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McLaren not satisfied with start to 2010 season
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McLaren not satisfied with start to 2010 season
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Apr 2010   |  9:10 am GMT  |  73 comments

I was interested over the weekend to see that McLaren’s preview to the Chinese Grand Prix features team boss Martin Whitmarsh saying that the team’s start to the season has not met its expectations. So let’s look more deeply into it.

They have won one of the three races, but the wins have been shared out between them, Ferrari and Red Bull, which means that McLaren sits in second place behind Ferrari in the constructors’ table, while Jenson Button is fourth in a tight drivers’ championship race and Lewis Hamilton sixth.

McLaren: Need more qualifying speed (Darren Heath)


But the warning signs for Whitmarsh are the mistakes that the team has made during key moments and the car’s relative lack of pace in qualifying. This is especially a concern because they are not able to exploit the competitive advantage that the F duct rear wing gives them, which can be as much as three to four tenths, on a track with long straights like Sepang or Shanghai.

Like Ferrari, another team which is coming back from a poor 2009 season, McLaren is clearly uneasy about the pace and all round ability of the Red Bull. The team has built on its form of the end of last year and has the edge on the others. After some poor reliability in the first two races, Red Bull heads to China, where it won last year, full of confidence.

McLaren has indicated that it understands how Red Bull is apparently able to run its car low in qualifying to gain vital extra downforce, and then still manage to run 160 kilos in the race without bottoming out and plans to bring its own system to China. The FIA has issued a statement, since Malaysia, saying that any system which altered the ride height of the car during post qualifying parc ferme would be illegal.

But it could be the key to this part of the season for McLaren. In the last dry qualifying session in Melbourne, Button was seven tenths of a second off the Red Bull, while Hamilton mysteriously failed to make the cut for the top ten. I was in front of his garage during practice three that day and all the vibes were that he was very happy with the car, didn’t want any changes making to it and felt he was in the hunt. But the speed wasn’t there in qualifying.

In both Bahrain and Melbourne, the Red Bull was the dominant car in qualifying, but the Ferrari was right with the Red Bull on pace – a tenth behind in Bahrain and 8/100ths behind in Melbourne. McLaren had a tenth or two in hand on Mercedes, but were well adrift of the leading two.

Qualifying is always important, but in the current F1, with no refuelling, it is said to be even more important. It’s certainly important to be near the front, as Rosberg showed in Malaysia, but pole is no guarantee of success in 2010. The winner of the three races so far this season has come from outside the front row; Alonso won from third in Bahrain, as did Vettel in Malaysia, while Button won from fourth in Melbourne. The reliability of Vettel’s Red Bull had quite a bit to do with that.

“By our own very high standards, we’ve not fully met our very high expectations in the first three races, despite having what we feel is the necessary race pace to compete at the front and despite having won the Australian Grand Prix,” said Whitmarsh.

“That might sound overly self-critical, given that we are second in the Constructors’ Championship, and given that Jenson and Lewis are both close to the top of the drivers’ championship, but that’s merely a reflection of the fact that we at McLaren aim to excel at all times. It’s our desire to improve and to eliminate mistakes from the operation that will make us stronger championship contenders.”

The mistakes are open to debate. Hamilton and Button were held back in Malaysia by the mistake in qualifying, which saw them trying to get through when the track was at its wettest. But it mustn’t be forgotten that Mark Webber was out at the same time and he made it though. Then there is the call to pit Hamilton for a second set of tyres in Melbourne, which lost him track position and which he described as a big mistake.

The good news is that both drivers love driving the car and feel that they can really express themselves with it. Hamilton’s charges through the field in Melbourne and Sepang have been the highlights of the year so far.

I’m doing a teleconference with McLaren’s engineering chief Paddy Lowe tomorrow so it will be interesting to see what he has to say about the steps McLaren are taking to make sure they can compete at this stage of the season.

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73 Comments
  1. Pierre says:

    James,
    I think the RedBull is just a better car, nothing more. But we have Red Bull saying “we haven’t got any illegal system”, and McLaren saying “we know how they do it and we’ll soon do it too”.

    What do you think about it?
    - Has the RedBull got a system whatever it is?
    - If no, so McLaren is wrong and liing? Why?
    - If yes, is RedBull “playing” with words, for example the car moves by itself just before or just after the parc fermé, or when it gets on the grid?

    1. Henry says:

      Yup i’d be very interested to know whats going on, for a start surely McLaren can’t announce a ride height adjust system just after the FIA have changed it? Or is it clever interpretation that happens during the move to the grid or warm up lap? Also have Ferrari got something similar?

    2. CH1UNDA says:

      Pierre you could just have said “If yes, so Red Bull are wrong and lying and why?” Those subtle inferences you allocated to McLaren go a long way in reinforcing the wrong image. Anyway, it can only be a good thing that Whitmarsh has realised his team is punching below its weight.

      1. Pierre says:

        No I could have not!
        F1 scrutineers have already looked and approved the RedBull car. So if Red Bull is lying it means this must be a hidden system, no other possibility. That’s a major infriegment to the rules and Red Bull would so faced some majors problems (ban) if it was discovered, and I do not think they (both Newey and the Red Bull company for which F1 is a marketing plateform) would play such a hughly risky game. I do not believe it one second. Not a team like them who wants to win both championship.
        Don’t be misunderstood: I’m not attacking McLaren honour, trying to relate to things that happened in the past, or anything else; that’s not the catch. And I grew up with McLaren when Ron took over responsabilities in the early 80′s. I like McLaren and its drivers. I might have used some words which chocked you, sorry I’m french.

        I’m just surprised no other team than McLaren says Red Bull has something (without saying what nor if it’s legal or not, which creates the suspission). Ross Brawn even said, to his knowledge, there were no problem with the Red Bull.

        I do not think so, but perhaps Red Bull has found a clever way to interpretate or to adapt to the rules, and if so, whatever it is, we should all salute that they’ve been more clever than the others, that’s essence of F1. It’s exactly what McLaren did with its F-duct or Ferrari with its wheels.

        I might be wrong, but my feeling is that the RedBull is just a better package, and some are trying to imagine some reasons to explain why they produced a better package.

      2. Alex says:

        I think that the system that RedBull are using doesn’t adjust the height of the car as they have stated. I believe that they have found a way to mount the full tank (at least 90% of its weight) directly to the rear axle of the car (sprung or dampened) which allows the rest of the car to be whatever height they need. When they full the tank it could sit lower inside the car but not affect the aero. I imagine that McLaren have worked it out too and would be able to add this to their car.

        I don’t know if there is anything in the rules that state you cannot do this?

  2. Phil Jones says:

    Nothing to see here. Mclaren will be right there this weekend and competing for the win. Compared to last year, this is a great start for the team but clearly Whitmarsh is applying pressure to his team so they will work harder to find even more speed.

    1. Henry says:

      Yes but last year was not a normal year for McLaren, indeed it was a very unusual year for them to start; with the car being labeled ‘a dog’ by Hamilton! However at the end of last year they were very fast so its odd they are behind the red bull by so much.

  3. @mukandi says:

    James could you, when you speak to Paddy Lowe ask to interpret the FIA’s clerification on ride hieght. What he thinks this mean as far as saying that Redbull’s race ride hieght system is leagal hence may be manually adjustable not an active suspention.

  4. CPR says:

    I agree that McLaren’s qualifying problem in Sepang was partly driver related – if Jenson hadn’t spun off after his flying lap or Lewis hadn’t spun on the last corner of his first flying lap they could have both gotten through to Q2 and Q3. Surprised not to see this mentioned more.

    However, the team could have made the driver’s life much easier by sending them out 2 minutes earlier – giving the drivers two flying laps. So I suspect both sides are beating themselves up about it.

    In a way, I’d almost like to see a “boring” Chinese GP where everyone performs at their true level, just so we can see everyone’s current “true pace”.

    Try asking Paddy Lowe about Red Bull’s pull-rod suspension – is that making any particular difference to qualifying? It’d also be interesting to ask if they think Ferrari are doing anything “special” for qualifying too.

    1. Alistair Blevins says:

      If it doesn’t rain, you will most likely get your wish of a boring race.

      Agreed however – it would be good to see the progress that has been made during the fly-away races with the limited developments that have been made, and before we get back to Europe and (effectively) b-spec cars start popping up…

      Really would like some clarification on the ride-height issue. I’d like to know a) how it works, b) what the FIA can/will do about it and c) who will likely protest it.

  5. C Pitter says:

    Going by the last race of last year in Abu Dhabi, the McLaren (in Hamilton’s hands anyway) was right up there with the Red Bull and with Hamilton’s skill, was a clear contender from the front. This year the McLaren is way ahead of where it was last year, so I am hoping that the situation at Abu Dhabi will be replicated only by China. Then there will be no stopping them.

    I wouldn’t write McLaren off yet, or any of the top four teams for that matter.

  6. Dave Mayo says:

    James,

    McLaren brought new parts to the car for the Maylasian GP and Lewis was at the top of the timesheets for most of the practise sessions. We didn’t get to see a “normal” qualifying session with these new parts so it may be that they have the qualifying pace already but weren’t able to show it in Malaysia.

    Dave, Bath.

    1. A.K. says:

      They were also on top of the practice timesheets in Australia but ended up 7/10 of a second of the pole time in qualifying and with Hamilton not even making it into Q3.

      1. LT says:

        AK, Dave was referring to the new parts for MALAYSIA and how we didn’t get to see it’s qualifying potential there. It has nothing to do with the Melbourne race which was BEFORE they had new parts.

      2. A.K. says:

        My point is that you cannot take Practice times as indicative of the ultimate pace of cars this year because the fuel loads can vary by 100kg or more even. Haven’t we learned anything from the pre-season tests?

        And McLaren brought updates to Melbourne too but were still of the pace in qualifying. Means nothing by itself.

  7. Ginger says:

    I am sure that McLaren will be up there this weekend but I can see the concerns that MW has. Thay have the 3rd best car on the grid and qualy has not gone well due to mistakes and a lack of speed.

    RBR should be way ahead by now and I am sure that they will rue that lost chance as the other teams catch up.

    The F-duct should help if they need to overtake this weekend, lets hope for some rain!!! I felt cheated that it didn’t rain in Sepang.

  8. Peter says:

    Vettel is a big factor at RB, he delivers stunning qualifying performance. He did the same last year with very few practice laps. Its not just the car, there are many high-level drivers now in F1 its more difficult for Ferrari or Macca to steal the show.

  9. Matt says:

    Hi James,

    I’d love to know more about these ride height systems. In an earlier post you indicated that Ferrari’s was ‘very obvious’ and – I think – ‘manual’.

    Can you give a bit more detail here – it seems both Ferarri and Red Bull have a real edge in qualifying that isn’t as clear in the race.

    What do the FIA regs on ride height adjusters actually say/mean, and what are the loopholes?

    Thanks, as ever, for the most informative look at F1 on the web.

    1. Andy says:

      If I’ve understood correctly, Ferrari’s system does not bring them any advantage during the qualification, only in the race so that when the car gets lighter (as fuel burns), they can manually alter the suspension during the pit stop to lower the ride height.

      Someone who knows better should correct me, if I’m mistaken.

    2. Phil C says:

      I believe Ferrari’s system is manual

      One loophole is that the regulations state the ride height cannot be adjusted once in parc ferme. So the solution – depending on how quick the system is, would be to go out in qualifying, do your super terrific lap, then at the end pull into the pits before the flag, and adjust your car then. Parc Ferme conditions are put in place at the end of quali, not before, and not during.

      The amount that the car needs to be raised by can be calculated in Practice

      1. neil murgatroyd says:

        NO, parc ferme starts at the beginning of quali, until the start of the race. Any suspension changes require you to start in the pit lane

      2. Phil C says:

        ah, but you can add gases to the cars during qualifying, that is permitted. So a pneumatic system is still permissible

      3. neil murgatroyd says:

        I don’t think it is Phil C, the FIA clarification said if you do anything to alter the suspension, start from pit lane. Regassing is intended to allow the car to be in the same state as it was for quali

  10. James B says:

    As a Shanghai resident (I will be at practice, quali and the race), I will be keeping a close eye on the performance of McLaren over the weekend, though if RBR can maintain the reliability they managed during the race at Sepang, I would expect them to be out front.

    See you at the race!

  11. Frankie Allen says:

    If I were comparing McLaren to the opposition, considering the first three races, there would be a few inescapable facts. Vettel should be leading the WDC with 3 straight wins with just average luck. The problems have been such a rarity, that you cannot even bring the reliability issue around to cheer yourself up. The qualifying pace of the RBR is untouchable at present and the only hope is that they have something illegal on their car. Then to add to this, Ferrari have what looks like a slightly stronger package at present.

    When you look at the results, things don’t look too bad for McLaren. Decoding those races and it starts to make McLaren look like also rans. Something has to be done to get McLaren up closer to parity with RBR and Ferrari, especially in qualifying which is now king.

  12. Graeme says:

    Have RedBull not just got it right the way is balances the weight or the position of the fuel tank?

  13. Caan says:

    The McLaren is a fantastic package this year and has defiantly underperformed. The Red Bull is slightly the fastest car over a single lap but not by much, however I think as a race car the McLaren is arguably the best. It has a massive advantage with the f duct system on the straights. This essential means it is almost impossible for any car to overtake a McLaren and them having a far easier time getting past cars. Hamilton has stated that its the best car he has ever driven. If he and the team made less mistakes they would have bee leading the championship. The Red Bull is a very good car but it has a massive flaw when it comes to strait line speed. This will inhibit them from coming through the field when they don’t qualify at the front.

  14. Ryan Eckford says:

    Obiviously, McLaren seems to know what Red Bull are doing, whether it is a ride-height/suspension system or another sort of complicated Newey system. I expect McLaren to be just about on par with Red Bull with Hamilton to extract more from his McLaren than Vettel can from his Red Bull to win the Chinese Grand Prix. On another note, I also hope Kubica performs well in China in memory of the people who were killed in such a tragic plane crash.

  15. jed says:

    In the 3 races so far, it seems to me that the weak link in mclaren’s armour is Lewis Hamilton. He failed to make it to q3 on the last 2 races. In malaysia nico rosberg and mark webber also ran late in q1 and in fact left the pits after lewis did and made it all the way to q3 where webber got pole. Simply put lewis spun his car on the only lap where the track was still good enough to bring his car to q2. In austrailia, Lewis blamed the team for giving him a bad strategy call. But come to think of it the mistake was really his because had he made it to q3 then he would not be at that position, he would have been further up forward wherein the team would have more and better strategy options for him. Hamilton did well in bahrain to finish third, though. As Mclaren develop their car, i think lewis should up his game, he needs to, his opponents namely vettel, alonso, massa, roseberg are doing a better job and making less mistakes by him. Instead of blaming the team like what he did in oz he should also look at himself in the mirror and reflect and realize that he too is not doing a good job this season and must improve in order for him to stay in the hunt.

    1. Martin says:

      You might get some interesting reactions. In the mix is the Bridgestone engineer that said Lewis’ tyres in Australia were wearing too quickly to make it to the end of the race so he needed to stop based on what Bridgestone observed after the race.

    2. C Pitter says:

      What a truly hilarious comment.

    3. Frankie Allen says:

      Hamilton was totally wrong in blaming the team for the strategy call in Melbourne. Bridgestone’s statement soon cleared that up with the state of his tyres not being capable, leaving him out longer would have cost more time and track position.

      But the rest of your theory is devoid of analysis and fact. In Malaysia the problems were down to the teams getting it wrong, how come no mention of Ferrari? The RBR is that bit better in the wet, added to their timing meant they got into Q2. Hamilton has not made errors so far whether it be Melbourne or Malaysia. The car just was not there in Q2 in Melbourne, something Button found in the race and was just going backwards, although managing 10th in Q3.

      McLaren have an issue with qualifying pace.

    4. Freespeech says:

      Let’s keep this blog serious, it’ll be better for us all if we do.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        from what i have seen, james wouldn’t have it any other way

    5. Andy C says:

      Jed, that’s a but harsh isn’t it?

      I agree Hamilton didn’t do anything to win any fans in oz, but in his last race he did pretty well in the race didn’t he.

      Good to see martin come out and say they realise they have not made the maximum out of the possible performance (why they didn’t send both out early in quali 1 is absolutely beyond me).

      The fact that lewis and jenson came back to woking for a day in the simulator shows how hard they are pushing.

      1. jed says:

        Lewis has been driving good on raceday, the sad part is he has to make up for his qualfiying mistakes. Had there been no mistakes in qualifying he may have already won a race by now. Didn’t button qualify 4th in oz? As for malaysia, yes the team was partly to blame for him not being able to make it to q2 but the fact is he was let out of the pits with 1 chance to make it to q2 and he spun his car. I can certainly say that he had a chance to make it to q2 and maybe eventually to q1 as webber and rosberg lef the pits after lewis, and they made it on their first flying lap, the lap where lewis spun his car, thereafter the track was too wet. I hope lewis improves his qualifying so that we will have more exciting races at the front. Right now the excitement is in midpack when lewis is moving up. If he qualifies better then the excitement will move further up the grid where it should be.

  16. Luca says:

    Also, is there anything to the fact that they are not getting the most out of the tyres?

    We know Mercedes have admitted to as much, and with one driver light on his tyres and one a little heavier than others it must make it tricky for the engineers at McLaren to understand how the car is being effected…

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      Actually both drivers at McLaren are showing remarkable ability in dealing with their tyres – the difference between the two is negligble

  17. rpaco says:

    I am still pretty sure that the F duct air intake is illegal.
    Specifically;
    3.8.7 With the exception of a transparent windscreen, antenna or pitot tubes, no bodywork higher than the top of the front roll structure will be permitted forward of it.

    The interior duct through to the rear wing is ok as is the stalling of the rear wing. Ferrari’s rear wing was sad to stall at higher speeds anyway several years back.

    The re-gassing loophole in park ferme must only be used to bring the ref plane to the same height above ground as measured before quali.
    However remember that the cars are jacked up while the wheels are put on, in the pit or on the grid. Thus a sprung cam system can be re-set to the original ride height after the fuel is added. ie fumes height= 20mm, add fuel and height falls to 10mm, then jack up and fit race wheels, let down jack and height is 20mm again. – Magic! :-)

    1. PT says:

      If I am not mistaken, McLaren’s air intake for the F duct is designed into the crash structure (it is part of the carbon structure) therefore not illegal by the rule 3.8.7 you quote. The exceptions you speak of are parts which are attached or fixed to the crash structure in some way whereas this intake IS the crash structure.

      I say NOT ILLEGAL because I haven’t bothered to find another rule which deems it legal.

      Nice idea on the ride height though!

      1. rpaco says:

        Well if it is part of the survival cell, please explain the protective function of the F duct in a crash situation. :-)
        It is still higher than the top of front roll, which was the criterion in 3.8.7, even if part of the crash structure, thus is still illegal.
        I’m a McLaren fan BTW and like to see imaginative use of the rules, but still think it’s illegal.

        Bad news re the Flav let off, poor decision by Todt! :-(

  18. Shane says:

    Whenever Martin Whitmarsh speaks about ride height adjustments, he says Red Bull and others are doing it….what other teams is he refering too? And why aren’t they in the spotlight along with the RB’s?

    1. PT says:

      Because they aren’t winning…? (Possibly)

  19. Nuno says:

    By now, none of the 4 top teams is happy.

    Mc.Laren’s speed booster is awesome but they are missing Red Bull’s unbelievable grip.

    Ferrari is a well balanced car but clearly they lack the ultimate RB6 overall performance, and the speed booster.

    Mercedes are very close to Ferrari, and share the same disadvantages. No speed booster and the aero performance is good but not phenomenal.

    Red Bull has lacked reliability. They are crying because they could have easily won the three initial races, and they just missed it due to some very very small details that went wrong.

  20. Steve McGill says:

    Regarding the ride height adjustment, I assume it would be ok to alter the ride height to race trim during the qualifying session itself? Obviously this would mean setting your last qualifying lap (ie pole) and get back to the pits before the session closes to make the adjustment for the race.

    1. James says:

      Parc fermé applies as soon as Q1 begins

    2. rpaco says:

      No you are already in parc ferme:
      34.1 Each car will be deemed to be in parc fermé from the time at which it leaves the pit lane for the first time during qualifying practice until the start of the race. Any car which fails to leave the pit lane during qualifying practice will be deemed to be in parc fermé at the end of Q1.

      Further to my idea in post 17 that’s a no go thus:
      34.8 In order that the scrutineers may be completely satisfied that no alterations have been made to the suspension systems or aerodynamic configuration of the car (with the exception of the front wing) whilst in post-qualifying parc fermé, it must be clear from physical inspection that changes cannot be made without the use of tools.

      1. rpaco says:

        Mmm maybe I was too hasty, a jack is a tool.

    3. neil murgatroyd says:

      no it’s not ok. thats parc ferme conditions, no ‘changes’ to the suspension settings

    4. CoolGav says:

      Parc fermé conditions are “from the time they first exit the pits during qualifying until the start of the formation lap immediately prior to the race” according to formula1.com. Howver during this time the cars are fuelled for the race. I wonder whether the fuel itself is being used to expand some vessel in the suspension – whether directly or by pressure on some other component (eg hydraulically). Not sure on the regulations regarding where fuel can go and if the fuel bladder can have holes/pipes (other than to fill with fuel, and to supply the engine).

  21. Paige says:

    The good news for McLaren is that they have shown time and again that they have a development rate in-season that is unmatched. I’m sure they’ll make some big steps this year. Given the straight-line speed advantage they have, it’ll be easier for them to add grip than it will be for other teams to incorporate F-ducts to the level that Macca have.

  22. Qiang says:

    If the Mercedes team, in the next 2-3 race time, got some extra speed to mix with the current top three, I expect them to excel in the end. Race management is the key this year. Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all showed their weakness in three different races this year. To me, they simple have not been able to get their house in order.

  23. Red5 says:

    Think McLaren will lose out at the end of the season as both drivers continue to take points off each other.

    Nothing fundamentally wrong with the car, on the contrary the F duct promised performance advantage but we have not yet seen this translate convincingly on the track. When the other teams catch up, which will be soon, McLaren may find it difficult to stay at the front.

    As for the Red Bull ride height this is not a new concept. Citroën introduced the first self-leveling rear suspension in 1954 then later licensed to Rolls-Royce who adapted the hydropneumatic system to fit to the rear axle of the Silver Shadow.

    Bernie’s big Mercedes probably has a range of clever advances including air suspension and rear axle mechanical devices. The trick is getting the system passed the Stewards unchallenged.

    Will be interesting to hear Paddy’s take on this system. Didn’t McLaren previously have technical details of Renault tuned mass dampers but were not able to make it work?

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      No Mclaren had the J Damper that effectively does the same thing as the mass damper and so when added to their car had no real effect

  24. Mr G says:

    I think Whitmarsh is not satisfied of the McLaren performance so far because they were very closed to Ferrari and Red BUll in pre season testing.
    I am a Ferrari fan and I think McLaren, as stated previously in this blog, is able to close the gap very quickly and efficently.
    They demonstrated last season how good they are to manufacture new parts, to update the car with very impressive gains.
    last year car was about 2 seconds off the pace of the Brawns and RB and at the end of the season was there or thereabouts.
    This season they were near the top in testing and I think if they will find a little bit more of grip they will be win races very soon.
    Don’t forget that they have the F duct, in races like Spa, Monza, Montreal, Silverstone and possibly Brazil the McLaren will have a big advantage in the straight and possibly at the end of long fast corners.
    having an advantage of up to 15 km/h in Monza is more powerfull than Kers and will create overtaking opportunities.
    Overall, at this stage, RB are the cars to beat but McLaren has, in my opinion, the best package to win the championship.
    Just a reminder…. 3 races and only 1 win for RB, reliability will become a huge factor at the end of the season with so many GPs.

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      I would be massively concerned about Ferrari’s engine problems causing them penalties in the business end of the season

  25. Rob says:

    No, I don’t imagine they will be satisfied with their start of the season – hopefully if they show anything like the turnaround they made last season they will soon be able to become much more competitive as the season unfolds.

  26. senko says:

    i think martin whitmarsh should consider his future,there were lot of mistake he made last three grand prix. there’s no place for mistake.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      He’s made very few mistakes over the years compared to some others, and I doubt McLearen could find anyone better to replace him. He’s simply one of the best at what he does.

    2. Andy C says:

      Senko, so presumably you also consider your future in your job having made 3 mistakes?

  27. zvoni says:

    FIA engineered the championship last year with double diffusers controversy. I can’t say I am 100% sure but seems to me FIA is trying to do the same this year by nursing some teams and threatening the others. It resembles very much 1994. when FIA was not able to find illegal devices on Benetton. There should be a clear ground clearance difference when the car is empty and then roughly 30% heavier due to the gas load. And if there is no such difference than there must be some detectable ways of achieving that. All in all, I don’t really believe McLaren will be up to challenge Red Bull’s quality and if it is I expect them to be the subject of one more FIA’s witch hunt!

  28. the corpse says:

    all the teams made mistakes. It’s like a bunch of school boys given a lot of cash to burn. And not being sure how to do it.
    They should learn from the moto gp teams how to do it.
    Cogratulations valentino.

  29. neil murgatroyd says:

    dear all, parc ferme conditions exist from the start of quali to the start of the race.

