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Friday, April 29, 2011

F1 News

I apologise for my recent absence but after the last couple of rants you can appreciate that I was questioning whether this Blog was becoming overly political or whether I could focus exclusively on the sport that I love.  Having looked around the more prominent F1 sites and bloggers I've noted that they too have since come out with their expressed opinions that Bahrain should be abandoned, though in somewhat more measured tones.  I shall restrict myself at this point to saying that I await the decision of the sport in this matter.

On a proper F1 note I'm delighted to see Jenson jumping into early negotiations with McLaren for his future career.  He's said he wants to finish his career with the team and sees himself retiring when their partnership ends.  Way to go Jense! I don't think there's any question as to who's got the upper hand in your new contract negotiations.  Seriously though, I do think he's taken the right option here.  McLaren are one of the Big 3 and as such cementing your relationship with them at the peak of your earning potential is the right way to go.  Just remember Damon and Williams in 1996!

 F1 Fanatic has a story where Heidfeld has said he's not a fan of DRS.  If you remember, Rosberg was extolling the virtues of the system last month (BIG FAN, best innovation ever!!).  I'm with Nick (not Nico) on this one who simply said "I don’t particularly like things which artificially aim to improve racing”.

While you're on their site they've also put a story out that Patrick Head is going to spend more time at the factory and less at races in order to try to improve the reliability of the Williams - even going so far as to say that they may take out the KERS in order to improve their racing.  I'm a fan of Patrick and Williams and I hope they pull it together.  Question - Did they ever install the Flywheel KERS that they had developed into this years car or are they running with the standard system?

And finally for today, it would seem that the 2013 engine issue is back on the table with a number of sites covering the story from a number of angles.  BBC have gone at it from a Bernie/Todt/FOTA/Ferrari angle while Autosport have done a piece with Renault Boss, Eric Boullier.  Personally I think that my piece from April 15th is far superior (just kidding guys!).

OK there is one other piece which is a little bit of fun and put F1 back in my good books today. F1B's Negative Camber (or NC if you like) made me want to link you into this.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

F1 Politics

I apologise in advance for the fact that this Blog would appear to be getting more and more political in tone.  I began this for no other reason than I wanted the opportunity to have a bit of fun with the 2011 season and give my thoughts on the simple things in F1 life like aerodynamics, tyres, who might go where in 2012, what's going on with the teams, etc.

You know the nice, simple, straightforward matter of going racing.

Now I'm getting dragged into matters with which I used to have little interest (the funding of racetracks, the cost to the tracks of going racing, and the possibility of track closures) and into middle eastern national politics of which I was totally ignorant (pardon that ignorance please).

The Bahrain debate just won't go away -witness the following story on F1 Fanatic Deadline day approaches for Bahrain decision by Keith Collantine which expresses my feelings towards this matter very succinctly.

He makes the point that Bernie's stance on the matter is that "Formula 1 must never be political - full stop", but goes on to say that "there is no apolitical stance on this matter. Either you are happy for the Bahraini government to suppress its people so F1 can hold a race, or you aren’t".

His story quotes an Amnesty International report on conditions in the country which can be read here.  I'm not 100% behind Amnesty in that I think sometimes they jump into a cause without the full facts however this report would appear to be remarkable by the fact that the delegation have mainly reported their findings on the ground and its conclusion is very restrained:

Human rights conditions in Bahrain have undergone a marked deterioration in recent weeks. This was clear and palpable during Amnesty International’s most recent fact-finding visit, following an earlier visit in February. The government’s resort to renewed excessive force to suppress the protests, its declaration of the State of National Safety and the extraordinary powers that contains, and the application of those powers to arrest and detain incommunicado hundreds of mainly Shi’a protestors and political activists has exacerbated tension between the Sunni and Shi’a Muslim communities and cast Bahrain on a very worrying downward trajectory.

There is an urgent need now, therefore, for the Bahraini government to reverse this trend and give renewed and greater priority to its obligations under international law. It must not fail that test.

At the same time, much more and more determined action is needed from governments in North America and Europe that have long maintained close diplomatic, trade and other ties with the Kingdom and which have been much more vocal in espousing the cause of human rights during the current turmoil in Libya and during the recent protests in Tunisia and Egypt than they have in relation to Bahrain. For many in the Arab world, this appears as another example of political selectivity when it comes to the advancement of human rights by such
states; they must act, and act quickly, to disperse this perception but principally to remind the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to uphold and respect human rights, including the right to peaceful protest, and to ensure accountability for unlawful killings, torture and other human rights violations committed by their forces or the forces of the other states currently assisting them.

As the F1 Fanatic story says - There is no apolitical stance on this matter.

If Bernie reschedules this race then it will become a matter for the FIA and Jean Todt and if they confirm it it will become a poilitical matter for the teams and finally the drivers.

I trust that, regardless of any decision of Bernie or the FIA, the teams and drivers will not let down the expectations of the fans - who I'm sure could not lend their support to a race which would be taking place in Bahrain at a time when the country and its people are in turmoil.

