Thursday, September 25, 2014


A slow race to begin with and I almost switched it off halfway if not for the safety car. From then on, it was nail biting to see Lewis Hamilton hammering the field and on to winning the race. Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

F1 race strategists may use algorithms and 'Latin hypercube sampling', but tossing a coin would probably have got the same result on Sunday...

Star of the Race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
Lewis maintained the high pedigree of the Singapore Grand Prix Winners Club by making it seven World Champions in seven races. Only he, Seb and Fernando have won at Marina Bay before and for much of the afternoon that looked like being the podium. Obviously his job became a lot easier the second he pulled away on the parade lap and left his team-mate searching for a gear.

Lewis's biggest threat, after Vettel went backwards in the first stint, was a badly timed Safety Car and we almost got one. After the team made the decision to keep the No.44 car out, Lewis was constantly questioning the strategy, something that almost all the top ten drivers were doing in a race when (ironically) engineers were nervous about giving out too much information. In a race where drivers really did need to rely on what they were being told, there was a certain coyness about team radio.

Once the Safety Car came in at the end of Lap 37 Hamilton produced a devastating series of laps to create his 25-second advantage. The gap to Vettel went: 3.2, 5.8, 7.6, 9.7, 11.5, 13.5, 15.3, 17.3, 18.7, 20.3, 21.1, 22.7, 24.0, 25.2 on Lap 51. Even when Lewis came in he was still putting in laps that were a second quicker than Vettel. But he was right to be jumpy about the possibility of a late Safety Car. We've now had ten in seven races.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 59: Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso on Kimi Raikkonen for P7
In the latter stages of the race Jean-Eric Vergne looked like a man on a mission, and we all know what that mission is... To remind other teams that last season he was a pretty good match for Daniel Ricciardo who is now embarrassing a four-time World Champion. In the closing stages of the race on fresher tyres he came up against the Bottas train and picked them off one by one. Hulkenberg's Force India was a nadgy pass, but on Lap 59 he threw his Toro Rosso down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen into Turn One and got the car stopped with only a slight lock-up of tyres. He then dispensed with Bottas and managed to get five seconds clear of Perez to negate his five-second penalty, given to him, for going off track to pass Maldonado.

It looked to many as though Maldonado had forced him off the track, but JEV got a five-second penalty for it. Interestingly, Fernando Alonso, in a far more calculated run off the track limits, didn't give up that amount of time to the cars behind when he did it on Lap 1.


Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 2nd
With no Rosberg to interfere with his run to Turn 1, Sebastian got a flying start, which was briefly interrupted by Alonso taking the short-cut to P2. He had to hand the place back to Seb straight away. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was thinking that maybe he should have got a place back, too, but was too polite to say despite a lot of post-race prompts. After that Vettel was clearly the faster of the two Red Bull drivers thanks to what seemed like a recurring problem for Daniel's energy recovery system. Vettel's tyres started going away from Lap 9 when Hamilton's lead suddenly went from 3.8 seconds to 5.1.

So right from early on it was clear that this was not going to be a race when Red Bull matched the Mercedes for pace despite a few people predicting that Vettel or Ricciardo might win.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 3rd
Dan couldn't get close to his team-mate all afternoon thanks to spending most of it in his role as IT manager for his hybrid system. It's a credit that he could do all that and stay on the podium.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 4th
A tremendous bounce back from Alonso after Monza but it could have been so much better. He surrendered second place for a change of tyres during the Safety Car period, which seemed a brilliant move because Red Bull were going to run out of tyres. Before Perez lost his front wing, Seb had already been on the team radio and said he wanted supersofts for a final 12-lap dash to the line. But after the Safety Car Red Bull were reluctant to give up track position, and Alonso could close but not pass.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 5th
With Bottas acting as his rear gunner, Felipe was able to stay ahead of the late-race chargers with a useful buffer, and his 38-lap stint on the soft tyre succeeded. Valtteri's gave up the ghost and punctured. From a team point of view it was very important to minimise losses to Ferrari.

