After 60 Years in Formula 1 – Ferrari says Ciao

14 05 2009
Non Parla Italiano
Non Parla Italiano
Ferrari today announced that they do not intend to enter the 2010 Formula 1 Grand Prix Championship should the FIA’s proposed regulation changes go ahead.
The Prancing Horse joins a growing list of teams, including Toyota, BMW, Red Bull and Torro Rosso that are dissatisfied with FIA chief Max Mosley’s ever-changing rulebook.
Of most concern is the proposed option in 2010 for F1 teams to voluntarily cap their spending at 40 million pounds (not including driver salaries and a bunch of other costs). Any team that opts for the cap is rewarded with a broader creative mandate in relation to car design, including an allowable adjustable rear wing (worth 2 seconds a lap).
The debate as to whether to standardise cars, or allow teams total creative flair is a long running one. Offering teams total creative license promotes true innovation which in turn, benefits the road cars on which the sport is supposed to be based.
Standardisation and cost regulation provide affordability to both teams and the tracks at which they race, but at what cost?
We may as well be watching the A1GP. ūüė¶




A little Plain in Spain?

14 05 2009

Webbo claws a little dignity back for the 2009 season

Webbo claws a little dignity back for the 2009 season

Last night I fell asleep and dreamt of a cockney flower girl by the name of Eliza Doolittle. Eliza was taking elocution lessons from a man of stature in hope of becoming a true lady of society. If I recall correctly, Eliza was singing a song that went along the lines of “the race….in Spain, was just a little plain”.
The Circuit De Catalunya has never been considered a passing track, nor an exciting race. It’s a high downforce circuit with some fantastic sweeping double apex corners. The drivers are required to continually adjust steering and throttle to navigate through these tricky corners.
Catalunya is the first race back in Europe and is often considered the race that separates the men from the boys for the rest of the season. As I mentioned though, not a great race for the crowds.
One hand is all I need to count the points of note.
  1. The first lap crash. Nico Rosberg (who for a moment, thought he was back in formula 3000), forced Trulli from the road. Trulli hit the grass, subsequently oversteered back into the traffic and smashed into Sutil. The two Torro Rosso’s were then forced to play a little leap frog hence ending their race too.
  2. Webber & Alonso’s Melee – On the restart, Webber got a little wheelspin out of the final corner. Alonso jumped on his KERS and passed a defending Webber via the pit Exit. Webber had his second bout of “I’ve been passed rage” (similar to him re-passing Button in the wet on the outside in China) and re-passed Alonso under-brakes at the end of the straight – move of the race (and only move)
  3. Jenson Button’s strategy change – Brawn decided to run Jenson on a two stopper, allowing him to leap frog the leading Barichello who was on a three stopper. Very entertaining to watch the usually happy Barichello red faced and angry in the post-race press conference.
  4. Mark Webber’s strategy change – some effective work from Webber’s strategists; who ran him much longer on the middle stint than originally planned. Webbo came out of the pit behind the one stopping Hamilton and Nick Heidfeld. As Webbo was heavier than a Jeff Buckley album, being on the bum of H&H was not of huge concern; once Hammo and Heidfeld entered the pits, it allowed Webber the free air he needed to put in some fast laps on the softs. I counted at least six laps where he was two second a lap quicker than Vettel and Massa, who were running the harder compounds. This gave him the advantage to stay ahead of Massa and Vettel.
  5. Massa running out of fuel – A problem with Massa’s refuel meant his car was light on fuel. His engineers were heard telling him to conserve fuel in order to make the checkered flag. Massa ended up having to do the last seven-odd laps two seconds or so slower than race pace. This allowed Vettel and Alonso to easily pass him. Massa was seen (post finish) walking away from a his very empty car!

The Spanish GP allowed Button and Brawn to extend their dominance of the Formula 1 championship thus-far. Red Bull are holding on for dear life in second and Mark Webber’s second trip to the podium means he has marginally closed¬†the gap to his team mate Vettel.

Monaco, which favours cars with high levels of mechanical grip should be a much more interesting race… God knows we need it after the “locamotive” that was the Spanish Grand Prix!





14 05 2009

Fernando was dissapointed with the handling of the new Renault

Fernando was dissapointed with the handling of the new Renault

 

It’s been almost two weeks since Button won the Bahrain F1GP and we now head to the serious part of the grand prix calender – Europe.

 

Europe’s where it all stared. It’s birthplace to pedigree manufacturers like Ferrari, BMW, Mercedez and Renault. More importantly it’s home to all the F1 teams!

This weekend’s Spanish grand prix will likely provide much insight into the remainder of the season. Brawn, Toyota and Red Bull, who have been the pace-setters in the first four races will face intensified competition from the powerhouses that are Ferrari and McLaren.

With the gap between races, it’s likely we’ll see some significant car updates; double diffusers will be commonplace and teams will begin copying the ingenuity of their competitors (such as Williams copying Red Bull’s rear-wing endplates).

BMW Sauber have surely prayed each night to the upgrade gods..(“Please lord, bring me thy balance combined with better corner speed”).

McLaren and Renault have no doubt further refined their double diffuser designs whilst Ferrari is one of the only teams to stick with KERS and to have been quoted stating that it offers a “clear advantage”.