Were all of the above groups to agree to race in Bahrain then I must call on all fans of the sport to boycott the race - by not travelling to see it live and by refusing to watch it on television.  A TAM rating of Zero/Nought would leave Bernie, the FIA, and any other supporters of racing in Bahrain in no doubt where the real power in F1 lies.

This blog has a relatively small readership but I would hope that all of you who tweet or facebook or whatever - would put out the call to resist running any GP in Bahrain this season and to boycott any race which takes place there this year.

No to Rescheduled Bahrain GP

I think this story as reported on Autosport is too important to dilute and I would like to say that while this blogger doesn't tend to like mixing his sport with politics I support this position completely:

You're entitled to disagree but I've made my position clear preseason and on hearing that Bernie was trying to reschedule.  What I have noticed is that Bahrain has slipped off the news radar over here around the time that Saudi and UAE sent troops in to "restore order!!!"

In an open letter to Bernie Ecclestone, published as part of a Facebook campaign, the 'Youth of the 14 February Revolution' wrote:

"We are addressing to you this open letter publicly regarding the organization of Bahrain Grand Prix, and we, citizen of Bahrain, and human rights supporters of the world, are asking you to consider the challenges to organize what should be a happy sporting event in the middle of a country under siege and martial law, surrounded by tanks and military forces, while the population is being reduce to silence, killed, tortured, etc...
"Not mentioning the difficult climatic conditions, and the fact that organizing a motor sport festival in the middle of a despotic crackdown on the population, wouldn't be well understood and accepted worldwide.
"Also, in support of the population of Bahrain, we're asking you reconsider hosting Grand Prix of Bahrain until basic human rights and freedom are restored, and, if you wish, to issue a letter stating that the Grand Prix cannot, and will not, be organized in Bahrain until basic human rights and freedom are restored, and the repression is over. With your permission, we will display this letter of support on Facebook and other networks to show the solidarity of the Formula 1 sporting industry with the democratic and freedom aspirations of the Bahraini people!
"We thank you very much for your support and wish to see the Grand Prix in Bahrain soon, in a free and democratic atmosphere to which you would have contributed."

Listen to them Bernie.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mercedes Fastest in the Pits

Much Kudos to Will Buxton on breaking the whole Mercedes Wheel Nut saga which I posted just before the Shanghai GP last week.

Now it appears that Mercedes has got the fastest pit stop in F1 so far this year!

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport analysed all of the track data and found that Mercedes' average race pitstop time in 2011 is 22.301 secs, 0.08secs faster than McLaren, while Red Bull's time is 22.589 seconds, slower by nearly three tenths.

Ferrari and Williams are way down the list in 7th and 8th at their stops with an average time of 23.739 & 23.810 respectively.  Hispania really suck at pitstops - shaving time off here may help get them ahead of Virgin and Lotus in the races.

Team Stops Av.Pit Time
Mercedes 14  22,301 s
McLaren 17  22,383 s
Red Bull 17  22,589 s
Sauber 10  23,067 s
Force India 14  23,340 s
Renault 14  23,615 s
Ferrari 17  23,739 s
Williams 8  23,810 s
Toro Rosso 12  23,960 s
Lotus 10  24,220 s
Virgin 12  24,944 s
Hispania 5  25,676 s

Friday, April 22, 2011

Istanbul Park F1 race under Threat

Further to my recent rant about the continuing escalation of costs associated with hosting F1 and the threat to a number of state sponsored F1 races directly arising from the inability of the circuits to cover their costs I see that the Turkish GP is likely to bite the dust after 2011, if the F1 Fanatic story is to be believed.

I guess my sudden interest in this issue arose first of all when Spa-Francochamp declared last year, I think just after the GP (which I had attended), that it was no longer viable to host the racing series due to the costs.

Then just the other day it was the Nurburgring - a story which I noted with significant sadness.

To tell the truth I could live without Turkey, a Tilke design, many of which rely on the performance of the car over that of the driver (a Jarno Trulli observation with which I'd agree).  It's not that it's a bad circuit it's not historic - from an F1 perspective.

It is however symptomatic of the current economic climate in which we find ourselves that a circuit which only opened its doors to F1 in 2005 does not find itself able to justify the expense of extending its F1 contract beyond the initial 7 years.

It appears the race fee has doubled to $26 million for 2012 and the Government will not make the payment.

The story which came out on Reuters points out that in 2009 only 36,000 three day passes were sold "a smaller turnout than at some of the pre-season tests in Spain -- and last year some of the stands were entirely empty".

Further to my earlier article this would mean that 7 of the current crop of 20 circuits are now under threat - with Interlagos under threat because of its recent safety record.  So we can expect a 13 race series in 2013.

A 13 race series wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that all of these circuits will be vital to F1's future and so will begin to cut costs, which will lead to poorer track and safety conditions and poorer facilities: this on the basis that they're future is not under threat.  1970's safety at 21st century installations.

On a lighter note it would seem that even when Turkey's fee is doubled to $26 million (€18 million) it's still far less than Bahrain which was quoted preseason at €30 million.  It looks as though not everyone is on the same rate - food for thought...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kubica Ready to Go!

Robert Kubica is to leave hospital in the next few days.  F1 Fanatic has the story with quotes from the Renault Website.