Sergio Perez, Force India, 7th
An amazing result for Checo, who'd have thought you could be tooling around in 18th place on Lap 39 and make it through to P6? He put in some robust moves towards the end, including one on his team-mate. But the fact that he could get as far as he did in the closing stages justified the aggression.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 10th
Kevin Magnussen did a heroic job fighting off cramp and burns from an overheating cockpit, which went some of the way to atone for his first lap errors. Just like Spa he put his own interests in front of the team's and tried to block Button coming through on Lap 1. The result? If he'd let Jenson go, McLaren would have finished the opening lap in 6th and 7th places. As it was, Massa was able to get past Jenson and so they finished the opening lap in 7th and 9th instead. Button's car failure meant that they have now dropped behind Force India in the constructor's championship so they really can't afford to chuck places away.

Lotus, 12th and 13th
Considering the Qualifying session that Lotus endured, and the year they're having, it should be noted both cars finished, unlike McLaren and Mercedes. It allowed Pastor to get a bit more combative than usual and do what he does best as the boy scout of F1 - helping older drivers across kerbs.

Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, 15thHaving been outpaced by both the one-shot drivers that Caterham have brought in for the race at Spa and Monza practice, Marcus got the better of both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton in Singapore. However there wasn't the kind of late-race drop-off to capitalise on.

Quieter Engines
It was a rare moment when you heard the crowd roar in F1 races of old. The cheers that Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton got in Qualifying and the race have brought a new dimension to the sport and it's simply great to hear. Deaf octogenarians with a distant contact of reality should take note.


Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, DNF
Nico Rosberg was probably aware when engineer Tony Ross radioed through that: "the only thing working on your dash is the gearshift pedals." And even then they seemed to be shifting up two at a time. Nico's racing demise may have helped Lewis regain the World Championship lead, but both men will be nervous that the same thing doesn't recur in the closely-packed races ahead. Imagine the anti-climax before the double points last race in Abu Dhabi should it happen there.

The score of wins to DNFs for Mercedes is now - Rosberg 4/2 - Hamilton 7/3 not including two technical failures in Qualifying for Lewis and one severe glitch in Canada for Nico. So we're getting towards parity. Rosberg took the blow squarely on the shoulders. More than ever this World Championship looks like it will be decided by stuff such as a wiring loom failure and less by wheel-to-wheel action.

Jenson Button, McLaren, DNF
A strong opening lap for Jenson. Given what happened with Bottas at the end he would probably have been duelling it out with Kimi and Jean-Eric instead he was looking for a scooter.

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 14th
Singapore is always tough for rookies, but even more so when their drinks bottle packs up before the race even starts. As he let his team know: "Without a drink, I'm dying here!" Sauber's Adrian Sutil has been known to go without a drinks bottle before now to save weight but not even he would attempt Marina Bay without one. So, heroic to get to the end. Drivers have stopped for lesser reasons than that, but were the team wise to leave him out there...?

Media Watch
It's always a pleasure to listen to ex-Honda, Red Bull and Toro Rosso communications director Eric Silbermann in the Radio 5 commentary box. They should give Allan McNish the weekend off more often.

Eric Silbermann: "Jenny, you're standing in an F1 pitlane. So if they're moving their lips then they're probably lying."

Eric Silbermann in response to the question about how the stewards judge what is and what isn't driver coaching: "Maybe we should bring someone along from the old Jim Russell driving school at Snetterton to get his training manual out to work out what is coaching and what is not."

James Allen "We look at Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost looking up at about 14 data screens. Does he understand all that, Eric?"
Eric Silbermann: "Every team principal understands everything about everything in F1. That's the golden rule..." (said with the Martini driest of wits)

For once Eddie Jordan was tub-thumping for the small independent teams who are under threat from his mate Bernie. "No, I think it's the fault of the manufacturers. They're the ones who have left In Formula 1 days."

