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Just read it on F1. Interesting reading. Just wonder how CVT would cope with all those stresses.

The Monaco Grand Prix is not only one of the hardest stress tests in the Formula One calendar for the drivers: the race on the streets of the Principality on the Cote d'Azur also places huge demands on the machinery, and especially the gearbox.

Going through roughly 3,600 gearshifts, the gearbox has to give its all on the city track with its many corners. That’s extremely hard work – equivalent to one change every second. However, the fact that in Monaco the drivers have to change gear roughly 20 per cent more often than on tracks such as Monza is not the only problem.

“Because of the many undulations and bumps on the city track, the wheels lose ground contact for a fraction of a second every so often,” explains Gordon Day from the WilliamsF1 Team. “That makes shifting gear really difficult, even if the gearbox is set up perfectly.”

The days of manual gearshifts in F1 are long past. That makes the work easier for the drivers, who can engage a new gear with a rocker switch on the steering wheel, but not for the gearbox. A gearshift lasts roughly 25 to 30 milliseconds, and a lot of things happen in that short time that have to be coordinated perfectly.

For instance, if the driver shifts gear at precisely the moment when the engine speed is increasing quickly because he has just driven over a manhole cover, the whole gearshift can often get out of rhythm. The teams closely monitor how well the gearbox copes with the stress: it is completely dismantled after every race and checked for cracks.

When performing at the limit, the gearbox is subjected to extreme loads. And for his own safety, the driver needs to be able to rely on the fact that all the parts will cope with these strains. No wonder the very best is only just good enough for a Formula One gearbox. For instance, the gearbox housing, which has to be as rigid as possible because the entire rear axle is attached to it, is generally made of titanium and carbon fibre. The ball bearings are ceramic and the gear wheels are made of high strength steel. Due to their low weight, aluminium and various plastics are used as additional materials.

A gearbox is a carefully cultured, high-tech product, and its 400 individual parts are all specially produced – right down to the bearings and seals. Naturally, that all has its price: a F1 gearbox, according to expert estimates, costs about 125,000 euros.
 
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