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Teams experiments show what Ferrari’s plan might be
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Teams experiments show what Ferrari’s plan might be
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Feb 2010   |  7:03 pm GMT  |  147 comments

The third official test starts tomorrow. Analysing the lap time sheets from last week in Jerez, it is clear that the front running teams have already begun experimenting with the tyres and how to use them in qualifying and the race. This is critical this year because the fastest ten cars will have to start the race on their qualifying tyres so it’s essential to make sure you pick the right one.

The work done by Ferrari and Mercedes last week in particular gives us some clues about how the race weekends might play out and it tells us a bit about what the Ferrari may have been designed to do.

Ferr test
Looking at lap times by themselves is meaningless, but if you look at groups of runs and the relative lap times, you can work out on which ones the car was full of fuel and from that benchmark lap time you can calculate how much fuel they were carrying at various stages.

One of the problems the teams will face is that there will simply not be enough time during free practice sessions at the Grands Prix to evaluate how the tyres degrade over a long run. However in testing we have seen Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes doing 35 to 45 lap long runs and it’s clear that there was quite a bit of work done on evaluating whether qualifying on the harder tyre might be the way to go.

Stints of 45 laps are unprecedented in recent F1. They are also a significant factor for the drivers as the lap times will be some three or fours seconds slower at the start of the race than in previous years and that means far lower cornering g forces, which is good news for 41 year old Michael Schumacher and a key part of the reason why the new rules made a comeback more feasible.

Looking at last week, Alonso and Schumacher carried out some short three or four lap qualifying runs, then pitted and went out for long stint race runs on around 110kg of fuel, to evaluate how it might work, although they did not carry low fuel for the qualifying evaluation at this stage. Alonso used the medium and Schumacher the harder tyre.

The interesting thing was that the medium on the Ferrari seemed to be quickest on its 2nd flying lap and it then it went into a long drop off period. So Jerez showed that it could be used in qualifying on a four lap run and then prove a good race tyre despite the drop off period.

It takes quite a few laps before the performance comes back, but when it does it is pretty constant so that by the end of the run, the falling fuel weight is far more significant for lap time than the tyre degradation.

But if you are at the front and the cars behind cannot pass you then it’s a good option.

If this is the character of 2010 tyre on some tracks it will be very hard to find out during practice sessions whether stopping earlier than your rival is going to be the better option, as some people have been suggesting. So much will depend on track characteristics and how the tyres degrade on those tracks.

Alonso’s performance showed that if Ferrari can weather the long drop off period of the softer tyre without getting overtaken, then they have the faster qualifying tyre and one which will still be going strong 45 laps into the race.

Ferrari may have designed their car with a tactic in mind; it seems to work the tyre well in qualifying trim, so they will be well placed on the grid and once the tyres are through the drop off period, caused by the rears graining, it looks fast and consistent, so they are in good shape.

Schumacher’s long run on the harder tyre on the Mercedes was very consistent and showed another way of doing it. But that tyre was up to half a second slower on the qualifying lap.

But, as I said, it will be hard for the teams to get a thorough evaluation of the tyres in the time they have allocated for practice sessions, as no-one does huge long runs like that in practice.

So you might see teams split with one driver pounding round doing a long run tyre evaluation on Friday afternoons while the other works on fine tuning set up. This is what the drivers mean when they talk about working together for the team, because they will have to be well organized.

At Williams, for example, I could see Hulkenberg being sent out to do the long run, with Barrichello responsible for setting the car up across a range of different fuel loads.

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147 Comments
  1. als says:

    hey james,never heard of u before but this is a relatively good website with some good info.not bad at all.cheers

    1. alex m says:

      Is this really only a “relatively good website”… does James only treat us to “some good info” ? Is it really just “not bad at all” ?

      Are you trying to damn with faint praise ? If this is only “relatively good” could you please point us all in the direction of anything that is even equal, let alone better ? It would be very handy if you could, as I spend far too much of my time reading about F1 on the net and was under the clear impression that JA has given us by far the most interesting and informative site there is out there.

      1. manty says:

        Hay, chill Baby :-)

      2. TM says:

        Lol!! :o)

      3. HowardHughes says:

        Next Week:

        ALS poster praises Michael Schumacher for his ‘relatively good’ driving skills and ‘reasonably successful’ career.

      4. JF says:

        I concur alex

      5. Brace says:

        Alex, you are being rude to a perfectly polite person. It’s not up to you to tell him how he should see this site.
        He wasn’t insulting anyone and you on the other hand are attacking him.
        Not a class act from your side I must say.

    2. M.Walker says:

      ALS you’re “relatively” “good” at saying nothing at “all”… Keep up the good work JA! The website is fantastic.

    3. LT says:

      If you’ve never heard of James, then I don’t think you have been watching F1 for very long at all!

      1. als says:

        all i said is that i feel that this website is fairly good. The main thing is that JA tried his best.there are a couple of good points on this website.a good website for semi-knowledgeable f1 fans.thanks

    4. Buck61 says:

      I am glad you found this site. The more you read it the more you will understand that James knows what we want to read and he tells all. You can learn a lot from James. I hope you keep checking in.

  2. Nick Someone says:

    “So you might see teams split with one driver pounding round doing a long run tyre evaluation on Friday afternoons while the other works on fine tuning set up.”

    …and that surely gives Mclaren a problem. If your right about the way this is going to work James, then its important to have 2 drivers who can use the same setup. It’s not going to be useful to have one driver setting up the car if the second driver can’t use that setup.

    1. Adrian says:

      From what I’ve read in various places on the web, the key to having a fast car is having a well balanced car. It seems to me that a team as well equipped and experienced as McLaren will be able to extrapolate roughly where 1 driver’s setup needs to be relative to the other driver even if they have different driving styles.

