Posted on December 31, 2010


Virgin Racing, 0 wins, 0 poles, 12th in Constructors’ Championship If Lotus’ first season on track turned out more or less how they expected it to, Virgin’s fell below their expectations for a variety of reasons. First they were caught out by a couple of changes in fuel regulations which meant that the fuel tank wasn’t quite big enough to do the race distance. They were given dispensation to change the chassis – something which is expressly banned nowadays for cost saving reasons. Reliability was worse than expected, due to a range of problems, of which hydraulics was the main More…

Posted on December 30, 2010


Lotus Racing, 0 Wins, 0 poles, 10th in Constructors’ Championship Having lived through the political upheaval of 2009, much of which was based on then FIA president Max Mosley’s desire to see new teams come in to F1, for me the 2010 season was notable for the birth of three new teams; Lotus, Virgin and HRT. They got a frosty reception from Ferrari for ‘limping’ into the sport and as the year went on were criticised by Bernie Ecclestone. But they survived and the most effective of them was Lotus. It’s extremely hard as an independent to set up a More…

Posted on December 29, 2010


McLaren, 5 wins, 1 pole, 2nd in Constructors’ Championship McLaren were one of the most interesting teams to follow during 2010, as they bedded in the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and his new team mate Jenson Button, who arrived at the team as world champion. Many people predicted tension and conflict but there were two reasons to suspect that this would not be the case. First Button isn’t that kind of character and second the team bent over backwards to make him feel welcome and to remove all obstacles to him feeling at home. I sensed that the disastrous Alonso More…

Posted on December 28, 2010


As I said yesterday, this team review is in no particular order and today we’re looking back at the performance of Force India. Force India, 0 wins, 0 poles, 7th in Constructors’ Championship When you cover F1 you inevitably spend more time on the leading teams, less on the midfield and less still on the ones at the back. When I look back on this season, I realise that I didn’t write all that much about Force India in comparison to other teams on their level, like Williams, with whom the team was locked in a battle for sixth place More…

Posted on December 27, 2010


Continuing the series of personal look backs on the season, in no particular order, as they say.. Mercedes GP Team, 0 wins, 3 podiums, 0 poles – 4th in Constructors’ Championship I remember saying towards the end of the 2009 season, when the Brawn team was fending off McLaren and Red Bull for the championship, that in 2010 they would be the fourth place team and so it proved. It was a combination of limited resources and having to divert much of them to winning the 2009 title at the expense of the 2010 car. The cutbacks in what was More…

Posted on December 26, 2010


There are 12 days of Christmas and there are 12 F1 teams so I’m doing a brief personal look back on the season for each of them. I’m starting with Red Bull, the champions this year. Red Bull Racing, 9 wins, 20 Podiums 15 pole positions Red Bull is involved in over 100 sports and currently sponsors 456 athletes, from volleyball players to freestyle motor crossers. But this year they won big in the world’s most high profile regular event, Formula 1. And they did it according to the values of owner Dietrich Mateschitz, which is that in sport Red More…

Posted on December 26, 2010


Happy Christmas to all readers and for those in countries where Christmas isn’t celebrated, thanks for bearing with us through the holiday period. Hope you had fun with the Quiz over the last couple of days. Here are the answers, did you get them all? Did anyone manage it without reference books or Google? There is a clarification on the question about the only driver to win a world title without scoring a point the year before. I meant a driver who took part the year before but didn’t score… Sebastian Vettel became the youngest world champion this year, but More…

Posted on December 24, 2010


Fancy you know a bit about Formula 1? Were you paying attention this season? Then try your hand at the JA on F1 Christmas Quiz. We’ve put together 20 Questions to test your knowledge of F1 from this season and from the past. This isn’t meant to be some obscure chassis-spotting exercise, but a collection of fun questions to answer over the holiday period. There’s no prize, just see how quickly you can solve it. Try it without using Google first, see how far you get. Good luck! Answers will be posted on December 26th. For obvious reasons, please don’t More…

Posted on December 23, 2010


This afternoon the family of Lotus founder and legendary engineer Colin Chapman issued a statement which distances them from the Tony Fernandes vision for Lotus. It’s not a body blow to the Malaysian’s plans, but it is an important piece on the chess board which has now fallen to Danny Bahar and Group Lotus. The support of the Chapman family, Colin’s son Clive and his mother Hazel, was fundamentally important to Fernandes when he launched his Lotus Racing team last year. They were present at the launch in London and Clive is reported to have entrusted his father’s famous corduroy More…

Posted on December 22, 2010


The Lotus Renault GP Team has confirmed today that it has signed Vitaly Petrov for another two seasons. This is a great vote of confidence in the Russian, who was a rather erratic performer in 2010 with some very strong showings, such as Hungary, but also a tendency to lose the car when on slick tyres on a damp track. But he showed enough in the closing stages of the season to retain the drive and now has the security of knowing that he is in for 2012 as well as 2011. So he can build on the positives from More…

Posted on December 21, 2010


The Virgin Racing team has fulfilled its promise of announcing the driver line up for 2011 ahead of Christmas. This morning 25 year old Jerome d’Ambrosio was confirmed in the seat alongside Timo Glock at Virgin. D’Ambrosio did some Friday running for the team at the end of the season where he was evaluated. He ran in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil car at the Abu Dhabi young guns test in November. The Belgian has spent the last four seasons racing in GP2, a former team mate of Kamui Kobayashi at DAMS, he is managed by Gravity Sports management, which More…

Posted on December 21, 2010


I was recently sent a copy of a magazine run by an old friend and former commentator Pierre Van Vliet called F1i. Pierre used to be my opposite number on France’s TF1 coverage and in the magazine there was a feature interview with McLaren’s Ron Dennis which caught my eye. Asked about the relationship between the two world champions, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button he said, “Managing the co-habitation of two world champions is often a challenge. I have tried it a few times. Martin is perhaps showing himself to be better than me at that role.” He certainly is. More…

Posted on December 20, 2010


Today is the last day that readers in the UK can order the JA on F1 2010 season review – Five rivals, one champion in time to get it delivered before Christmas. So if you are looking for a last minute present for an F1-loving loved-one, this could be the thing for you! The book is a collection of the best posts from the JA on F1 website from this season, but after listening to feedback from readers of last year’s book, this year I have written a lot more additional content, linking the posts and also adding more insight More…

Posted on December 19, 2010


Fantastic response to the season review video posted yesterday, which reminded us all of what a great sport this is and what drama we had in 2010. But not everyone thought 2010 was a ‘vintage’ year for F1. Long time reader and poster Paul Lucas, who posts here under the name FlukieLucas, sent in an interesting analysis of why he thought that the rule changes for 2010 made F1 into “Proforma” racing – with the absence of refuelling strategy. He argues that it was only the “peripherals” such as weather, safety cars, penalties etc, which made the races entertaining. This More…

Posted on December 18, 2010


Check this out: the long form 2010 season review video from the FIA Gala, looking back on the season, but with a sensational historical opening sequence, which sets Sebastian Vettel’s world championship success in the context of all that has gone before in the sport’s 60 years. It sums up everything that is compelling and irresistable about Formula 1; the speed, the drama, the people, the chaos, the emotion.

