Thursday, April 24, 2014


So the Shanghai GP is done with. And for you Hamilton fans out there, IT'S HAMMER TIME! The hammering starts and hopefully won't stop till Abu Dhabi. Now I know how Vettel fans have been feeling for 4 years. Nice! Although to be honest, the Shanghai race was boring. I know that 1 person's domination can be boring for the championship but I bet Vettel fans never said that for 4 years. Anyway, it's been 4 boring years so time for a change.

So to recap the race, here we have some interesting articles written by people of F1 knowledge, in case any of you missed the race or saw it but want to know more. Enjoy.

Written by Andrew Davies of the PlanetF1 team

There was no Shanghai surprise as Mercedes racked up four wins out of four, and their third 1-2 of the season, despite Nico Rosberg having to do onerous things like read out his dash display when the telemetry failed.

Star of the Race

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
Lewis was at his peerless best, dominating Qualifying and highlighting the difference between himself and his team-mate in the wet. In the race, on Lap 16, we got the bizarre team radio snippet of, "surprisingly the front tyres feel really good - and the rears". It was something you so rarely hear, like farmers saying they're going to have a good harvest or politicians endorsing their rivals' policies.

Won't be long now bud..
After winning three of the first four race of the season (and getting pole for the race from which he retired), you have to say there might even be something in the bizarre scheme of Bernie's. Remember his gold, silver and bronze medal theory of F1. The World Champion is the one with the most golds. It wouldn't work for many reasons, but should Lewis retire in Barcelona for some stray reason and Nico resume the pattern we've established in the first four races in the next four, then he'll still be ahead. With that scenario Lewis could head to his home GP at Silverstone having won six of eight races still trailing Rosberg by 8 points.

He impressed Niki Lauda with his ability to lift and coast this race, using about 3.7kg less fuel than his team-mate.

Overtaking Move Of The Race
Lap 33 Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham on Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull.
Kobayashi pulled off an Edmund Irvine-like unlapping of himself. In a week where we're remembering 20 years since that fateful day at Imola where we lost Senna, Kobayashi hustled his Caterham past an out-of-tyres Sebastian Vettel to take a lap back. It was similar to Irvine nipping back past Ayrton Senna at Suzuka - for which Senna had a major sense of humour failure and went and slapped the Ulsterman afterwards. That didn't happen at Shanghai. But it was a great moment and an indication of just how much fun Sebastian is having in the middle of the pack.

To read the full article, go HERE.

Written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli.

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix was not as thrilling as the Bahrain GP, which preceded it, but from a strategy point of view and in terms of revealing the decision-making process that goes on behind the scenes during Formula 1 races, it was a fascinating event.

There were a number of talking points, one of the main ones being the Red Bull team trying to manage its two drivers, asking Sebastian Vettel to move over so as not to prevent team mate Daniel Ricciardo challenging Ferrari. Vettel initially refused, then relented. There was some confusion about what strategy each driver was doing. So did it cost Ricciardo a podium?

Best view ever?
Another was the relative performances of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg; multiple factors worked against Rosberg in the race, but he still came through to second place through determined driving and clever strategy moves by Mercedes.

To read the full article, go HERE.

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Friday, April 18, 2014


The Chinese Grand Prix is a round of the Formula One World Championship. It is currently held at the Shanghai International Circuit, Jiading, Shanghai, designed by Hermann Tilke. When completed in 2004, it was the most expensive Formula One circuit facility, costing $240 million. The track is 5.451 km long and features one of the trickiest corners combinations on the Formula One calendar, comparable to that of Istanbul Park's turn 8, also designed by Tilke. Turn 1 and 2 are a very demanding 270 degree, right-handed corner combination that requires a lot of speed whilst entering and it tightens up towards the end.

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix is the fourth round of the 2014 FIA F1 World Championship. The season so far has been dominated by Mercedes, with pole position and victory in all three races. Mercedes powered cars have also performed well with Force India second in the Constructors’ Championship currently.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Shanghai; Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have both won the race twice, while Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel have also won in China.