      Though I would hope that in the name of fairness they alternate which driver does the long run and which does the fine tuning from race to race.

      1. TM says:

        Yes I wonder whether Rosberg will ever get a say in which role he plays!

    2. S Hughes says:

      Why would that only be a problem for McLaren?

      1. iceman says:

        The theory is that it would be a particular problem for McLaren, because their two drivers are more different in terms of driving style than the pairings at other teams.

      2. Thomas says:

        Button – smooth operator. Lewis – likes to hang the car out.

        Compared to Ferrari: Massa prefers understeery car. Alonso prefers understeery car.

    3. iceman says:

      And conversely, tyre wear information from a long run by Button is probably not going to apply to Hamilton, and vice versa.

    4. Nick Someone says:

      I’ve just thought about the advantage that Redbull have. They can swap tyre data with Toro Rosso. OK its not exactly the same car but its fairly similar.

  3. Zobra Wambleska says:

    Team choices in Friday practice should prove very interesting. Depending on who gets which task, and the personalities involved we could see some very helpful team work or some huge problems if set up needs of team mates don’t match.

  4. Pierre says:

    Great post. Thanks James.

  5. Eric says:

    Excellent article and analysis James. Thanks.

  6. kristian says:

    The anticipation is brutal!!!

    1. R.B. says:

      Couldn’t agree more:)))))

  7. Curro says:

    Great insight as always. I would say it’s usually the case with big regulation changes that a lot of options come up in pre-season, yet somehow after a few races a trend emerges across all teams that tends to kill the fun a bit. However i hope this season lives up to the great expectations, can’t wait.

  8. Josh says:

    Ferrari in good shape, excellent news! What news of Mclaren in this vain though?

  9. Spark says:

    James, I have to say, this is some great information on how the teams operate and what they test during the sessions.
    And imho I think it is just great that you give some feedback on the discussion regarding strategies that are doing the rounds on your site. Much appreciated!

    As I go around the web searching for information it seems like the outright pace of the various teams doesn’t differ that much, but it is more down to consistency of the laptimes, mostly influenced by the tyre drop-off. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  10. Eric Weinraub says:

    James, I found your analysis to be fascinating. It’s hard to imagine that some of the top 10 will not be consistently overtaken by cars on newer tires regardless of compound. I have no doubt that the cars occupying the first two rows realize that they must weather the initial onslaught until the tires come up to their peak. Fans often complain about practice and the lack of activity. I don’t see that being the case anymore with teams having to have one or both cars on the track constantly for evaluation purposes. Its going to be a great season.

  11. Brandon says:

    James why do you make the note of MS’ neck and the lower G forces? In the first interview I saw of him in MB outfit he mentions that he trains 5-6 hours a day when 3-4 would be sufficient. He may be 41 but he is still going to destroy most of the field and is undoubtedly still quicker than most of the field so I don’t think his neck or anything of the sort is going to stop him or any F1 driver from competing at their best. m

    Anyways, thanks for the insight as it’s what was really needed. I was getting really sick of people reading into lap times like they meant something. Sure Brawn had the fastest lap times last year and the fastest car, but they had a huge time advantage, and they were also sponsor fishing and happened to have the fastest car, not just sponsor fishing. It doesn’t matter who sets what lap times at this point, but who can get the most out of their cars before the season starts. Barcelona should be good though.

    What do you make of Bernie’s comments in a recent interview in which he says there will be no F1 in HD until there is “enough interest to make it worth the money” or some such garbage. When will someone that is in touch with this century handle F1 and bring the “most technologically advanced sport” into the current century? I mean FFS, Formula1.com didn’t even exist until recently either!

    1. James Allen says:

      I’l post on HD soon

      1. F1ART says:

        WE WANT IT NOW BERNIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Kedar says:

      Formula1.com is online atleast for the past 14 years and I can vouch for it. Initially it was a privateer website but Bernie and Max forced these guys to give up the domain and then became an “Official” website.
      But completely agree on the argument on HD. I would love it if there was a paid online streaming available which would be legal and legitimate. For someone like me who keeps traveling, I end up watching the races with German commentary or no races at all (like in the US) or have to revert to illegal downloads of Tivo’ed races!!

    3. rpaco says:

      Bernie means it has to wait until he can make sufficient money out of it. At present the HD audience is far too small too justify the capital cost of the equipment. Only when the audience is big enough can he get away with charging the extra huge fees to the BBC and his international customers for HD transmission.

  12. machista says:

    Interesting post indeed.
    There are so many variables now, it’s mind bending.

    Performance of each compound with Q3 fueld load (fumes) vs race load (160-180kg).

    Optimised setup for race vs Q3.

    Looks like the way forward could be harder tyres in Q1 and Q3 with softer in Q2 and Harder-softer-(softer) on Sunday.

    Then again this all depends on how long can the teams make last each compound in every particular circuit and lets not forget the cold track temperature in testing so far.

  13. Dale says:

    Having to start on the tyres one qualifies on is just nonsense. Give me proper racing where pole means something and let the teams and the drivers decide what tactics to employ during the race.
    It’s just F1′s take on social engineering, if they have to start on their qualifying tyres then all cars on the grid should have to do the same.
    Will somebody tell me what was wrong with F1 during the Prost, Lauda, Mansel, Berger and Senna’s day?
    Pole, the real pole challenge with all the cars on track at the same time where the fastest man secured pole was to me really exciting and a huge part of a race weekend. Time after time seeing Senna go out with seconds to spare to secure pole, often by a large margin was arcing skill at its very best, so tell me again, what was wrong with that?

    1. Mike says:

      Agree 100% – but it like everything in life, if it isn’t broken you have to mend it!

