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Sunday, July 31, 2011


So Sad - get back from holiday, switch on the TV for Quali and hear this terrible, terrible news.

Bernie has always said that the lifeblood of F1 was free-to-air. It's sad to see that this - the one thing that he has said that I actually believed, because it makes sense - has turned out to be nothing more than more hot air.

It looks as if this is going to be a short-lived F1 blog, or maybe in the future it might be a half season F1 blog given that I won't pay to watch the rest of them.

Really upset.

Does anyone know where an Irish guy can get free-to-internet F1 live streaming?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gizmo's, Gadgets, & Rubber Boots

Mercedes GP have carried out a mid-season review of the impact of DRS, KERS, and Pirelli Tyres on the season so far.  See the review and make your own judgement.

They have pointed out that there were 623 overtaking manoeuvres in total with 180 DRS-assisted passing moves, and 225 'normal' (i.e. non-DRS) passes - 175 passes took place of faster cars on HRT, Virgin and Lotus and 43 were between teammates.  Of the DRS assisted passes 50 took place in Turkey, 30 in China, and 29 in Barcelona.

46.4% of all normal overtaking moves (188 of 405) occurred when the car being overtaken was on boots which were more than 5 laps older than the car overtaking but when we look solely at the non-DRS overtaking that figure is 48% (87 of 180).

So what do all of the figures tell us?  Autosport argues that the figures confirm that the rulemakers have got it right.  But what I'm seeing is that Barcelona, China, Valencia, and Turkey have all benefited from the rule changes while the classic, older circuits haven't particularly required or relied upon these gimmicks to provide good races.

109 of the DRS passes took place in Turkey, China, and Barcelona while in Valencia 50% of passes were DRS enabled while only 11% were 'normal' (no information as to how many overtakes there were but it must be the case that the other 39% of overtakes were down to new Vs. old boots).

The report says that DRS has only accounted for 29% of overtaking manoeuvres over the course of the season so far but this figure incorporates all of the 623 manoeuvres.  If we break it down that's 44.4% of all on-track overtaking (removing the moves on the slowest teams and teammates) due to DRS.

In terms of old vs new tyres this type of manoeuvre measured 60% of overtakes which were not attributable to DRS (136 of 225).

This leaves us with 89 overtaking manoeuvres in total which cannot be attributed to DRS or Tyres - or 21% of all 'normal' overtaking moves over the season so far.

Are my calculations correct? If so then we are seeing assisted passing taking place nearly 80% of the time, that's 4 in every 5 overtakes directly attributable to DRS or Tyres or both.

On the back of these figures I wouldn't feel right endorsing the new rules as fervently as Autosport, in fact I'd be looking at them with more than a little suspicion - Oh that's right, I already have (here, and here, and here and all over really).

All in all I'm surprised at Autosport.  Their story is entitled 'Analysis: the success of Formula'1 new rules' when very little analysis has taken place.  They seem to have just taken Mercedes figures and rehashed them rather than attempt to make any analysis of what the figure show.  The fact is that the figures show that the F1 Circus has actually become a circus - where it's 80% show and 20% racing.  Having a respected publication like Autosport endorse the new gizmos, gadgets, gimmicks, and rubber boots is like a seal of approval.  Bernie and the boys are laughing all the way to the bank - James, Jim, Graham, Juan Manuel, Ayrton etc. are spinning in theirs!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Connew F1

I noticed that someone had looked at my July 2011 post recently, which simply served to redirect anyone interested to Barry Boor's site, and wanting to re-familiarise myself with their story I decided to click through to my post and from there to the story. I saw that the links were down and I had to find the story again and redirect the links to Barry Boor's site.  The web address has changed and I have updated the links accordingly.

July 2011 Post

Wow! Not a lot going on in the F1 world other than the normal non-story stories so, as I was researching F1 drivers who didn't cut it I came across this wonderful website about Connew F1.  This is the true spirit of F1 - Read the Connew F1 story in 6 parts from the link at the bottom of Paragraph 2.  This is the story through the eyes of Barry Boor who helped Peter Connew build and race an F1 car at the Austrian GP of 1972.

