Less is definitely more

A Formula 1 clutch is manufactured by hand and is made up of 20 separate parts. The vehicles' light weight and slimline design dictate that all the other fitted components also have to be compact in design, and the clutch is no exception. As a result, it is shorter in length than a ballpoint pen and weighs just 1,200 g. It is approximately the equivalent of a tenth of the weight of a conventional clutch fitted in a compact car. Power transmission is engaged using just four friction discs measuring 97 mm in diameter. Extremely lightweight materials (titanium and carbon fibre) are used to keep the weight as low as possible. High-strength alloys in compliance with aerospace standards are used to maximise the rigidity of the titanium housing, essential for precise injection volume.

A Formula 1 carbon clutch being assembled by hand

Diminutive in size, enormous in output

Formula 1 engines produce nearly 1,000 hp and accelerate vehicles from 0 to 100 km/h in around two seconds. What is required is a specially developed high-performance clutch to transmit this power to the transmission.

This highly advanced clutch can transmit a torque of up to 1,000 Nm, made possible with a special carbon friction material. In stark contrast, a clutch fitted into a conventional mid-size car has to transmit a torque of just 400 Nm.

A Formula 1 clutch has to deal with around ten times more energy at a launch sequence than a conventional clutch. In performance terms, this means the power density is roughly 100 times higher than a conventional clutch due to the slimline design.

SACHS Formula 1 carbon clutch

Thermal load

A Formula 1 clutch can withstand temperatures of up to 1,200°C. Special diaphragm springs on the carbon clutch temporarily withstand high operating temperatures, reaching up to 400°C on launch. As a quick comparison, the organic material used for a standard clutch starts to burn at 450°C.

A particular challenge is to achieve a constant clutch performance at a variety of temperatures.

Wear behaviour

A Formula 1 clutch has to handle up to thirty launch sequences and up to 4,200 gear changes during a Grand prix, for example in Monaco. This inevitably leads to high wear. However it is not only the launch and the many gear changes which place the clutch under enormous strain. The extremely dynamic engine with its high performance peaks causes the clutch to permanently slip. In one racing lap, the slip equals approximately two revolutions. This is another significant factor influencing the high wear of the clutch.

SACHS Performance Clutches: Dynamic Driving for the Experts

The extraordinary toughness of SACHS Performance clutches guarantees an unforgettable maximum dynamic driving experience.

Everything you need to know about clutches from SACHS Performance
SACHS Performance clutch for the race track