All I can say is best of luck with the rehab and training Robert and we all wish you a speedy recovery and return to the sport.  I'm sure we may see him at one of the European Races if his recuperation allows and if his employers can wrangle it.

Try to keep away from the rallying for a while eh?


The story is expanded upon in Adam Cooper's Blog which sets out a Q & A session with Kubica from the Lotus Renault Website.

Massa Attack

BBC Sport have put out this interesting assessment of Ferrari, by Mark Hughes, which makes the conjecture that:

"There will be zero psychological support from the team for any Massa attempt at getting equal status with Alonso. Within the team, Massa's support comes only from Smedley and the two are operating as their own little unit within a big picture of Alonso-centricity".

Nice little story about Filipe which comes, eventually, to the same conclusion as I did in my pre-season story.

Kick Nadgers over the course of the season and GET OUT!!  Show what you can do in the car and do a deal with McLaren or Mercedes who would appear to have vacancies come the end of the year with Schumi likely to retire (how many times have we heard that?) and Hamilton whose comments so far in the season shows he's obviously looking to either improve his payday or get into Ferrari/Red Bull/any other competitive team.

Go Massa.

Vettel named One of the Greats

Two interesting stories popped up on the Blogdar this morning.  The first one claims that Vettel, as a driver, is in the same league as Senna.  Funnily enough the story is printed in "Red Bull News" and even funnier is the source of the story is Giorgio Ascanelli, the director of Toro Rosso.

We get these comparisons on a regular basis when new drivers come through and I'm sure Senna got compared with the greats of yesteryear when he showed what he could do, but I always find the stories amusing given that such comparisons are now two-a-penny.

Schumi, Alonso, Vettel! You could probably add Kubica to the list given that he hasn't really ever had a winning car under him and yet has put in mighty performances.  When Raikkonen came into F1 he was being hailed as the new Messiah and, to be sure, he did put in some spectacular performances but if my memory serves me he was outperformed in his first year by Heidfeld yet his new blood got him into the McLaren Mercedes ahead of his teammate who had been a Mercedes driver in DTM prior to F1.

Vettel is certainly capable of spectacular performances, and showed his promise in the Toro Rosso before his big promotion, particularly in Japan in 2007 where, if you remember he managed to take off himself and Webber from third and second in extreme wet conditions under the safety car; an act which promoted Webber's outburst on the BBC: "It's kids isn't it... kids with not enough experience – they do a good job and then they fuck it all up."

He did win spectacularly for Toro Rosso in 2008 in the wet at Monza having grabbed pole in a wet/dry quali and the next year was promoted to the First Team to partner Webber.

A good driver? Yes.

Comparable to Senna? Who is?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ferrari problems linked to Windtunnel Data

I know that everyone is going on today about Murdoch trying to buy F1 - I doubt it's going to happen the way it's being reported (if at all) but I'm more interested in why Ferrari aren't on the pace.

Stefano Domenicali was interviewed by Autosprint Italy and, interestingly, said that they had a structural problem with the windtunnel at Maranello.  The data coming out of the Windtunnel is conflicting with the data being received when the car is on track.

This conflict means that upgrades being designed in the windtunnel are not performing as expected in on-track conditions.  Aldo Costa the Tech Director has said that "We started an investigation so we are doing correlation between the track and the wind tunnel, trying to understand why that should be."

A recalibration of the Maranello Windtunnel needs to be undertaken to resolve the problem.

In the meantime it would appear that Ferrari are intending to use a high spec windtunnel facility in Cologne belonging to Toyota.

This could explain why Ferrari have not responded to adversity as quickly as in previous years.  If this is the case then the criticism of Alonso and di Montezemelo may well be unwarranted.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

F1 is eating itself

I seem to be seeing all the bad news today the Formula 1 Blog is carrying this story about how $25 million of state funding for the newly named Circuit of the Americas is now in jeopardy following moves in the Texas Senate to balance the books.

One of the oldest circuits on the calendar (Nurburgring), a circuit which isn't even completed yet (Austin), Melbourne, Spa-Francochamps, Valencia.  Bahrain shouldn't be seeing any F1 action either until the political mess is sorted out there, which given the presence of foreign troops/security on the street should take a while.

That's 6 out of 20 circuits threatened with extinction.

F1 in its current form is becoming an endangered species and not because of rule changes, lack of overtaking, scandals, or falling TV audiences.

F1 is facing extinction because it is not economically viable for the private sector to construct and manage modern F1 circuits; because Bernie charges €40 Million odd just to bring the race to your track.  An operator needs to bring in 200,000 fans at €200 a pop just to pay that back! Not to mind the cost of updating circuits and facilities and paying back the massive debt you've incurred just by buying the land and constructing the complex.

Even if you accept that there should be some state input into the costs because of the TV exposure of the country and the boost to the local tourist economy, any such cash boost would not cover the cost of hosting the race and you'd actually be seeing the state subsidising the cost of tickets.

€40 million is far too much and a charge of €200 for a ticket is also well beyond the means of many F1 supporters when you include accommodation, flights, food, etc.

There is a serious drive within F1 teams to cut budgets to ensure the survival of the teams and this must also translate to the cost of putting on the races themselves.  It's no good having 24 cars on the grid and 12 teams in a healthy economic state if you've got no circuits to race on.