Posted on December 17, 2010


F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone is reported to have bought out Flavio Briatore’s stake in Queens Park Rangers football club which gives him a majority stake of 62%. The flamboyant Briatore, who got Ecclestone into football in the first place, stepped down as chairman of the club in February. “We’re not changing anything, just tidying a few things up,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “We need to be ready in case we get promoted.” Ecclestone got involved in QPR in 2007 along with Briatore and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who remains a significant shareholder. The club is based in London, near the More…

Posted on December 16, 2010


A small note, but an important one on the status of the two Ferrari drivers going into next season. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has made the point today that the two drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will start next season with equal status, after the team backed Alonso from July onwards last season. And it seems that Massa backed up his team mate in exchange for an agreement that they would hit the reset button at the start of 2011. So it will be up to Massa to beat Alonso or face a similar situation in the second More…

Posted on December 16, 2010


Tony Fernandes has reacted angrily to comments made at a media briefing yesterday by Group Lotus CEO Danny Bahar and has said that there is now no chance of a deal being struck between the shareholders of his 1 Malaysia operation and Group Lotus, which is owned by Proton. Speaking to me on the phone from Manila this morning he said of Bahar’s allegation that his demands for a deal were three times the cost of the Renault sponsorship, “It’s just not true. I can confirm categorically that there was never an offer in any written form and certainly nothing More…

Posted on December 16, 2010


There is a very interesting interview in French magazine Auto Hebdo this week, with Jean Francois Caubet, general manager of the Renault Sport F1 unit, which is now solely an engine supplier in F1, after the marque sold its stake in the F1 team to Genii Capital and Lotus. Caubet justifies Renault’s decision to change role on the grounds of return on investment; F1 will now be a profit centre for the company with sales of engines to Red Bull and Lotus and then in 2013 a fourth team as well. For the next two seasons, Renault will also benefit More…

Posted on December 15, 2010


The Italian press were at Maranello the other night for a dinner to look back over the season and look forward to the next. President Montezmolo hosted the event, along with team principal Stefano Domenicali, who still enjoys the full support of the Ferrari board. There were suggestions in the Italian papers today, however, that some changes of personnel may be made before the start of next season, with senior engineer Chris Dyer, the Australian who is believed to have been at the centre of the decision to pit Alonso at the wrong time in Abu Dhabi, in the cross More…

Posted on December 15, 2010


Lotus CEO Danny Bahar hosted a small group of media at the RAC Club in London today, of which I was one, to lay out his vision for Lotus in F1 and road cars. He didn’t say much about his rival Tony Fernandes, who has been using the Lotus name in F1 this season. However he did say that he tried to do a deal with him, but the Malaysian wanted too much money, “We tried, but when the counter proposals are so ridiculous, there is no point to continue to talk. ” said Bahar. “(The Renault deal) was one More…

Posted on December 14, 2010


Last Friday’s FIA World Motor Sport Council was the culmination of a lot of work behind the scenes and threw up some interesting outcomes on several fronts. The sport is changing in significant ways and these decisions are a milestone on that journey. F1 always has to balance several requirements; to be entertaining, to be relevant and to be technologically innovative and there are big moves in all three directions going on at the moment. On the entertainment side you have the moveable rear wing, which will mean that a slightly faster car should be able to pass a slower More…

Posted on December 14, 2010


Ferrari put its end of season disappointments behind it and held a Christmas party over the weekend in Maranello and the drivers dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out presents to local children. There was also a show based on the children’s character Geronimo Stilton. The photo commemorating the event is pretty surreal; Fernando Alonso seems a little self conscious on the right, next to test driver Jules Bianchi, Giancarlo Fisichella (centre) is thinking about calling Vijay Mallya to get his old job back, while Felipe Massa looks comfortable sandwiched between President Montezemolo and a six foot rodent. Your More…

Posted on December 13, 2010


One of the features of this season was the Red Bull mechanics looking utterly exhausted as a result of working deep into the night before qualifying to fit new parts to the cars which arrived at all hours at the circuit. The ‘go faster’ parts certainly made a difference and I’m sure that those mechanics have been catching up on sleep pretty much since they finished in Abu Dhabi, dreaming of what to spend their bonuses on. But it’s not all like that. The mechanics at every team were stretched during a gruelling 19 race calendar and those working for More…

Posted on December 13, 2010


Former F1 team owner Tom Walkinshaw died today aged 64. I last saw him at Silverstone on Grand Prix Sunday, where he looked thin and ill after a long struggle with cancer. In his prime he was a burly, forceful man, very tough and determined, not afraid to upset people to get his way. I first encountered him in the early 1990s when he controversially persuaded the board of the BRDC to buy some of his garages, a move which enraged many members. I was news editor at Autosport magazine at the time and worked on that story, so had More…

Posted on December 12, 2010


In the intricate chess match which is the battle to be “Lotus” in Formula 1, this weekend it was the turn of Tony Fernandes to make some moves. The Malaysian businessman, who owns the team which competed this year as Lotus Racing and which is entered for next year as Team Lotus, phoned around a few journalists for a chat, including myself. This follows a week in which most of the running had been made by the opposition in the form of Danny Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus. As in his struggles to build his airline business, Fernandes finds himself More…

Posted on December 10, 2010


The FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Monaco today and two significant things came out of it. First the WMSC approved the small capacity turbo engine which has been under discussion for some months and second it dropped the controversial rule banning team orders from F1 with effect from 2011 onwards. This follows the unsatisfactory outcome of the hearing into the Ferrari team orders incident in Germany this season. The FIA statement on the engines said, “The WMSC approved the introduction of a new specification engine from 2013, underlining the FIA’s commitment to improving sustainability and addressing the needs More…

Posted on December 9, 2010


Brazilian Grand Prix polesitter Nico Hulkenberg should find out very soon if he is going to be on the grid next season, as Force India is poised to decide its drivers. And Mercedes may well hold the key. The team has come up from the back of the grid in the last two years thanks to a technology partnership with Mercedes and McLaren, which provides them with an engine, gearbox and hydraulics system. And now it finds itself in the enviable position of having several strong drivers vying for seats, one of which is Hulkenberg. The incumbents are Adrian Sutil More…

Posted on December 8, 2010


Tonight F1 fans are a little confused and a little concerned as they contemplate a 2011 season with four black and gold Lotus Renault cars on the track, two owned by the Enstone based Lotus Renault GP and two – in slightly different livery – owned by Norfolk based Team Lotus. The Team Lotus entries have nothing to do with the Norfolk based Lotus Cars operation, which is a 25% shareholder in the Enstone based team. The two different Black and Gold liveries – both tributes to the iconic JPS Lotus colours of the 1970s – are at large on More…

Posted on December 8, 2010


There will be a new partnership on the F1 grid next year as Group Lotus, owned by the Malaysian government via Proton, has bought a stake in the Enstone based F1 team, creating Lotus Renault GP. This deal, which sees Lotus come in both as an equity partner alongside Genii Capital, the teams’ main shareholder, and as the main sponsor of the team, has been mooted for many months now and was finally signed off at the start of this week. In addition to a stake in the team, which is open ended, Lotus will be the title sponsor until More…

