If you're a fan or not of Formula One but enjoy other motorsports I am sure you will have heard of the fabled Williams FW14B this car was so advanced for its time running a semi-automatic transmission, traction control and active suspension.
Active suspension first came about in the 80s as teams tried to find ways around the banning of side skirts, rather than preparing the car for the next corner of the track the active suspension in the 80s aimed at assisting the cars ride of bumps in the circuit and driver inputs, but due to in car electronics being in its infancy in the 80s the teams struggled to comprehend the massive amounts of data, plus the teams had bigger problems to deal with especially turbo management.
In 1987 Lotus's active suspension had advanced to the point that they felt it could be run for a whole season, Ayrton Senna tested the suspension and said he was happy with the outcome (although we all know he hated the idea of assisted driving), the only issue's with the active suspension used on the 99T was the added weight (10-12Kg) and the hydraulic pump due to it utilising energy from the engine. after much trial an error and few wins in the 1987 Lotus dropped the active suspension.
During 1991 computer technology had advanced to the point that Williams decided to test out another active suspension design on their cars, their previous attempt in the 80s was the design of a reactive suspension system whereas the new system was truly active altering the cars ride hard depending on what corner it was entering and where it was on circuit, during 1991 Williams struggled to truly utilise the active suspension, but in the 1992 season the active suspension trounced the other teams with Nigel Mansell taking 14 out of the 16 pole positions and winning 9 of the seasons races thus finally bringing home Nigel Mansell’s first and only world driver championship win.
During the 1992 season Williams were developing the FW15c but due to the FW14b's successes Williams felt that debuting the FW15c was not the wisest choice. The FW15c & FW14b are considered the most technologically advanced racing cars of all time, not only had Williams mastered the design and implementation of the active suspension system they had also created a highly advanced semi auto gearbox system, allowing the driver to switch from manual to fully automatic at the flick of a switch. during the 1993 season the majority of teams were utilising active suspension etc. Charlie whiting argued that the 12 teams cars were deemed illegal due to the driver aids, the teams finally agreed on banning the systems for the 1994 season.
Here is video of the suspension working in the pits:
Lets not forget the legend who designed the Williams FW14b Adrian Newey granted he did not invent active suspension, but he certainly mastered the design and application of the technology. Below you will find a list of all the cars designed by Adrian Newey that have won the Formula One Constructors Championship:
|2010||Red Bull RB6|
|2011||Red Bull RB7|
|2012||Red Bull RB8|
|2013||Red Bull RB9|