Friday, February 26, 2010
Now, compare this to the McLaren MP4-25 below.
Something about this design works I suspect. In fact, Alonso recorded the fastest time ever for this test today at Barcelona, beating Webber by about 3 tenths. His best time was 1:21.183 done somewhere in a 14 lap run. We'll have to see what the analysis by James Allen of todays' test first to make a more educated guess of the pace of the Ferrari.
Whatever it is, the Ferrari F10 looks good this year so far and Alonso looks good so it's a scary prospect. I've always admitted Alonso is a good driver even though I don't like him. And Alonso in a Ferrari is scary, what more a performing Ferrari.
Most if not all F1 fans know who is Charlie Whiting. He's the guy with the white hair that gets involved when something goes wrong on the track or during a race. But who is he really and what does he do (and how he does it so well)? Well, to answer that question, read here a re-production of the roots of Charlie and how he is absolutely qualified to do his job.
Who on earth is ... Charlie Whiting?
February 25, 2010
When the lights go out in
Formula One isn't like football or rugby where a referee can step in and calm things down a bit. In fact, the last man who tried to get between an F1 car and its intended destination was an Irish priest at Silverstone in 2003 and he was, quite rightly, arrested.
So officiating a grand prix is a near impossible task, and that's exactly why it's a job held by one the most experienced men in the sport, F1 race director Charlie Whiting.
Put simply he is responsible for the start, the circuit, the safety, the fairness, and the (potential) untimely finish or stoppage of a race. It's an incredibly high pressure job, and he has to call on all of his extensive experience and vast knowledge of the rules and regulations - many of which he was instrumental in creating - to keep everyone happy.
Like most men at the pinnacle of F1, Whiting is absolutely besotted by it. The love affair started at the age of 12 when he snuck under the fence at Brands Hatch to watch the 1964 British Grand Prix. From that point onwards his mind was made up, and when he was old enough, he became a mechanic for his racing-driver brother Nick. The pair became notorious in motor racing circles at Brands Hatch and it wasn't long before they moved from touring cars up into F5000, where they prepared a Surtees for female F1 driver and Olympic skier Divina Galica.
In 1977 Whiting was poached by Hesketh, but by that time the team was in decline and its James Hunt's glory days were well and truly in the past. He finally made the big time with Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team, where he quickly rose up the ranks, and by the age of 29, achieved his dream of working as a chief mechanic on a championship-winning car with Nelson Piquet.
A second title followed in 1983 and he was duly promoted to chief engineer at the British team. A year before Ecclestone sold up at Brabham, Whiting left and in 1988 became the FIA's chief scrutineer.
Essentially it was his job to catch the cheats, and after working at a top-flight team for several years, you could argue that he had the ultimate qualification for the job. After all, this was the man who in his first year with Brabham was involved in the production of the infamous BT46B fan car - the ultimate rule bender if ever there was one.
After nine years in that job he was promoted to the position of FIA race and safety director, the role he's still in now. It's a heavily scrutinised job, and like nearly all top sporting umpires, he has overseen his fair share of controversy.
But he openly admits he doesn't do the job expecting to be praised.
"While I would never expect anyone to come up to me and say that was a really well-run event, if I don't get anyone complaining about something then it's nice," he admitted. "And you do get a certain amount of satisfaction out of coping with difficult situations because sometimes it's not that easy.
For example, if we need to use the safety car four times during a race you've got to have your wits about you. One gets satisfaction out of knowing that you've done a decent job and if no one comes complaining then that's usually the yardstick."
But Whiting's remit goes well beyond grand prix weekends. He is also chairman of the technical and sporting working groups in Formula One that oversee all major changes to the sport's rules and regulations. It's another unenviable task, as he has to appease all the teams while trying to solve near impossible problems such as finding a way to increase overtaking. Add to that the task of approving all the race circuits on safety grounds each year and working as an FIA inspector and you have a very busy man.
Essentially Whiting has to be a referee, a scrutineer, a safety inspector, a politician and an engineer all rolled into one. So remember, if you don't hear his name again all season it means he's continuing to do a brilliant job. F1 simply wouldn't work without him.
Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Mark Webber set a blistering pace on Friday where, thanks to a day of sunshine, he posted this year's fastest lap time at the Jerez circuit.
After finishing top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:19.299, the Aussie reported: "We're certainly showing some good form in terms of reliability, but we always need to work on performance - you never know what the other teams are doing.
"But we're in a good position at the moment to build up to the first race.
"It's close, but there's also quite a way to go, as other teams have no doubt planned developments for Bahrain.