Posted on December 7, 2010


The Renault F1 team has apologised to Nelson Piquet and his son Nelson Jr and agreed to pay a large amount of damages for libelling them in September last year over the Singapore crash scandal. The matter was heard in the High Court and Renault accepted the outcome. The Piquets however have indicated that this is “the start rather than the end” of their mission to clear up “wrongs” over what the case which rocked F1. Piquet Jr was involved in a plot with then team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds to deliberately crash his car at More…

Posted on December 7, 2010


Back in the 1990s Benetton ran a series of shock adverts, devised by photographer Oliviero Toscani, which helped to define and promote the brand very quickly. They were selling sweaters, but their posters showed a man dying of Aids, a death row prisoner, a nun kissing a priest. Now F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who was close to Benetton’s Flavio Briatore throughout those years, has revived the practice with an ad for the Hublot F1 King Power watch, the first official F1 watch. It’s an amazing play; Hublot is a premium brand, with watches retailing for tens of thousands of pounds More…

Posted on December 7, 2010


Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has admitted that his driver Mark Webber should have told him about the shoulder fracture he suffered before the Japanese Grand Prix this season. Yesterday morning JA on F1 broke the story that Webber had driven the last four races of the season with a broken shoulder. The 34 year old made the admission in his new book that he suffered a second mountain bike accident in two years resulting in a fractured shoulder, ironically the first time he’d been on a mountain bike since his collision with a vehicle in Tasmania. Horner said More…

Posted on December 6, 2010


Last night I went to the Autosport Awards at London’s Grosvenor House hotel, the annual end of season get together for the UK motor sport industry. It’s changed little over the years, my old ITV colleague Steve Rider still presents it; gently and respectfully taking the mickey out of many of the great names of the sport. Last night the two stars of the show were Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastian Vettel. Kobayshi was there to collect the Rookie of the Year award, previously won by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Vettel. Strictly speaking Kobayashi wasn’t really a rookie this year More…

Posted on December 6, 2010


One possible reason why Mark Webber’s form in the crucial final four races of the season declined is a fractured shoulder from yet another mountain bike accident, shortly before the Japanese Grand Prix. The 34 year old travelled back to Australia after the Singapore Grand Prix and went out on a mountain bike ride when he injured himself again. He was following a friend who fell and with nowhere to go, Webber crashed into him and fractured his shoulder. It is what is known as a “skier’s fracture”, because the most common reason for that type of break is a More…

Posted on December 5, 2010


There is a piece in the new edition of the Red Bulletin magazine where the key players in the Red Bull team talk about their favourite moments of the year, which offers a few insights into what motivates them and what was most important to them, with the benefit of hindsight. Adrian Newey said that for him the most special thing about this year was taking on the big teams and beating them. The Red Bull project is the fulfilment of a dream he had tried to fulfil over 20 years ago, of building up a small private team to More…

Posted on December 4, 2010


We’ve had a great entry to Stars in Average Cars competition, with some very amusing top five lists. The emphasis was on entertainment here, the once we liked best we’ve selected below, together with some choice Darren Heath images. Each will receive a signed copy of the JA on F1 2010 season review book. And now I think that’s enough lists… Enjoy! Aaron James’ list 1. Kobayashi- a terrifying mix of Takuma Sato’s bravery and the racecraft of Ayrton Senna, Kobayashi has set this season’s F1 season alight (well it was his engine alight for the first few races!. I More…

Posted on December 3, 2010


Although the team has yet to announce it officially, Timo Glock has insisted on the Virgin racing official website that he will stay with Virgin next season. “I am definitely driving for Virgin Racing,” Glock said “There has been a lot of speculation about me wanting to leave the team, but it is not about leaving a team, it is about wanting to do better and keep moving forward. It is not just 99.9% certain that I will stay, as has been reported – it is 100% certain!” The statement comes on the back of rumours that he was looking More…

Posted on December 2, 2010


There has been quite a bit of chatter in Italy in the past couple of weeks about Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo considering running for office backed by his “Italia Futura” group of leading Italian industrialists, entrepreneurs and thinkers. But Montezemolo says it’s not the right moment to enter the Italian political scene and that he does not want to leave Ferrari. The members of Italia Futura are urging him to seize the moment and come to the rescue of the country. He however appears to be pushing back on this, saying, that he will not go into politics, at More…

Posted on December 1, 2010


Williams will have two South American drivers next season as it has been confirmed that the seat alongside Brazil’s Rubens Barrichello will be filled by Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado. He is the first driver from that country since Johnny Ceccotto, who did 18 Grands Prix in 1983 and ’84. The news is no surprise, it has been rumoured for months and when Nico Hulkenberg was released last month it was only a matter of time before Williams announced the reigning GP2 champion as its new driver. In this respect he follows a proud tradition of GP2 champions who have taken More…

Posted on December 1, 2010


Sauber has issued an interesting Q&A with its team principal and 100% shareholder Peter Sauber at the end of a very turbulent season for the Swiss team. It started with a desperate situation and ended with a lifesaving deal with the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim and a new Mexican influence on the team. Sauber confirms that at this stage this is purely a sponsorship deal, by Slim’s Telmex company, with no equity transfer. But clearly he is looking at how he can make his exit. In today’s Q&A he talks up next year’s Sauber Ferrari package, “We’re setting our More…

Posted on November 30, 2010


We’ve had a lot of fun with the competition to draw up a list of the Top Five drivers of the season and the eight readers who picked the same five as me have been informed and will get their signed book shortly. But inevitably these lists are dominated by the drivers who won races and I have received loads of messages from readers wanting to nominate the unsung heroes further down the field. It is time to answer that call. So for a but of fun let’s have your list of the Top Five drivers who were driving a More…

Posted on November 30, 2010


The FIA has just issued the entry list for next year’s world championship. Ten of the 24 seats have yet to be filled and the main story is that Tony Fernandes’ team, which was known as Lotus Racing this year is officially registered as Team Lotus, the historic name that Fernandes purchased, or is in the process of purchasing, from David Hunt. Team Lotus won 79 Grands Prix and seven constructors’ championships in its original guise, between 1958 and 1994. At the same time the team is retaining the two drivers from this season Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, meaning More…

Posted on November 29, 2010


I’m delighted to say that the JA on F1 2010 season Review Book is published today. I’ve offered a signed copy to the first ten readers whose Top Five drivers of the Season match my choice. We’ve had a great response from readers sending in their Top Five, with just under 1,000 entries. Thanks to everyone for taking part. The 2010 season was really enjoyable for fans and insiders alike. There was quite a buzz in the paddock all season with the various battles going on between teams and between team mates too. When compiling a Top Five list, the More…

Posted on November 27, 2010


I asked JA on F1 readers to name their top five drivers of the year by Monday 29th November, the prize for the first ten entries which match my choice of top five will win a signed copy of my 2010 season review book, “Five rivals, one Champion”. We’ve had almost 700 entries so far; some very entertaining ones and some very well considered. For a bit of fun I have also asked one or two friends in and around F1 for their Top Five and today is the turn of Manish Pandey, (left of picture) the writer and producer More…