The story really gives an insight into the operation of a (very) small, inexperienced team and their efforts to get a car onto the F1 grid.  Great tale and I hope that you like it as much as I did.  One for all those guys out there who dream!

If you want a pre-story history Wiki has one (of course).  Here's a picture of the car with Peter Connew, Roger Doran and Ron Olive.  I'm crediting it to Barry Boor's Website

Friday, July 15, 2011

F1 Drivers who just didn't cut it

Talking of Grosjean and his atrocious 2009 season with Renault made me wonder about all those guys who didn't quite make the grade.  This Blog post is a big salute to all of those drivers from 1990 - 2011 who only managed to race at the pinnacle of motorsport for one season or less.

We can criticise drivers all we like, but Grosjean's return to form in GP2 after THAT season has made me take a moment to realise that each of these guys made it to F1 even if they couldn't hold down their seat.  These guys MADE it.  The horrible part of the story is that they couldn't sustain it and that we, the fans, tend to have very short memories of drivers who were there one day and gone the next.#

Who, for example, remembers Marco Apicella? Other than Marco Apicella himself, his family and his mates?

He holds the dubious record of shortest F1 career ever.  He was taken on by Jordan for the Italian GP in 1993.  He qualified in 23rd position and was caught up in a first corner accident (not his fault).  He never raced F1 again.  In 1994 he won the Japanese F3000 title.  While he hasn't won another title since, he has won races and has continued to compete.  At one stage he was test driver for Dome who were hoping to launch into F1 with Shinji Nakano and A.N. Other but the attempt failed.  Fair play to Apicella for being there in 1993 and continuing to race with success elsewhere.

What about Gary Brabham? Yeah you know the surname - Son of Jack, who like his brother David made little headway in F1.  While David raced for back of the grid teams for two or three seasons and doesn't make it into the criteria for inclusion in this Blog Post, Gary (Yeah son of Jack Brabham!) joined the LIFE team in 1990 and failed to Qualify on two occasions in USA and Brazil. He quit the team and never got another F1 opportunity.  He had won the first ever British F3000 title just the year before and in 1991 won the 12 hours of Sebring IMSA GT Race with his brother Geoff.  He retired in 1995.  Hard luck Gary, it's just a shame that the 1989 test drives with Brabham and Leyton House F1 teams didn't work out. I mean, HOW could the BRABHAM team not take on a BRABHAM? I just don't understand!

Should Paul Belmondo even be on this list? He did race in two seasons with Pacific in 1994 and March in 1992. I actually remember the name but that's probably because he was sleeping with Princess Stephanie of Monaco in the '80's.  Obviously he had buckets of cash because he paid for his drive at March where he spectacularly failed to qualify in all but 5 races of the season, ran out of sponsorship, and was replaced.  He did come 9th in one of those races but he was not a racing driver and he's here just so I can say - DID NOT DESERVE THE SEAT! His previous results along with those afterwards show that he had no racing talent whatsoever.  He appears to have lucked into about 4 wins in a driving career that lasted from 1983 - 2001.  He makes me think I should do a worst paying driver ever Post.

We move on to Robert Doornbos, Jordan test driver in 2004, Minardi Race Driver in July 2005, When Minardi were taken over by Red Bull he was retained as test driver and raced three times for RBR.  Another Driver who could have made it.  He was slow to come to terms with racecraft but his testing speeds often put him into the top ten and sometimes into the top three when with Red Bull.
In his combined total of 11 F1 races he never finished above 12th place but, in his first race for Red Bull in China in 2006 he qualified in 10th place and would probably have had a decent result if he hadn't collided with Kubica in the first corner necessitating a change of front wing.  He finished that race in 12th position. Both before and after his F1 career he took wins in F3, F3000, and Champcar and while he's never won a championship he has been brought back as test driver with both Jordan (2005) and Red Bull (2007) a testament to just how well he was thought of and how close he was to the top 24 in the world.

