Caparo brings race-bred safety to the road
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Caparo brings race-bred safety to the road

Safety systems and materials developed for Formula One make the Caparo T1 one of the world's safest ultra-performance vehicles. The world's fastest ever track-biased production car is constructed using an exceptionally strong carbon composite tub and an energy-absorbing carbon nosecone, giving extremely high levels of driver protection.

Even though the T1 is exceptionally light at around 570kg depending on specification, the very high speeds it is capable of mean that conventional roadcar safety systems can not manage the extreme levels of kinetic energy that could be involved in a crash, explains vehicle co-designer Ben Scott-Geddes. To solve this, we have incorporated many of the safety systems proven in Formula One, where drivers regularly walk away from horrific accidents that would be fatal in normal roadcars.

The two-seater T1 utilises extremely strong, lightweight carbon fibre composite for the monocoque (the body's central structure). The high-technology sandwich construction comprises a 13mm aluminium core with 2mm carbon composite skins using a carefully optimised mix of woven and uni-directional fibres. As well as using high-strength materials, the computer-optimised egg shape of the cell is inherently strong, giving it additional resistance to frontal impacts, and includes an integrated high-strength steel roll-protection hoop.

The nose box, body panels, wings and floor utilise a similar cored construction in a blend of optimised materials, working as an integrated system to provide the best combination of rigidity and energy absorption at any point during an impact. To eliminate joins, which could be a potential point of weakness, all the large components, including the monocoque (which acts as the safety cell) are moulded in one piece.

Even in a lightweight car, the very high speeds make managing energy the biggest safety challenge, explains Scott-Geddes. Although the strong safety cell provides excellent driver protection, without energy absorbing crumple zones similar to a road car, the physical demands of the sudden deceleration would be beyond the

body's ability to cope. We have therefore used Caparo's expertise in high-strength materials to surround the safety cell with energy-absorbing carbon composite structures, such as the collapsible nose box, which are designed to deform in a controlled manner during impact. By increasing the time over which energy is dissipated, loads on the occupants bodies are considerably reduced.
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