It’s no secret that motor racing is expensive. Running a competitive GT race car team costs over a million dollars per year, NASCAR would add a digit and Formula 1 is well into 9 digit costs. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that to ensure the viability going forward, most race series today rely on race car engineering companies like Hewland to provide control components to reduce costs, improve the closeness of racing and in many cases, improve safety.
Hewland contribute controlled gearboxes to a number of race series such as FIA Formula 3, GP2 and DTM. The control components involved are all of those involved in the gear change – including the six-speed Hewland gearbox. This means they have to be identical in every car. DTM uses our 6-speed semi-automatic transmission operated by paddle shifters but our 6-speed sequential manual transmission operated by gear lever or paddle shift is preferred for Formula 3 and GP2 open-wheel series. Hewland can also provide an interface between the gearbox and the race car Engine Control Unit (ECU). This is the electronic control system that once the gear-shift paddle or gear stick is pressed, the ECU (Engine Control Unit) reduces the torque of the engine, reducing the load on the gearbox cog wheels, thereby making it easier for the engaged wheel to release while the newly selected gear is engaged. However, some race series control this interface in an effort to control the power output of the engines used and thereby leading closer, more competitive racing.
Supplying a race series with control components is a win-win for both the race organisation and Hewland. By having a single design that is built in higher volumes, we can convert production savings into higher performance components and apply continuous improvement methods to improve reliability from version type to version type. This ensures that the race series organisers and the race teams themselves are getting a reliable, optimised product that extracts maximum performance from the transmission system on a fair and equitable basis across all the teams.
Another benefit that is not so obvious is that with only one design to support, Hewland can more cost effectively support each race team as the all the parts are interchangeable and only one spares pool is required.