I can afford to go to maybe one race every two/three years but they're all races located in Europe - I couldn't afford to travel to Malaysia, Korea, Suzuka (much as I'd like to), Abu Dhabi, Interlagos (much as I'd...) on any kind of regular basis and probably wouldn't bother trying to justify the expense (being married with a kid).

If F1 wants to survive it needs to reconnect on the ground.  TV is all well and good but the wild beauty of the sport is only truly appreciated LIVE.  Its what creates a visceral connection between the cars, the circuits, and the spectator and creates a life-long fan.

Bernie - Reduce your costs to the circuits.  Circuits reduce your costs to the fan.  Otherwise we'll be at the point where the only European Race will be Monte Carlo, there'll be no GP on the American Continent (except maybe Montreal, because that gets the US fans), there'll be no Antipodean GP, and all F1 activity will concentrate in Asia and the Middle East.

Goodbye Silverstone
Au revoir Spa
Arrivederci Monza
Adeus Interlagos
Auf Wiedersehen Hockenheim
Viszontlátásra Hungaroring
Adios Circuit de Catalunya (and I mean that one sincerely - unless it rains!)
G'day Albert Park

It's been real.

Nurburgring to Close?

The results of the latest election in the Rhineland-Palatinate state where the 'Ring is located has seen the Green Party triple its vote meaning that the state is now to be governed by a coalition of the previously majority SPD party to include the Greens.

The leader of the Greens, Daniel Kobler, has targeted the subsidies which are given to the track for the purpose of holding F1 and has said publicly that "In the negotiations with the SPD, we will work to permanently remove the subsidies for the 'Ring in the foreseeable future."

Probably one of the most famous F1 tracks in the world the 'Ring was purpose built in the 1920's in the Eifel mountains.  In the 1950s the Nordschleife (Northern Loop) of the Nürburgring became the main venue for the German grand Prix, a 14 mile circuit winding through the mountains and forests.

It continued to operate the GP with intermittent absences from the calendar until 1976 and the famous Niki Lauda crash where he was severely burned after his car went off on lap 2 of the race.  His life was saved by four of the other drivers rather than by the emergency services, for whom the track was too long to cover effectively.  This marked the end of the Nordschleife as an F1 racing venue.

Ironically, earlier in the year Lauda had proposed that the drivers boycott the 'Ring precisely because of the inherent dangers associated with racing it at ever increasing speeds and the safety issues arising at the track.  The other drivers voted against his proposal and the final race was held.

Lauda is also the only person who has ever lapped the Nordschleife in under 7 minutes (in 1975).

A new, shorter, track was constructed to a much higher standard for modern racing at the 'Ring and completed in 1984.  It held the European Grand Prix during the Schumacher era, but over the last number of years both it and Hockenheim have been losing money due to high ticket prices and the costs associated with hosting a GP.

Is this the end of the Nurburgring's F1 history?  Will the European Green Parties finally begin to tear F1 apart pushing F1 further and further East and South?  Should Kobler get his way it would appear to signal the end of European F1 as we know it.  If they can shut down a track that has been synonymous with the Grand Prix Calendar since its inception in the 1920's - is anywhere safe?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fantastic Racing in China

Great drive from Hamilton to win the GP.  Fantastic overtaking all through the race, on his teammate, Massa, on Rosberg, and most importantly on Vettel.

Great drive from Webber to take third on the podium, particularly on his last set of Soft tyres which saw him take just about everyone ahead of him who were on the hard compound.

Massive cock-up from Button which saw him drive into the Red Bull box at his first pitstop, gifting the lead to Vettel and ruining his own race.  What the hell was going on to distract him? Ended up fourth

Good Drive from Rosberg, but Mercedes just got things slightly wrong, with fuel issues and perhaps a strategic mistake.  Fifth.

Good drive from Massa, once again beating his teammate, Alonso, who (if you were watching BBC) would appear to have deployed DRS coming out of the Hairpin Turn 14. Sixth.

Great Race with lots of overtaking going on, most of which, again, seems to have taken place outside the DRS zone.  Sure, some DRS overtaking took place but I think the majority of it came down to tyre choice and freshness.

Something to watch for in China - Mercedes Wheel Nuts

Just saw this story on The Buxton Blog, Can't believe I missed it!  but it gives us something new to watch for during the race.

Wheel nuts attached to the wheel rims.  Interesting.

