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It’s the summer shutdown, but JA on F1 keeps humming
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It’s the summer shutdown, but JA on F1 keeps humming
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Aug 2010   |  4:41 pm GMT  |  76 comments

The F1 teams are now on a two week summer shutdown, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to!

Here on JA on F1 there will be plenty of interesting content through the holiday period including insights, analysis, thought provoking articles, videos and technical insights.

With teams well into their car design for next year, we’ve got a video behind the scenes at McLaren looking at how they use a chassis mock up for driver seat fitting and getting driver input into design at an early stage.

There’s behind the scenes video content looking at Lotus as well.

Photo: Darren Heath


We’ll look into the Red Bull front wing and the FIA’s plans for more stringent testing as well as analysis of driver salaries and much more.

So check in every day and see what’s new.

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76 Comments
  1. Andy W says:

    Its interesting to read that Schumacher has apologised for his dangerous move on Rubens in Hungry. I am wondering if hell has frozen over…. regardless I am glad to see him realise and acknowledge that he put Rubens in a very dangerous position and has apologised for it.

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      As we go into the break – is it bang goes McLaren title hopes? What can the British side do to salvage the championship? Half my mind says they go back to the car before Silverstone – it did not qualify well but it raced very well. James, I hope you do some detailed analysis on the situation at McLaren and what their options are – we know its development development development BUT what development? They have taken two steps ahead and ended one back so what options do they have?

      1. Andy W says:

        I wouldn’t write off McLaren’s chances just yet they are a very strong team (probably the strongest team on the grid) with 2 excellent drivers who have both battled to win tight championships.

        The real threat I think is now Webber.

  2. jay harte says:

    thanks james for keeping us all informed on f1
    even when the shutdown is taking place .
    your the only one we can rely on these days .
    can you make any predictions for spa james or will it be up in the air due to the unpredictable weather ?
    when are you coming back to replace legard as he doesnt know what he is talking about half the time .
    we all miss you ,and want you back
    your expert opinion is always informative and fascinating .
    keep up the good work

    1. Steed says:

      Agreed and agreed
      Top job James, and you should still be on the Beeb
      You can sometimes sense Brundle’s despair with Legard – it’s a fraction of mine every race weekend.

  3. Hans says:

    Your thorough and unbiased topics are a relief…. so let it come.
    I’ll be checking in on a daily basis.

  4. efi says:

    cant wait

  5. Olivier says:

    I am well curious who is on top of the new teams and by how much (if you take the top six point scoring system into account).

    I have a feeling Branson is losing his bet …

    1. Langue D'Oc says:

      If you rank the six cars in a race of their own, as it were, and score them using 10 points for a win and 6,4,3,2,1 for the rest of the places you get Lotus 99, Virgin Racing 74 and Hispania 70.

      As far as the drivers go, it’s Heikki Kovalainen 56, Karun Chandhok 45, Jarno Trulli 43, Timo Glock 38, Lucas di Grassi 36, Bruno Senna 22, Sakon Yamamoto 3.

      I wonder where Chandhok would have been compared to Kovalainen if he’d raced in the last two races?

      1. Steed says:

        Brilliant analysis

      2. Langue D'Oc says:

        Not mine, I’m afraid! It’s from another site.

    2. Langue D'Oc says:

      Another analysis from another site, this time on highest place finishes:

      THE BATTLE FOR 10th
      10. Lotus (Best results – 13th, 14th, 14th)
      11. HRT (Best results – 14th, 14th, 15th)
      12. Virgin (Best results – 14th, 16th, 17th)

  6. Irish con says:

    Can anybody explain to me why redbull have moved on soo much from the pack at this type of track since Monaco and mercedes have gone backwards. Nobody expected that at the weekend.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well Red Bull were pretty untouchable at Monaco. Only the driver skill of people like Kubica got them close. Massa was 0.5s behind, maybe Alonso if he hadn’t crashed would have been within a couple of tenths. They’ve optimised the car and have totally got the tyres working

  7. D. says:

    James, would you not expect McLaren and Ferrari to come out of the summer break with the biggest improvements in the car ? For two reasons: (a) they have more money to spend and more resources, and (b) what else is there for RBR to do to further improve the car ? I don’t think there is any major improvement left that they can put on the car. What say you ?

    1. James Allen says:

      I would expect them to get stronger yes. Look at last year’s improvements on the McLaren. Ferrari has a new gearbox and rear end aero package for Spa, which has been in the pipeline for a while. But for the next two weeks, no-one does anything. Official

      1. Langue D'Oc says:

        How official is that, James? What’s to stop team members taking work home and doing stuff there?

