True Grip (Lucid v McLaren v Ferrari)

941 0

True Grit is a 2010 American Western film directed, written, produced, and edited by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. It is an adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name, starring Jeff Bridges as Deputy U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn and Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. The film also stars Matt DamonJosh Brolin, and Barry Pepper. A previous film adaptation in 1969 starred John WayneKim Darby and Glen Campbell. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, it had box-office revenues of over $252 million (on a budget of about $38 million).

You know I love Coen Brothers: see Goodfellas v Miller’s Crossing.

Folks ask me all the time – now that I have had a Lucid for almost a year (see Risky Business), McLaren for almost five, and Ferrari for over fifteen (see Ford v Ferrari) – which one I like the most.

Let us look at four different aspects involved in the enjoyment of driving.

Time to go 0-60 mph: Lucid, 3 seconds. McLaren, 3 seconds. Ferrari, 3 seconds.

No difference. To me, the fun metric is 0-100 mph! Lucid wins this one hands down, and without making any noise! (See The Sound of Silence.)

Next aspect?

Maximum speed: Lucid, 200 mph. McLaren, 204 mph. Ferrari, 199 mph.

From a practical perspective, though, I care about how fast I am willing to go on an open road (not Track), and, even more concretely, what I have actually done so far.

Lucid, 115 mph. McLaren, 135 mph. Ferrari, 125 mph. (Track 145+ mph.)

What prevents me from going faster? Fear. Of what? Of losing control. Why am I less afraid in the McLaren?

Better Grip.

How is better grip obtained? There are two methods:

Aerodynamic. Mechanical.

The Aerodynamic Grip is achieved through creating down-force (using Bernoulli’s principle, the reverse of what makes a plane fly). Ferrari pioneered this way back. It comes into play generally over 145 mph.

The Mechanical Grip is enhanced (in a racing car) using an ingenious device, created only around 2007:


This was pioneered by McLaren, in collaboration with University of Cambridge’s Engineering professor, Malcolm Smith. The principle used is to repurpose – reverse – the oscillations caused due to bumps to stabilize the vehicle sooner. (But this takes space and increases mass, two things a F1 car does not have and want to increase. So, it is used in the tires to handle small amplitude vibrations, and the traditional shock absorber remains in place with the suspension.)

For a fun story, from 2007, about secrecy and a (“J-damper”) scandal, in Formula 1 racing, between Renault and McLaren, while McLaren was stealing engineering documents from Ferrari 😏, and was fined $100 million 😳, see this article, and to understand how it works (explains suspension, shock-absorbers, inerters, destructive interference, how used and not used in F1) see this video.

If you want to see its connection to electrical circuits and understand the mathematics of it, see Pg. 604-609 of The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics (a wonderful treasure-chest, thanks Bob Vanderbei for encouraging me to buy it, when we met in Princeton earlier this year, see Air Quantum), which is written by Malcolm Smith himself, titled, you guessed it, Inerters.😏

The third aspect of enjoyable driving, also related to the grip, but also on responsiveness, tight tolerances, and braking (‘handling’), is how much fun it is to drive on a curvy road, especially if there are hairpin turns, as there are in Sewickley Heights, where I live. This is where Lucid fails quite miserably compared to Ferrari and McLaren.  Winner? McLaren. 

Indeed, sometime back, I was having fun, on Blackburn Road, on two back-to-back hairpin turns, when a cop, hiding in a driveway, pulled me over:

Do you know why I pulled you over?


You were doing over 55 mph in a 25-mph speed limit zone.

I know.

It is the kind of day to do it, I suppose, in a car like this.

That was what I was thinking, too.

Well, I have to at least give you a warning.

I understand.

Okay, drive carefully.

Will do.

No ticket? Of course, no ticket.☺️ Come on, even cops are reasonable human beings, and know when not to put a damper on folks just having fun.

The final aspect is emotional. How do I feel – about life, in general – when I am driving the car? Winner: Ferrari.

So, what am I up to this evening? Wrapping up the slides for two talks this week, both on Thursday, the first as part of MBA Orientation, welcoming the new class, and the second, for TiE Pittsburgh.

930-1015 am: What is Business?

6 -7 pm. The Second Quantum Revolution.

The weather is so good today, and, it is time to go out to the village for a quick bite anyway. Which car? Coin toss, randomize, between Ferrari and McLaren?😏

Leave a Reply