Will Buxton has a couple of updates in on this story which would appear to show that this system is legal (currently).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Qualifying - how they line up on the Grid

Grid PlacingDriverTeamTime
1. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:33.706
2. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:34.421
3. Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:34.463
4. Nico RosbergMercedes GP1:34.670
5. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:35.119
6. Felipe MassaFerrari1:35.145
7. Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso1:36.158
8. Paul di RestaForce India1:36.190
9. Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso1:36.203
10. Vitaly PetrovRenaultno Q3 time
11. Adrian SutilForce India1:35.874
12. Sergio PerezSauber1:36.053
13. Kamui KobayashiSauber1:36.236
14. Michael SchumacherMercedes GP1:36.457
15. Rubens BarrichelloWilliams1:36.465
16. Nick HeidfeldRenault1:36.611
17. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:36.956
18. Mark WebberRed Bull1:36.468
19. Heikki KovalainenLotus1:37.894
20. Jarno TrulliLotus1:38.318
21. Jerome D’AmbrosioVirgin Racing1:39.119
22. Timo GlockVirgin Racing1:39.708
23. Tonio LiuzziHRT1:40.212
24. Narain KarthikeyanHRT1:40.445

Qualifying 3

Vettel, Button and the Toro Rossos went out early and popped in their first laps.  All the others decided to stay in and have only one flying lap in the session.  Vettel popped in the fastest lap ever around the Shanghai circuit with a 1.33.706, which is impressive given that they're bouncing off the limiter at 311/312kph on the back straight, where the likes of Mercedes and Renault are able to do 322kph.

Vettel first, Button second, Hamilton 3, Rosberg 4, Alonso 5, Massa 6, Alguersuari 7, Di Resta 8, Buemi 9th, and Petrov 10th after stopping in Q2

Great Qualifying for Mercedes with Rosberg, Di Resta takes Top Rookie prize with his highest ever quali, Alguersuari shows up his teammate but both in the top ten, and Massa comes in less than a tenth behind Alonso.

Petrov causes Chaos in Qualifying 2

Petrov's Renault stopped in Quali 2 with only 2 minutes left on the clock and red flagged the session.  everyone queued at the pit exit.  The cars were all jockeying for position to try to get some decent clear air with only the Toro Rossos, Mclarens, and Vettel not going out.

With the Toro Rosso's in 6th and 7th it was a brave decision by the team but worked out due to the fact that hardly anyone could get a clean fast lap.

Schumi and Kamui went out and Nick Heidfeld, Petrov's teammate in Renault was severely compromised due to the fact that he had done no lap prior to the Red Flag.

This is definitely the best and oddest qualifying of the season so far.  Petrov will start in 10th.

Di Resta outqualifies his teammate again and will start in at least 9th.  Adrian Sutil in 11th needs to get motivated in the Force India.

Webber OUT in first Qualifying Session!

I think the title says it all.  Mark went out in first Quali - KERS was switched off on his car before quali started, after free practice this morning and a team mistake, putting him out on the harder tyre when he was "on the bubble" (as Brundle calls it) in 16th place.  He couldn't improve and Schumi popping into 5th from 18th pushed him to 17th, while Maldonado coming behind Webbo put his car into 15th and bye bye Mark.

Brundle saying there's a second to be found from the soft tyre - silly not to have used it Red Bull - tut tut!

HRT didn't show the speed from yesterday and both qualified behind their Virgin rivals.

Renault is looking strong.

Friday, April 15, 2011

di Montezemolo throws down the Gauntlet

Luca has had a go at the increasing level of artificiality in F1.  Tyres that have been designed to degrade, the DRS, and KERS.

In an interview with Auto Bild he said that the sport was too artificial, with steering wheels which are like computers with too many buttons and devices which take away from the racing of cars.

Earlier in the year Ferrari made the point that they don't do 1.6L engines - which are coming in 2013.

It looks as if there might be a major retirement from the F1 scene come the end of the Concorde Agreement.

The President of Ferrari is quoted as saying:

"Ferrari will continue to be there, so long as the sport gives us back something for the development of technology of our production cars. Otherwise not.".

On the face of it I'd agree with him about KERS and DRS taking away from the question of who can design and build the best racing car.  I'm not a fan of these systems which seem to be in place simply to create artificial overtaking opportunities and they haven't endeared themselves to me over the course of the last two races.

The issue of tyres is, I think, one which will resolve itself over time and adds to the interest from the perspective of strategy, but this too may be considered to represent an artificial response to the ban on refuelling.

If the sport is going to bring new devices into play simply to try to address problems which have arisen resulting from previous rule changes, then we have to question the wisdom of those rule changes in the first place and revisit the reasons why they were implemented in the first place.

I understand the thinking behind KERS in that it lends a modicum of a green credential to a sport which will always struggle to be green but does it improve the racing? I don't think it does.  It may improve the technology but F1 is primarily about the racing and technology is only introduced onto a car where the designer/team feel that it gives them an advantage over other teams.  If all teams have it then it negates the purpose of the technology.

Brawn Racing won the championship because they saw a way to design the underside of the car which remained within the spirit of the rules.  RBR's double diffuser was a design solution which gave them a significant advantage.  Gizmo's and Gadgets, ugly wing elements and degrading tyres should only be brought in where a team sees that they are within the rules and that that team can gain an advantage from them.

When all teams have them it's time to ban them.  For overtaking aides see the F1 archive page 1986 Spa interview with Mansell where he says that if the car behind (Senna) was within "a couple of seconds" he'd get the tow all the way down the straight.  Overtaking? It might be easier than it sounds!

That's my two cents worth on this topic.

Shanghai GP Free Practice Storys of the Day


Mercedes will cement their place in the paddock pecking order if they can maintain the positions which they claimed in FP2 today.  Nico posted the fourth fastest time of the morning with Michael fifth, just under two tenths behind.