      2. James Allen says:

        Sure, but it’s wind tunnels and fabrication departments that put new parts on a car

      3. Flintster says:

        James – A silly question if I may….whats to stop Ferrari (as example) driving round and round their Fiorano test track???

        Are there other teams/FIA reps sat in hotels in the area listening for a V8 to fire up…?

      4. James Allen says:

        Rules, lack of tyres and they would need an ECU to make the car go.

      5. Fluebroggle says:

        James,

        “You need an ECU to make the car go”. I am guessing from the way you say this that the teams do not have an ECU at the factory? Or if they do, they are disabled in some way with only FIA having the access code? Is this correct?

      6. bhele minotaur says:

        As much as the rule is in place it’s not like teams obey them to the Letter anyway e.g.(Double Diffuser, F-Flap, Flexi Wings e.t.c).
        I understand how the tyres can be a limiting factor(but i’d hate to imagine that such resourceful operations can struggle to get good specification rubber for private tests), I don’t understand how the ECU’s are a limiting factor why can’t they use the ones that they have already used this year in the early part of the season, and if that’s impossible I believe that Ferrari used to make their own ECU’s before the standardised MES units.

  8. Galapago555 says:

    (I’ve tried to comment twice this post before, but something wiht my computer seemend wrong).

    James, thanks a lot for keeping this “open” during the summer break. I promise to check daily and to comment the posts. I also promise not to mention again Brit journos nor Lewis, unless he is really (and I mean really) linked with the subject to discuss.

    My best wishes for a happy summer for everybody, and hope to meet again on September, at Spa, my favorite F1 facility!!

  9. Luke A says:

    Hi James,

    I’m intrigued as to whether you believe, or maybe have heard anything from the Red Bull camp as to whether you are worried that the change in the tests for Spa will actually catch them out with their floor and front wing?

    I think from hearing what Christian Horner has said, it is clear that they are not even denying that their front wing is flexing, but are simply saying it passes the tests.

    Seeming as their front wing will have much effect on the rest of their car design and their blown diffuser, then this could potentially be a very serious blow to them.

    One other thing, do you think that they might just change their wing to meet the new test criteria or indeed bring a non-flexing wing to Spa and then potentially bring their flexing wing back to another event? Is there anything the FIA can do to stop that sort of behavior?

    1. James Allen says:

      I will post on this soon, but I don’t think it will set them back enough to change the balance of power

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        James, Martin mentioned something like that flexing wing brings something like a half a second if not more? They would still be one odd second ahead of McLaren so it doesn’t make too much difference.

        I am just curious how McLaren’s paces seems to have dropped off a cliff immediately after Silverstone. Can it be argued that the McLaren non-blown diffuser configuration was faster than their current pace? Could they be closer if they had their older car? After much ado, there are now murmurings to the effect that the diffuser modification is not a deciding factor – so what is? What changes did Red Bull make to their car that has put McLaren so far behind? Or did McLaren changes make for a slower more difficult car to set up and drive? Very curious.

      2. James Allen says:

        Not as much as that. I’ll post an insight into this shortly

      3. Halgovern says:

        If the EBD is slowing down the MP4-25, it wouldve been taken off the car by now. The 25 is faster with the EBD, its just that Red Bull and Ferrari have taken a bigger step forward with their flexi wings.

      4. David Smith says:

        James.

        To me it seems silly that the FIA announced to the teams the new stringent test on the wings. In my eyes – it should have been announced to the teams in Spa only when the cars were taken down to to scruitineering. It would have caught a few people out i’m sure. Surely after the 2 week break red bull are going to change the front wing so it passes the new load test but still flexes! Its like a mystery shopper going into a shop and saying i’m a mystery shopper – It defeats the whole object. Any views?

  10. Taimur says:

    That’s great news. The August break along with the off season period are the most difficult for us fans with the least amount of news. Keep up the awesome effort!

  11. Nick Hipkin says:

    These articles will be much appreciated over the summer drought James, can I ask what you make of Jean Todt’s silence over the Ferrari team orders hearing?
    I at least expected to hear something from him as FIA president, possibly bringing it forward.
    Is it a case of letting time pass by so when the case is heard people’s feelings are less strong on whether there should be further punishment?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s been pretty hands off on most of F1′s hot topics this season. He has other fish to fry, particularly Make Roads Safe campaign. I find it quite refreshing that we don’t approach every hearing with fear and dread any more!

      1. Nick Hipkin says:

        I would agree the whole process has been better this season, however i think a lot of people still want further punishment and if it doesnt happen the cynics will point fingers at Todt’s history at Ferrari.
        Personally I think the team should just lose their constructors points and at absolute worst Alonso lose the extra 7 points he gained but id be very suprised if its more than a slap on the wrist.

