Archive for March, 2012

Driver Driving Styles

Driver Driving Styles

Great post by Peter D Windsor noting Kimi Raikkonen’s driving style:

It’s no surprise that Kimi if finding the initial steering set-up of the E20 to be on the “heavy” side. He is a fingertip driver if ever there was one…..There were fewer messages travelling to his lower arms and hands in the tests and in Melbourne; the emphasis was on musclepower – the enemy of the senses. Kimi, reduced to that, was basically just another F1 driver.

Driving style’s are important and whilst there is no “perfect” one, some are better suited to certain car characteristics. Trulli got a lot of ridicule last year for his steering complains which I felt was unfair and showed a lack of appreciation of it’s importance amongst fans. Being comfortable with the steering is crucial to extracting the best out of the car and showcasing performance.

Similarly, many people believe Vettel’s dominance on Webber last year was certainly extenuated by the difference in their driving styles to extracting the best out of the blown diffuser.

I’ve been working on an article comparing Alonso’s & Massa’s to hypothesise why Alonso can take the F2012 by the neck to extract the best out of it.

Click the quote above to read the whole article on Peter’s website, it’s an interesting, illuminating read.

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March 28, 2012 1 comment Read More
Malaysia 2012: Race Roundup

Malaysia 2012: Race Roundup

  • Perez ran the final stint on the hard tyre and Alonso was on the softer ‘Medium’ tyre. Some say the harder tyre was more suited to the track temperature, giving him the pace. He was well within a second of Alonso when he went off at Turn 14.
  • The message Perez got from his race engineer as he closed to Alonso was “Checo, be careful, we need this position. We need this position.” Whether this was a team order from the Ferrari engine supplied Sauber is up for debate but certainly a “Well done Checo, keep pushing for the win!” would have been better and more encouraging.
  • 9 different teams scored points in the race, the highest ever. The only team to score double points was Force India, who finished 7th & 9th.
  • Alonso is now the 4th highest all time race winner. Today was his 28th win, taking him ahead of Jackie Stewart.
  • Massa has not been on the podium finish for 23 races now whilst in the same period, Alonso has made the top three on 12 occasions and won twice.
  • Perez is the first driver (since Nick Hiedfeld last year) to break the Alonso-Vettel-Button-Hamilton-Webber row of podiums. Those 5 drivers occupied the podium for the last year.
  • Narain Karthikeyan made contact with both Button (broken front wing) and Vettel (left rear tyre puncture). Both incidents however, were not directly his fault. Jenson admitted it was his mistake whilst the incident with Vettel is considered a ‘racing incident’.
  • Jenson Button was extremely downbeat about his race “All I can do is laugh today, it’s so bad. I won’t be looking back at any of this races’ footage. It was that terrible.”
  • Pastor Maldonado had an engine failure when he running 10th, 6 laps till the end.
  • Jean-Eric Vergne was P7 at the red flag. He managed to drive the car with intermediates in the pouring wet conditions. Impressive! He came in 8th, scoring his first points.
  • Martin Whitmarsh cheekily stated “I imagine Perez must have put a lot of pressure for Mr Massa” alluding to the fact if he were in the position, he might considering looking at a swap for China.
  • Alonso overtook Hamilton in the pits because of a slow pit stop from McLaren compounded by having to wait for Massa in the pits.
  • Mercedes now just have 1 point after two races. They were extremely slow in the race today and said to have overheating their rear tyres. Ross Brawn acknowledges the car has a narrow peak performance window.
  • Bruno Senna coming 6th today gives Williams more points today than they did in all of last year. He re-started dead last but had great pace in the drying conditions.
  • The “panic-stricken” Ferrari of Alonso is now leading the world championship with 35 points.
  • Kimi Raikkonen had not driven with the Pirelli intermediate and wet tyres before today’s race so it was an impressive showing for him to finish 5th after starting 10th.
  • Very disappointing behaviour from Vettel today, who showed Karthikeyan the middle finger twice whilst being animated in the car post his incident and then later called him an “idiot”. Although one can somewhat understand the circumstances: Vettel had lost team radio, driven a long, hard race and then got DNF because of contact with a lapped car, his behaviour is still not one to be expected of the double world champion.
  • Vettel’s brakes were severely overheating at the end of the race, the brake ducts had been damaged from the debris from his puncture. Red Bull wanted him to stop & retire the car but because of radio failure, Vettel couldn’t hear them & finished the race.
March 25, 2012 1 comment Read More
Malaysia 2012: Qualifying Analysis

Malaysia 2012: Qualifying Analysis

We were treated to another thoroughly exciting qualifying session just a week after the last one in Australia. The gap is even closer this time around, highlighting how close the field really is this year.