The lack of certainty in relation to a title contender is making 2009 a spectacular formula 1 season. Can Brawn keep the advantage? Will Vettel, combined with Newey’s brilliance prevail? Or will McLaren and Ferrari stamp their dominance once more?





Like a bull to water: Horner’s Wet Bulls pray for rain

1 05 2009

 

Wet Bull gives you fins

Wet Bull gives you fins

I’m not one to speculate, but I reckon a little rain dancing might be taking place in Red Bull’s Milton Keynes factory as we near the Spanish F1 Grand Prix.

I even hear on the grapevine that British customs reported a notable rise in the number of Native Americans entering England, bound for Milton Keynes.

Malaysia and Shanghai demonstrated that the Bulls are superior handling cars in wet weather, due in most part to their impressive levels of mechanical grip. Jenson Button was even quoted saying that “he couldn’t get near the Red Bulls in the wet”.

In the short term, this means Red Bull’s results are likely to be good in races that end up being reasonably wet.

Even better news for Red Bull is that mechanical grip is harder for teams to improve upon than aero grip. Unlike aero grip, where new parts can be bolted on willy-nilly, mechanical grip is derived from the car’s chassis and suspension; improvements require “wholesale” changes to the car’s structure.

In short, Red Bull’s relative advantage should remain for quite a few races.

Add to the mix a double decker diffuser, combined with a few other bits of Newey brilliance and Red Bull may start to give Brawn trouble in the not so wet races…..





Bahrain Formula 1 Results – Brains, Brawn and Button…

27 04 2009
Jenson, Smoother than a babies bareback..

Jenson, Smoother than a babies bareback..

 Jenson Button drove a great race to win the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the first few laps, which I can only describe as spectacular; by far the most exciting part of the race.
We’re at an amazing point in the Grand Prix timeline thanks to a series of wholesale changes to car design. In particular, we have two distinct car types, those running Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (“KERS”), and those who are not. It seems (at least for the moment), that the have-nots are much better off than the haves.
Whilst KERS cars typically have better acceleration and are heavier, cars without KERS are lighter and faster than crap off a stick around corners.
KERS provides an additional 80 horses by storing energy created when braking. The extra 80 is stored in a (really heavy) battery and can be used at driver’s discretion. In fact, the battery is so heavy that Kubica and Webber have developed eating disorders so as not to be disadvantaged when competing agains shorter, lighter drivers.
This all makes for great racing. As the red lights vanished we saw Hamilton execute a perfect start, passing Vettel and Button for third. Although Button re-passed Hammo in the subsequent lap under brakes, Vettel struggled to do the same, in turn destroying his chance for a win. Webber had similar issues further down the field as he struggled to pass Piquet on the start finish straight.
It’s these vastly different car characteristics that’s making f1 racing more exciting than a 1 carat diamond is to my current squeeze – particularly the opening laps!

 

 

F1FTO Out





Weighty Issues – Bahrain

26 04 2009

bahrain-weightsWell done to Bernie & Co. for allowing the disclosure of provisional Formula 1 car and driver weights post quali, pre-race!

I’ll save you the team by team summary in relation to the provisional weight listings for the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix as I think we’ve all seen enough of that analysis!

Red Bull’s claim that the Toyota’s were running lighter than air itself was accurate.

Kubica’s car has less balance than a one legged drunk and as such he’s filled his car to the absolute brim.

It’s interesting to see that Mark Webber has opted for a relatively light fuel load. It seems he’s keeping his car fast in order to pass the back-runners with conviction. I think this will be a good test of Webber’s true passing ability. If all goes well and he doesn’t crash, mechanically fail or get abducted by aliens, he should see some points.

Oh, and one last thing… When are they ditching young Piquet? The guy’s had more chances to prove himself than I’ve had showers… I reckon Flavio would do a better job in the car at present!





F1 Qualifying Format – messier than doggies breakfast?

26 04 2009

Ever seen a swarm of angry wasps?¬†¬†It ain’t pretty and the¬†scene reminds me somewhat of¬†F1’s qualifying format.¬† Seems to me that the question “is there a perfect qualifying format” is up there with “what is the meaning of life”.¬†

Einstein spent much of his latter years working on F1 qualifying

Einstein spent many of his latter years working on F1 qualifying

Over the years we’ve seen a number of¬†different qualifying formats, such as the current knockout system, the hot lap system (1 car out at a time giving it their best), and even having two qualifying periods in which all cars could try and set their fastest laps at any point over the two periods.

Once again we see a scenario at the Bahrain GP where a very fast car (Red Bull) driven by Mark Webber (the unluckiest man in F1) is at the rear of the grid, due to a very slow car blocking him.  Mark was on a competitive lap which would have secured his place in qualifying session 2, however Adrian Sutil of Force India intentionally blocked him to ensure his subsequent hot lap was not damaged.

Unlike Massa in Sepang, where he thought he’d done enough to secure his spot in Q2, Mark was the¬†victim of the system.¬† I¬†can’t help¬†but¬†feel¬†a need for a judicial mechanism that allows such instances to be¬†immediately rectified, so as not to ruin one man’s race on account of another.