"We're doing the work we need to do in order to understand the car more."
Report: After two days of rain and interruptions, Friday's running at the Spanish circuit kicked off under blue skies and with the track almost completely dry.
However, even the dry surface didn't stop the red flags from being waved as the action was halted on six occasions.
Heikki Kovalainen brought out the first red flag in the opening hour when the Lotus driver came to halt at Turn 9 with the team reporting that the "car stopped with a clutch sensor failure."
Lotus, though, were the only newcomers to run into problems as Virgin Racing, having a great start to the day, soon found themselves beached in the gravel.
Lucas di Grassi, who took over from team-mate Timo Glock for the final two days of testing, put in a respectable 1:31.6, which had the team crowing about that great "Friday feeling!" Five minutes later, di Grassi's VR01 was in the gravel and the red flags were once again being waved.
No soon had the action started than it stopped again, this time it was Kamui Kobayashi, who came to a halt out on track on his very first lap out of the pits.
"A festival of red flags so far," is how Ferrari described the first few hours of testing.
And hour of clear running on an ever-drying track followed, allowing Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso to put in some blistering laps as the trio moved ever closer to last week's leading time of 1:19.583, which was set by Lewis Hamilton.
Their charge, though, came to an end when Webber's RB6 broke down between Turns 8 and 9, red flag number four of the day.
The next stoppage of the day belonged, yet again, to di Grassi, whose VR01 stopped out on track at the Dry Sack hairpin.
There were also additional problems for Lotus with tech boss Mike Gascoyne revealing that a "cracked exhaust pipe" was the cause of Kovalainen's second delay of the day.
With the session once again green-lighted, the drivers continued putting in the laps with six of them hitting the 100 mark.
But while the lap counter climbed, the lap times dropped.
Webber, back on track after his earlier problems, stormed into the lead with a 1:19.4, easily outpacing Ferrari's Alonso.
The Aussie, though, wasn't done and continued to lap, dropping the benchmark time to a 1:19.299, 0.284s quicker than any F1 driver had gone at Jerez this year.
And with the cloud cover building over the circuit, causing the track temperature to drop, Webber's rivals were not able to match the Red Bull racer's pace.
Any chance they may have had with a final dash at the very end of testing was put to rest when Nico Hulkenberg caused the sixth red of the day.
So the day ended with Webber 0.816s ahead of Alonso, Button was third while Hulkenberg, who was the busiest driver with 137 laps to his name, finished in fourth place.
"We have done pit stop practices with the Hulk & race sims. Much better weather-wise today - clear skies = good!" Williams reported.
Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher was fifth ahead of Robert Kubica, Adrian Sutil and Kamui Kobayashi. Kobayashi, though, only managed 28 laps as a fuel problem kept him off the track for large parts of the day.
1. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB6 1:19.299 114 laps
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1:20.115 +0.816 132 laps
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1:20.394 +1.095 101 laps
4. N. Hülkenberg Williams FW32 1:21.432 +2.133 137 laps
5. M. Schumacher Mercedes GP W01 1:21.437 +2.138 79 laps
6. R. Kubica Renault R30 1:21.916 +2.617 100 laps
7. A. Sutil Force India VJM-03 1:21.939 +2.640 69 laps
8. K. Kobayashi Sauber C29 1:22.228 +2.929 28 laps
9. J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR5 1:22.704 +3.405 120 laps
10. L. Di Grassi Virgin Racing VR-01 1:23.504 +4.205 34 laps
11. H. Kovalainen Lotus F1 T127 1:23.521 +4.222 68 laps
Friday, February 19, 2010
A bit of news on Lotus F1 or for those patriotic of you out there, the 1Malaysia F1 team. The good news is that the car ran..yeah, I know. It ran for 63 laps yesterday driven by Fairuz at Jerez without any problems. Well, it had a problem, there was no power steering at all. And Fairuz managed to drive it properly for 63 laps! Hands up to the man, he should be driving the car in races.
Not so good news today, day 2 at Jerez. Heikki Kovalainnen took the car for a drive today in rainy Jerez and crashed it. That's the end of testing for today. The best part is that there was no spare parts. The part ordered was supposed to arrive at 2am tomorrow, so hopefully they'll get some more running then. If this is how Tony runs the show, I can't wait to see Kamaruddin and Nasarudin giving their input as well.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
James Allen gives a great insight into the possible scenarios and plans that teams might use in practice, qualifying and races this year based on the changes to the rules and cars/tyres. It seems that the restrictions will make thinking forward much more important this year as you don't want to go out with the wrong tyres.