    2. Martin says:

      In my view during Senna era the pole was largely meaningless in terms of race results. It helped him pyschologically, but in a race, if he was quicker he’d pass and win and if he was slower, he’d be passed as the cars could. If you look at the gaps between the cars now it is much closer over the race distance. Once aerodynamics reached total domination, pole became important as you couldn’t pass. The fastest cars then started at the front – today’s cars are nowhere near as difficult to get the near perfect lap out of as the 1100 kW turbos in the mid 80s. From the mid 90s we had the fastest cars at the front and from there the field just spreads out. Therefore 1 lap qualifying came in to make the results more random.

      Without the ‘social engineering’ we’d just have the fastest cars at the front and there’d be little need for overtaking as the order was already set. I’d rather this way until the cars require serious throttle management skills. Daniel Ricciardo said after his first F1 test (Red Bull in December) that power wasn’t an issue. Without turbos the throttle response is pretty good too.

    3. newt says:

      what’s wrong with that is that you have faster drivers/cars starting in front of you, so a very much harder job of any overtaking.

      It is true though that pole doesn’t really mean too much any more.

    4. rpaco says:

      That was the heyday for me too! But then I’m an old git, and these young folks need to have an unknown variable in the mix to make it exciting enough to watch.
      Senna banging wheels with whoever was exciting, but nowadays there would be cries of “Sir, Sir Senna hit me Sir” and a penalty would be issued.

      1. FaithHealer1 says:

        That’s exactly what annoys me about a lot of anti-Schumacher people. Senna did stuff in a very similar manner, but he never seems to be criticised for it to nearly the same degree as Schumacher.
        Anyway, more on topic, I personally feel that the start-race-on-quali-tyre rule’s as good a one as they could come up with. It’s all well and good to say “the fastest driver and car should be on pole” and “there should be more overtaking”, but in practice, in this day and age, these seem incompatible to me. You can’t have everything and given the choice between a ‘pure’ pole position and the possibility for overtaking, I’d choose the latter.

      2. Dale says:

        Senna beat his teammate with the teammate having to yield. Anyone who has watched both Senna’s and Schumacher’s careers will know that Senna did far far more track overtaking and was by far a more exciting driver to watch, he also had a great personality.

    5. F1ART says:

      And the Sunday morning warm up. Many a time teams had worked through the night to come up with a new magic set up, it was great to see some of these drivers coming through the grid during the race after not qualifying so well.

      1. Dale says:

        You are soooo right, being a McLaren man it was a marvel how often they turned a dog of a car on Friday/Saturday into a race winner on the Sunday, it was another dimension to admire.
        All this no working on the car nonsense, I say let the teams do as they want and may the best brains and engineers win, well wrong with that :?:
        I could just imagine what Senna would say if he could see F1 as it is today, could you just imagine Mosley taking him on :?:

  14. Darren says:

    Thanks James, great post, really interesting. Helps to shed some light on what is otherwise just a heap of meaningless lap times!

  15. HowardHughes says:

    Hi James,

    Unrelated question – is Williams in any way still involved with BMW?

    I ask only because yesterday I happened to see Sir Frank in the Park Lane BMW showroom, holding forth with a selection of fairly managerial-looking suited types all gathered round him on the showroom floor. Struck me as odd. Still, it was nice to see Frank looking very jovial and happy…

    1. James Allen says:

      No, he’s probably haggling over a new motor!

      1. TM says:

        He probably went there to laugh at them re. the famous tortoise picture. i.e. look who’s laughing now! lol

      2. HowardHughes says:

        Haha perhaps. But it definitely had a more… promotional air to it.

  16. Mark says:

    Good explanation James!

  17. Antoine says:

    “At Williams, for example, I could see Hulkenberg being sent out to do the long run, with Barrichello responsible for setting the car up across a range of different fuel loads”

    I’m sure other teams will have to do that too, use the most experimented driver for fine tunning and the least one for long runs. At Ferrari I’d imagine Alonso to do fine tunning and Schumacher at Mercedes while Massa and Rosberg do long runs…

    James who between the 2 McLaren drivers do you think is ideal to do fine tunning? Button has been in F1 for a while now therefore is more experimented than Hamilton while Hamilton is more used to the McLaren?

    1. Stevie P says:

      No offence Antoine, but I believe you mean “experienced” rather than “experimented” :-)

      I think certain teams will go with one driver doing long runs and the other fine tuning set-up. Williams and Renault, spring to mind – Hulk and Petrov working for (and learning from?) Barrichello and Kubica – lucky them! – and perhaps why Kubica wasn’t keen on Heidfeld joining Renault?

      I can see Merc going this route too. Nico won’t be happy, but Michael will be smiling.

      But I can’t see Massa (an almost WDC), Button (current WDC) or even Webber being happy with doing “donkey work” for their respective team-mates… maybe they’ll alternate these duties at Ferrari, McLaren and RedBull. Or just hope that they are quick enough to not need it!?!

      But as someone posted earlier, it only takes a few races until everyone gets (copies?) the correct strategy to work with and then it’ll settle down.

    2. Andy C says:

      Rubens is known to be a very highly rated development driver.

      I believe a lot of the baseline setups for Brawn last year were derived from Rubens (James, please correct me if I’m wrong).

      With McLaren, the balance is if you just use Button for long runs (and he was different style) he would be easier on tyres etc, and if you just use Lewis for ultimate speed work neither would really have a balance.

      Lets not forget that LH is a very highly rated driver, so years in F1 dont really matter. MS was brilliant in F1 car on day 1.

      Its all down to feedback and how well they feel the car underneath them. Some can drive the wheels off a car, some can develop them, and the rare ones can do both.

  18. Mike Vlcek says:

    It’s true, but one must remember that Ferrari is supposed to have an engine that needs more fuel than its renault and mercedes counterparts.

    So it’s going to be very interesting in the races… Can the F10 cope with the drop-off period AND the extra weight without being overtaken?