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix is always an intriguing race and strategy has played a significant role in the outcome in recent years. Overtaking is easy here because of the longest straight in F1 at 1.17km, so teams can plan for the fastest strategy knowing that traffic will not be a huge problem. That said, the speed differential between cars due to the new hybrid turbo engines, could see cars with less straight line speed struggle to pass midfield cars with good straight line speed.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 5.45 kilometres
Race distance : 56 laps (305 kilometres)
Corner : 16 corners in total, a mixture of slow, medium and fast
Aerodynamic setup : Medium/high downforce
Top speed : 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 310km/h without
Full throttle : 55% of the lap
Time spent braking : 15% of the lap. 8 braking zones
Brake wear : Medium
Total time needed for pit stop : 22 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.34 seconds (average)

Weather Forecast

It can often been overcast and cold in Shanghai and rain is quite common. The 2010 event was held in wet conditions, as was the 2009 edition. The temperature is forecast to be around 20 degrees, quite low by F1 standards and there is a threat of rain.


Pirelli tyre choice for Shanghai: Soft and Medium. This is the third time in four races that this combination of tyres has been used; only Malaysia saw a different selection. Unlike many F1 venues, where protecting the rear tyres is key to success, Shanghai is all about getting the front tyres at the optimum temperature, especially for qualifying.

There are two unusual corners, Turn One and Turn 13, which are long and drawn-out, Turn One being a 270 degree, tightening corner. This overstresses the left front tyre and this is the limiting factor in any strategy plan. Teams have a limited scope for working on set ups for this kind of circuit situation, so there are always question marks about how competitive a team will be over a race distance.

Safety Car

The chance of a safety car at Shanghai is reasonably high, at 43% and there is an average of 0.7 safety cars per race. In the 2005 and 2010 races there were 2 safety car periods.


The Chinese Grand Prix retained two DRS zones with split detection points as was used at the Malaysian Grand Prix. In 2011 and 2012 Shanghai used one DRS zone, which has been increased to two last seasons and that retained this year in line with most circuits on the 2014 calendar.

The double DRS zone will be on the start/finish straight with a detection point before the final corner and activation beginning 98m after it, and second one on the approach to Turn 14.

It would seem so quick for another race to come after the last one. Looking forward to another exciting fight between the Mercedes pair up front and more battles in the midfield.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Fernando Alonso is a very good F1 driver. Period. Even though I never really liked him especially during his McLaren days, I never had any doubt as to his ability on track. He is a very dangerous driver if given a very fast car. He can win many times over. Here is an interesting article about him by CNN delving into his private life and his thoughts on family.

He travels in private jets and is one of the world's highest-paid athletes, but Fernando Alonso's humble beginnings are never far away from his thoughts. He recalls with fondness those childhood days when he used to race go-karts -- the precursor to his enormous success on the Formula One circuit -- free of any pressure. Back then he didn't have to worry about points or standings.
"One of the most important things that I received from my parents was to have always this sense of family and to be united"
"You just enjoy the present. And maybe that was the nice thing about that period of my career when I was a go-kart driver. You enjoy that Sunday. You don't think anymore because you don't know if there is something more coming."

Full article HERE.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Here is an interesting article written by James Allen and aided by JA on F1 technical adviser Prof Mark Gillan. Prof Mark Gillan was formerly chief operations engineer at Williams, Toyota and Jaguar and he recently gave a lecture on this subject as principal R&D engineer of MTS Systems, which makes testing equipment.

Picture an F1 car standing still in the pit lane. The sidewalls of the tyre are nice and straight and the contact patch of the tyre is touching the ground. But imagine what that tyre looks like when loaded up in a high speed corner – it flexes and the shape is no longer that ideal vertical line, so easy to model in a wind tunnel.

In modern F1 there is a real premium on understanding this phenomenon and being able to work with the changing shape of the tyre so that the car’s aerodynamics are the best they can be at all times.

In simple terms there is lap time to be gained from doing better in this area; so there’s a lot of work going on there at the moment.

