Wednesday, May 22, 2013


The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race held each year on the Circuit de Monaco. Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world, alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The circuit has been called "an exceptional location of glamour and prestige."

The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race. It is the only Grand Prix that does not adhere to the FIA's mandated 305 kilometres (190 mi) minimum race distance.

The first race in 1929, was organised by Anthony Noghès under the auspices of the "Automobile Club de Monaco", and was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti. The event was part of the pre-Second World War European Championship and was included in the first Formula One World Championship in 1950. It was designated the European Grand Prix two times, 1955 and 1963, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one Grand Prix race in Europe. Graham Hill was known as "Mr. Monaco" due to his five Monaco wins in the 1960s. Brazil's Ayrton Senna won the race more times than any other driver, with six victories, winning five races consecutively between 1989 and 1993.

Monaco looks set to be a strong race for Mercedes, if they can hold the tires together. They should though as the track is pretty slow and does not have any high speed, high energy corners. If they get pole they might just be able to hold on for the win provided their strategy is able to beat the Ferraris, Red Bulls and Lotus (who are able to 1 stop due to their excellent tire management).


Circuit length : 3.34 kilometres
Race distance : 78 laps (260.52 kilometres)
Corners : 19 corners in total
Average lap speed : 160km/h (Slowest lap of the season)
Aerodynamic setup : High downforce
Top speed : 295km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 285km/h without
Full throttle : 45% of the lap (lowest of year)
Total fuel needed for race distance : 120kg (very low)
Fuel consumption : 1.55 kg per lap (very low)
Time spent braking : 12% of the lap (high)
Braking zones : 13
Brake wear : Medium
Gear changes per lap : 48
Total time needed for pit stop : 25 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.28 seconds (very low)
Lap record : 1:14.439 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)


As expected, just one DRS zone will be in place for the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix, with governing body the FIA choosing to retain the area along the start-finish straight. The detection point has been placed between Turns 16 and 17, while the activation marker comes on the exit of the final corner (Turn 19) for the run to St. Devote. For the opening five Grands Prix of the season, two DRS areas had been elected, but the restricted nature of the Monte-Carlo street circuit limits the FIA to just one zone.


The forecast looks good with temperatures around 20 degrees and a low chance of rain. Being coastal however rain can arrive quite suddenly and there is a threat of rain for race day. For full weather forecast this weekend in Monaco click HERE.

Updates : Clear skies and warm conditions are expected from the beginning of the track action on Thursday. This should continue up to the race with temperatures hitting 20C on most days. There is a low chance of a thunderstorm on Saturday, but if it does come it is expected to be in the evening. It should also be a sunny race day.


Pirelli tyre choice for Monaco: Supersoft and Soft.

Monaco is gentle on tires, the track surface is smooth and there are no high energy corners. Cars that go well in Monaco have plenty of low speed downforce and traction, for good corner exit performance. The Mercedes was the fastest car in the slow Sector 3 in Barcelona, which is usually a good indicator of pace for Monaco. We will see if they get pole whether they can hold off all the other cars.


There is an 80% risk of Safety Car intervention with a total of 14 Safety Car periods in the past ten years. And if one is deployed at the right time it can make your race. But if it falls at the wrong time, your victory plans fall apart – as they did for Jenson Button in 2011, who was trying to drive flat out uninterrupted on three stops, a risky plan given the likelihood of the safety car.

Hopefully this won't be a Mercedes train as if they take pole, which I think they will and if their tire problems persist like in Spain, they will create a very long train. As Rosberg points out:
"But our race pace is not sorted yet. We might have made some progress but it's still a problem that we have and it's not going to go away from one race to the next."
And of course we have our most able driver up to his usual mind games with Vettel saying Mercedes are up for it and Red Bull has had it easy so now when they fall on their face, it's hard for them to accept it. So from the red corner we have Ferrrrrrrrrrrnandooooooooooooo:
"Sometimes, when you win too easy for some years, it is difficult to lose some races afterwards."