The STBO Award
Radio 5's Jenny Gow has completely got the hang of night racing. "It's pitch black here. Very dark."

Andrew Davies

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 Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


At the end of 2013 F1 bid farewell to its normally aspirated V8s and embraced brand new power units that combined a hybrid V6 turbo engine with two energy recovery systems - the MGU-K that works under braking, and MGU-H which harvests energy at the exhaust. Monza 2014 offered an ideal opportunity to compare and analyse the performance of modern low downforce-spec F1 cars with their previous counterparts.

The recent Grand Prix emphasised an important point: the 2014 regulations have greatly enhanced the cars' efficiency while maintaining - and even increasing - their level of performance. Renault takes a look and explains the differences and improvements made so far.

A two-second gain in a single year

2013 saw F1 cars fitted with normally aspirated V8s delivering around 800bhp (that's 590kW without the extra 60kW provided by the KERS). Monza's speed traps recorded single-seaters clock around 340kph, with pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel posting a lap of 1:23.755 in qualifying aboard his Infiniti Red Bull Racing-Renault. A year later the fastest Q3 time was 1:24.109, achieved with a car weighing 50kg heavier - a 1.8secs deficit - and using harder tyres. Once these differences have been accounted for and the times corrected, this year's lap represents a two-second gain over the course of 12 months.

Fuel consumption down to 1.9kg per lap

The 2014 regulations also brought another revolution with a 35% reduction in the amount of fuel permitted for each race (100kg against 150kg last year). It's been made possible thanks to the V6 engine's high degree of hybridisation: 20% of the power is now electric and comes from the energy recovered under braking and harvested at the exhaust. The average Monza consumption rate therefore went from 2.5kg per lap in 2013 to under 1.9kg a lap this year. With the same mass, the corrected 2014 time is faster.

An F1 car's energy source distribution

2013: The vast majority of energy available came from the 160kg of fuel used by the car. Power generated by fossil energy and transferred to the wheels reached 30%, while the remainder escaped in the air. A single KERS unit also ensured the share of electric power remained quite limited.
2014: With a 100kg restriction in fuel mass, the share of electric power has grown significantly. A greater percentage is now transferred to the wheels, which vastly improves the overall energy efficiency. Electric energy is much more important (4MJ) than it was last year. It comes from two different sources: braking and the exhaust.

Better energy efficiency

In 2013 an F1 car's efficiency was rated at 30%, which has increased to 40% in 2014. This has been made possible by reducing the internal combustion engine's displacement (and amount of friction), the introduction of a turbocompressor, and cutting the number of revs (from 18,000 to 13,000). The efficiency of a car fitted with an internal combustion engine cannot exceed 50%. Only a fully electric engine can achieve a much higher efficiency. To do so, however, requires 25 tons of batteries!

Additional stats and facts

30% fuel mass reduction between 2013 and 2014.
10 points: the efficiency improvement of an F1 car between 2013 and 2014.
In qualifying, the 25kg battery delivers an extra 10% of energy, which amounts to 200g in fuel.
While overtaking during the race, Daniel Ricciardo's Infiniti Red Bull Racing-Renault reached 362.1kph, smashing the 2013 top speed by an impressive 20kph.

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 Sebastian Vettel fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


The Singapore Grand Prix is a motor race on the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The event takes place in Singapore on the Marina Bay Street Circuit and was the inaugural F1 night race and the first street circuit in Asia. Spaniard Fernando Alonso won the first edition of the grand prix, driving for the Renault F1 team. The Singapore Grand Prix will remain on the F1 calendar through at least 2017, after race organizers signed a contract extension with Formula One Management on the eve of the 2012 event.

The longest race in the F1 calendar at almost two hours, one of the hardest on brakes, with a 100% record of a safety car, a long slow pit stop and a choice of the softest tyres which cannot do the 308km marathon in one stop, the Singapore Grand Prix is always a strategy challenge.

But now, with a new ban on team radios due to come into force this weekend, it makes it even more fascinating. Messages from engineers to drivers about strategy are permitted, but drivers are no longer allowed coaching when looking after the tyres and the brakes and getting the start procedure right, which opens up some big question marks.


Track Length : 5.073 kilometres.
Race Distance : 61 laps (309.316 kilometres).
Corners : 23 corners in total. Street circuit around Singapore’s Marina Bay area.
Aerodynamic Setup : High downforce.
Top Speed : 305km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 290km/h without.
Full Throttle : 45.5% of the lap time (low).
Time Spent Braking : 21% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 16.
Brake Wear : Very high. Toughest race of season for brakes as no cooling opportunities.
Total Time Needed For Pit stop : 29 seconds (very high).
Lap Record : 1:48.574 - S Vettel (2013).


The temperatures are always high for this event, around 30 degrees with high humidity, but amazingly none of the six races at Singapore have been affected by rain. There has been plenty of rain around the event, but not during the race.


The night race featured just one zone in 2011 and 2012, but moved to two from 2013; the first area is situated on the long stretch from Turns 5 to 7, known as Raffles Boulevard, with the second on the start-finish straight.

Separate detection points control the two zones – the first just after Turn 4 and the second before Turn 22.


Pirelli tyre choice for Singapore: soft and supersoft. This has been a popular combination this season and has appeared at Monaco, Canada, Austria and Germany. The Singapore lap is long and the great challenge is to look after the rear tyres; it is 15% harder on the rear tyres than Monaco, for example. This means that this combination of the softest tyres in the range will give less mileage and suffer more degradation than in Monaco, which could be done as a one stop race. In Singapore you have to stop twice ,but timing is everything.


Because the track is lined with walls, making it difficult for marshals to clear debris, the chance of a Safety Car at Singapore is 100% ! There has been at least one Safety Car at every Singapore GP so far with an average of 6 laps spent under Safety Car.


The start is particularly crucial at Singapore as it’s very hard to overtake on this circuit and the field spread is significant, so gaining places on the run down to Turn 1 is vital. The undercut is a very useful tactic here to gain places; you pit before the cars ahead of you, use the performance of the new tyres versus old and then gain places when they pit. Kimi Raikkonen did it very effectively last season on his way to a podium.

The race on the Marina Bay Circuit is also one of the longest and toughest of the year for the cars and drivers. The race can last up to two hours and with high temperatures , humidity and constant braking and turning, it is a real marathon.

Plus we're getting a new FIA mandated radio ban on driver coaching and car situation. Some drivers may be pushing to the limit and not know it so this should be a very interesting race indeed. As for the 2 championship leaders, it will be interesting to see how Rosberg will handle this race without having so much information on Hamilton's status all the time.

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 Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


The FIA's World Motor Sport Council, meeting in Beijing ahead of the inaugural Formula E event, has announced the 2015 F1 calendar.

In essence there are no changes to the calendar leaked over the course of the Italian Grand Prix weekend other than the fact that the Japanese event takes place a week earlier than originally scheduled and the United States and Mexican races change order.

Date         Race                  Circuit
15-Mar Australia          Melbourne
29-Mar Malaysia   Sepang
05-Apr Bahrain     Sakhir
19-Apr China        Shanghai International Circuit
10-May Spain         Barcelona
24-May Monaco    Monaco
07-Jun Canada      Montreal
21-Jun Austria      Red Bull Ring
05-Jul Britain      Silverstone
19-Jul Germany   Nurburgring
26-Jul Hungary    Hungaroring
23-Aug Belgium Spa Francorchamps
06-Sep Italy          Monza
20-Sep Singapore Marina Bay
27-Sep Japan        Suzuka
11-Oct Russia       Sochi
25-Oct United States Austin
01-Nov Mexico     Mexico City
15-Nov Brazil        Interlagos
29-Nov Abu Dhabi Yas Marina

At 20 races, the 2015 calendar equals the number of events held in 2012, the busiest season in the history of the sport. Azerbaijan is scheduled to join the schedule in 2016.