Posted on November 26, 2010


Fresh from his impressive test performance at Yas Marina Circuit last week, Red Bull protege Daniel Ricciardo has been given a testing role with Toro Rosso, which will see him running in Friday practice at all 20 rounds of next year’s F1 world championship. This is a logical but nevertheless interesting move by the Red Bull management. First it sends out a signal that the Red Bull conveyor belt of talent is in full swing, having just produced its first world champion in Sebastian Vettel. Second it justifies the existence of Toro Rosso as it is the proving ground of More…

Posted on November 26, 2010


I asked JA on F1 readers to name their top five drivers of the year by Monday 29th November, the prize for the first ten entries which match my choice of top five will win a signed copy of my 2010 season review book, “Five rivals, one Champion”. We’ve had almost 700 entries so far; some very entertaining ones and some very well considered. For a bit of fun I have also asked one or two friends in and around F1 for their Top Five and today we have the veteran Williams, Benetton and Toyota engineer, Frank Dernie. Here is More…

Posted on November 25, 2010


I see that Vitaly Petrov has been speaking in German newspaper Bild about the abuse he’s taken on his Facebook page from irate Alonso and Ferrari fans. The Russian managed to keep Alonso behind him for most of the race in Abu Dhabi after Ferrari made a bad strategy call which brought their contender out behind the Renault driver. In doing so he played a direct hand in the outcome of the world championship and has been attacked from partisan quarters for doing so. The same thing happened two years ago with Timo Glock, who was passed by Lewis Hamilton More…

Posted on November 23, 2010


The 2010 season was one of the most intense we have ever seen in terms of the rate of technical development. The leading teams did not rest, forever pushing themselves and each other to improve and get a competitive advantage.

Despite the introduction by the teams’ association, FOTA, of the Resource Restriction agreement, there seemed to be no limit to the new parts brought to the cars during race weekends. It was not uncommon to see boxes being wheeled into the paddock on Friday nights, even Saturday mornings with new wings and other updates large and small. Nor was it unusual to hear the sounds of grinding late into the night or shortly before qualifying, as teams worked to fit and adapt last minute changes.

At the height of the credit crunch in the winter of 2008, there were FOTA discussions about limiting the number of updates a team was allowed each season, but that was never voted through. So the well funded teams threw massive effort and resources at improving their cars on a race by race effort and the other teams did what they could afford to do.

Hispania was at the other end of the scale from Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull in that the team did not develop its car at all during the season. Ironically the core concept can’t have been too bad as the car was one second off the fastest Virgin car at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, having been 1.3 seconds off at Barcelona in May! This is despite Virgin bringing several updates to its car, especially at Silverstone.

Because of the total ban on in-season testing, teams were obliged to try out new parts during the three hours of free practice on Fridays even if they had no intention of racing the part that weekend.
And as most teams were forced to incorporate the season’s two must have gizmos – the drag reducing F Duct rear wing and the exhaust blown diffuser, they needed all the practice time they could get. These were complicated aerodynamic devices which tested the best engineers in F1 to the limit.


Fittingly, as the team that invented it, McLaren were still developing the F Duct rear wing right up to the last race. The original design blew the air out of the flap on the wing, but as the season went on and other teams like Force India and Renault found better results from blowing the air out of the main wing element, McLaren tried that too. They first tried it in Suzuka, but struggled to get it working better than the original and that continued until Abu Dhabi, where in Friday practice Lewis Hamilton ran the blown main plane version and Jenson Button ran the original blown flap wing.

Both drivers ended up qualifying and racing the main plane version (see Hamilton drawing below). This seems to have had a more powerful effect on straight line speed. But it didn’t help Hamilton much in the race, as he still could not overtake Robert Kubica with his similarly armed Renault.

The basic flow of the season was that the Ferrari was the fastest car in pre season testing, then the Red Bull proved fastest in the early races. On balance Red Bull remained the fastest car all season, as proven by their 15 pole positions. Both they and Ferrari were forced to copy the F Duct rear wing and Ferrari lost ground while trying to do that. Ferrari also had to incorporate the Red Bull invented exhaust blown diffuser and they had a crude version initially, before getting a more refined and effective version in Valencia. From that point on Ferrari kept refining the car and it was the second fastest behind the Red Bull for the rest of the season.

McLaren fell behind the other two while trying to incorporate the exhaust blown diffuser in early summer and from then on never really seemed to be able to close the gap again. Unlike 2009 where their car improved massively in the second half of the year, they came up just short this time.

Mercedes realised that they had a poor car early on and stopped developing it in the summer, but still found improvements from understanding the set up better in the second half of the season. Williams adopted the F Duct and the blown diffuser, but Rubens Barrichello said that the biggest improvements which made the team regular top ten qualifiers in the second half of the season came from improving driveability. He believes that this has been Williams’ weakness with new cars recently and expects that to be remedied in the 2011 car.

Meanwhile Renault brought many new parts to their car, especially front wings, from a revamped aerodynamics department. They claimed that the fully evolved R30, which did so much damage to Fernando Alonso’s championship hopes in Abu Dhabi, was two seconds per lap faster than the version which raced in Bahrain at the start of the season.

That gain is made up of the F Duct and blown diffuser, both worth roughly 4/10ths of a second per lap, depending on circuit, plus “ten front wing packages, five floors, two engine covers, six rear wing packages, seven front drum and duct packages, and three rear drum and duct packages,” according to the team.


Renault were late to the F Duct party, only bringing it to the car at the Belgian Grand Prix, round 13, but were able to make it work straight away. It was among the first of the F Ducts which stall the wing main plane rather than just the flap.

Overall it has been a very interesting year from a technical point of view and next year will be too. Things to watch out for next year are the return of the KERS , an energy regeneration system, giving a boost to the engine power; the adjustable rear wing, about which there are some misgivings from the drivers and the change of tyres to Pirelli.. We will not see the F Duct again, nor the double diffuser as both have been banned for next season.

Posted on November 22, 2010


There is a general feeling of satisfaction with last weekend’s first Pirelli F1 test in Abu Dhabi, with teams reporting that the tyres are at a good level already and Pirelli themselves saying that the data and feedback from teams correlates well with the learnings from the test programme using the 2009 Toyota. It’s impressive to think that they only started testing in August this year. A common theme from teams is that the fronts are stronger relative to the rears than the last generation of Bridgestone tyres. Normally this would lead designers to look at a forward weight distribution, More…

Posted on November 22, 2010


FIA president Jean Todt has hit the media trail in a limited way over the past couple of weeks – particularly in Italy – and has put some interesting ideas out there. Among other things he stated that any new circuit hoping to get an FIA licence will be assessed as much for spectacle as safety. He has even suggested that circuits should be ranked by entertainment value. Todt has not had a high media profile since taking on the job a year ago, particularly on Formula 1, but lately has come out with some more comments. Speaking to La More…

Posted on November 20, 2010


The Pirelli tyre test concluded today in Abu Dhabi with a total of 15 drivers on track in 12 cars and Fernando Alonso setting the pace. In total the F1 teams have done 11,000 kilometres in the last two days, giving Pirelli some very good data to work with on compounds and wear rates. The next time the F1 cars will test will be at the start of February when the first 2011 runners will hit the track on the next iteration of Pirelli tyres. For detailed analysis of the Pirelli tyres see yesterday’s post, but today Michael Schumacher had More…

