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Reactive ride-height suspension 19 January 2012

Last November at the young driver test in Abu Dhabi, Lotus (then Renault) evaluated this reactive ride-height suspension system. It's designed to help the car maintain a constant ride height under braking, which should boost stability and hence aerodynamic performance. An obstacle could have been any need for direct input from the driver - excluding DRS, any driver influence on a car's aerodynamics breaches the regulations - but this is entirely mechanical and is activated by the brakes' torque, not the driver. It's reactive, not active. As a result, Lotus's system has already received initial approval from the FIA's Charlie Whiting, whilst other teams are understood to be evaluating its merits, with Mercedes including a version on their MGP W03 project and Ferrari hoping to test theirs at 2012's final pre-season test in Barcelona. The bulk of the system is contained in the car's drum-like brake housing. Additional hydraulic cylinders (1) are connected to the movement of the brake caliper, whilst the suspension's push-rod link (2) is no longer rigidly fixed to the upright but can enjoy a few millimetres' freedom of movement (see yellow highlighted area on inset) to offset the pressure that would ordinarily force the front of the car to pitch, or dive, under braking. If the system really works - something we should discover in pre-season testing - it could become a must-have innovation for 2012.