  • Vettel is starting the race on the harder tyres. This should give him an advantage, allowing him to go longer at the start then utilise the faster tyres later on in the race, like Webber did in China 2011.
  • Schumacher disclosed Mercedes ran with a compromised qualifying setup to improve its race pace so a repeat of Australia doesn’t happen again, where they went backwards throughout the race, struggling with tyre degradation.
  • Rosberg made a mistake braking into Turn 1 to lock his front tyres, just like in Australia. This would have destabilised the balance on the car for the rest of the lap.
  • Alonso’s KERS failed on his only lap in Q3. He believes “I don’t think it cost me any places, but it would definitely have made the gap to pole look more realistic.”

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March 24, 2012 1 comment Read More
Schumacher Hiding Mercedes’ Front Wing

Schumacher Hiding Mercedes’ Front Wing

Most the technical talk recently has been centered around the rear wing ‘Super F-duct’ hole that’s become apparent on the Mercedes.

Whilst people understand it’s basic mechanism of channelling air away from the rear wing to reduce drag, no one out of Mercedes (and FIA) really know the full story. The question is: where is that air extracted from the rear wing getting channeled to and to what effect? Here’s some good analysis from the reliable ScarbsF1.

The idea of a Front Wing F-Duct system is not new, it was rumoured Mercedes tested it last year in the young driver test and this video only further credits that theory. WARNING: lower your system volume before playing the video.

Schumacher is seen clearly being very keen in hiding the underside of that front wing as it titled up on the crane from the photographers. Whilst it was certainly very smart, on-the-feet thinking, it seems he’s just attracted more attention to it. Here’s what McLaren’s Jonathan Neal said in his pre-Malaysia interview:

Q: Is the talk over Mercedes’ rear wing just a storm in a teacup? JN: Mercedes were very quick during qualifying and there is enough YouTube footage of Michael (Schumacher) being very defensive about not having the car photographed under the front wing. But I think we have to rely on the FIA.

It gives us into a glimpse into how closely rival teams monitor all channels of information (including us online) to learn more about their competitors.

Schumacher’s actions also tell us about just how much Mercedes value their innovation and (presumably) gain significant advantage out of it. We will know it’s full effect soon. If there is one place to see the effect of a drag reduction device, it’s Malaysia with it’s two massive straights.

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March 21, 2012 0 comments Read More
Australia 2012: Race Details

Australia 2012: Race Details

  • Psychologically, this is a slam dunk from Jenson on Lewis early on in the championship. He’s beat him on pure pace, in a dry race, after Lewis got the pole.
  • First time since Abu Dhabi 2010 that Vettel hasn’t led the championship.
  • Schumacher had a gearbox failure early on in the race.
  • Rosberg ran out of fuel on the last lap of the race.
  • The last lap involved a 5 way fight for the last two point scoring positions. FOM however, chose to instead focus on Jenson.
  • At the safety car phase, both Jenson and Vettel had lots of fuel left for a charge during the remaining 16 laps.
  • Red Bull had much better race pace whilst the contrary was true for Mercedes. They still seem to be struggling with tyre degradation.
  • Kovalienen did not have KERS working & had steering issues all throughout the race for Caterham.
  • Mark Webber had a poor start and his first lap was made worse getting hit twice by Force India & Torro Roso. He finished 4th, his highest result at his home race.
  • Webber’s speed today was encouraging and was especially quick in the middle stint. He seems to be able to challenge Vettel a lot better this year, after the banning of the blown diffuser.
  • Had Pastor Maldonado finished 6th as he was running on the last lap, he would have scored Williams more points today than all of 2011 last year.