For F1 fans looking to get insights into some of the more fascinating reaches of the sport, we’ve presented this special insight into a key innovation of today from one of our team who has an intimate knowledge of the problem, to find solutions for the F1 teams.

Original article HERE.

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Friday, April 4, 2014


Another race weekend is upon us so quickly after Malaysia. This time at night as the Bahrain GP is now a night race after Singapore. The Bahrain Grand Prix is a Formula One Championship race in Bahrain sponsored by Gulf Air. The first race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. It made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East, and was given the award for the "Best Organised Grand Prix" by the FIA.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has usually been the third race of the Formula One calendar. However, in the 2006 season, Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which was pushed back to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games. In 2010, Bahrain staged the opening race of the 2010 season and the cars drove the full 6.299 km (3.914 mi) "Endurance Circuit" to celebrate F1's 'diamond jubilee'.

The 2011 Grand Prix, due to be held on 13 March, was canceled on 21 February due to the 2011 Bahraini protests after drivers including Damon Hill and Mark Webber had protested. Human rights activists called for a cancellation of 2012 race due to reports of alleged human rights abuses committed by the Bahraini authorities. Team personnel also voiced concerns about safety, but the race, nonetheless, was held as planned on 22 April 2012.

The 2014 race will be held as a night race under floodlights. It will become the second Formula One night race after the Singapore Grand Prix, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first staging of the Grand Prix. The teams did a significant amount of pre-season testing in Bahrain this year, which will give them a good baseline understanding of the best way to attack this Grand Prix. Since this year the race is being held at 6pm local time as a night race for the first time, this will mean that the track conditions will be cooler than in previous races here and the temperatures will fall as the race goes on.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 5.41 kilometres
Race distance : 57 laps (308.23 kilometres)
Corners : 15 corners in total, mostly medium speed, with three long straights. Very tough on brakes.
Aerodynamic setup : Medium downforce
Top speed : 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 310km/h without
Full throttle : 64% of the lap
Time spent braking : 16% of the lap. 8 braking zones.
Brake wear : High.
Total time needed for pit stop : 23 seconds.
Pit lane length : 480 metres
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.38 seconds (average/high)

Weather Forecast

Last year’s race was very hot, taking place as it did at the end of April. Track temperatures were well above 40 degrees. This year the race is early April and is being held at night so it should be cooler. There is little chance of rain and in general conditions should be stable across the weekend.


Pirelli tyre choice for Bahrain: Soft and Medium

This is the second time this combination of 2014 Pirelli tyre compounds has been seen, after Melbourne. Last season for Bahrain Pirelli brought the medium and hard tyres. Last year the most common strategy was three stops, much will depend on the performance and degradation of the tyres in practice on Friday in the cooler evening temperatures, but indications from testing suggest more two stoppers this year.

The optimum two stop is to pit on laps 19 and 38, while a three stopper would be something like laps 14, 28 and 43. The choice of tyres and when to take them will be interesting and dependent on the difference in performance between the soft and medium tyres in practice.

Safety Car

The chance of a safety car at the Sakhir circuit is low, due to the vast expanse of run off areas around the circuit. There was a safety car in the 2007 race to clear away on track debris, but otherwise the races have been fairly clear.


The DRS sectors at the Bahrain International Circuit will be as last year. The detection point of the first zone is 10m before Turn Nine and the activation point is 50m after Turn 10. The second zone’s detection point is 108m before Turn 14, with activation occurring 270m after Turn 15.

Again, all eyes will be on Mercedes as they have shown so far to have the fastest car. Qualifying will be interesting as we will see the first dry qualifying of the year and should confirm Mercedes' real one lap pace. It will also show the other team's pace as most of them have run 2 tests here during testing and should have plenty of data to prepare for the race.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Bahrain, Fernando Alonso has won the race three times, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel twice while Jenson Button has won it once. Lewis Hamilton has never won in Bahrain. As far as teams are concerned, Ferrari has four wins from the seven races held at the venue since the 2004 inauguration. Nico Rosberg took pole position in 2013.

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Friday, March 14, 2014


We're finally here! After that long winter, all the changes to the regulations, new engines, new everything, we're finally going to have the cars run on the track in anger on a race weekend. Welcome back Australia!