If this is the character of 2010 tyre on some tracks it will be very hard to find out during practice sessions whether stopping earlier than your rival is going to be the better option, as some people have been suggesting. So much will depend on track characteristics and how the tyres degrade on those tracks.It's also interesting to see that because of the limitations imposed on teams, perhaps teammates will be forced to work together and trust each other. I'm just no so sure which one will take the right task as they might be thinking that they are better at setup or something else as James said:
So you might see teams split with one driver pounding round doing a long run tyre evaluation on Friday afternoons while the other works on fine tuning set up.Can't wait for Bahrain.
Teams experiments show what Ferrari’s plan might be
Not only is Tony Fernandes the team principal at a F1 team, he is a team principal with no prior training or experience in F1. And now, to add icing to the cake, he has appointed his 2 partners in the venture to the position of deputy team principals. This is highly unusual having deputy team principal, what more 2.
Having a team principal with no F1 experience is mad enough, appointing 2 deputies with no F1 experience also is just dumb. I thought before that Mike Gascoyne would be advising Tony on the pitlane during races but now Mike is even further removed. I wonder how Tony will make split second decisions during races when the message is being passed from Mike to Nasaruddin to Kamarudin and then to Tony and vice-versa.
Lotus, oh Lotus.
New Appointments at Lotus
Saturday, February 13, 2010
McLaren MP4/25 Mercedes
Finally after all the talk and work, Lotus has launched their brand new car in London. It has a lot of historical weight to carry as Lotus has been successful in the past and Tony Fernandes better not screw up that history because then the whole of Malaysia will be blamed by motorpsort nuts worldwide.
A first look at the car makes me feel nervous. Why? Because it doesn't really look like a F1 car. The nose is too thick, it looks like an F3 car. The rest of it is pretty simple and the sidepods are very big. Keith from F1Fanatic has had some articles lately with explanations about the new diffucers and how a slimmed down sidepod helps airflow to the diffusers. The Lotus' sidepods looks huge.
The only part of the car that is interesting is the front wing. It is pretty complicated on an otherwise dull car. The funny thing is the wing is devoid of any sponsors, which is weird. I also noticed that Naza has only 1 sticker on the whole car.
We'll have to wait for the car to hit the track next week to find out its performance. So, what do you think of the liveries and the design of the car? For more pictures of the car, click here. For hi-res images and more pictures, click here.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The explanation about the rear diffuser is really interesting and insightful. You can read it here.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
So, getting to the point. The first test of the season is already underway at Valencia (not the street track but the permanent one, I must say that track is pretty short and not so demanding) but I have not even given my 2 cents of the current crop of cars. So here it goes.
The Ferrari F10 looks good. The overall shape is different than last years' car and the nose is similar but seems higher and longer. The front wing is complicated, the rear wing is still too small but there is a nice touch of white to the livery. The sidepods are weird though and I seem to notice the exhaust coming out halfway down them, is that right or even legal?
So far the most beautiful car in the pack. McLaren have this knack for good design, they did it last year with the MP4-24 when the new front wings were revealed, they had the best looking front wing. This year the whole design is more cohesive and beautiful. Still having that 'Red Bull' high nose of 2009 and the sidepods are smaller and the shape is different. I am amazed at their 'shark fin' engine cover though as it extends and connects all the way to the rear wing. That front wing is also damn complicated.
They've unveiled a car that is much like last years' car and Red Bulls' car as well. Red Bull started the high nose design last year and STR has followed through, that design was a competitive design. The car looks not much different besides the extended engine cover and the shark fin joining the rear wing, much like McLaren. Although that front nose does look similar like the Mercedes.
Mercedes really outdid themselves. Not only does the car look fantastic, the livery is one of the best looking. I would rate their livery together with McLaren as the best looking this year. The car itself was based on the Brawn BGP-001 but the nose is much lower with a sudden drop after the front tyres. And the front wing is again complicated. The sidepods are different, twisted somehow. The nose has that sunken valley like Ferrari's and overall looks good.
Renault have reverted back to their original team colors of the 80s in the absence of major sponsors and I have to say the R30 looks bad just like the R29. I still prefer the colors of the Mild Seven days. Although a saving grace is that the nose does mimic the F2004 and overall the shape is ok, nothing radical. This year Renault have decided to go for the shark fin though and Kubica must be hoping that whatever design that has been put in better work or his career will be delayed again after his days at BMW. Overall, I would have to say that the R30 is one, if not the ugliest car on this years' grid.