      2. Racehound says:

        The only people looking for any further sanctions against Ferrari are all those who probably havent been watching F1 before 2007 and dont really understand the fundamentals of a “racing TEAM” !! Alonso has far more chance of winning 1 championship for the team and Ferrari should have every right to determine which of their drivers they decide to give priority too!!! I would be very surprised if the FIA do not give back the $100,000 they have already STOLEN from Ferrari!!!! #:)

      3. Galapago555 says:

        James, I have read on Spanish papers (Manel Serras at elpais.com, btw one of the very few unbiased and serious Spanish sport journos) that nothing is going to happen with this hearing. In his opinion, no punishment is to be imposed, just because the WMSC will state that there is no evidence (sic) that confirms that team orders were issued.

        I would like to know your opinion on (i) that supposed lack of evidence; and (ii) what the final decission is going to be.

        As an Alonso fan, I would like him to be given no penalty, but I think this could be seen by the rest of the world as a …er strange outcome of all the affaire. Maybe some kind of punishment for the Scuderia could be fine…

        Thanks in advance.

      4. James Allen says:

        I agree that Manuel is an excellent journalist. I’ve worked alongside him for many years now. I cannot say with certainty what the WMSC will decide, because there was a breach of the rule on team orders, clearly. But Ferrari could argue that they didn’t order Massa to move over, he let Alonso through because he was told he was “faster than you”. It’s all murky and what should come out of the hearing is a proposal for a new wording for the issue of team orders. As this hearing is taking place a few days before the World Motor Sport Council meets to vote on such things, that may be what they have in mind.

  12. Gemma says:

    Hello James,
    Great to know your hard work at keeping all us fans up to date and enagaed is to continue over the Hols!
    I was just woundering as i’m (very excited) to be heading to Spa for the full 4 days of the Belgium GP, whether you as a F1 Journalist do any question and answer or press style conference for the fans at all over the race wkends? Or whether i just need to keep my 3G Iphone with me to keep up to date with your insights?!

    1. James Allen says:

      Not at Spa, but there will be more Fans Forums in future

  13. Grietzen says:

    Thanks James, keep up the good work!

    How about the following question; “How does the F1 continue if Mr. Ecclestone is not able to run the business anymore?”. There is absolutely no flame intended here, but who guarantees the continuety of the sport, its invention (new areas and cirquits), innovation etc. in the future?

    GreeTz from The Netherlands and enjoy the summer!

    1. JimmiC says:

      I’ll do it, if no one else volunteers.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        I could volunteer too.

  14. Flintster says:

    Nice one James – I didn’t expect anything less!!!!

  15. sonu says:

    James,
    On the flexi wings, can you please shed some light on how much downforce (in kg’s) the front wings are generating at high speed corners and how much the red bulls front wings are flexing in mm’s ikn high speed corners. I think only some one like you can shed some light on this

    1. James Draper says:

      I remember that 200kgs is the approximate weight generated by force on the front wing.

      Given that the Red Bull passed pre-race inspections the front wing is 95 – 100mm off the track. Since the Red Bull has skid plates on its wing tips you can guess it is designed to flex 90-95mm at full speed.

  16. Jake says:

    James,
    What do you think of thee extra tests of front wings?

    For me, the problem with these extra tests at belgium is that the teams will know if their cars can pass this test. If it cant, they will introduce a “new” non-flexi front wing and will simply get away with breaking the regs in the last two races. In a championship so close that could be crucial. What the FIA should have done was carry out these tests after sunday’s grand prix and if the teams failed the tests then they should be disqualified from the race, or even the last 2. It’s not good enough to basically say to teams “yeh you can cheat, just stop it when we catch you and you can get away with it”.

    Then theres always the possibility that the cars will pass the new tests aswell, however, does this really mean they are legal? No, it doesn’t. It is clear as day that these wings break the rules by exposing a loophole in the way the FIA carries out their tests. As my Dad said earlier this weekend, “show me a man who says that front wing isn’t flexing more than its meant to and i’ll show you a dog in a flourescent jacket standing next to him”.

    Also, do you admire such innovations taking advantage of poor tests? For me, I love things like the F-Duct and the DD that expose loopholes in the rules so they technically don’t break them. But to blatantly break a rule by finding a loophole in the scrutineering is not to be admired, clever as it is. Breaking rules should ever be admired.

    1. JimmiC says:

      “blatantly break a rule by finding a loophole”

      You’ve contradicted yourself there. That’s what loopholes are – diversions around the law.