Michael said afterwards that Mercedes had changed their approach to FP running higher fuel loads in order to find the best race set-up.  He thought the car handled better on the longer runs.  Nico said that the balance of the car was quite good but that they were in the dark when it came to what everyone else was doing.

Still, its good to see Ross and the guys trying to understand the car and where it all went wrong after a very encouraging final test session in Barcelona.

I've got to admit that I do enjoy watching Michael struggling with a car that's not quite competitive.  Remember the move from Bennetton to Ferrari?  Does he still have the drive at (what is he?) 41/42?  Let's put him in a Red Bull and find out!  Schumi and Vettel - Mano a Mano (just for fun).

Come on Christian Horner let's make that happen!


Is this the early sign that HRT are going to outgun Virgin on a regular basis?  Virgin were blasted in Free Practice by the two HRT driver.  Liuzzi in particular, who completed only three laps, one of which was his outlap, still managed to beat d'Ambrosio's time by over two tenths of a second (Impressed with you Tonio!).

Karthikeyan was almost a second quicker than his teammate having run 25 laps over the course of the session.  Is this my prediction coming to fruition?

Midfield Battles

In the Midfield everyone remains relatively in the mix.  Sauber and Mercedes leading the pack with Williams posting well but needing to finish a race before we can gauge where they really are.  I'm not including Renault in this Section because they are obviously ahead of the pack and mixing it in the top four (that is if Ferrari aren't beginning to drop back into the midfield).

Force India look relatively good for another couple of points - though they continue to have quiet races - but Di Resta never made it out on track in the FP sessions with fuel pressure issues on his car.

Off-Road Incidents

Kamui and Heidfeld led the charge, with Heidfeld managing to break two front wings while Kobayashi found the track to be very dusty and consequently slippery.

It's good to see the guys exploring the limits of the track though - a sign that they're finding the limits of the car on the tarmac.  If they can do the business on Sunday I'm sure that Renault won't be too upset at Nick.

I'm predicting that Kamui is, once again, going to be the man to watch in the race - a true racer with the grit and determination both to hold what he's got and try to take what he can!

China GP Free Practice 2 Results

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:37.68834
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:37.85422
3Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:37.93531
4Nico RosbergMercedes1:37.94334
5Michael SchumacherMercedes1:38.10529
6Felipe MassaFerrari1:38.50736
7Adrian SutilForce India1:38.73535
8Nick HeidfeldRenault1:38.80526
9Vitaly PetrovRenault1:38.85931
10Mark WebberRed Bull1:39.32733
11Kamui KobayashiSauber1:39.53833
12Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:39.66737
13Sébastien BuemiToro Rosso1:39.77118
14Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:39.77917
15Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso1:39.82825
16Rubens BarrichelloWilliams1:39.92532
17Sergio PérezSauber1:39.95330
18Heikki KovalainenLotus1:40.47630
19Jarno TrulliLotus1:41.48232
20Narain KarthikeyanHRT1:42.90225
21Tonio LiuzziHRT1:43.8503
22Jérôme D'AmbrosioVirgin1:44.00835
23Timo GlockVirgin1:44.74712

China GP Free Practice 1 Results

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:38.73923
2Mark WebberRed Bull1:39.35427
3Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:40.84521
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:40.94022
5Nick HeidfeldRenault1:40.9875
6Felipe MassaFerrari1:41.04625
7Sergio PérezSauber1:41.18920
8Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:41.22220
9Vitaly PetrovRenault1:41.23116
10Sébastien BuemiToro Rosso1:41.32821
11Nico RosbergMercedes1:41.36123
12Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:41.43415
13Nico HülkenbergForce India1:41.49420
14Heikki KovalainenLotus1:41.57913
15Paul di RestaForce India1:41.61018
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:41.75220
17Rubens BarrichelloWilliams1:41.93925
18Michael SchumacherMercedes1:42.30123
19Kamui KobayashiSauber1:43.79220
20Jérôme D'AmbrosioVirgin1:44.08920
21Tonio LiuzziHRT1:44.35918
22Timo GlockVirgin1:44.43811
23Luiz RaziaLotus1:44.5429
24Narain KarthikeyanHRT1:45.01923

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DRS Zone confirmed for China

The DRS Zone in China is going to be located on the back straight, with the activation zone in the middle of Turn 12, just after Turn 11, a second gear, 85kph corner (53mph).  Turn 12 is quite tight at entry but opens up on exit so will allow a car to accelerate away.

I'm wondering if this accordion effect will leave a following car stuck on the apex of Turn 11 and give an opportunity to the car in front to extend a 1 second lead to 1.1 or 1.2 seconds at the activation zone, thus ruling out the use of DRS by the following car on the straight, where the activation zone is located approximately halfway along, into the tight hairpin Turn 14.

If DRS is used along this straight the cars should reach some speed going into the 73kph corner (45mph), given the length of the back straight at 1,170 metres.  The cars tend to achieve over 300kph in 7th gear (190mph) at the speed trap just before the braking zone.

Will the squirt of acceleration after turn 11 give the advantage to the leading car?  If anyone knows put me in the loop?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

F1 Malaysia

Apologies for the delay in updating.  Normally I'm on the ball after the race, but with visitors at the weekend and an unbelievably nasty cold I've neither had the time nor the inclination to open the computer up, not to mind write a Blog.

