2023 marked Vanwall’s return to racing in the form of the Vandervell 680 hypercar, developed by Vanwall GmbH and run by the Floyd Vanwall Racing Team to compete in the World Endurance Championship’s LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) category.
We were chosen to be the electronics supplier for the new Vandervell 680 and set about integrating our latest generation electronics on the car. Working with the team developing the car, we aided them in ensuring the package lived up to the competitive requirements of the LMH class.
The Antares 8 engine control unit was chosen for multiple reasons. Firstly, the Gibson V8 engine that powered the Vandervell 680 is a derivative of the highly successful LMP2 V8, but built to a higher displacement of 4.5 litres to increase the engine’s power output. As a result of the engine being used across the entire LMP2 grid, it has been controlled by Cosworth electronics for many years using the MQ12Di.
Vanwall was keen to get the Antares 8 on the car because of its existing knowledge of Cosworth products and the ways in which control strategies could be implemented. The team was able to carry over many strategies from LMP1 (the class that was succeeded by LMH), building upon their existing experience with the MQ12Di. This made the development path more efficient and straightforward, instead of the team having to start from scratch and invent something new.
The most significant change introduced by transitioning from the MQ12Di to Antares 8 was the incorporation of chassis logging within Antares itself. In LMP1, a separate chassis logger was used, which is no longer required in the Antares setup. This reduced the number of devices in the car, resulting in less wiring, a more simplified system and a small reduction in weight – all critical benefits when competing in an endurance race.
Even with this combination of engine control and logging in one device, the Antares 8 allows for more extensive data logging compared to the previous setup the team was using in LMP1. This includes a substantial increase of 200% in bandwidth and 300% capacity with the medium level activation token.
Once Antares was chosen in the early stages of the car's conceptualisation, it was clear that using Cosworth’s full ecosystem was the right decision for Vanwall. This included the CCW Mk2 and other components, such as SJUs. This decision streamlined the development process and enhanced compatibility of all vehicle subsystems.
The SJUs played a pivotal role, connecting driving sensors directly to Antares for control purposes, while chassis logging sensors measuring parameters such as master cylinder position, brake disc and calliper temperatures and damper third element displacements were routed through the SJUs. The data from these sensors was then communicated as a single data line back to the Antares to be recorded or transmitted via the telemetry system. This setup ensured redundancy and reliability; if the SJUs failed, the car's driving capabilities remained intact. The loss was primarily limited to logging data, emphasising the goal of minimising dependency on multiple devices.
The CCW Mk2 is also directly connected to the Antares 8 and is used as an auxiliary device. In this application, it is essentially acting as a remote control and display for the Antares - it does not have a separate setup configured on it. Despite this, it is a highly functional tool that displays critical information and provides the drivers with a high degree of control through the use of multiple rotary switches, buttons and paddles.
The team gives as much control to the drivers as possible through the CCW Mk2 because of its ease of use, meaning drivers can fully focus on their task of competing. Every vital function like engine start and stop, flashing the lights, wipers, drinking, shifting and many more are controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. Rotaries for engine calibration, shift calibration and other performance relevant topics like engine braking, traction control and grip estimation are also controlled right from the wheel.
Non-race critical functions like resets, fuel pump out and other maintenance tasks are activated from the RSP, located in the cockpit to the right of the driver. There are also redundancy buttons within the RSP, such as a secondary engine start/stop. If one of the two fails, the engine can still be started or stopped from the other button.
The fuel pump-out function is also a great example of efficiency that the RSP aids. Mechanics don't need to always connect a laptop to the car to carry out garage tasks, making the car easier to maintain and use for the mechanics.
Also included in the package is the entire Cosworth toolchain. The team use CalTool for the engine and transmission calibration and Toolset for Centaurus, Antares, logging and display setups. Pi Toolbox is then used for data acquisition and monitoring.
Having proprietary software designed specifically to work with the hardware products, streamlines the set up and analysis work required, saving a lot of time and simplifying it for the engineers involved. On top of this we are always working on our software, improving it year on year.
We also offer Vanwall, as well as all of our other partnering teams, onsite and online support from the development process all the way to the racetrack. Our very own support team is fully versed with functionality of every motorsport product that we have to offer within our ecosystem. This ensures that we can maximise the efficiency and performance of our products from the first turn of the wheels, all the way to the finish line.
For more information about the individual products that make up our world-beating ecosystem, head to our products page here: Motorsport Products