"They will arrive as favourites. They've been on pole the last three races, It's more difficult to overtake in Monaco... so maybe they can keep good positions for longer."
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Hmm, what can I say? The Spanish GP came and went. It was that fast. I sat through the 2 hour race and felt like it was only 15 minutes. In fact, for the last 16 laps, I was checking my Facebook while the race was winding down. In a word it was "Boring". Barcelona has been a snoozefest for many years, producing processional racing due to the difficulty of overtaking there and also due to the fact that teams test there and know the track inside out. So it's difficult to get an upper hand unless you've got something special in the bag.

Sunday's race was no different. It was boring as usual, although there was some highlights here and there. This was undoubtedly due to the tires being overly sensitive. There were 77 pitstops in this race alone, the highest ever. Pirelli themselves were stumped. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has admitted that things were over the top in Barcelona and revealed there could be changes afoot.
"We aimed for two to three, but it was too aggressive. I'm not here to defend four pit stops, we know it's too complicated, which we saw in Turkey in 2011. So from our point of view we didn't have a good day, it wasn't what we wanted, but there are many factors behind that.
We have to make sure we get back in line with what we've been asked to do, which is two to three (stops). We would look for Silverstone, but you have to bear in mind that we have a lot of teams against it and just one maybe for."
Jenson Button said the race was a "right mess":
"It is a right mess. The problem is that a lot of people watching will think there's a lot of overtaking so it's great, isn't it?. But when we're going round doing laps three seconds slower than a GP2 car did in qualifying, and only six seconds quicker than a GP3 car did in the race, there's something wrong. This is the pinnacle of motor sport.

We shouldn't be driving round as slow as we have to to look after the tyres. It's so complicated. It is very confusing. The whole time the engineer is on the radio saying: 'The temperatures are too high or too low, you've got to go quicker in this corner, you have to go slower in this corner, to look after this tyre.

When I see a car behind I let it past because I'm doing a different strategy and I don't want to damage my tyres. If I block I might destroy my tyres. It's the same thing we had in China, waving each other past so we don't destroy our rubber while hoping that the guy who's overtaking will."
He's right though. If F1 drivers cannot race 100% to the edge but instead have to tip toe around and manage their tires (and not actually race), what is the point? How can this be called a race? Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said as much:

"Everyone knows what happens here. This has nothing to do with racing anymore. This is a competition in tyre management. Real car racing looks different. Under the given circumstances, we can neither get the best out of our car nor our drivers. There is no more real qualifying and fighting for the pole, as everyone is just saving tyres for the race. If we would make the best of our car we would have to stop eight or ten times during a race, depending on the track."
But, Pirelli are in a quandary at the moment. They can't have races with 4 pitstops or more again. And we can't have drivers driving at 80% or 90% of their capability (and their car's capability) as well. So something has to change with the tires, obviously it has to be more durable to last longer so that pitstops gets reduced. But this would definitely favor Red Bull which we do not want to see any one team taking over the season. And Pirelli will then be accused of making tires for Red Bull and making the championship boring again. Paul Hembery of Pirelli:
“You can imagine, though, if we make a change, that it might be seen that we’re making tyres for Red Bull in particular. That’s been the comment made in the media that Red Bull are pushing to make a change and if we do something that helps them you can understand that Lotus and Ferrari won’t be happy. So it’s a very difficult situation we sometimes find ourselves in.”
Does that look like a mess or what?
So, what are we to do? We can only hope for the best. That Pirelli can come up with a compound that is stable so we can have a race with 2-3 stops and the teams manage to get around the tire management so the drivers are able to exploit their car to the maximum.

As you can see this review did not really review the race as there was nothing much to review. I didn't really pay attention to it, so it felt like a 15 minute race instead of a 2 hour race. The only thing I can comment on are:

1. Alonso's pace was phenomenal even if he only used 90% of it because again, the tires. He was in command from the time he took the lead from Rosberg and never looked back. He was also lucky as he had a slow puncture that did not rip up the tire, that gave him time to pit for new tires.

