Moog & Motorsport: A Perfect Match

For over 20 years, Moog has been applying its most advanced motion control components and systems, to assist in the advance of motorsport technology.

The first involvement in the early 1980’s was in the field of active suspension, working with Team Lotus on the fully active suspension of the Lotus 92 Formula 1 car. Revolutionary in the extreme, this vehicle suspension dispensed completely with conventional springs and dampers. These were replaced with computer controlled hydraulic actuators. Controlled by Moog Series 30 aerospace servovalves, this system allowed infinitely variable control of vehicle pitch, roll, and ride height as well as spring and damper characteristics. This allowed the car to maintain a level attitude, reducing aerodynamic drag under acceleration. Handling was also enhanced, as it was possible to reduce or eliminate roll and the suspension characteristics were able to adapt to the track conditions. In practice a significant amount of engine power was required to power the hydraulics and the car was only moderately successful during the 1983 season.

Soon after the F1 experiment this technology was successfully transferred to a high performance road car. This was an actively suspended Lotus Esprit produced by Team Lotus’ sister company Lotus Cars. In this application, higher flows were required and high response Moog E771 industrial valves were used. This technology was first demonstrated to the world’s press in 1983 and won worldwide praise for the remarkable quality of its ride and handling. See the photo below of the behavior of a standard and active car cornering ‘on the limit’.

Meanwhile, by the end of the 1980’s Formula 1 was pushing forward with new technologies involving hydraulic controls. There were successful developments in the field of ‘active ride height’. Essentially, this is a system of retaining springs and dampers that controls the vehicle’s attitude by means of additional short stroke actuators placed in line by the springs. Now that a hydraulic power supply was integral to the F1 car, it became feasible to adopt hydraulic actuation of other systems, such as ‘semi-automatic gear shifting’. This is the now universal system whereby the driver up-shifts and down-shifts gears by means of two steering wheel mounted switches or paddles.

By the early Nineties this technology race had progressed to the extent that some F1 cars had as many as 10 axes of servo-hydraulic control, each utilizing a Moog Series 30 Servovalve. Typical applications are shown in the diagram below:

Formula 1 today has many technical restrictions that were originally intended to control the cost of the sport. Many, including the author, believe that, in reality the sponsors of the team determine the racing budget and not the technology!

At the time of this writing, the hydraulic system of an F1 car typically incorporates 4 or 5 Moog E024 Series Servovalves. The Moog E024 is a sub-miniature servovalve designed & developed specifically for Formula 1. It has less than half the mass [92 gm] of the smallest aerospace valve yet can control hydraulic systems controlling power levels of up to 3.5KW. It has the remarkably quick response time of less than 3 mS, essential for a sport where every millisecond is vital to success.

In addition Moog makes a range of miniature ‘on-off’ valves, precision hydraulic actuators, fuel control valves and power steering systems widely used in F1 (See the Product Spotlight article in this newsletter). Lately, Moog has been involved in developments of custom motion control systems with individual teams on a strictly confidential basis.

Over the years other types of Motorsport have embraced the servo-hydraulic technology developed for F1, in particular Rallying (World Rally) Championship cars and motorcycling (Moto GP):

WRC Rally cars use Moog servovalves for control of transmission and suspension systems designed to improve traction and handling on a variety of road surfaces. Again Moog has been pro-active in producing a miniature, high response servovalve designed to survive the extreme environmental demands of Rallying. This is the Moog E050 Cartridge DDV, which uses linear motor technology to actuate the servovalve spool, enabling the valve to operate on hydraulic systems designed to be serviced in the field.

The availability of the tiny Moog E024 servovalve has made it possible to implement hydraulic control systems on experimental motorcycles, and it is probable that this technology will appear on Moto GP motorcycles in the near future.

As to the future, it is probable that Moog will be involved in the uniquely innovative field of Motorsport for many years to come. At present, planned developments include more energy efficient hydraulics, even lighter actuators and electromechanical actuation. However, with our motorsport customers employing hundreds of the most creative engineers in the world, it is difficult to predict what Moog’s motorsport engineers will be developing next week.


Martin S. Jones is responsible for the Motorsport business around the world. He has worked for Moog for 25 years in sales and applications engineering for a range of industries including mobile equipment, marine and offshore, blow molding, and rolling mills. He studied Physics and Economics at the University of East Anglia.