    Something is happening with ride height, but the stewards checked the Red Bull and said it was OK, it’s THAT clever. Now we are just waiting to find out how it gets round the rules (like the F-duct does). I’m wondering if it’s because its hidden inside the damper system, and the race stewards don’t take them apart.

    Surely once all the teams get a working F-duct or ride height system, it might as well be banned as it will be equal benefit to every team. So; why don’t they allow the new systems to be used for 1/2 a season by the inventing team, then ban it and all the other teams pay the smart team to take it off (saving everyone money in the development war)

    1. James Allen says:

      Remember that whatever they have on that Red Bull has been approved in advance of the season by the FIA’s Charlie Whiting, like the F duct wing on the McLaren.

      1. Dave E says:

        If, as has been suggested, the Red Bull’s ride height is adjusted when on the grid, surely it will be scraping along the ground as it leaves the pits for the grid.

        It will have 160kgs of fuel for the race, but still be in low qualifying ride height mode. Definitely worth a look on Sunday I think.

        I can’t see how Ferrari’s system would benefit them in qualifying, if it is only changed during pit stops.

  30. Morris Mao says:

    Not only Mclaren.

    Still could hear those big commentators’ remarks after the preseason tests.

    Good competition situation.

  31. Meeklo says:

    McLaren’s doing just fine as is.

    I enjoy watching Lewis climb through the field, rather than running away with a victory.

    How much TV time did Hamilton get compared to Vettle in the last race?

    1. Mark says:

      TV time won’t win him races, as enjoyable as it might be to watch.

  32. F1Novice says:

    OK then – I’m flummoxed can someone enlighten me as to how the Red Bull scrapes along the floor in quali and tehn doesn’t erase it’s floor away in the opening laps of the race with an extra 160 kgs onboard ?

    The only thing I can come up with in my admittedly limited mind is that when they load the extra fuel on board the weight instead of pushing directly downward is somehow transferred laterally either forward or rearward slightly with very minimal downward movement on some kind of roller or torsion bar type system ?

    Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated !

    1. Buck says:

      That’s what I’m thinking, that the system is somehow based solely on the extra weight of the fuel in the car pushing downwards. It would surely be the simplest way to have that weight pushing a lever that adjusts the spring stifness, or perhaps even something simpler such as a bladder underneath the tank containing air or oil that is connected to the suspension. Full tank pushes down on the bladder forcing oil or air into system. Empty tank lets air/oil out for qualifying or late in the race. It would adjust itself as the race goes on. But I’m with you, I’m no engineer or mechanic so my ideas may be way out to lunch.

  33. Rich C says:

    So… maybe RB has figured out how to have the fuel cell loads distributed as un-sprung weight?

    Or maybe filled a secret tank with helium?

  34. Andy C says:

    James,

    I was quite interested when I read Christian horners response to the allegation of ride height adjustment.

    I think from memory he specifically said there was no mechanical device on the cars (rather than no device).

    Did I imagine that as I thought at the time he was very specific with his denial.

  35. Jonathan Chan says:

    At the end of the day I think all of the teams are not satisfied with themselves;

    Mclaren – They have a good package but lack a vital few tenths in qualifying to mix it up with the Redbulls.. But have managed to salvage a win already, which is bonus..

    Redbull – Undoubtedly the best car out there, but Vettel should have won all of the opening races whilst having a huge lead in the WDC, but he doesn’t.. He was all smiles on the podium in Sepang, but you can’t help but feel Redbull’s Reliability woes may well have cost them dearly in a very close championship chase.

    Ferrari – Reliability, specifically engine reliability has cost them dearly, which is surprising, considering their track record on engine performance.. However, plenty to be pleased about, Felipe has bounced back brilliantly, but this may well cause tensions with Fiery team mate Alonso.. I expect Ferrari to leap frog Redbull at some point during the season.. Essentially it will be a development race between the Ferraris and Mclarens, both are established teams with championship pedigree, I think that will be the difference this season…

    Mercedes – All the promise in the world and one podium out of it… The reigning World Champions had a fairy tale season in 2009, but I’m afraid its back to reality for the Mercedes works team, which have clear potential, but lack raw pace.. I fail to see how there challenge for top honours will materialise, there pace has been underwhelming.. Which i’m sure will come as a huge frustration to the board at Mercedes who infact demanded back to back titles this season…

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