The Australian Grand Prix is a motor race held annually in Australia. The Grand Prix is the oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia having been held 77 times since it was first run at Phillip Island in 1928. Since 1985 the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship and is currently held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park in Melbourne. Prior to its inclusion in the World Championship it was held at a multitude of venues in every state of Australia. It was a centrepiece of the Tasman Series between 1964 and 1972 and was a round of the Australian Drivers' Championship on many occasions between 1957 and 1983. It became part of the Formula One World Championship in 1985 and was held at the Adelaide Street Circuit in Adelaide, South Australia from that year to 1995, before moving to Melbourne in 1996.

The Australian Grand Prix is the first round of the Championship, having been the first race of each year, excluding 2006 and 2010, since the event moved to Melbourne. During its years in Adelaide, the Australian Grand Prix was the final round of the Championship, replacing the Portuguese Grand Prix in that respect. As the final round of the season, the Grand Prix hosted a handful of memorable races, most notably the 1986 and 1994 races which saw the 1986 and 1994 World Drivers' Championships decided.

Australian driver Lex Davison and German driver Michael Schumacher are the most successful drivers in the 84-year history of the event taking four wins each; while McLaren has been the most successful constructor with twelve victories, its success stretching back into the pre-Formula One history of the race—its first win being in 1970. Frenchman Alain Prost is the only driver to win the Australian Grand Prix in both non-championship and World Championship formats, having won the race in 1982, 1986, and again in 1988.

A trip Into The Unknown

After a winter in which they have coped with a huge rule change, introducing complex hybrid turbo engines, the F1 teams arrive in Melbourne less well prepared for the first race than at any time in recent memory. Only Mercedes and Williams can be said to have achieved the 5,000km target mileage in the three winter tests, while Ferrari were not far off with 500km less.

Others, like Red Bull (1,700km) and their fellow Renault powered teams including last year’s Melbourne winners Lotus, are underprepared and will find Melbourne a struggle this year.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 5.303 kilometres
Race distance : 58 laps (307.574 kilometres)
Corners :  16 corners in total, none particularly fast
Aerodynamic setup : Medium/high downforce
Top speed : 318km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 308km/h without
Full throttle : 64% of the lap
Total fuel permitted for race distance : 100 kilos
Time spent braking : 13% of the lap
Braking zones : 8
Brake wear : High
Time needed for a pit stop : 23 seconds
Pit lane length : 280 metres
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.34 seconds


DRS sectors will be the same as those used in 2013. Activation One is 762m before Turn One, Activation Two is 510m before Turn Three. They share a single detection point, located 13m before Turn 14.

Weather Forecast

The teams will be anxious for as much dry running as possible in order to maximise their opportunity to conduct more testing with their new cars. On Friday at least, they should be spared any rain. The two 90-minute practice sessions should see very warm conditions, with temperatures almost reaching 30C. It will be overcast to begin with but the sun should break through the clouds in time for second practice.

Saturday is looking a bit trickier. The temperatures will remain high but the wind will pick up, reaching up to 45kph, and is likely to bring some showers with it. At present the indication is these will not fall during qualifying, but as that’s still almost two days away that is certainly subject to change.

Race day is expected to bring another change with considerably lower temperatures – only just making it above 20C. This will come as a relief to anyone concerned about cooling problems with the new V6 turbos during the 58-lap race.

Melbourne weather data HERE.


Pirelli tyre choice for Melbourne: Soft and Medium.

The tyres this season are quite different from last year’s in that they are more durable. This is to deal with the greatly increased torque from the hybrid turbo engines, which causes wheelspin. Pirelli’s objective was to make all four tyres in the range one step harder than last year. So the choice of soft and medium means that the option tyre (the soft) is two steps harder than Pirelli’s option tyre last year, which was supersoft.
The performance difference between the two compounds this year will be around 1.2 to 1.5 seconds per lap, which will mean that teams will seek to spend as little time on the medium as possible.