This car is weird. What else can I say? Look at that nose, it's too high and the color scheme makes the car look like it has a weird shape. The nose looks like it was cut off at the bottom or something. And not having any sponsors makes it look worse. The front wing is fairly complicated and they have the shark fin too. I'm not sure of this car's design but it seems to work these few days at testing as Sauber has finished 2nd on the timesheets so far. Maybe they're looking for sponsors with low fuel runs, who knows.
The new Williams looks like the old Williams. The color scheme looks the same and most of the sponsors are the same too. The nose and front wing looks then same, you'd have to look carefully to see the difference. What can I say, it looks the same as last years' car.
And the latest reveal is by Virgin. Their car has been completely designed on a computer via CFD with no windtunnel work or models made. The nose is very long and the rest of the car looks typical. I can't see any radical design there, maybe because of that boring color scheme. The front wing looks normal not complicated and the engine cover is also normal. I was hoping that a Virgin car would be cool or hip or whatever as Branson is known for his over the top..whatever. But the end result is bland.
So, what's left now is to see how Red Bull will look like. I got a feeling they will come out with something radical that will give a good fight this year as they came tantalisingly close last year. And of course the balance of the newcomers such as Lotus, Campos and USF1.
Following on from the revelation that Michael Schumacher has a mad superstition for odd numbers, the German will reveal a litany of hitherto unknown superstitions. Among these will be an insistence that his team mate runs with an inferior set-up because “it makes me feel a bit better about my car”.
He will also reveal that he has a special form of OCD that means he just has to brake-test any drivers that are behind him, and cannot stop himself from driving straight into anyone who has just overtaken him. He also has a strong superstition for getting to choose his own parking space, and will park his Mercedes car in Race Control, where he can literally control the race by tampering with the timing system.
No-one will think to point any of this out, because nothing is allowed to get in the way of Princess Michelle’s Fairy Tale Comeback.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Re-produced from ESPN.
With testing in Formula One now strictly limited, much of the preparation for the new season is done behind the wheel of multi-million pound simulators. A computer game so advanced that it can actually replicate every movement of the car, the only snag is it costs £125,000.
These state-of-the-art machines are not only used to develop driver skills but also allow the engineers to achieve the perfect set-up. The simulator can run full race distances, allowing the teams to tweak every tiny variable.
Most of us mere mortals have to settle for arcade or home computer games to feed our need for speed. The trouble is they simply don't get close to a real race experience. But now there are is new breed of simulators, although still too expensive for home use, can offer the ultimate race experience. You can feel the wheel vibrate as you try and ride the curbs, the G-forces as you brake, and the back end slip away as you accelerate too quickly out of a corner.
To show just how good this simulator is, when I arrived at Pure Tech Racing to try their latest simulator I had to wait my turn. A string of GP2 Series drivers were pitting their wits against the technology. Sam Bird, who races in GP2 for the ART team, took a break to tell me why he likes the new set-up.
"It is actually very close to the GP2 car I drive," he explained. "We are here in this hall and it honestly feel like you are out at Jarama driving a real car. You get the G-forces with this machine, because of the moving platform you get the feeling that you are on track.
"It handles like a proper single-seater should do. If you brake too hard you lock-up, if you go into a corner too hard you get understeer. If you're too aggressive on the throttle on the exit it's quite easy to spin. But the platform is excellent as you can actually feel what the car is doing and adjust your driving accordingly. So you can actually make a mistake and correct it, whereas without the moving platform you can actually get a bit of oversteer, not know about it, keep your foot buried and all of a sudden you are spinning down the straight. "
Although drivers like Bird might use simulators like this to prepare for racing, there are a lot of members of the public who would love to have a go. Luckily, if you are prepared to travel to Gatwick you could have just that opportunity.
Pure Tech Racing's centre manager Nick Dunn explaines: "What we are doing at our new centre is setting up ten of these simulators for the public to enjoy. We know there are lots of frustrated racing drivers out there who have never had the chance to really go racing.
"The BRD06 simulator has been built from the ground up to bring all aspects of the motorsport world to the general public. Within the software we have also got the ability to change the set up of the car from an engineering perspective. It allows the guys to change the handling of the car just like you would at the race track - We are trying to make it as realistic as we can.
"We think it's great that the GP2 boys are enjoying the simulator as much. It's really important to us that we can validate the system. So these guys' reactions are absolutely vital."
So if you have always fancied yourself as the next Michael Schumacher, you can try your skills for around £20 a session at the centre which is due to open in the spring. Be warned, though, it is not as easy as the experts make it look.
Claire Furnell is the senior editor of ESPNF1