Posted on November 19, 2010


The rebirth of Pirelli as a tyre supplier began today with the first test in Abu Dhabi. In total there were 13 drivers on track today, with Force India giving both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta a run. The fastest time was set by Felipe Massa in 1m 40.170, which was a shade faster than he managed in qualifying for last week’s Grand Prix. But of course that does not tell the whole story. First there has been a significant amount of track improvement since last week, with lap times in the Young Guns test around 1.3 seconds faster More…

Posted on November 17, 2010


Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have buried the hatchet after a season long duel for supremacy in the Red Bull team. The duo, who looked at times as though they were shaping up to reprise the bitter Senna/Prost team rivalry of the 1990s, have revealed that they spoke at length during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend and put their differences behind them. Webber also revealed that once the competition was over, and Vettel emerged victorious, it was important for him to drop his competitive guard and bow down to the younger man’s achievement. “I went to him, ” said More…

Posted on November 17, 2010


Australian Daniel Ricciardo dominated the second day of the Young Guns test at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi today, closing out with a time comparable with Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap from last weekend, once track condition is taken into account. Ricciardo set a time of 1m 38.102s, which was 1.292 seconds faster than the pole lap last weekend. Engineers I’ve spoken to at the track say that the track improvement was around 1.2 seconds yesterday, compared to qualifying day, and it was even faster this morning. There was more grip and there was also a favourable tailwind. Also cones which More…

Posted on November 16, 2010


All year we have been running a Driver of the Day survey after each Grand Prix, but it’s that time of year again, where we need to establish the Top Five drivers of the year, in order, with your Driver of the Season at the top. Once again the first ten entries which match my selection, will receive a free signed copy of our review book of the season; James Allen on F1 2010: Five Rivals, One Champion, which is due to be published on 29 November. This will also be the closing date for entries. Unlike last year there More…

Posted on November 16, 2010


Daniel Ricciardo, the Red Bull reserve driver, set the fastest time on the first day of the Young Guns test at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi. The 21 year old Australian set a fastest time of 1m 39.616s, which compares very favourably with the pole time for last weekend’s Grand Prix, set by Sebastian Vettel in the same car at 1m39.394s. Mark Webber’s qualifying time was 1m39.925s. It has to be observed that the comparison of times with last weekend is slightly misleading as the track has ramped up significantly since qualifying with all the rubber that has gone down. More…

Posted on November 15, 2010


Williams has announced today that the team will drop promising rookie Nico Hulkenberg for next season. At the same time it was confirmed that Rubens Barrichello will race on for the team in 2011, and unprecedented 19th season of F1 competition. Hulkenberg’s spectacular pole position in Brazil last week, where he set nine consecutive best sector times, was not enough to save his drive, in the face of the expected arrival of GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado, who has extensive backing from the Venezuelan government. Barrichello’s contract was signed some time ago but was not announced as the team worked hard More…

Posted on November 14, 2010


The championship is over, the title is decided in Sebastian Vettel’s favour but the nagging question everyone is wrestling with tonight is, how did Ferrari get its tactics so wrong? We have seen often this season how strategy can win races, but today we saw it lose a championship. Of course no championship is won or lost on one race, but when a driver has an eight point lead and needs only a top four finish, it can cost a championship if you get it wrong. Fernando Alonso started the race in third position, needed only to finish fourth and More…

Posted on November 14, 2010


As usual we have had many great comments and some interesting points of view put forward about the outcome of today’s championship. I wanted to give the fans a voice tonight and so I’ve picked out this post from JM Randle, which expresses his view on this epic season and gives a good assessment of our new world champion. “With an hour or two having passed since the race finished, first and foremost we have to congratulate Sebastian Vettel – a combination of a truly awesome racer, able to extract the maximum from his car over both one lap and More…

Posted on November 14, 2010


Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever F1 World Champion today when he won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. It was a vindication of Red Bull’s decision not to make Vettel hand the win to Webber in Brazil, as it set Vettel up with the chance to do this. And he needed a slice or two or luck, as Hamilton came out behind the Renault of Robert Kubica who prevented him from having a go at Vettel. He was also lucky on the day that Ferrari made a terrible tactical error, which crippled Fernando More…

Posted on November 14, 2010


We had a fantastic entry of over 400 in two days for the competition to win a signed copy of my 2010 season review book JA on F1 2010: Five Rivals, One Champion. What was most impressive, as I’ve come to expect from the readers of this site, was the amount of guesses which were very close to the final figure. By our reckoning we had at least 12 entries which were within 2/100ths of a second, so it was far more competitive than the F1 qualifying session itself! But the winner is Brian M, entry number 336, who correctly More…

Posted on November 13, 2010


A rather crestfallen Mark Webber faced the music this evening in the Abu Dhabi paddock after a disappointing qualifying session. Webber starts fifth behind all of his title rivals. The Aussie, who lies second in the championship, eight points behind Fernando Alonso, was never really on the pace of his teammate Sebastian Vettel. He was three tenths slower in Q1, two tenths slower in Q2 and then six tenths slower in Q3, when it counted. “The last couple of minutes (of Q3) were not the best for me,” said Webber. “I didn’t really have the performance in myself of the More…

Posted on November 13, 2010


Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the final round of the 2010 World Championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. It was his 10th pole position of the season and a record equalling 15th pole of the season for Red Bull Racing. Mark Webber could manage only the fifth fastest time, which deals his title hopes a real blow. He has to hope for misfortunes to the others tomorrow, as starting behind Alonso on the road and with less points, he’s in a difficult position. Alonso made some changes to his car, reverting to settings from Friday, while Hamilton More…

Posted on November 12, 2010


Lewis Hamilton was fastest in today’s second free practice session in the McLaren to add an interesting twist to the championship finale. Last season’s pole sitter at this Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton set a time of 1m 40.888 to finish 3/10ths ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber following on. Webber was just 1/000th of a second slower than the Ferrari. Hamilton looked quick all day in the McLaren, which has an updated F Duct rear wing this weekend. However he also courted controversy and was called to the stewards for cutting across the front of Bruno More…

Posted on November 11, 2010


Before we got here this week Yas Marina Circuit was hit by a powerful sandstorm, which bent the trees backwards and dumped tonnes of sand on the track. This being Abu Dhabi they have a machine for sucking up the sand, so the racing will not be affected. I’ve been at plenty of championship showdowns over the years. There is nothing like being here to look the contenders in the eye and see how they are coping with the pressure. There have been some stormy ones, I recall Jerez 1997 for example and ten years later the acrimony at McLaren More…

Posted on November 11, 2010


Virgin Racing will be part owned by Russian specialist car maker Marussia, following a deal struck this week, which shows the growing Russian interest in the sport. The news follows on from the announcement that Russia will host a Grand Prix in Sochi starting in 2014 and that Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin tested a Renault F1 car as a guest of team owner Gerard Lopez. Like all Virgin’s sponsors, Marussia wants to plug into Virgin’s vast network of customers and communications channels. Marussia wants to go further than that, however. The intention is that its brand should appear in More…

Posted on November 10, 2010


The Brazilian Grand Prix was the penultimate round of the 2010 World Championship and many teams have already stopped developing this year’s car and are fully focussed on next year’s.

There are quite a few changes for next year, with the banning of the double diffuser, the introduction of the adjustable rear wing, the switch to Pirelli tyres and the return of KERS. In the paddock in Brazil there was quite a bit of dissatisfaction with KERS coming back.