Safety Car

The chance of a safety car at Albert Park is 60%, although there have been safety cars in four of the last six years. The average number of safety car interventions for the race is 1.7 (in 2006 there were four).

This will be one of the most exciting and unpredictable race in years as we really have no idea who will be fast but more importantly reliable enough to finish this race and get points. Having a DNF here is really not what any team wants.

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Friday, March 7, 2014


Here is a collection of news and stories that were doing the rounds the past week. Some of you might have missed it, so I have collected them here for you. Those that I think are interesting and will keep us fans updated on the goings on in the sport. Also, some technical ones to keep us in the know about this new season.

Rosberg and Mercedes lead the way in test mileage

While Williams might have held off Mercedes in terms of claiming the fastest lap posted in Bahrain, that Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) failure late on Sunday afternoon not only saw the Grove outfit lose its 100% pre-season reliability record but also saw it lose out to its Brackley neighbour in terms of pre-season mileage completed.

Martini lifts Williams off the rocks

Following weeks of speculation, Williams has today confirmed a new title sponsor and with it a striking new livery. The new agreement sees Martini, the world's leading vermouth and best-selling Italian sparkling wine, join forces with Williams to become Williams Martini Racing in a multi-year agreement that unites two iconic brands.

Pirelli reveals compounds for opening races

Pirelli has announced its tyre choices for the opening four races of the 2014 Formula One season. The choices have been made to reflect the characteristics of each circuit and the all-new 2014 cars, bearing in mind all the data that has been obtained from the three pre-season tests.

Uneasy peace among the engine manufacturers?

As the Formula One fraternity gathers itself before the long haul flight to Melbourne, some within the paddock believe not all is as it should be with regards to engines. Heading in to pre-season testing it was believed Mercedes had produced the strongest power unit, as engines are now known, with Ferrari the weakest.

That Baku time of year

An interesting report about a Formula One race taking place in Azerbaijan is doing the rounds. The race will take place in 2015 or 2016 according to the report and it has quotes from F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone to back it up. The article claims that the event is expected to be held on the streets of Baku, the capital of the oil-rich country which sits at the crossroads of western Asia and eastern Europe.

Ecclestone reveals bribery trial will be 'part-time' to fit F1 calendar

He claims a recent report in the Financial Times about the implications of the trial didn't give the full picture. Ecclestone was quoted as saying "I've been looking, over the last few years, for somebody who can join me to assist with what I have to do. I will eventually be in a position, if I decide to retire - or unfortunately become dead - to have someone to step into my shoes."

Dennis: We will win races this this year

"The company was a little unfit," he admitted, "it needs to get fit and there is pain to getting fit. Hopefully everybody has got the right mind-set to understand what we expect of each other and what I expect of them. It takes time. You've got to give people time to understand what's expected of them and if they don't get there, they won't be with the company."

I'll show you how to run an F1 team!
'You don't become idiots overnight'

"To be honest with you, we have no real idea. We know we don't have the pace to challenge the Mercedes teams at the moment, but it's very much a case of see where we are in Melbourne. Then we know the scale and magnitude of what we have to climb. We don't even know our starting point at the moment, so it's impossible to make predictions sitting here in Milton Keynes a week prior to the first race. But I have every confidence in the team, and in Renault, that we can make it. Our target is [to catch up] as soon as possible."

I have no idea either..
From Bahrain test to Free practice in Melbourne: What the F1 teams are doing now

The factories will be 100% operational right now in ensuring that the cars leave with enough spares for the first race. For example ideally one wants 6 front wings at each race, with 4 being considered the bare minimum. Typically a team may go with 2 to 3 launch specification front wings and 2 to 3 Melbourne update wings, one of which will have probably been run at Bahrain. Each front wing can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to make from scratch so if any were damaged in the last track test production will struggle to replace it in time.

Insight: Behind the scenes look at how Formula 1 TV now operates team radio and other functions remotely

When you watch next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, some of what you see and hear on your screens will be being operated by technicians sitting next to an airfield in Kent, collaborating in real time with colleagues 10,500 miles away.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Felipe Massa fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Monday, March 3, 2014


This is a re-produced post by PlanetF1. I couldn't have put it better, so I'm just re-producing it here for your benefit. To read the original article, click HERE.

Mercedes on top, Red Bull still struggling, Williams have two Felipes and everything's taking a lot more time...

Number 1

When Marussia decided they needed to change the engine on Max Chilton's car after four laps on Friday, it wasn't the work of a couple of hours. That was it for the rest of the day. Although repairs and engine fixes are going to come down as teams learn to shortcut the time, such is the complexity of the new engine systems that everything is taking around double the time it took before. So if teams get engine problems in final practice (FP3) on a Saturday morning, it may be impossible to get the car ready in the time left before Qualifying.

Number 2

Thus on Friday when Ferrari had some telemetry issues, what would have been a routine fix for the team in 2013 with telemetry equipment that hasn't changed from 2013 to 2014, became a much longer process, sidelining Kimi Raikkonen for a lot of Friday. An engineer from a rival team also revealed that both Sauber and Ferrari were suffering misfires, as fuel was getting into the exhaust, something that hadn't happened in Jerez.

Number 3

Williams have now got two Felipes in their car with Brazilian Felipe Nasr signing up as their reserve and test team driver. He put in a lot of mileage on Saturday. Having a namesake in the team will make it a lot easier to swap drivers in and out if they put the name 'Felipe' next to a Brazilian flag on the side of the car. However should Valtteri Bottas fall ill and need to be replaced then it could be fun having two Felipes racing and could lead to the team radio message "Felipe, Felipe is faster than you."

Number 4

The new quieter engines make it easier for drivers to hear messages on team radio - but on the downside, there is so much electrical activity going on in the engine compartment that the signals are getting a lot of interference.

Number 5

For those doubters who thought that F1 cars would be a lot slower in 2014, Nico Rosberg's 1:33.283 on Saturday morning was less that a second off his 2013 pole of 1:32.330. Lewis Hamilton confirmed that the new cars are losing out in the fast corners, thanks to the removal of downforce and exhaust blowing, but gaining on the straights.

Number 6

The best news from Saturday was that Lotus bounced back with some last-minute parts flown in and a haul of 59 laps making them by far the strongest Renault runner at the end of the test. The four Renault teams managed just 114 laps between them on the final day, against 92 for the three Ferrari teams and 261 for the Mercedes engined teams.

Number 7

After eight days of pre-season testing gone, with four left, only Mercedes and McLaren have run race simulations. In race mode, and adhering to the restriction of 100kgs of fuel, both the W05 and the MP4-29 were lapping eight seconds off their ultimate one-lap pace.

Number 8

Red Bull were only the fastest Renault-engined car on Day One. On Day Two it was the Caterham-Renault. On Day Three it was the Toro Rosso-Renault, and on Day Four the Lotus-Renault. Day Two will hurt the most.

Number 9

The lack of reliability for the teams may spill out into marshalling problems in the early races or at least safety worries for marshals. In Bahrain, when a car stops, the teams' engineers are coming out to collect their own cars because of the potential safety issues with electricity. When the season starts, the systems are supposedly going to be all sorted. But if the teams cannot get their cars working reliably by Melbourne, can the electricity safety systems in place be trusted? Having had a marshal killed in Melbourne not too many years ago by a flying wheel, the race organisers will want to be assured that the cars are safe to be touched.

Number 10

Had the 107% rule been applied to Saturday's best testing times, as though it were the grid, Red Bull would have been ruled out. Daniel Ricciardo's 1:39.837 was more than 107% of Nico Rosberg's blistering 1:33.283

To read the original article, click HERE.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The good news is that Red Bull are having loads of problems and won't be stamping all over the championship come Melbourne. Hopefully, with all of Renault's problems, we'll see a more level playing field this year. Of course, they won't be behind forever, F1 teams have a knack for solving problems fast and getting back on performance. But personally, I'm grinning from ear to ear. After a whole year of boring-ness.

