, which the U.S. military has tested to aid Marines, whose knees often get injured while riding in hide-speed boats.



This emergency incubator, used to transport babies to the hospital, was inspired by F1 cockpits. It’s tough and light enough to be carried by a single person:


Here’s a table we’ve covered before, which was produced by an F1 engineer and a furniture designer. Though 13 feet long, it’s less than .08 inches thick–it nearly disappears when seen in profile:


To withstand the extreme heat generated during its descent through the Martian atmosphere, the Beagle Lander was made of the same plastic used in F1 tailpipes: