Thursday, March 14, 2013


By plane of course. That would be the literal answer to the question of how teams will approach Melbourne. But we're being literal in another sense. How they will approach the race weekend. How they will consider their strategies. How they will setup everything they need in order to get the best results. How would they do it? Beats me, I don't have access to the pits. But I know who does.

James Allen does. And Mark Gillan does. Who's Mark Gillan? That guy who used to work with Williams F1. And McLaren. And Jaguar/Red Bull. And Toyota. So he knows a bit of what he is saying. Just a bit mind you. And he is advising James Allen now. So James knows what is talking about too.

James Allen is one of the most experienced and insightful broadcasters and journalists working in Formula 1 today. He is currently the F1 correspondent for BBC Radio 5 Live and is the network’s lead F1 commentator. He is also F1 correspondent for the Financial Times and presents the on-site coverage for Australian TV Network 10. James was born into a racing family: His father Bill was a works Lotus driver in the 1960s, enjoying success in sportscar events like the Le Mans 24 Hours. He is a Trustee of the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust and has been a patron of the children’s engineering challenge, F1 in Schools, for over a decade.

So, this post is really to share with you folks (who do not know James or have not come across his site) his interesting article on the upcoming Melbourne GP. I found it too interesting not to share. Some of the more interesting bits are below. For the full article, go here.

Track characteristics

Albert Park Circuit; 5.303 kilometres. Race distance: 58 laps = 307.574 kilometres; 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 – 65% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 152 kilos.

Time spent braking: 13% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: High.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 20 seconds

Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.34 seconds

Weather forecast

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is for a warm dry day with temperatures around 21-22 degrees and only 20% chance of rain on Saturday.

Likely tyre performance

Pirelli tyre choice for Melbourne: SuperSoft and Medium.

Pirelli has changed the tyres for 2013 and they are taking some getting used to; the teams will still be learning about them in Melbourne. It’s the first time that Pirelli has brought the softest compound in the range for Melbourne. They hope that the step between the compounds will ensure a performance gap of around 1 second per lap between the cars that will increase the importance of strategy.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

As the pitlane in Melbourne is the longest of the season (just a fraction more than Singapore) because of the 60km\h limit it is not desirable to make multiple stops, even if the tyre degradation is very high.

Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Albert Park is 57%, although there have been safety cars in four of the last five years. The average number of safety car interventions for the race is 1.7 (in 2006 there were four).

Recent start performance of drivers and teams

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.

For thoughts from Mark Gillan, have a go at the podcast here.

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