CHAMPCAR/CART: Magneti Marelli Improves Steering Wheel Screen

Magneti Marelli Earns Checkered Flag For Work on the Small Screen PLYMOUTH, Mich. (April 5, 1999) -- Hollywood is focused on the "Big Screen," but during the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) April 18, attention will be on Magneti Marelli's...

Magneti Marelli Earns Checkered Flag For Work on the Small Screen

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (April 5, 1999) -- Hollywood is focused on the "Big Screen," but during the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) April 18, attention will be on Magneti Marelli's "small screen" - specifically, the small LCD screen on the center of the Magneti Marelli steering wheel used on the Mercedes-Benz powered Champ cars in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Last season, Magneti Marelli and Mercedes-Benz debuted a new steering wheel that featured a dashboard designed to improve communication with the driver. Most other competitors in CART have a dashboard that is behind the steering wheel, and therefore harder to read.

For 1999, the screen on the wheel that makes up a large part of the dashboard has been further improved to make information even more readable to the driver.

The development paid quick dividends at the season-opening race, the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami March 21 at the Homestead Motorsports Complex, when Greg Moore monitored fuel consumption using the new and improved screen on the center of his steering wheel. Moore used the fuel economy of his Mercedes-Benz IC108E engine to full advantage in winning the race from the pole position, and the Marelli electronics and fuel management system played a key role.

"This year, the Mercedes-powered drivers have a screen with six options (as opposed to three last year) on the wheel they can scroll through to receive custom information about the engine and the race car," said Giancarlo De Angelis, who is responsible for Magneti Marelli's motor sports program. Magneti Marelli designed the electronics and fuel management system for the IC108E as technical partner with Mercedes-Benz in the CART series. "The information on the screen can be programmed to give the driver any information they want in any format."

For instance, sometimes a driver is more concerned with fuel consumption (the case with Moore in Miami) than other bits of information. On a street course such as Long Beach, however, engine rpm, oil pressure or gear selection are often more important. Conversely, some drivers may choose to see tire pressure and lap times, although the driver can have it any way he wants it for any given race.

"We went from a lot of information packed onto three screens, to more information spread over six screens in a larger format," said De Angelis. "This made it even easier for the driver to read, which was the reason we moved the dashboard (LCD screen) onto the wheel in the first place."

As an added bonus, there are now eight additional screen options that can be used by engineers to run checks on the engine, electronics and fuel management system when the car is not on the race track. This saves them the time of having to download the information from the Magneti Marelli data logger or connect a lap-top computer to the race car.

"Marelli's technology is beyond what other CART teams are racing with, and we feel it gives us an advantage. The additional data available to the drivers and teams represents the continual evolution of the Marelli system on our race cars," said Paul Ray, vice president, Ilmor Engineering, the race-engine design and manufacturing arm of Mercedes-Benz.

The improved screen is one of many advancements Magneti Marelli contributed to the overall Mercedes-Benz engine package for 1999. Based in Milan, Italy, Magneti Marelli's main business is providing electronics and fuel management systems as well as instrumentation to the automotive industry. Magneti Marelli is an international supplier of automotive components and systems, including: engine control systems, instrument panels, air conditioning systems, lighting, fuel delivery systems, mirrors, exhaust systems, mechanical and electronic components, shock absorbers and lubricants. In addition to Mercedes-Benz, Marelli's clients include DaimlerChrysler, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, General Motors and Harley-Davidson, contributing to combined worldwide sales of more than $3.9 billion.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Moore