This could go on and on so I'll turn it into a series and stop after just one more driver - and the Americans in the audience won't be happy - Michael Andretti at McLaren 1993 (Sorry Guys!) - There's no doubting Michael's racing abilities and this horrific stint at McLaren followed on from a 1991 CART Championship Title and 2nd in the 1992 CART series.
Let's get beyond that and focus on F1, Michael as just another damn good driver who just didn't make it. He competed in just 13 races for McLaren and achieved one podium, third at Monza. So what happened? Let's look at this objectively (Unlike Marco his son!).
  • He came in as team mate to Senna, so he was already going to find it difficult.
  • He had no preSeason testing under his belt.
  • In-Season testing was limited to tracks within the team's own country - Britain.
  • Michael refused to move over to England, remaining in the USA - a six-hour flight away so testing was never going to be easy
  • The FIA imposed a limit on the number of practice laps on race weekends and limited the number of tyres.
  • He had no experience of Active Suspension, Semi-automatic gearboxes or Traction Control.
  • He had never done standing starts.
  • With little testing and no track knowledge there was little opportunity for him to learn the circuits for the races.
These are the preSeason facts of the case.
For a driver used to simple, turbo-charged brute force CARTs he now had to get into a technically advanced piece of machinery filled with gizmo's, with little or no testing, and find a result.
The odds were stacked against him.
Marco's rant against McLaren was low on facts.  He claimed that they were desperate to replace him with Mika Hakkinen but there is no doubt that Mika was hired in order to provide cover for Senna, who was looking for a Williams Drive and had only agreed to race for McLaren on a Race-by-Race deal - so he could leave at any time.

By not moving to Britain testing had to be carried out for him at specific times and this hampered his development.  This was definitely Michael's own fault, probably not helped by Mario's opinion: "All he needs is one or two tests. He doesn't need to grind away. Michael's not a test driver like some of those other guys, you know, there to do the donkey testing. He's there to go for it". (subtle!)
Let's face it, things had changed from Mario's time.  Testing was vital to get to know, and improve, the car, to familiarise yourself with all of the electronics, and to spend time with your team to build morale.  Michael's line was that he was not moving.

After first Quali put him in 6th onthe grid in his first race in South Africa the gremlins hit his active suspension system and put him down in 9th, three seconds behind his teammate (don't forget - Senna). His gearbox left him stranded on the grid at lights out and even though they got him going he crashed into the back of Derek Warwick on lap 4 breaking his front suspension - CRASH

Brazil - pulled himself up to 5th in Quali (less than a second behind Senna) but forgot at the standing start that he had to physically paddle shift up from 1st to 2nd gear and was overtaken by the cars behind him, forcing him into the path of Berger's Ferrari and Launching him into the barriers.  Big accident! - CRASH

At Donnington he Qualified 6th - less than half a second behind Senna - but on the first lap of the race Karl Wendlinger closed the door on him and both cars ended up in the gravel. - CRASH

San Marino - He was fighting with Wendlinger again, for 4th, when he spun in Variante Alta due to a rear brake lock-up - MECHANICAL FAILURE

Spain - 5th - RESULT

Monaco - Crash in the Wet at quali - Crashed in the race at Loews but finished the race in eighth nonetheless - STRONG DRIVE

Canada - Qualified 12th - a flat starter battery lost him 3 laps at the start of the race - TECHNICAL FAILURE

France - Problems with his gearshift in Quali meant he only came in 16th on the grid but then he raced to 6th place in the race - STRONG DRIVE

Silverstone - Qualified 11th - though he had rain on his quick lap - Spun into the gravel at Copse on the first lap - CRASH

Hockenheim - Poor Quali - Race - CRASH

Hungary - 11th on the grid but raced strongly in 6th up until he suffered throttle failure - TECHNICAL FAILURE

Spa - poor Quali followed by a sad race - finished in 8th - he already knew he was going by that time and chose to race for the final time in Monza - Finish

Monza - Started from 9th on the grid and finished in 3rd - PODIUM

Let's count them up 5 crashes, 3 Tech/Mechanical Failures, 2 points scoring finishes, 2 strong drives, and one sad race.