Still suffering the cold but was really hyped by the race.

Incensed might be the other word of the day.  What did Malaysia prove to me?  that DRS and KERS and acronyms of that nature, are not in the best interests of the future of F1.  It's all about track design.

There was loads of overtaking going on in Sector's 1 & 2, away from the DRS deployment zone.  Great scraps.  And then we had Webbo stuck without KERS while still carrying the weight around the track, fighting with Kobayashi throughout the lap and then being seriously punished on the start-finish straight with Kobayashi able to use both KERS and DRS to whizz by.

Webbo though, managed to show that for all that he was still able to fight hard around the rest of the lap.  That just illustrates that a competitive car can overtake without all of the fakery once the track design is right.

Kobayashi is another example.  Fight of the Day? Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher, pass and repass for position (and not reliant on the DRS).  If there's one thing that we seem to be able to guarantee its that Kamui will make a committed attempt to overtake or hold position during the course of a race.

I thought it was a great result for Button and for Heidfeld, both of whom drove mature races, Heidfeld certainly takes Start of the Day with a massive jump from 6th to 2nd, and then bringing the car home in third.

I'm afraid I'm just not a fan of the DRS, not to mind KERS,  One, it would appear, has been introduced to cancel out the other.

The race was good, and I enjoyed it massively, but the overtaking into the first corner nagged at me all the way through the race and I thought it took away, considerably, from the quality of the overall package.

Friday, April 8, 2011

F1 Race Archive and Widget

I know they've been around for a couple of weeks but I've been trying to improve the Blog, to improve access to those who are reading it, and to keep people informed when I put something new up.  To that extent I created a widget which you can get and keep on your site/page/whatever and which, I presume, will update automatically - it does for me!

The other thing is the F1 Archive page which I hope to add to once a week.  Every time I find a full race on youtube - in however many parts - I'll link it onto this page for my (and your) viewing pleasure.  Hopefully it will build into a good Historical F1 Race archive - showing the great drivers in all their glory.

However, I may have to discontinue it if it starts impacting too much on the load time for the page.  I'm already looking at the Murray moments on the home page and wondering...

Autosport Forum Spike!

Thanks to VicR - whoever you are - for linking me in by Autosport Forum - You should have seen the spike in viewing last night! I'll always take more of that Vic!

The only thing is that I cocked up the title of the post - which, if I'd taken the time to do it right would have read "No DRS on Final Straight in Malaysia" rather than leaving out the vital "No" at the start!

Now I can't change it of the link will change.

I know, I know, I might have gotten away with it on the basis that the deployment timing line IS located on the final straight, which then allows you to deploy on the start-finish straight - but I know I cocked up! and you know I cocked up! and all those Autosport Forum guys and gals know I cocked up!  Damn, Damn, and Blast what a cock-up!!!

Will HRT use Mercedes Engines Next Year?

As I was typing up the last post showing the free practice times (given that the official site - cough cough - won't allow you to copy and paste which is daft when you think that these times are in the public domain - I don't mind about the rest of their content) - back to my story!

I was typing in HRT and after that the relevant engine manufacturer Cosworth (Class engines, class engineering, great F1 history) when I remembered that HRT had now done a deal with Mercedes to use their spare wind tunnel - the other one that's just lying around at Brackley.

That made me sit up straight!  The little braincells started pinging, making connections! Isn't it likely that this (close) co-operation will lead to a Mercedes engine deal for HRT?

I mean, if you're going to be hanging around the place with one of the cool kids it's likely that he'll let you play if you give him your lunch money!

2013, 1.6L, Merc engine in a HRT?  You heard it here first!!!

Friday Free Practice

Free practice combined times

POS            DRIVER        TEAMBEST
1       Mark Webber      Red Bull-Renault1m36.876s
2       Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes1m36.881s
3       Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes1m37.010s
4       Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault1m37.090s
5       Michael Schumacher      Mercedes1m38.088s
6       Felipe Massa      Ferrari1m38.089s
7       Nico Rosberg      Mercedes1m38.565s
8        Nick Heidfeld      Renault1m38.570s
9       Fernando Alonso      Ferrari1m38.583s
10       Jaime Alguersuari      Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.846s
11       Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth1m38.968s
12       Rubens Barrichello      Williams-Cosworth1m39.187s
13       Vitaly Petrov      Renault1m39.267s
14       Kamui Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari1m39.398s
15       Sergio Perez      Sauber-Ferrari1m39.603s
16       Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes 1m39.625s
17       Adrian Sutil      Force India-Mercedes 1m39.809s
18       Sebastien Buemi      Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.115s
19       Nico Hulkenberg      Force India-Mercedes 1m40.377s
20       Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.748s
21       Timo Glock      Virgin-Cosworth 1m40.866s
22       Jarno Trulli      Lotus-Renault1m41.620s
23       Jerome d'Ambrosio      Virgin-Cosworth 1m42.540s
24       Narain Karthikeyan      Hispania-Cosworth 1m43.197s
25       Tonio Liuzzi      Hispania-Cosworth 1m43.991s
26       Davide Valsecchi      Lotus-Renault1m44.054s
27       Heikki Kovalainen      Lotus-Renault1m44.886s

Thursday, April 7, 2011

DRS on Final Straight in Malaysia

It's been confirmed by the FIA that the pit straight is to be the location of the DRS zone in Malaysia.  As long as you're within 1 second of the car in front 200 metres before the final corner you'll be able to deploy for the full length of the start finish straight.