    1. rpaco says:

      Also interesting that the more fuel you carry, the heavier the car is, the more fuel it needs. (Rather like with porters on an expedition up the Ganges or up Everest, the more porters the more food which needs more porters)
      So in theory there is one “sweet spot” fuel load for each car. Too little and it wont finish, too much and it will be slower than it need be. So playing safe on fuel will make the car slower and wear the brakes and tyres more. Almost impossible without computers and calculus.

      1. Mike Vlcek says:

        Yep, I totally agree. But the question remains: will Ferrari have to carry extra fuel in comparison to merc and renault powered teams?

        If that’s the case, so it’s an extra handicap in the beginning of races, and maybe Alonso and Felipe will have a hard time in the first 10-15 laps.

  19. Trent says:

    If the tyres really do have a ‘drop-off’ period, it is news that we should truly relish. Variation in performance during a Grand Prix, in my experience, is what makes for good racing. Constant performance is the enemy of overtaking (in F1, anyway).

    Having a closely matched field is one thing, but unless you get this variation you don’t get overtaking. I feel that’s often why, in the era of refuelling, overtaking was lacking – the cars were at optimal performance for most of the time.

    I’m crossing my fingers that the tyre ‘drop off’ is huge…

    1. Stevie P says:

      And me Trent (fingers crossed, that is)… :-)

      And that the “drop off” occurs at different phases for different teams\cars… that way we might get tortoise versus the hare ;-) Or at very least, be aware that a car out front is losing grip fast, whilst those behind close in on fresh(er) rubber – can they catch? can they catch in time? can they overtake? without wasting their own tyres etc, etc.

      1. machista says:

        Drop off or not according to Mclaren simulations in 2008 a car needed to be 2 secs a lap faster than the car in front to be able to overtake (2 secs off the top of my head i might be wrong). Now take into account the negating effect on overtaking of a 2010 difusser and its wake. Add narrower front tyres and we might be back to square one. Closing in on fresh rubber only helps until the cahsing car hits the preceding car’s wake, then you understeer like hell until you maybe pass over a pitstop. next round table turns…

      2. Trent says:

        Yeah I remember hearing about that simulation but I’m not convinced. I have seen plenty of overtaking where the guy passing certainly did pull away at 2 sec per lap after the pass. But it does illustrate the difference required.

        Of course, if the tyres have gone off on the lead car, the following car might be at an aerodynamic disadvantage but the lead car will be a mechanical grip disadvantage. Hopefully it will equalise out to an extent that makes more passing feasible. Bring back KERS and we might really be on to something.

    2. ozzmosis says:

      I started watching F1 in 1996 and recall it often being visually very obvious when the tyres started to wear down significantly. When F1 moved to grooved tyres in 1998 this is something we lost. F1 moved back to slicks last year, but this year with the much higher fuel loads it will hopefully be more obvious.

      - ozz

  20. M__E says:

    “but if you look at groups of runs and the relative lap times, you can work out on which ones the car was fuel of fuel and from that benchmark lap time you can calculate how much fuel they were carrying at various stages.”

    James,

    on a somewhat related point then, the drivers are basically metronomes, they are essentially capable of plugging away at identical lap times during these runs, and in essence fuel adjusted are doing near identical lap times (within 1/10 of a second) otherwise this analysis wont ‘work’ surely?

    In practice like this I use to think they cruised during some runs (longer runs) and went balls out then during a qualifying simulation. In which case you couldn’t analyse it the way you have without being some error and guesswork involved, but if you are saying they are essentially in balls out effort all the time, but just the fuel being the only limitating factor to lap time by 1/10th of a second, then Id like to hear that confirmation

  21. Steve JR says:

    Very interesting post James thanks for the insight.

    The winter of discontent is nearly at an end fellow F1 fans :)

  22. agentwh0 says:

    I think in the right set of circumstances this could make for some excellent racing, but I fear this may be outweighed by some crushingly dull races.

    On the one hand you could have a team risking a softer tyre and it paying off or it going very wrong, very quickly, either way it would be entertaining, but on the other hand you could have all the championship contenders playing it safe and the race being about nursing the tyres home.

    I’m just not sure that this is what I want to be the story of any given race weekend.

    That, and the fuel consumption of the engines, although fascinating to some degree, is not an ideal stage for a race.

    We all want to see a bit of wheel bashing here and there, maybe a wider spread of tyres should be made available to the teams instead of this Prime / Option business to generate a few more unknowns and to eliminate the preferred tyre scenario that seemed to affect most races last year.

    1. Frankie Allen says:

      This is my fear, all I can see the new rules doing is making F1 slower and more difficult to over take. I could be wrong, but this does seem the view most of the experts are going with. Then you will get the majority of races won by default rather than something special.

    2. GP says:

      However, the new points system, especially the greater gap between first and second, should play into the various strategies.

  23. Dan says:

    Fantastic analysis and insight as always James. Sometimes deducing anything from testing times can be frustrating for even avid F1 fans, but you’re word is the one I trust. Also, thank you for your work on these blogs throughout the winter. I know you would probably be analysing everything anyway just for the love of the sport, but your work has been the highlight of the F1 winter for me!

  24. Joe says:

    Hi James, Thanks for the insight – very very interesting stuff. Perhaps not the kind of response you would be expecting, but do you expect this year to feel more different to 2009 than 2005 did to 2004, or the other way around. What I’m refering to, of course, is the fact that in 2005 we saw tyre changes banned with refuelling still allowed, which lead to some gripping races, particularly in the closing stages – notably with Raikkonen at the Nurburgring and with Alonso at Monaco (if i remember correctly!). I’m only 21 and only been following F1 since 2001 so only familiar with the refuelling era of F1 so wondering, basically, if the impact of refuelling banned will be bigger than the impact of tyre changes banned in 2005, in terms of the characteristics of the racing, and how different the nature of Grand Prix racing will be this year. For me, probably the best 2 races I’ve ever seen, the ones which really got the heart pumping and had me on the edge of my seat, were Imola 2005 and Suzuka 2005 so…maybe the tyre change ban was good for the racing?! (Although 2005 also was the year of the worst race ever – Indianapolis, of course!)