2. Mercedes' race pace really SUCKS! They were going backwards like sliding on ice. What is the point of supreme qualifying pace just to lose it all in the race where it counts? Now Alonso is saying Mercedes might win it in Monaco. He could be right, as the Mercs could take pole again and win the race but they'll have a mighty train behind them in doing so.

Hey Nico, I think I just saw where our pace is..
Still we fans slog on, we will continue to watch no matter what. I just pray that it will improve.


It seems that Pirelli have decided to change the tires sooner rather than later. The change will come at the Canadian GP instead of Silverstone. Pirelli will make changes to the tire structures and will use some of the features from the 2011 and 2012 rubber. Teams and fans will be fearing that the changes will favor Red Bull. How will it change the racing from now onwards? James Allen and Mark Gillan have presented an excellent analysis HERE.
"Red Bull has very good aerodynamic package, as it has for many years now, but inferior mechanical package and thermal management of the tyres. These weaknesses assume less importance with the changes Pirelli is making, they are likely to increase the operating window of the tyres and increase the durability and that reduces the importance of the thermal management."
Not very good for the show now is it? We've had a 3 year Red Bull parade, we don't need a fourth..seriously.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The European leg of the season is upon us and some say this is where the real order will be known and where the real racing for the championship will start (for some teams at least). Why is that? Well, the reason is because for the last 4 flyaway races, the teams have had to pack whatever they needed for those races and make do with what they have. It's too far away to design something, test it and put it on the car say between Melbourne and Sepang. So most teams learn as much as they can from those races in order to redesign the car for Barcelona. Hence sometimes the cars at Barcelona can be called chassis B.

Circuit de Catalunya aka Circuit de Barcelona is situated to the North of Barcelona in Montmeló, Noth-East Spain. It is most famous for annually hosting the Spanish F1 Grand Prix although is also home to Moto GP, and GT racing competitions as well as other racing events. At 730 metres, the run from the grid to the first corner at Barcelona is the longest of the season.

Barcelona is also a very familiar circuit to all the teams as it is one of the actual circuits used in races and for testing. However, this Spanish GP circuit is still a hugely challenging track, with its own idiosyncrasies which have been known to throw drivers in the past. It is also a very good indicator of a car's abilities, if a car goes well here it would probably go well for the rest of the season. The track has a bit of everything in terms of corner types and is a very good test of a car’s aerodynamic efficiency. So Barcelona is a very important race for us fans to gauge the form of the field.

The circuit also famous for its unpredictable winds. Their strength and direction is hugely changeable and given the emphasis on aerodynamics in modern Formula One racing, finding an optimal setup for the Formula One cars will prove difficult. The aerodynamic drag generated by these winds means that F1 drivers tend to understeer or oversteer as the conditions change, which makes for some unexpected performances.

Track characteristics

Circuit length : 4.65 kilometres
Race distance : 66 laps (307 kilometres)
Corners : 16 corners in total
Aerodynamic setup : High downforce
Top speed : 317km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 305km/h without
Full throttle : 60% of the lap
Total fuel needed for race distance : 154kg (quite high)
Fuel consumption : 2.34 kg per lap.
Time spent braking : 12% of the lap (quite low)
Braking zones : 8
Brake wear : Medium/low
Total time needed for pit stop : 19.8 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.40 seconds (high)
Lap Record : 1:21.670 Kimi Raikkonen (2008)

Weather Forecast

The forecast for Catalunya Circuit this week is predicting the average daytime maximum temperature will be around 21°C, with a high for the week of 25°C expected on Wednesday afternoon. The mean minimum temperature will be 11°C, dipping to its lowest on Monday morning at 9°C. Expect the coming week to have mostly dry days although Friday 10th and Saturday 11th are likely to see a significant amount of rain. Predictions are Friday will have the most precipitation with an accumulation of around 8.0mm. On the whole winds are likely to be moderate. Sunday is expected to be cold, a bit wet with some sunshine. Should be interesting.