As Webbo said:

"If it doesn't work here, I don't know where it will work,you've got a slow corner to open the lap, a slow corner at the end of the pit straight, and then Heathrow airport as well in terms of width, so it should work."

It makes sense that they don't allow it on the final straight, a point I made in a previous post.

HRT to use (SPARE) Mercedes Wind Tunnel

Who knew that Mercedes had a spare wind tunnel at Brackley?  Apparently they're only allowed to use one which left this spare wind tunnel lying around waiting for a saviour.

HRT, not being a team which has any chance of competing with Mercedes this year (probably not next year either), have been allowed to rent it out in order to improve their car.

This is good for us, the viewer, because we'll be able to see just how much more important it is to have wind tunnel time over the improvement of a car dependent on CFD.  This has just made the back of the grid a very interesting place to be on race day.

Call me daft if you like but I'm predicting Virgin to come last in the Constructor's standings at the end of the season, and a significant boost to HRT's performance within...mmmnnnh...4 races?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April F1 Fool

This story about Bahrain must surely be an April Fools joke from Bernie.  I know that Bahrain has slipped under the radar recently in news terms but that doesn't mean that everything is grand now and we, being F1, can't be going into a country which has brought in foreign soldiers in order to quell protests from its own citizens.

I for one would be seriously upset at any decision to go to Bahrain this year and will not watch the race.  Only the second time I will have missed a GP since 1990.

On a lighter note this is definitely April fools

Friday, April 1, 2011

DRS Explained for Malaysia

There would appear to be a lot of interest out there in the Drag Reduction System, or adjustable rear wing, which has been deployed in F1 this year.  While I'm no expert in the technology I am interested in its purpose and so I'll try to explain how it works and how it is intended to function.


First thing relates to why is it here? The easy answer is; who the hell knows? I mean didn't we have the best season for years last year? Every fan I know was really excited by the majority of races last year, even though there was a lot of gloom around after Bahrain and further disappointment at display in the Abu Dhabi.  The races in between them were all pretty exciting - for the most part.

Apparently, we don't have enough overtaking in F1 so the Powers that be decided that by providing a hydraulically or electronically moveable rear wing we might get some overtaking action down into the first corner (or at some other suitable corner at the end of a long straight). Hence the introduction of DRS to F1 - a system which I hope will not have any longevity in the sport.


I'll let Tony Purnell, Mechanical Engineer(now a Technical advisor to the FIA - you may remember him as Director of Jaguar Racing and Red Bull pre C. Horner) explain:

"As a car comes out of a corner and crosses the timing line within the prescribed interval, at the moment the following driver feels he is no longer traction limited, he will press the button and drag on his rear wing will be reduced. He will sprint down the straight and, by the end of it, will have a 4-5kph advantage over the car he is trying to pass (The teams reckon that the advantage is 10-12kph based on the current system).

When we looked at the problem in 2007, we saw that as a Formula 1 car comes out of a corner it has tremendously good acceleration – they wouldn’t be F1 cars without it – so when the leading driver gets on the throttle those fractions of a second earlier, even if the following car is a lot faster the leading car pulls a big gap. That means immediately coming out of a corner, any advantage from drag reduction is not really there".

Essentially he appears to be saying that this proposal has been in the works since 2007 - and wasn't scrapped on foot of last year's success.

The basic scenario is that when two cars pass over timing loops in the surface of the track and the car behind is within one second of the driver in front a signal will be sent to the second car informing the driver that he can deploy the car’s DRS. The drivers will only be able to deploy the adjustable rear wing to reduce drag as their cars go down a nominated straight on the track, in Melbourne this was the start finish straight, In Malaysia a decision is yet to be made as to whether this will be on the final straight into the last corner or the start finish straight.  My bet is on the start finish straight for the simple reason that overtaking at the last corner would be limited to the inside line due to the location of the pitlane entrance. Safety measures have been introduced so that in the event of a failure in the DRS system the moveable rear wing element will drop down into the default, high-downforce position.


The DRS system is operated from the steering wheel.  A button or paddle sends a signal to the ECU which activates the moveable rear wing flap either hydraulically or electronically.  A hydraulic solution would require pipework within the body of the car running to the activation mechanism in the rear wing which might probably require a bulkier stanchion connecting the car to the rear wing element while the electronic solution would do away with that.

I've noticed that the majority of the teams appear to have a central column linking the rear wing elements to the car while the likes of Red Bull and Force India don't.  I'm wondering whether this might be a pointer as to which teams are using hydraulic systems over electronic.  The central column is not a new concept but it would provide a direct route for any pipework, while the absence of this column would leave little in the way of options for the required connectivity.

If anyone knows whether this theory is just crap tell me and let me recant all.  Is there any way to spot who's using which technology? This would help us fans in determining whether one system is more advantageous than the other.