There were some brilliant moments in the race: the last lap scrap between 5 drivers for the last 2 championship point positions and Vettel’s brilliant overtake around the outside of Rosberg but my favourite one was Kimi’s Raikkonen’s radio message asking why he was being blue flagged when he wasn’t.

March 18, 2012 0 comments Read More
Australia 2012: Qualifying Analysis

Australia 2012: Qualifying Analysis

Welcome, to the 2012 Formula one season! This is the first of the 20 post-qualifying articles where I analyse the data and highlight the most interesting facts from the session. This was one of the most exciting qualifying sessions I’ve seen and promises great prospects for the race tomorrow. The data reveals a few key points to keep in mind for the race.

Important Notes.

  • There are 3 “new drivers” in the Top 10 – Grosjean, Hulkenburg and Ricciardo.
  • The start procedure is different from last year – it’s a lot more driver operated with less reliance computerised systems. This will be crucial tomorrow morning into Turn 1.
  • Mark Webber opted to save tyres and went for just one run in Q3.
  • Mark Webber’s KERS was not operational during his lap yet he outqualified Vettel (whose was)
  • A beached, out of Q2 Fernando Alonso still out qualified Felipe Massa.
  • This is Michael Schumacher’s best qualifying since his return to F1.

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March 17, 2012 1 comment Read More
☯ Mighty McLaren

☯ Mighty McLaren

At the very start of the weekend, as soon as I saw the McLaren on track, I tweeted my views:

The car’s prowess was obvious from the outset- it’s front end was responsive to driver inputs, had great mechanical grip and had the one thing others lacked- stability. There was no veering out of control motions, no trips to the gravel trip and no need to fight the car mid corner. It just looked supple and smooth on the track, imbibing confidence in the drivers to push it to the limit. 1

Whilst they didn’t have any media gathering innovation like Mercedes’ F-Duct or the weight of expectation upon them like Ferrari or Red Bull, they were quietly confident. Martin Whitmarsh yesterday revealed in an interview McLaren didn’t have any upgrades for this race, since they believed they had gotten everything to this race. Now it was a case of maximising the package already in hand.

Some might say, why is this even surprising? They ended 2011 with the fastest car on the field so had a great base to refine and improve even further. They did just that. Whilst Ferrari were perplexed to the extent they didn’t understand what the car was doing at times and Red Bull were playing around with complex blown exhaust exhaust configurations, McLaren had a solid winter. They had their big upgrade package early on in the final test, extensively and reliably tested it then started working on setting the car up best.

McLaren haven’t started well for the previous 3 seasons. They’ll always had to fight against the flow and develop their car to catch up with Mr Newey. Everyone around the paddock knows of the immense development resources they possess and utilising them, they’ve managed to get their car up to speed in no time in previous seasons. In 2009, they turned a disastrous car into a dominant, car winning one before half season. In 2010, they were always the second fastest and steadily closing the gap to Red Bull. In 2011, they overtook Red Bull to become the fastest.

In 2012, it’s time they take the MP4-27 where the MP4-13 last went – the constructors championship. After 14 years, primed with two world champion drivers and the fastest car, McLaren have the onus upon them to show us exactly why they’re the most successful team in Formula One. 2

  1. Not to mention by far the best looking aesthetically. 

  2. In terms of strike rate: McLaren have won 1 in every 4 races they’ve entered throughout their history. Whilst Ferrari have more victories, McLaren have been winning races a lot more regularly. 

March 17, 2012 0 comments Read More
☯ Minimalist Season Preview

☯ Minimalist Season Preview

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been writing my season preview article. After a while, when the initial article was getting too big, I decided I’d split it into individual articles for each. However, I realised that my work will be a just another season preview shrouded amongst many other and because of the extensive length, will just be ignored and not read. Clearly, that’s not ideal.

So I decided to take a minimalist take on this. I’d summarise my feelings about the team in just a few sentences. This article will be a quick read & tell you at a glance, about every team’s main goals & challenges.

Red Bull Chance for them & Vettel to join the elite group of 3 consecutive world championships. Uphill challenge for Webber, but he seems rejuvenated and ready to challenge Seb. The car looked ominously quick in pre-season testing. That was even before the huge upgrade package for Melbourne.