Pirelli tyre choice for Spain: Hard and Medium. The difference between the medium and the hard should be around 0.5s to 0.8s per lap.

The track surface of The Catalunya Circuit tends to be quite rough and will take its toll on the F1 tires. Those Formula 1 drivers who have been struggling with tire wear over the course of the Formula one Grand Prix season may find this a challenging track.

Chance of a safety car

There have been 5 Safety Car periods in this race since 2003, and 4 of those were for first lap incidents.

This year the trend is to have 2 DRS zones per race except for Monaco and Suzuka. For Barcelona, DRS zone 1 is between Turn 9 and 10 with the detection zone between turn 8 and 9. DRS zone 2 is on the main straight between turn 16 and 1 with detection between turn 15 and 16.

It has been an interesting season so far with the new tires and shuffling of the drivers around. Barcelona will be a tough test and a good indicator of the pecking order. This is gonna be a cracker of a race.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Hmm, 3 weeks is a long time in F1, no? After waiting 4 months for action, we got 4 races then suddenly all quiet. Seems like 3 weeks is longer than 4 months. Only God knows how I made it through the winter. Anyway, we'll have the start of the European season next week in Barcelona. That should be fireworks as teams will be bringing big updates to their cars there. The order will be jumbled up again, not to mention the changes made by Pirelli to the hard tire. We'll see.

In the meantime, who the hell is Dougie? Well that would be Dougie Lampkin. He is the 12 times FIM Trial World Champion. And what the hell is the FIM Trial? Well, it's a motorcycle event. What?? Motorcycle? Blasphemy! Actually not. Since we're all motorsports fans generally and F1 fans specifically, we are allowed to talk about other motorsports besides F1. Any sport that uses a motor falls under motorsports, not just F1 or cars.

So what is the FIM trials? According to Wikipedia:

Motorcycle trials, also termed observed trials, is a non-speed event on specialized motorcycles. The sport is most popular in the United Kingdom and Spain, though there are participants around the globe. Trial motorcycles are distinctive in that they are extremely lightweight, lack seating (they are designed to be ridden standing up) and have suspension travel that is short, relative to a motocross or enduro motorcycle. Motorcycle trials is often utilized by competitors of other motorcycle sports (such as motocross or street racers) as a way to cross-train, as trials teaches great throttle, balance, and machine control.
According to this website:

Motorcycle Trials is all about riding a motorbike over and around obstacles. The idea came from manufacturers proving their bikes could go further and over rougher terrain than others. The original name was Reliability Trials, then came Observed Trials, and then just plain Trials. Today the emphasis has moved onto the rider as it assesses his/her ability to keep their feet up through the demanding and technical sections that make up modern trials.
The victor in a Trial is the rider who has completed the course, usually consisting of laps of up to 12 individual sections, on the least marks incurred throughout the day. On each section there is usually a judge, know as an observer, who watches each rider through their section (some Club Trials use self-scoring or a buddy system, if observers are not available). The parameters of the section are determined by flags, tapes and markers, and riders must steer their bikes through pairs of flags or between tapes, and over all obstacles, which may be in that path. Usually red flags/markers/tapes mark the right hand side of the section, and blue for the left hand side. The ultimate aim is to get through the section without stopping or putting any feet down. If the rider does dab (put his/her feet down) then a 1 point penalty is incurred, and up to a maximum of 3 marks can be incurred in one section through dabbing. Continuous dabbing is called footing and the maximum of 3 marks still applies, except that a maximum of 5 marks is awarded if the rider fails to get through the section. If a rider manages to get through the section without the loss of any marks then a clean is awarded (0 penalty points are incurred by the rider).
It's that sport where you see riders on these mountain type bikes go over rocks and 90 degree surfaces. It is incredible to watch as sometimes you see them going over seemingly impossible obstacles. So Dougie here is a 12 time champion. And he recently visited the Red Bull factory..on his bike. The video is here.

For more information about Dougie, visit his page here. And here's an interview with Dougie.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Renault Explains F1 Engine Throttles

This article was is re-produced from in its entirety. It is an excerpt from Renault F1 Q&A. Enjoy.