    1. Alex says:

      the ones which really got the heart pumping and had me on the edge of my seat, were Imola 2005 and Suzuka 2005

      What about Brazil 2008?

  25. Paul E. says:

    Another excellent commentary. I was getting the impression that the W01 was well off the pace of the F10 on full race distances. Thanks for the tire revelations, James! We got a much clearer picture now.

  26. Morris Mao says:

    James, on one point you probably was joking, when concluded when Alonso took on a long stint race run for nearly 50 laps, his Ferrari start with around 110kg of fuel.

    Because I think it meaningless to try a car under such a condition.

    Actually, in 2010 season, no car would race under such a condition, starting with a set of new softer tires for more than 2/3 of a race distance, such a picture would never happen in a race.

    It is more reasonable to presume he started with a full tank.

    Even you may think it unthinkable.

    1. Morris Mao says:

      to make my point more clear:
      Starting with a set of new softer tires for more than 2/3 of a race distance without enough fuel to cover the rest distance would never hanpen in a race.

      If the tires are harder, It could happen.

      1. Pat M. says:

        …..suppose a team started on the harder tires, planned on a one tire change strategy late in the race but at 1/3 distance suffered a puncture and decided to try to make it to race end with the softer option tire.

      2. rpaco says:

        It represents putting new softs on after using 70kg of fuel up. The run pretty much showed that Ferrari could start on hards then switch to softs after 20 or so laps for the rest of the race when the loadings are lower. Alonso showed that’s ok for Ferrari to finish the race, but whether it’s also the fastest strategy is another matter.

      3. Ahlapski says:

        I think this is all part of their test procedures to gather all the data for every scenario that could happen during a race. So they would have data on hand when they need it. Although it won’t be accurate for a particular circuit, but they can project using this data and make a reasonable judgement.

        Remember there is not enough time for the team to do it on Friday practice of a race weekend.

      4. Morris Mao says:

        Ye, I see, it does might happen.

        Thanks

  27. Dave says:

    Hi James,

    I wonder if you are able to offer some insight into fuel loads and the effect over a race period based on the 1993 Formula 1 season?

    I realise accurate comparison is not possible due to different regulations, technology etc however are there any lessons to be learnt or examples that stand out that would give us some indication as to what to expect or your take on how you see a see race unfolding?

  28. Brace says:

    James, thanks for this great insight into state of play and tactics.
    I really enjoy this type of your articles.

  29. Racergil says:

    James
    All the evaluations of tire performance with heavy fuel on long runs, in testing conditions, are very interesting. However the real question in my mind, is how they are going to perform in the long runs when being pushed in a chase to pass adversaries. With drivers like Hamilton who tends to run the rubber off the rims in racing conditions, the early decision of opting for softer rubber to improve starting positions could be very penalizing. I would love to see your analysis of drivers’ tire management abilities in the current conditions, in light of what you know now.

  30. Boz says:

    Makes a lot of sense – it will be really interesting to see how the two drivers work together in this respect.

    E.g by many accounts Barrichello is excellent at setting up cars, often better than Button or Schumi, so I can really see that working for Williams. Hulkenburg “might” have the ultimate pace though, perhaps thanks to his team mate?

    You could say tha same about some other top teams e.g.

    Webber and Vettel seem to compliment each other in style and character.

    Massa and Alonso might too, but in-house stuff could derail that? Hope not, should be a great contest, possibly the best one…

    Where it’s really interesting is places like McLaren and Mercedes. Whilst the drivers might get on ok, will their styles and work ethics be compatible, particularly at McLaren?

    I can easily see Schumi and Hamilton driving around setup issues but am less sure about Rosberg or Button.

    To me Rosberg has yet to really prove himself but has time on his side, whereas Button in the right car is superb, but maybe suffers with an issue like oversteer etc (bit like DC in many ways?). If the McLaren is a good consistent car then I see Hamilton being pushed very hard indeed by Button.

    Of the others, Renault and BMW Sauber have interesting pairings too. Kubica has yet to prove he’s a true #1, his first race win could easily have gone to Heidfeld, and like Vettel he makes too many mistakes. De la Rosa has never really delivered to date, can he now? Will there be clear #1 #2 drivers in each team to clear the way?

    Anyway, a fascinating season beckons and many thanks to James for helping us through the dark perios of winter.

  31. VLR says:

    Super analysis James . The reason this has become my default site for F1. Keep up the good work

    Cheers

    1. nuvolarifan says:

      Here, here. JA you are an excellent news source.

      Cheers!

  32. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Great post as usual, James. The testing ban will tilt things heavily toward the strategy you’ve described. In prior years, we’d see the reserve/test team pounding out hundreds of laps (with all the costs that go with that).

    Actually, I’d love to see some really loooooong races. The season being roughly divisible into three chunks, make one race per six run, say, 400 miles – I think that’s roughly 60 miles less than Massa’s long run the other day – w/o refueling.

    Now THAT would push fuel efficiency!

  33. jocker12 says:

    excellent analysis, as always…
    thank you James

  34. Will the reduction in cornering g forces in a heavily fueled car really be all that noticeable? Like you say, at the start of the race, cars are going to be 3 to 4 seconds slower a lap, so assuming there 15 corners on a track, on average the time lost on each corner would be between 0.2 and 0.267 seconds. So on a long sweeping corner, assuming say the corner has a radius of 200 metres, a length of 100m, and on a low fuel load cars go through the corner at 200km/h, the difference in cornering g-forces is only likely to be about 0.5g. Is that a noticeable difference to a highly trained and conditioned race car driver?