It was Ferrari who pushed it through, funnily enough around the time they were due to appear before the FIA World Council to face the team orders charges relating to the German Grand Prix.

To make KERS more attractive next year the minimum weight limit has been increased and as a safety net the top teams also pushed through a FOTA edict on weight distribution with between 45.5% and 46.5% front weight distribution. This cuts down the risk of a team which decides not to use KERS being more competitive. The weight distribution has also been done with one eye on the new Pirelli tyres.

Whereas teams like Red Bull and Renault did not use KERS last year, next year they definitely will. The smaller teams are annoyed that they don’t have the opportunity to be competitive without KERS – as Brawn were last year.

Also causing general unhappiness is the cost of the exercise, put at around €10 million per team and the fact that the power output from the KERS has not been increased, to make it more challenging.

But all that is for next year. For this finale to the 2010 season, the teams fighting for the championship are still pushing, with updates to the McLaren and Ferrari noticeable in Sao Paulo.

Ferrari
Ferrari adopted their latest evolution of the blown diffuser with the airflow from the exhausts also blowing inside the side channels. This helps dramatically in terms of improving the efficiency of this element in each of its sections. The Ferrari diffuser differs from the Red Bull’s as it features a horizontal hole rather than a vertical one of the RB6. The central section used in Korea has been modified with more rounded profiles and the additional middle plate in the side channels is no longer present. Ferrari also had some updates to brake ducts, a tiny fin could be seen, showing that the teams were looking for any and all additional downforce possible on this downforce dependent circuit.

The weakness of this year’s Ferrari relative to the Red Bull was in sequences of fast corners like Sector 1 in Suzuka or Becketts at Silverstone. With these small but important increments, Alonso was on a similar race pace to the Red Bulls around Interlagos, while qualifying pace was hard to judge because of the damp track condition. Alonso was particularly fast once the cars switched to the hard tyre after the pit stops.

McLaren
McLaren again made some detail changes to the front wing (see drawing left) and rear wing of the MP4/25. Noticeable was the return to the standard F Duct with air blowing into the flap of the wing, rather than copying the Force India solution of air blowing downwards into the main plane of the wing, which many teams have found has a more powerful effect (see photo below)

But the main novelty was in the front assembly with a different intermediate splitter under the nose cone. This one in fact is subtly different in its front edge, now slightly rounded and featuring a sort of slightly V shaped entry profile. This improves the efficiency around the front suspension wishbones, in particular diverting in a more efficient way the air flow, divided in two portions, one directed to the engine radiators, and the lower portion underneath the car.


Lewis Hamilton’s car struggled for pace in early part of the race, losing performance from the soft tyre early on. He was faster on the hard tyre after the pit stop.

Posted on November 9, 2010


I’m delighted to announce that my season review book “James Allen on F1 2010 – Five Rivals, One Champion” will be published on November 29th. But as from today you can pre-order your copy by clicking on THIS LINK or on the front cover icon to the right. The book is large format paperback, 248 pages with 8 pages of colour photos and costs just £9.99. All copies ordered through the JA on F1 website will be signed by me and sent out on November 29th. We are printing a limited number so it’s wise to order sooner rather than More…

Posted on November 8, 2010


The Red Bull Racing team goes into the final race of the season with two drivers in contention for the Drivers’ World championship, but their best placed driver Mark Webber has a harder task than he would have had if they had thrown their weight behind him today. Webber would have been one point behind Alonso if the team had backed him today, instead he is eight points behind, more than the gap between first and second places in the final race. After today’s race – won by Sebastian Vettel, who now needs to outscore Alonso by 16 points and More…

Posted on November 7, 2010


I really enjoyed the Brazilian Grand Prix today, there was some very good driving, especially in the opening laps, with some sublime overtaking. So who is your Driver of the Day? Sebastian Vettel His fourth win of the season after a strong qualifying performance in tricky conditions. He has outpaced Webber since Monza. He won out at the start and then drove away from the rest. Webber pushed him, but he always had something in hand. Has scored eighty points in the last five races despite an engine failure while leading Korea. Mark Webber Had plenty of work to do More…

Posted on November 7, 2010


Red Bull Racing clinched their first F1 Constructors’ World Championship at Interlagos as Sebastian Vettel led a 1-2 finish ahead of Mark Webber. Fernando Alonso was third and he goes to Abu Dhabi with an eight point lead over Webber. If he finishes second whatever the other two do, he is world champion for the third time. It was a difficult result to swallow for Webber, who would have been only one point behind Alonso if the team had backed him. But that is not their philosophy and you can debate the rights and wrongs of that. It would have More…

Posted on November 7, 2010


Everyone is talking about the start of this afternoon’s Grand Prix and how decisive it will be to the outcome of the race. There is even a sweepstake on what position Hulkenberg will be in at the end of lap one. Mark Webber is not in an ideal position, behind Hulkenberg on the outside of the track, while Vettel and Hamilton will be making tracks down the inside into turn one. From a championship point of view both of them need a big score today so they will feel they have nothing to lose from attacking at the start. Webber More…

Posted on November 7, 2010


Reigning world champion Jenson Button and his entourage have just arrived at the Interlagos circuit to tell the story of how they escaped machine gun wielding bandits last night. Button, his father John, manager Richard Goddard and trainer Mike Collyer left the circuit at around 7pm last night in an armoured Mercedes and were attacked at the bottom of the hill which leads away from Interlagos and back towards the city of Sao Paulo. There is a favella all the way down the hill on the right hand side of the road, the side which is next to the lane More…

Posted on November 6, 2010


Today was one of those days that live long in the memory. On a rapidly drying track 23 year Nico Hulkenberg gave Williams its first pole position for 100 races ahead of the main championship protagonists. And he did so by a huge margin – over a second. Sebastian Vettel was second with Mark Webber third. Lewis Hamilton starts fourth on the grid tomorrow, one place ahead of championship leader Fernando Alonso. It was a swashbuckling performance by Hulkenberg, who has been getting progressively stronger in the second half of the season. For a driver to take a pole position More…

Posted on November 5, 2010


The FIA General Assembly met today and voted through some important changes to the International Sporting Code. The most eye catching is that “the FIA is allowed to impose sanctions on Super Licence holders who commit road traffic offences.” This is in light of Lewis Hamilton’s so called “Hooning” incident in Melbourne this year. With the FIA on a course of ramming home its Make Roads Safe message, it needed to have a lever over the most visible and high profile drivers -those in F1 – with regard to their behaviour on the roads. Most F1 drivers I’ve ever known More…

Posted on November 5, 2010


Lotus finally confirmed the news that we’ve expected for ages, that they will use Renault engines for the next two seasons. We already knew that they would be using Red Bull gearboxes and hydraulics. It marks a significant step forward for the team. It was also announced that Red Bull has renewed its deal with Renault for two more years. The team will run KERS next year, Christian Horner has confirmed. Less clear is what happens next with the name of the team and with the arrival of Group Lotus, the car company, into F1 in partnership with the current More…