Not bad really when you look at the state of McLaren in that year.  Though it has to be said that Mika immediately outqualified Senna in Estoril.  Practice time is what it was all about!

Michael - No matter how you feel about the situation at McLaren I have to salute you - you deserved better than you got and your talent never really managed to shine through consistently whether by virtue of Berger and Wendlinger who seemed to be your two nemesis, or the gremlins in your McLaren.

to be continued...

Romain Grosjean to make F1 Return

Let's go milling again (at the rumour mill obviously).

This Grosjean lad is impressing once again in GP2. Let's face it, in 2009 he was a complainer, nothing was his fault.  There were poor quali sessions blamed on traffic hold ups, yellow flags, and an accident in Brazil.  There were crashes with Badoer and Button, Brake problems, lack of circuit knowledge, rain, retirements, tyre temperature issues, understeer, oversteer, wombling free (for the UK & Eire Fans - anyone who's unfamiliar with wombles here's a link).

Anyway, apart from that little walk down memory lane, Grosjean was, for all intents and purposes washed up after his rookie F1 year.  His F1 career was short and sour with little chance of anyone in the Piranha Club taking him seriously again.

Did he run away with his tail between his legs? No, He went back to GP2 where he won the inaugural Asia Series in 2007 and came fourth in the GP2 Series season in 2008 where he was the highest finishing rookie.  Now in 2011 he's once again won the GP2 Asia Series and is leading the GP2 Series season by 9 points.

This Swiss, who apparently still holds down a dayjob as a Banker (what else?), may well be worth another look from one of the midfield teams next year.  The only question is where can he go? Sauber? Toro Rosso? Force India? There is a rumour linking him to Renault for the end of this season if Nick doesn't come up with the goods and it's unlikely that Williams will plump for a Maldonado/Grosjean combo next year being a very inexperienced line-up.

Closed cockpit in F1's Future?

Interesting FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability video - with thanks to F1B contributor Christopher for providing the link to see it.

The Set Up - what happens when you throw an F1 wheel at a windscreen at 225km/h?

FIA Institute Jet Canopy Test from FIA Institute on Vimeo.

Closed cockpit anyone?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What's Up?

As you can see it's been a while since my last post - to tell the truth I've been very busy at work (long may it continue) and just shattered, getting home late, playing with my daughter, talking to my wife and often waking up at 3am or 4am on the couch (depressing!), slouching up to bed and getting up to do it all over again the next day.

Even on the Weekends there doesn't seem to have been any time to relax (other than to watch the GPs).  I missed quali for both Valencia and Silverstone due to all of the above stuff going on, but caught the races live on the Beeb.  Unusually I caught none of the build up - just the races themselves - and that, in conjunction with my lack of time online, has left me feeling a little bit out of the loop as to what's going on.

While I'm surprised at myself for not posting, in a way I think it's understandable given what happened at Valencia.  I haven't been quite so bored by a race in a verrrry looooong time. Snoozefest just doesn't describe it properly.  I'm not one of those guys who gets turned off by the same guy winning all the time or by a lack of overtaking, but it does turn me off watching a parade around a souless circuit with nothing much worth mentioning going on.  It was a sad day - I mean even in Barca there was excitement - even though it had more to do with the tyres than with anything else.

Even though I could have found the time to blog about Valencia what was I going to say? Crap race. Boring! Boring! Boring! You know it's bad when the highlight of the weekend is Vettel checking out the Silverstone settings in Free Practice - and even that turned out to be a psyche. Congrats to Vettel