    1. old pilot says:

      as an military pilot many moons ago I would say that yes, .5g should be noticeable. The g the drivers experience is lateral rather than vertical, which in my opinion is probably even more noticeable. Also, the drivers experience a corner perhaps 160-180 times per race weekend (maybe more?) – they would have a pretty good sense of how close they were to the limit each time they hit the apex. In my opinion.

  35. Chris Snell says:

    it’s gonna be fascinating to see the season unfold – so many unknowns – can’t wait !

  36. tom in Australia says:

    So, might be a silly question but what if the top 10 qualify on wets and it’s not raining on race day?

    Do they get a choice of tyre?

    1. Mike says:

      Very good thought, well done! Knowing the FIA they will probably have to start on wets “to spice up the show!”

    2. Seems to me that is not a silly question at all! Come on James, fair dincum question…

    3. Zami from Melbourne, Australia says:

      That’s not a silly question bro. I wanna know the answer too. Things like that can happen.

    4. Ahlapski says:

      Totally agreed…. and what about vice versa. It would be far too dangerous to start the race on slick when it it pouring down.

      1. Now that IS a silly question – of course they would start on the appropriate tyres for how wet it is!

  37. Syed Hasan says:

    HI James! Brilliant article, that was very good. Very interesting reading and gave a lot of insight to what teams are really doing and what we may have for 2010. Thanks so much for ur work since this is the most interesting place on the internet for me

  38. Ted I says:

    The only constant is change. Never more true than now. And complicated too.

    F-1 is becoming more of a chess match than a race. Good thing we have you, James, to explain it all and keep us up to date. If I was just into the visual and visceral aspects, I’d be losing interest about now.

  39. lip_iceman says:

    “…the lap times will be some three or fours seconds slower at the start of the race than in previous years and that means far lower cornering g forces…”

    James, does “lower cornering g forces” come from the F1 engineers? I’m missing something fundamental if it does, because I believe most of the time will be lost under braking and acceleration in a heavier car. I would go as far as to say that downforce will be greater (although a constant in the form of weight, not as a square of speed from aerodynamics), so cornering speeds *might* even be higher.

    Also, maybe be careful using a word like “far” in the analysis? The change in g-force is measurable, but “far” is subjective. It can only be a few percent by my mind.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes info comes from engineers and physios

      1. lip_iceman says:

        Ah yes, I forget about larger centripetal force and a higher centre of gravity, both due to fuel load. That wasn’t especially clever of me!

      2. F1ART says:

        And the narrower front tyres?

    2. old pilot says:

      downforce would actually be less as a proportion of the vehicle weight (assuming equal speed). The limit of grip by the tyres would be reached at a slower max speed due to higer centripetal forces due to higher weight. Less speed = less downforce, further reducing cornering speed. (Although happy to be told differently if my hazy recollection of physics is off!)

      1. lip_iceman says:

        Quite right you are, I had just woken up when I wrote my first post :). see above as my reply to James.

      2. lip_iceman says:

        I thought about this for a few more minutes, and realised that friction force *causes* centripetal force, duh. I thought it would be interesting to see why exactly corner speed drops and by how much… so, in equations:

        Friction_force= mu*N
        Centripetal force = m*V^2/r.

        mu is static friction coefficient, “N” is normal force due to m*g (vehicle mass times gravity) + aero downforce “A”. V is velocity, r is corner radius.

        do a little algebra, and you’ll come to the result that

        V = square_root[r*g*mu + (r*A*mu)/m]

        r*g*mu is the “not so interesting” part, because that just says that vehicle mass has no influence on cornering speed. I checked my varsity physics textbook on this and the result is correct. BUT,

        r*A*mu)/m is the interesting bit… and the only component that is actually influenced by the vehicle mass.

        Putting some numbers to it, mu=1.4 (guestimating and working back from 0-100km/h in 2 seconds acceleration), m=600kg, A=6000N (the famous old driving upside down in a tunnel idea), r = 60m. cornering speed will be

        V=41m/s or 147.5km/h

        changing m=700kg, V=39.5m/s or 142.2km/h

        So the change is 3.5%, assuming 6000N downforce, which as you correctly point out decreases as speed comes down, so the change is even greater. call it 7% to be safe.

        I think the tyres might cause a further drop; they must be harder to be more durable this season. I don’t think the front tyre being narrower would do much (front end downforce is in ample supply these days).

      3. Z says:

        You are hilarious. Those equations are basic and those deductions are just logical anyway. With new rules and different designs, I hope you realise aerodynamics and physical dynamics are a lot more complicated than this.

    3. Ahlapski says:

      Fair point. I too agreed that most of the time loss would be in the acceleration and deceleration of the vehicle. BUT if you say the vehicle will go round a corner faster. This is totally wrong.

      Given the vehicle is using the same tyres and assuming the driver is already on the limit. If you increase the weight of the vehicle, surely you are not going to go round the same corner at a higher speed because the vehicle will understeer. Therefore you must slow down the vehicle until it is manageable.

      Surly this is only common sense.

  40. Antoine says:

    Completely off topic question but can please anybody tell me why Ron Dennis is or will never be called “Sir Ron Dennis”?

    Tnx :-)

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      Ask the Queen or Max, they might know.

  41. khan says:

    Seems a tricky situation this year. It’s not about out right pace. To win races and championship, convolution of various factors will be required. I totally agree that team work will be of utmost importance.

  42. Andrew C. says:

    hi James;
    Very interesting observations/ suggestions here. It is something I’ve been wondering about too — there has been a lot of concentration/fascination about the fastest cars in testing and I’m thinking smooth driving styles will be rewarded over the race distance.

    The fuel loads/ tire degradation balance might see drivers such as Button, Barrichello, Alonso, and Schumacher collecting points regularly. If your suggestion works out then it is hard to believe the ‘unhired’ Nick Heidfeld isn’t on the grid… clearly those drivers with skill and on-track experience will be able to manage the balance more successfully from race to race.

    At first I thought the Ferrari looked clumsy, even ‘over-designed’ at the front end but seeing how they have been able to work through the race distance equation has me liking Alonso’s chances more and more. And if I was too hard on Massa — he’s done mammoth distances in testing so far.

    After the next batch of tests — weather permitting — I think we will have a better feel for which cars can also manage the fuel economy of the race distance. Being ‘light’ on the tires with a few kilos less fuel should translate into race distance speed too.

  43. Saip says:

    Amazing analysis James!
    Hopefully there will be some dry testing in the next four days and we can get a better idea of the how cars perform.

    What do you think will be the pecking order this time? Any guesses?

    -s

  44. bill says:

    youre really good james, thanx for this excellent insight

  45. Zami from Melbourne, Australia says:

    So far in my book Ferrari is the team that stands out. Whether it’s going to be Massa or Alonso that remains to be seen. Alonso is regarded as the most complete driver on the grid. Therefore, most people will put their money on Alonso. However, Massa is no monkey with the car. He is capable of winning the world championship as well.

    Anyway, looking at the tests and reading this article I’m not convinced the significant rule changes will play out very well for any team in particular. Teams will take a few races to adjust with these changes. In that case the experienced driver such as Schumacher & Barrichello are ahead of the game as far as the understanding of the rules goes. On the other hand, Williams probably do not have a winning car at this stage compare to the Ferraris, Mercs, Red Bulls & Mclarens. Mclaren definitely is capable of developing the car rapidly as the season goes under way. They have shown it in the past that 1st half of the season tells a different story than the 2nd half of the season. And Mclaren is certainly the team I’d expect to improve the most if they are not at the front right away. At the same time, most cars looks like a modified copy of last year’s Red Bulls. So, Red Bull will be very strong with the combination of exciting Vettel & experienced Webber and we are really up for an exciting season.

    Well James, I was wondering what happens with the cars that leaks fuel during the race (not necessarily their own fault)? Are those cars being allowed to refuel to make up for the loss?

    It was good to know about Michelin’s interest to get back into F1. I hope we get back to the tyre war era again. The fights between Bridgestone & Michelin were exciting.

    My other question was James, is there any new rule at place for wet weather condition?

    1. Spenny says:

      A car that leaked fuel would be black flagged anyhow. The fuel cells are designed to be resistant to puncturing in a crash. If a fuel line broke, it would be bound to ignite on the engine, so there wouldn’t be a workable car to re-fuel.

      So simple answer is that the no refuelling rule means exactly no refuelling. Any “but we ran out of fuel argument” would be a loophole to exploit.

      1. Zami from Melbourne, Australia says:

        Thanks mate

  46. Can someone explain how “Ferrari may have designed their car with a tactic”, when the rule of starting the race on tyres you qualified on is only a few weeks old?

    Did Ferrari know about this rule when they started designing, or honing their design, which would have been months ago?

  47. CD says:

    JA,
    Thanks for that, seriously, you are the man.

    As much as I would like to see you back in the commentary box, this website and your info and insight is fantastic and much appreciated.
    In a perfect world you could do both.
    I’m a long time F1 fan, but I honestly can’t believe I’m following testing so closely this year.

    Do you think we’ll have a better idea who’s where on the final test day?, or will we have to wait until the chequered flag in Bahain?

    stay on it,
    cheers.

    1. Martin P says:

      You know what, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      I’ve always thought this blog was fantastic but never been quite sure why it’s so far ahead of everything else out there…. but you’ve nailed it…. it’s because it truly brings F1 closer to us.

      I’ve never felt so close or well informed about testing, politics, strategy, racing or all the protagonists.

      I’m not just watching it or reading it anymore, I feel part of it and my anticipation and enjoyment of F1 has never been greater. As a result I now enjoy a sport I’ve loved for decades even more – which is not mean feat James, so thank you!

      FOTA and FOM would do well to spend more time talking to you to work out how to make the sport more appealing and accessible to new fans.

      1. CD says:

        “FOTA and FOM would do well to spend more time talking to you to work out how to make the sport more appealing and accessible to new fans.”

        Bang on! Now you’ve nailed it. I had a similar thought today.
        When you look at the official F1 website, it’s mind-numbing(except for live timing), but the site in general is disappointing and lacks the passion you feel here.
        JA and autosport.com are the real deal.

        btw I just noticed my Bahrain typo.

    2. Pablo Rossi says:

      Ditto!!

      1. Nick Pauro says:

        snap!

  48. TheGreatCornholio says:

    Thanks James, exactly the sort of expert analysis we all come to your blog for. Not sure how much info you’ll be able to get from Jerez in the next couple of days except maybe which of the cars aquaplanes the best!

  49. Frankie Allen says:

    Not so sure about this analysis for the following. The best tyre for quali could degrade and make the car slower at the start of the race? That means you are either going to get over taken or you will be backing the field up. By the very nature of the tyre degrading, you are going to be the first to pit against those with tyres which are not degrading. If you have not been already over taken, you will be coming out at the back of the pack that you have been holding up? Leaving you all booted and suited with no where to go until the others pit. This is based upon what we saw last year, with this years tyres believed to be similar.

    There is the possibility that a new set of tyres will give you initial fast lap times, but without the track space it will be difficult to realise. A tyre that degrades quickly at the start of a race will more than likely not suffer at all at the end of the race, where fuel loads are so greatly reduced and the track has been fully rubbered in.