So how bad are Renault teams anyway? Not that bad according to Rob White, Renault Sport F1 Deputy Managing Director. But then he would say that, wouldn't he? From what we can glean of this interview, they are a few weeks behind and that is bad in F1. The last 2 tests showed that when you are behind, when you can't use the time to test for speed and you waste time fixing problems here and there, you will be quite behind in terms of development.

What were the key steps taken between Jerez and Bahrain ?

We made a number of specification changes to the Energy Store (battery), involving modified hardware, requiring some gymnastics in engineering, procurement, assembly and logistics. We also introduced two levels of PU control system software updates ; the first being effectively what would have been a decent starting point for Jerez. It eliminated some bugs that allowed us to make mapping and calibration corrections, which subsequently allowed us to operate the cars in a more robust way to gather mileage. The second layer of software changes had more functionality to allow a greater authority to the control systems, giving better performance and driveability, and a larger degree of Power Unit systems integration. All the cars started on the first route and all 4 cars migrated to the second solution as we gathered mileage.

How has the test in Bahrain gone this week ?

We have had some set-backs, but we have definitely made progress and have taken several steps forward. The changes have improved the PU behaviour in the car and we are have accumulated valuable mileage. There have been stoppages, on our side and on the chassis side as well, but we have ironed out some important faults and allowed the teams to gain crucial experience of the car as a whole. We have seen that minor incidents can cause downtime that is difficult or impossible to recover. In particular, we lost more time than anticipated on the final day. While we are not at the level of operation and performance we would want to be, we have a more solid basis to work from, and we are moving in the right direction.

Would you say you are back on schedule ?

We have made some good headway, in terms of PU performance and operation in the car, we are now in a situation we could have accepted mid-Jerez. We have solved some problems and revealed some others. 
We are not back on schedule but we are moving in the right direction – the running we have done is very valuable. The challenge is to improve the rate of progress, because the gap to where we wanted to be at this stage remains substantial. We are some weeks behind where we wanted to be, and we acknowledge it will take time to unlock the full performance of the PU. We are working hard to get there and we are determined to succeed. We remain confident in the PU and its sub systems, we are just not at the level of operation and performance we want to be. The immaturity of the PU combined with the time lost to incidents, means the chassis work to prepare for the season is also behind schedule. From this point on we must pursue and accelerate an upward curve.

What is the plan in the short break between tests ?

We run again in Bahrain at the end of next week. The homologation deadline is looming, the race engines for Melbourne are in the early stages of build. There is a huge amount of work in progress. The Viry team is working night and day to solve our problems. The collaboration with our teams is closer than ever. The rate of development is extremely rapid away from the track and that we can create and validate effective solutions very quickly shows the resolve and tenacity of all our team members. We now have a list of issues from this test we will address. There are of course priority calls to sort out the most important ones from the background noise, but we will come back stronger at the next test and continue to learn about the Power Unit and prepare for Melbourne.

Who using Renault engines is looking good then?

So far, Lotus is looking good. It is the only Renault based team that is showing acceptable (if that is possible to say) levels of reliability and performance. Although they still cannot match any of the Mercedes or Ferrari engined teams, they look to have their packaging a bit more agreeable to the new power units.

The Enstone squad set the fastest time of the four Renault-powered squads in testing in Bahrain, albeit almost five-and-a-half seconds slower than pacesetter Nico Rosberg's Mercedes. But despite completing five fewer laps than Red Bull overall, Lotus had a good final day while the reigning world champion team struggled.

Lotus technical director Nick Chester seems to think so:
I think we could be the lead Renault team, we certainly haven't gone badly this week in comparison to the other Renault teams and I know they are having a few problems.
Red Bull is still struggling to get the power unit to work properly in their packaging. The whole Bahrain test yielded not enough laps and everyday had to be cut short for one reason or another. Daniel Ricciardo only managed 15 laps on day 4. We'll see how they fare in the next and last test before the season starts in Melbourne.

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Monday, February 24, 2014


The teams have been able to complete more testing distance with Pirelli's new 2014 range of tyres in Bahrain, as they begin to get a better picture of how the latest tyres interact with the radically different new cars.

