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…. Who’s gonna win?

23 04 2009

Interesting question and glad you asked.  A man once told me you’re only as good as your last win… this may be true in most sports, but in Formula1, you’re only as good as the new parts due to be bolted on your car next race.. here in lies the big question mark.

As more teams add double diffusers, it will be interesting to see who has the pace in the sandy Bahrain desert.  In Shanghai, Red Bull, Brawn and Renault dominated qualifying whilst it was clearly Red Bull’s day in the very wet race.  

The other teams were jealous of Brawn's double d's

The other teams were jealous of Brawn's double d's

Red Bull seem to have the most mechanical grip available on their car at present, which unlike aerodynamic grip, favours wet conditions.  Think of mechanical grip as what the suspension and tyres do to keep a car on the road, aero grip comes from air travelling over the car pushing it down to the ground (downforce).  

Red Bull’s high mechanical grip explains why they are the only non double diffuser team to be performing well, the RB5’s mechanical grip is superior to the diffuser cars in turn balancing their respective performance advantages out.

Unfortunately for Red Bull, it don’t ofter rain in Bahrain.  Expect to see the two Brawn’s near the top of the tree followed closely by Toyota (glock set fastest lap in Shanghai) and Williams (well Nico at least).


Do YOU come with the car??

Do YOU come with the car??

Based on the respective success of updates, I have a strong feeling we’ll see Hamilton and Alonso up near the top too.  Should Alonso decided to qualify light (as in Shanghai) there’s no reason why he shouldn’t perform well. 

The McLaren, also relying on aero grip should do better with new double diffusers in Bahrain.  Bahrain is a circuit with fast straights and slow corners, so you might find cars relying on aero grip will have lower straight line speed.

Where Ferrari lies is anyone’s guess.  They have performed poorly to-date but with their huge development budget, they may have a double diffuser ready for Bahrain and start to be competitive again.

So who do I think will win?  I think it will be the very smooth Jenson, followed by Barichello, Alonso, Vettel and Webber.