    I am sure some cars will sacrifice lower fuel levels for improved race pace, hoping to turn the wick up when the car in front pits, allowing them to jump the car at their subsequent pit. That can only work where you have the space to put in those fast times though.

    It would not surprise me if some cars have a super rich fuel setting, such they can virtually dump fuel if tactics dictate?

  50. Francisco says:

    James,
    You are getting good at this. :-)
    Great article!

  51. mart says:

    Do you think that Schumacher and Barrichello would be able to convert their experience with no refueling from the beginning of the 1990s, into todays situation.

    They are the oldest ones in the grid with the most experience and in my opinion it might be a slight advantage.

  52. Antony Biondi says:

    James, another superb article. Really enjoying your coverage of the build up to the 2010 season.

    You have mentioned a couple of times that Ferrari have recruited the head of aeros from Toyota, but my questions is why can I seem to find no mention of this officaly from Ferrari?

    Keep the great posts coming! Can’t get enough of them.

  53. Fausto Cunha says:

    This year in terms os strategy it´s a new territory for everybody, so we might see very different strategy at least on the first races of the year.

    At least that´s what i´m waiting for.

  54. James Punt says:

    So it looks like the teams preffered strategy will be to maximise grid position by using the softer compound to qualify and relying on the fact that overtaking in F1 is very difficult even in a faster car.

    Sadly it says a lot about F1′s in ability to address the overtaking issue. Far to many races are decided on Saturday and I don’t see that changing much this year.

  55. Richard Mee says:

    Hi James,

    As ever – a great article and much appreciated.
    I’m still concerned about overtaking next season however; the sneaky double diffuser issue has possibly eroded the outcome of the OWG but even so, as a general statement, there doesn’t appear to be strong concerted committment from any of the the main stakeholders to achieving closer on track action in F1 – and thereby giving the fans what they crave. Do you think this is a fair assessment? and if so why the reluctance?

    Rich

  56. TM says:

    James

    That’s fascinating that a key reason Schumacher could come back is because of the lower cornering g-forces. Is that something you’ve been told for a fact or something you deduced?

    Thanks!

    1. Dale says:

      That’s one of the things I disagree with James on, sorry James but me thinks you are over cooking that one :(

      1. TM says:

        Well yeah I’m inclined to agree (with Dale) because surely Schumacher is still one of the fittest guys in the sport?

        But James you speak to way more people in the sport (compared to my zero people!!) so would be great to hear where this info is from, even if it’s just a theory.

  57. Michael Nichol says:

    Looks like a great season ahead. Wish KERS was still allowed. KERS would be one more variable for this highly talented cast to play with. Imagine the skullduggery of Schumi vs. the English with KERS!

    1. rpaco says:

      There is an unofficial agreement between the teams not to use KERS this season. however since it is still allowed it can be developed all year, ready for next. This year’s regs still show the same low values of energy storage and release.

  58. Imoldgreggg says:

    Hi James,

    Just a request for an article about whats happening (or not happening) with USF1? Seems like its all falling apart over there..

    Cheers
    Alex

    1. Dale says:

      Read speed TV as it just they’re gonners :(

  59. Tim Horton says:

    James just a thought, and there may be legal mumbo jumbo in the way, but have you thought of running an alternate commentary to coincide with the World TV feed from this website? Im sure that people would be very excited to an alternate to BBC and 5live…

    1. Casey says:

      great idea.

    2. Dale says:

      I think The FIA would suddenly remove his F1 entry ticket. Maybe when FOTA go it along in 3 years time ZZZZZzzzzz…….Sweat dreams 8)

  60. Jame Norman says:

    Hi James

    What I haven’t really been able to find out is, how well is Micheal driving, would you be able to shed a little more light on this? As lap times don’t tell the full story

    Many thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      Other engineers say he’s done an impressive job

      1. Tim Lamkin says:

        …and others will raise their game….

  61. Bertie says:

    This seems highly unlikely. Since the majority of races are now probably going to be one stop you would hardly want the final stint to be on the harder tyres. Maybe, if it is a two stop race, this strategy may work, perhaps monaco. However, I sincerely doubt they designed their car around this. Far more likely they have designed their car to simply be kind on tyres and this is just an unforseen benefit.

  62. Ed says:

    James,

    Why do they test at Jerez twice? Silverstone and Monza used to be old testing stomping grounds. Portimao was also used last year. I am assuming silverstone is currently being ripped to shreds, but Monza could be used.

    Another question, will they leave the current confguration for silverstone intact for other series? or so it could be used if the new ‘arena’ circuit is a flop?

    1. iceman says:

      Plus Silverstone is currently barely above freezing! It used to be used for in-season testing a lot, which is unfortunately no more. Scheduling a test at Silverstone in February or early March would be too much of a gamble on the weather. There might be rain in Spain but at least it’s a bit warmer!

  63. Thomas says:

    James. Could you post something about the new teams (Campos/USF1) and where they are, and also perhaps some information about the test FIA used to chose them from the pack? Seems like they (FIA) did a really bad job if two of the newcomers don’t show..

  64. Martin P says:

    Sorry James (or anyone else out there!), my brain isn’t big enough to work this out for myself, but;

    If you’re a Sauber/Force India/Torro Rosso/Williams, based on this analysis, can you actually be better placed to plan for a grid slot of 11th/12th?

    i.e. If you’re aiming for points more than podiums, is being able to choose your tyre in 11th place more beneficial than qualifying in 10th/9th and being locked into the same tyre?

    And if so, is it possibly to estimate by how much?

  65. chrispetrolhead says:

    Brilliant analysis, and I think James is more on the pulse than any other analyst / website on the web. Keep it coming James. Loving the prospect of F1 2010.

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