A throttle has come to be associated with any part that controls the power of an engine – such as the accelerator pedal – but in actual fact it is a hydraulically operated mechanism used to increase or decrease inlet gases to the engine. In a V8 there are eight throttles on the top of the engine unit that control the amount of air that enters each of the engine cylinders from the airbox. When the throttles are open, air enters the engine unit. Fuel will be injected just before the inlet valve and hence the combustion chamber, and the spark plug will ignite the fuel and oxygen content in the air. The throttle therefore dictates the amount of fuel burned on each cycle to produce efficient power. When the throttle is closed, no air enters the engine and the combustion process is temporarily suspended. All the throttle valves are controlled via the accelerator pedal but the demand for power is sent via a signal to the ECU that then directly controls the exact position of the throttle valve through a number of maps.

A throttle can go from completely closed to completely open in 10 to 15 milliseconds, the duration of light for a photo flash strobe. On a track such as Sepang, where wide open throttle time is equated to 60% of the lap, this translates to around 110 movements in the throttle, moving from completely open to closed and any position in between. With a lap time of around 1:36, the throttles will, on average, change position every 0.87secs, quicker than a human can blink.

What type of throttles are allowed in F1?

"The technical rules governing throttles govern more the use of the engine torque and ignition maps, where the torque produced has to correspond to the position of the torque demand – ie. At full accelerator pedal travel, the throttles must be fully open and corresponding levels of torque produced, while at off throttle, the torque produced must be zero, or less than zero which translates into the throttle opening between 0 and 30%. The regulations concerning the physical throttles are actually much freer and a range of systems can be used. Generally, however, there are three types of throttle that have been used in F1 since the 1990s. The first is a guillotine valve, where the air inlet is sliced in two by a valve that extends and retracts like the mechanism of the same name. There is then the butterfly throttle, where the valve is hinged – at full throttle, the valve is vertical but when closed the valve swings into a horizontal position like a butterfly wing opening and closing. Then there are also the barrel valves where rounded barrels roll into the cylinder to stop the flow of air. Any one of these systems can be used, but generally engine manufacturers now go for the butterflies or the barrels in F1."

What sort of throttle system does the RS27 run?

"The RS27 runs with the butterfly system. In the early days of the V10 and V8 throttle design, Renault Sport F1 experimented with the barrel system but elected to go with the butterflies. While the barrel system allows the engine to produce more power by allowing a greater flow of air to the engine at wide open throttle, the butterflies are more sensitive and allow a better air-fuel mixture preparation, therefore favouring driveability. The difference between the two systems is in the region of four to five horsepower and Renault believed greater gains could be found with the butterflies by delivering more stability and therefore tyre slip control and grip in the slower corners when the throttles are only partially open."

How has throttle operation changed, or been refined, since the introduction of the V8 in 2006?

"The butterfly valve itself has been thinned. In the early 2000s, the valve was approximately three times thicker than it is today. With a change in materials used – from steel to titanium or aluminium to a composite plastic – the valve is now much thinner, which means only four horsepower is lost to the barrel system rather than 10 horsepower as was the case. The throttle linkage has also been simplified. In the first years of the V8 the throttles were linked by complicated separate mechanisms, which made the system heavy and difficult to maintain but very accurate. Now all the throttles are linked between cylinders by one single mechanism, which makes the whole system lighter and more integrated. The accuracy we’ve lost has been recovered through the possibility of running the engine with less than eight cylinders and hence the need for lower accuracy at low throttle opening."

Without the engine freeze, what would we be seeing now with regards to throttle design?

"Actually, without any regulations you probably would not have throttles any more. In 2011 when teams were using maps to power off throttle blown floors, throttles were left (more or less) open the entire lap to maintain exhaust flow, and torque and ignition maps alone were used to control the torque produced. If the rules had not been clarified, then the air intake would have been left fully opened and torque would have been controlled completely by ignition. This would have made very efficient cars."

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