Posted on November 4, 2010


The cramped and chaotic paddock at Interlagos always creates a feverish atmosphere and this weekend is no different. Teams are cheek by jowl with each other, journalists have to climb over tables and squeeze into corners to hear what’s being said at briefings and today we have seen a very calm Fernando Alonso and a Mark Webber who has chosen to cast himself as an underdog again. Alonso spoke about his team mate Felipe Massa and how he’d like him to win the last two races. This is his way of saying that he’d like Massa to be really fast More…

Posted on November 4, 2010


I’ve just come back from the premiere of the new Senna movie which took place in a very smart cinema complex in the Jardim area of Sao Paulo. There is a real buzz about the film as you might expect, here in Brazil. It is scheduled to open next week here at over 130 cinemas and is likely to expand from there. The premiere was attended by many Brazilian stars, models, even the coach of the national football team! From the racing world there were Felipe Massa and Emerson Fittipaldi. The event was hosted by Viviane Senna, Ayrton’s sister, who More…

Posted on November 3, 2010


The tension is showing in the run up to the final pair of races in this year’s world championship as the three team bosses fighting for the titles lead their troops into the great unknown at Interlagos. And with it has come a suggestion from Red Bull that if Fernando Alonso wins, there will be a stain on the result because of the team orders row back in July. “It would be frustrating (if Alonso won the title) because we’ve obviously worked under the auspices that team orders have been illegal,” Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner told BBC Radio. More…

Posted on November 2, 2010


Today we are launching a new feature on the JA on F1 website – an online auction to raise money for the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust. I’m delighted to say that the first item we have under the hammer is a signed set of F1 racing overalls from one of the fans’ favourite drivers, Kamui Kobayashi. These genuine Sauber racing overalls, manufactured to exacting F1 safety standards, from fireproof material by Puma, have be worn this season by Kamui and he has signed them. Just to buy a set of unbranded Puma overalls of this standard would cost over £1000, More…

Posted on November 1, 2010


This will be an important week in the ongoing development of the Lotus F1 team. During the Brazil Grand Prix weekend, there will be an announcement that the team is to use Renault engines for the next two seasons. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, no less, is expected to be at Interlagos to convey the message. Brazil, booming economically, is a very important market for Renault. Ghosn said recently that one of Renault’s key objectives is to increase market share there from 6% to 10%. With the rapidly increasing middle class, millions of Brazilians are able to own a car for More…

Posted on October 31, 2010


For the past few weeks the word inside the F1 paddock has been that a deal for Pastor Maldonado to race for Williams F1 next year is done. There is an assumption that this would be at the expense of Nico Hulkenberg, who is in his first season in F1. Williams currently refuse to confirm or deny this, however they did announce this week that Maldonado will take part in the Young Driver test for Williams at Abu Dhabi next month. At 25 he is not exactly a young driver by today’s standards, but he qualifies in terms of his More…

Posted on October 29, 2010


On Wednesday this week the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust held a reunion at the Williams F1 team conference centre, attended by close to 200 current and former mechanics. Also there to pay tribute to the unsung heroes of the pit lane were former drivers Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, Martin Brundle and John Watson. Many ex F1 drivers have donated to the Trust, along with most of the big names at the top of the sport. The Trust was founded by Sir Jackie Stewart in 1987 to campaign for higher safety standards in the pitlane and to provide security and More…

Posted on October 26, 2010


Fernando Alonso’s win in Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix meant the 8th change of championship leader this season. Alonso has been on a run of 133 points from seven races and returns to the summit for the first time since the Australian Grand Prix and he does so at a crucial time, with just two races to go. His lead over Mark Webber is 11 points, while Lewis Hamilton is 21 points behind and Sebastian Vettel 25 adrift. It means he can clinch the title in Brazil if he wins the race and Webber finishes fifth or lower. Basically it’s about More…

Posted on October 25, 2010


There had been so much focus on the delays in completing the Yeongam circuit in Korea that not much discussion had been had about it’s nature as a circuit. When the cars started running and the drivers fed back their thoughts it soon emerged that the track has been designed to have several characters in one.

The three sectors each had distinctive characteristics, each flattering different aspects of a car. So it is a track which cannot be said to suit any one car in particular. It’s not a Red Bull circuit, for example, because of the long straights and tight turns of the first sector. Nor is it a McLaren or Ferrari circuit because of the sweeping turns in the second sector.

For this reason it gave us one of the most closely matched fields we’ve seen this season.

For all the teams the name of the game was deciding which characteristic of the track to set the cars up for. Should they go for extra downforce for Sector 2/3, or less downforce to be fast on the straights in Sector 1?

It was clear from qualifying that Red Bull and Ferrari went for the downforce option while McLaren had a little less wing for the straights. Alonso was only the 16th fastest car through the speed trap at 313km/h, a fraction slower than the Red Bull and 6km/h slower than the McLaren. And yet paradoxically, Alonso set the fastest first sector time of anyone. Looked at in detail the reason for this turned out to be that he got his braking perfect. There are two big stops in Sector 1 and Alonso got them just right.

Another thing making life difficult for engineers and drivers trying to tune the cars in to the track was that the grip level was unknown before arriving there and the fact that the track condition was a moving target. The track improvement was significant on Day 1 as the dirt and oil came off the surface and rubber went down. The difference between the first lap and the fastest lap on Day 1 was 42 seconds!

As the tyres scrabbled for grip, inevitably they were sliding and this led to a lot of tyre graining, where the top layer of rubber sheers.

It was noticeable that through Turn 11 some cars were lifting the inside front wheel, basically going through two turns on three wheels. This put an extra load on the right front tyre and you could see bands on the tyre when the cars came back into the pits where they had the extra wear.

The reason this was happening was that when the track is as low grip as it was on Friday, teams run the rear suspension softer relative to the front and that meant that in a corner with camber, the rear of the car rolls and sits back, lifting the inside front wheel. That effect reduced as the weekend went on.

In qualifying the track was still improving rapidly, the fastest time in Q1 was 1m 37.113 but an hour later it was down to 1m 35.585.

In the race the McLaren struggled with the wet conditions, as its suspension was set too stiff and it lacked downforce in the final sector, where Hamilton was losing 3/10ths every lap to the front runners.

Button had a difficult day, struggling to get heat into his front tyres. He complained afterwards that he had something in his car different from Hamilton’s, that was a small detail change in the braking system, according to the team.

Updates on the cars
With the Yeongam circuit being finished so late, it was hard for teams to bring updates as it was impossible to simulate them accurately beforehand. Nothing was known of grip levels or kerb heights, for example.

Nevertheless there were a few updates to the cars, with some teams still pushing hard on development right up to the end of the season. McLaren brought the rear wing and revised F Duct, which they had tested on the Friday in Japan and which channels the air through the rear wing in a different way from before.


They also had another step on the endplate of the front wing, with an additional vertical slit ( the rearmost one) and a vertical gurney flap at the rear of the end plate have been added to improve the airflow outside the front tyre, slightly increasing downforce too.

Ferrari tested Felipe Massa’s car without the F Duct rear wing on Friday morning, to experiment with the extra downforce for Sector 2. But he quickly decided that he needed the extra straight line speed the drag reducing wing gives on the straights of Sector 1.


Ferrari also had an update on the diffuser, the new diffuser is visibly different in its central section from its previous version. The top profile (above inset) is wider and more curved, close to its outermost edges, improving the air extraction. The side channels now feature a large middle vertical fence ( lower inset), compared to the previous version.