Friday, September 5, 2014


The Italian Grand Prix (Gran Premio d'Italia) is one of the longest running events on the Formula One calendar. The Italian Grand Prix was also one of the inaugural Formula One championship races in 1950, and has been held every year since then. The only other championship race for which this is true is the British Grand Prix, and the only other inaugural F1 races that are still on the calendar are the Monaco Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix. Every Formula One Italian Grand Prix since 1950 has been held at Monza except in 1980, when it was held at Imola. The Italian Grand Prix counted toward the European Championship from 1935 to 1938. It was designated the European Grand Prix seven times between 1923 and 1967, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one grand prix race in Europe.

Monza is the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar and the one with the highest straight line speeds, which are expected to reach 360km/h this year, due to the reduction in downforce and drag on the cars. Strategy is also important as there is a long pit lane, which makes for slow stops and as the cars remaining on track are travelling at high speeds, so it is easy to lose track positions with wrong strategy moves.

Monza has tended to be a one-stop race, but this year Pirelli has been making moves to encourage one more stop than in 2013. However, due to the heat build up in the tyres from the high wheel rotation speeds, they are obliged to bring the medium and hard compound tyres, which are likely to maintain the one stop strategy. Evaluating the tyre performance during the Friday practice sessions will be vital.


Track Length : 5.793 kilometres.
Race distance : 53 laps (306.72 kilometres).
Corners : 11 corners in total.
Average Speed : 247km/h.
Aerodynamic Setup : Low downforce.
Top speed : 360km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing).
Full Throttle : 74% of the lap (high).
Time Spent Braking : 11% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 6.
Brake Wear : High.
Total Time Needed For Pit Stop (at 80km/h) : 25 seconds (ave/high).
Lap record : 1:21.046 Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004.


The weather forecast predicts a warm weekend with temperatures of 27-29 degrees, but there is a 40% chance of rain on Saturday morning.


Pirelli tyre choice for Monza: medium (white markings) and hard (orange markings). This combination of tyres was seen in Malaysia, Spain and Silverstone. Monza is not particularly hard on tyres, as there are no high energy corners to speak of apart from the Parabolica. However as it is a low downforce circuit, the tyres will tend to slide more, especially under traction out of the low speed chicanes and this increases the degradation. Also with the biggest stop of the season from 360km/h down to 75km/h in Turn 1, with little downforce to help, it is easy to lock a wheel up and flat spot a tyre.

The fast Parabolica corner places high lateral energy demands on the tire, while the stop-go nature of the chicanes means Monza also makes high longitudinal demands on the rubber. Even so, the presence of the hard and medium tires combined with the long pit lane time makes this a good place to try a one-stop strategy.

There will be two DRS zones in Italy. The detection point for the first zone will be 95m before Turn Seven, with the activation point 210m after Turn Seven. The second detection point will be 20m before Turn 11, with the activation point 115m after the finish line.


The chance of a safety car at Monza is statistically very low at 43% and 0.4 Safety Cars per race. There was however a Safety car three years in a row recently from 2007- 9.


In a season dominated by Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has won three races, including the relatively low downforce Canadian Grand Prix. Due to various circumstances, the Australian has led 68 laps in the last two races, compared to 27 laps for Hamilton and Rosberg combined!

Meanwhile Mercedes has dominated pole position, apart from Austria, where Williams came out on top. Williams has a low drag car and is likely to feature strongly this weekend. Red Bull has never had the best straight-line speeds, but managed to win the race in 2011 and 2013 due to clever gearing which kept Vettel ahead on acceleration out of the chicanes. It has been a good circuit for McLaren over the years too. The Mercedes power unit advantage is likely to help them once again, as it will Force India, although they have fallen behind recently on development.

From a driver perspective, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are the only drivers in the field who have won the Italian Grand Prix; Vettel three times, Alonso twice and Hamilton once.

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 Valteri Bottas fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.