McLaren About time to win a championship title since 1998. Button needs to prove he can beat Lewis again & last year was no fluke. Lewis desperately needs a redemption. Car looks aesthetically beautiful and technically solid in testing.

Ferrari. Do or die year for Domenicalli and the management. Massa needs to fight or exit with grace & dignity. It’s about time they give Alonso a car worthy of his talents. The revolutionary F2012 seems like a glass canon; quick but inconsistent. It’s a big unknown as they themselves don’t seem to understand the car so all will only be revealed in Melbourne. Personally, I’d love it if they pick up Kubica, let him test in the F10 in Maranello & consider him for 2013.

Mercedes. Similar pressure as Ferrari to deliver from the board men of Stuttgart. Schumacher’s decisive year. Time for Nico to finally pick up that first win. Car seems to be a substantial step forward with an innovative front wing F-Duct but still doesn’t appear to have the raw pace to challenge the very top.

Lotus. Quite literally the dark horse. They’ve got a promising youngster who dominated GP2 last year and a real hot rod in Kimi Raikkonen. The car seems to have good pace, like it did last year early on in the season. They stopped development of last year’s car early on to get this far so the results this year are important.

Force India. Unlike last year, the car seems to be solid & have pace from the outset. Incredibly promising driver pairing that I’m certain will give us a great battle to watch for throughout the year.

Torro Rosso Weight of expectation on two young men’s shoulders who claim they can replace the Aussie stalwart at the very top. Lots to look forward to.

Sauber. A solid driver pairing and a good car with interesting technical nuances . Unlike last year, they’ll be hoping to stay fast throughout the year with their developments.

Caterham. Should close the gap to the midfield with the addition of KERS and banning of exhaust blown diffusers. Tony Fernandes has invested substantially in this team and now they are a proper 250+ men operation.

HRT. The ‘Spanish national team’ has the oldest driver pairing in the history of F1. And a surprisingly good looking livery. That’s good – you’re be seeing it getting lapped a lot.

Marussia. They’ve got a McLaren technical partnership which means they’re the only other team to have a normal nose. Again, good because you’ll see them lapped a lot. Signs this season point to Timo Glock wasting another year of his career.

March 15, 2012 0 comments Read More
Bernie & Charlie interviews

Bernie & Charlie interviews

Two Q&A style interviews were published this week from Formula 1 dot com. These two gentlemen are the two ‘heads’ of our sports & I recommend you read the interviews by clicking on the links below (click the quote). The one from Charlie is especially good for understanding the changes this year & the rationale behind them.

Charlie Whiting:

Q: Previously cars needed to pass crash tests before racing. Now they have to pass before testing. Why? CW: Safety cannot be compromised. It is indefensible to have drivers testing cars in the winter that haven’t met the safety standards we demand for a race. The teams resisted this for quite a while, telling me it would be impossible to get the crash tests done before the first test. It came as no great surprise that nearly everybody managed it.

Bernie Eccleston:

One thing is clear – Felipe is not really blessed by luck, but he is fast. I rather think that it is a question of alternatives at Ferrari: who from the available drivers is faster than Felipe? I don’t see anybody. But I am sure that Robert Kubica would by now be sitting in a Ferrari had he not had his terrible rally accident.

March 12, 2012 0 comments Read More
Sky Sport’s F1 iPad app

Sky Sport’s F1 iPad app

This is exactly the sort of thing I talked about when it came to the question: how can Sky improve F1 broadcasting?

From here you can then select one of eight race feeds, including in car stuff and even the pit lane. Sky also showed us a demo of a feature coming later where you could watch up to three different feeds at once, something not yet done in an iPad app.

They’ve developed an iPad app that in essence, lets you to be the race director to a race using multi views and the data all of us F1 fans crave for. With that, they’ve made an experience certainly more interactive and arguably better than the normal TV broadcast. Pocket-lint have taken a first look at the app and I highly recommend you click the quote above to have a look at the app.

Personally, I’ll be watching the race on this iPad app instead of the small TV I have access to at university. I’ve got a feeling, it gives us a glimpse into the future of broadcasting, TV and content consumption. It’s great to see F1 at the forefront of the (very possible) revolution.

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March 9, 2012 0 comments Read More