Biofuel saves weight
Ferrari fuel supplier Shell debuted a new biofuel this weekend. Partly it has to do with the ongoing story of the greening of F1, but the main idea behind it is to use less fuel.

In a typical race weekend an F1 car uses around 600 litres of fuel – approximately ten tankfuls for a Ford Mondeo. For the race alone it uses 200 litres. The new biofuel means that they make a saving of 1%, which might not sound like much but the weight saving adds up to 2.5 seconds off the race time for the Ferrari drivers. When races can turn on fractions of a second in a pit stop, that is a gain worth having.

Posted on October 25, 2010


The Korean Grand Prix was a difficult race to control, with the delays at the start due to the rain, incidents throughout and then bad light at the end. And it didn’t help that the drivers were using the modern phenomenon of radio transmissions being played out on the TV to try to influence things. Because the race finished three hours after it was supposed to start, the light was fading fast. It goes dark very quickly in this part of the world and in another two laps it would have been dark. Race Control judged it just right and More…

Posted on October 24, 2010


Today’s Korean Grand Prix featured some very strong performances by drivers who got a result and by those who didn’t make it to the finish So who was your Driver of the Day? Fernando Alonso Close to Red Bulls in qualifying, did everything right and when the Red Bulls failed in the race he picked up the pieces. Had to recover from a slow pit stop to repass Hamilton and did so easily. Now firmly in charge of the title race. Lewis Hamilton Didn’t have the pace in qualifying or in the wet to challenge for the win, but second More…

Posted on October 24, 2010


Fernando Alonso won the Korean Grand Prix today in very difficult conditions, his first wet weather win, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. It was a real game changer of a day as far as the championship is concerned, with Red Bull’s two title contenders failing to score; Mark Webber crashing out and Sebastian Vettel’s engine failing near the end. After a long fightback from being 47 points behind Webber after Silverstone, Alonso now has control of the points table. Alonso leads by 11 points from Webber, with Hamilton up to third place, 21 behind the Spaniard. So heavy More…

Posted on October 23, 2010


Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow’s inaugural Korean Grand Prix from pole position after an extremely tight qualifying session. Mark Webber was just 7/100ths of a second slower in second place with Fernando Alonso a further 9/100ths off Webber. It is Vettel’s 14th career pole position and the 9th this season in 17 races. Perhaps more staggeringly it is Red Bull’s 14th out of 17 races. After second in Singapore, then pole and the win in Japan this is starting to look like a sprint finish by Vettel and Webber is looking nervously over his shoulder with a slender 14 point More…

Posted on October 22, 2010


The general view among the drivers is that the new Yeongham track is enjoyable to drive and quite challenging, with two distinct characters; the straights and tight turns of Sector 1 and the twists and turns of the later part of the lap, which in time will form a street circuit section. But many of the drivers are complaining already about the pit lane entry, which is on the racing line through the blind final corner and about the angled kerb at Turn 16, which is below the level of the asphalt and caused the Hispania car to go off More…

Posted on October 22, 2010


Championship leader Mark Webber set the fastest time on the first day of running at the new Korean International Circuit, ahead of title rivals Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa were both in the top six. Neither are title contenders, but they could take important points off the five drivers who are, this weekend. A lot of laps were covered today, with most drivers doing a race distance or close to it, across the two practice sessions. The first impressions of the new circuit in Korea are pretty positive, despite the negativity in the build up More…

Posted on October 21, 2010


McLaren announced today that its title sponsorship deal with Vodafone has been extended to the end of the 2013 season. It has been a successful relationship, crowned by Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 world championship. And as the statement from the team says, it shows “what a formidable global marketing tool the sport of Formula 1 remains.” I’m told that Ron Dennis was central to the renegotiation of the deal along with McLaren commercial director Ekrem Sami. McLaren is one of the better funded teams in the F1 pitlane and the Vodafone deal is one of the largest team sponsorships. As a More…

Posted on October 20, 2010


There is an interesting interview with Ross Brawn in today’s Gazzetta dello Sport, in which he says that he believes Mercedes will have a car to challenge for the championship next year and confirms that “Mercedes will be my last team.” He also tips Fernando Alonso to win the world championship this year, reiterating the admiration he has for the Spaniard, whom he tried hard to sign for Honda in late 2008. Having won 16 world championships with Benetton, Ferrari and then the crowning glory of world titles with his own team, Brawn is now engaged in a new challenge More…

Posted on October 19, 2010


There is a lot of attention on Felipe Massa at the moment, despite the fact that he is not a contender for the World Championship. He has been the subject of speculation about whether he will retain his drive next year, while recently he has received encouraging words from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, which is a mixed blessing, like a chairman’s “vote of confidence” in a football manager. The Ferrari website has identified his “key role” in the next three races and he himself has said that “the best thing I can do to help Ferrari’s and Fernando’s aspirations.” More…

Posted on October 18, 2010


There is an entertaining interview with F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone on his own F1.com site today. It’s a wide ranging discussion, the occasion being his 80th birthday next Thursday (28th October). It’s quite autobiographical, revealing some interesting details, such as his luck as a child not to be killed when a German warplane crashed near him, blowing him 20 metres, but leaving him unscathed. The discussion keeps coming back to the subject of luck, Ecclestone insisting that he was very lucky in his life to have been presented with many great opportunities – he just had the wisdom and More…

Posted on October 17, 2010


This is the final part of the programme undertaken by a group of media and fans recently at the Yas Marina Circuit to understand what it takes to be an F1 driver. Having gone through a series of mental and physical tests and passed up through the ranks, driving everything from go karts to F3000 cars, the final stage of the two day programme was to go out in the 2 seater F1 car to experience the g forces, acceleration and braking for real. The acceleration is cool, but anyone who has driven a really high performance motorbike will have More…

Posted on October 15, 2010


Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has come out in the clearest possible terms about the team’s attitude to their drivers fighting for the title, saying bluntly, “I promise that the team will not interfere in the race for the title.” The tone and message are quite different from the Horner of Silverstone time, who said “Sometimes I have to take difficult decisions,” after the infamous front wing switch. In a punchy interview on F1.com, the official F1 site, he says that the team will give both drivers an equal chance to the end. Responding to calls from Flavio Briatore, More…

Posted on October 15, 2010


There has been an interesting response to yesterday’s news of a Russian Grand Prix joining the calendar in 2014. The response from the teams is positive; Russia is an important new economy and has plenty of people with spending power, who fit the profile of F1, so it’s a good place to go as a car manufacturer or a major sponsor to promote your involvement in the sport and sell some product. The response from many fans is positive too. The proposed track layout, around the Olympic village, looks fast and interesting. I think people are open to the idea More…

Posted on October 14, 2010


Bernie Ecclestone today achieved a long held ambition to secure a Grand Prix in Russia with the signing of a five year deal starting in 2014. But the twist is that the venue, in Sochi a southern Russia Black Sea resort, near the Caucasus Mountains, will be repurposed from the infrastructure built for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. The games are due to run in February 2014 and in the F1 season that follows, the cars will run around a track which uses many of the facilities from the games, such as broadcast and media centres. It’s rather like the More…



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