A number of teams were able to complete race simulations, as well as qualifying and pit stop practice, assessing every aspect of tyre usage. Weather conditions remained dry and warm, in the region of 20 degrees centigrade or higher: temperatures that are much more representative of the season as a whole.
In accordance with the nominations they had made in advance, the teams were able to try out the entire 2014 range of P Zero tyres in Bahrain, as well as a special 'winter' hard compound, with a faster warm-up.

Paul Hembery comments:
The teams were able to learn more about tyres over the four days in Bahrain than they could in Jerez two weeks ago, thanks to increased running time and optimal weather conditions. Although the teams are still at a comparatively early point on the development curve with their new cars, testing data so far indicates that the 2014 tyres are more consistent and durable than their predecessors.
As a result, we are also seeing fewer 'marbles' on the circuit: one of our objectives at the start of this season. However, teams are likely to improve their performance and understanding of the car-tyre package still further in the test to come, which means that the lap time differences we have been seeing between the compounds are likely to come down: especially when the teams discover more downforce as the season goes on. We've collected plenty of useful data from this test, but of course we are still ready and able to change the specification of the tyres for the start of the season if this is shown to be necessary.
Testing Facts

Teams ramped up their distance considerably over the four days of the test. In total, 482 laps were completed on the first day of the test, with 676 laps on day two, 695 laps on day three and 469 laps on day four.

Teams had a maximum of 30 sets of tyres per car to test in Bahrain. Pirelli, in conjunction with the teams, chose 22 of those sets (plus an extra medium 'prototype' set – used to test the performance of tyres without tyre warmers, which is part of the 2015 regulations). The teams were then able to choose in advance the remaining eight sets, up to their maximum permitted total of 30. In total, 135 sets of tyres are allowed per team for testing purposes throughout 2014.

The performance differences in Bahrain between the compounds so far are approximately as follows: the supersoft is around 0.7s per lap faster than the soft, the soft is around 1.2s per lap quicker than the medium, and the medium is around 1.3s per lap quicker than the hard. These gaps should come down considerably as the cars evolve.

More Testing Facts

A total of 24 drivers took part in the Bahrain test, completing 2,322 laps and 12,566 kilometres. Last year, the second test of the year took place in Barcelona, over exactly the same four-day period, during which the drivers completed 16,006 kilometres.

The total testing distance completed so far this year, combining Jerez and Bahrain is 3,792 laps and 19,074 kilometres. This time last year, the teams had completed 6,970 laps and 31,640 kilometres of pre-season testing (Jerez and Barcelona 2013 combined).

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the Bahrain test, with a time of 1m33.283s on Saturday with the P Zero Yellow soft. By way of comparison, the fastest race lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year was 1m36.961s, set by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. Pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year was 1m32.330s: within a second of Rosberg's fastest test time today. At the Bahrain race last year, pole was also set by Rosberg.

The highest number of total laps completed at this year's Bahrain test by any one driver was 174 laps, from Nico Rosberg (Mercedes). Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the second-highest total, 171 laps.

Testing Numbers

Total number of sets brought to Bahrain: 341 sets which equals 1,364 tyres

of which supersoft tyres: 14 sets
of which soft tyres: 61 sets
of which medium tyres: 139 sets
of which hard tyres: 94 sets
of which 'winter' hard tyres: 28 sets
of which intermediate tyres: 3 sets
of which wet tyres: 2 sets
Total amount of sets used: 199
of which supersoft tyres: 5 sets
of which soft tyres: 37 sets
of which medium tyres: 89 sets
of which hard tyres: 51 sets
of which 'winter' tyres: 17 sets
of which intermediate tyres: 0 sets
of which wet tyres: 0 sets

Longest Run

16 laps on the supersoft compound
16 laps of the soft compound
22 laps on the medium compound
22 laps on the hard compound
9 laps on the 'winter' compound
0 laps on the intermediate compound
0 laps on the wet compound
Highest / lowest ambient temperature over four days: 27 °C / 17 °C
Highest / lowest track temperature over four days: 37 °C / 18 °C

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Nico Rosberg fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.