      1. Jake says:

        i would have contradicted myself if i said they had found a loophole in the rule, but i didnt, they have found loophole in the tests, thats a different thing

    2. Luke A says:

      I agree with what you’ve said. I don’t see what there is to stop them from changing their front wing if they’re scared that the one they used at the last 2 or 3 races will be declared illegal.

      I think the FIA have kinda messed up on this whole saga.

    3. James Draper says:

      I am not sure the FIA have announced what tests or the limits of the tests are being applied, only that alternate testing will be performed.

      If the FIA does’t announce a testing strategy you can bet Red Bull will not bring the same wing to SPA. If they do announce the test strategy all of the top teams will redesign to the specifications of the new tests.

    4. Ross Dixon says:

      Strong words but I would possibly agree with you. The wing does break rules because it flexes to below the lowest allowable point on the car, the floor. It’s just that the test for this is not good enough to prove it.

      1. Brian says:

        In the photos of the McLaren, Ferrari and RBR all taken at the same point giving the same view, the Mc is the most level, as in, the floor and end plate are very parallel to the ground. The Ferrari has more rake to the floor, and the end plate shows the same rake as the floor. The RBR has the most rake on the floor and end plate. So the leading edge of the RBR end plate is the key visual feature. If the entire wing was flexing, the whole end plate would be more parallel to the ground. It has been my belief all along that RBR has been achieving this with a unique front suspension, instead of the wing flex. You can see when they slow, the front of the car raises.

        I think they will pass the wing test at Spa and leave everyone wondering what is actually being done.

        If it is a front suspension design, then Newey has done it again.

      2. Steve says:

        That has been my feeling all season. The RB has been so compliant over the kerbs too. Mc behaves as if its torsion bars are 4 inches thick, bouncing from bump to bump.

      3. EM says:

        I’d love that to be true and a suspension that changes with speed or aero downforce would be a fantastic thing to watch but would still be illegal if it caused the front wing to get closer than 75mm to the ground.

        However if you take a look at the on board qualifying laps on formula1.com featuring Red Bull cars you can quite noticeably see the end plates of the Red Bull move relative to the rest of the bodywork.

        It’s an interesting moral point let’s assume the wing breaks the rules but passes the test. Is that any different to the f-duct, if the drivers body is involed doesn’t that become a moving aerodynamic part therefore also breaks the rule?

        The correct solution for this is to make a test which tests the rule, which should have been in place all the time.

      4. Ben G says:

        Interesting observation! I had noticed the angles on the RB6 end plate were strange under load, but wasn’t able to get my head around the implication.

        This could also tie back to the comments other teams were making at the first few races that the RB6 had some sort of manually adjustable suspension to account for low fuel/low road height during qually.

        There is definitely more than meets the eye to the RB6!

    5. JohnBt says:

      Breaking technical rules has been committed since F1 began.

      The most disturbing part is the teams who spot the rule breaker not FIA.

      Let’s observe Red Bull and Ferrari at Spa.

    6. David Smith says:

      So what inventions or clever designs are engineers thinking about for next years cars, that other teams are going to waste money on developing to catch up only to see them banned in 2012.

      Not that i’m cynical!!

  17. stuart fenton says:

    Im interested in the new team(s). Does everyone except that one more is too much? Are ferrari going to sort out a villeneuve team, engine wise? I want the gossss

  18. Carl 21 says:

    Great I look forward to it James. I was thinking about Formula One the other day and the Ferrari team in general.
    I think that Ferrari made Massa slow up so Raikkonen would become world champion in Brazil 2007.

    Then it basically looks like Raikkonen had to let Massa challenge in 2008 and take a second seat role. Then in 2009 Raikkonen only got his act together after Massa got injured.

  19. JohnBt says:

    Latest news indicate that Red Bull and Ferrari wings have to be clipped for Spa.

    Looks like the gap will be closer for Mclaren and others when it happens.

    3 tenths to 5 tenths between cars will make racing more exciting. Then that’s where driver’s skill and talent shows.

    Await upcoming reports.

    1. John F says:

      Just imagine the baffled look on McLaren’s face if the wings also withstand the new revised test …

      As has been pointed out before, the secret may not be in the wing itself but rather in the suspension design, that allows the car to roll and raise / lower the nose to a certain degree, thus bring the wing end plates closer to the ground.

  20. Sean says:

    Hi James,

    As always, a brilliant website with brilliant articles.

    I am just wondering, how is the summer shutdown going to be enforced?

    I know you said that in the case of Ferrari with their private track, their hands are tied because they need the ECU and tyres for the tests.

    But how about the wind tunnel and the fabrication factory when these facilities are owned by the team? How is the FIA going to make sure that no one is working in these facilities? Surely they are not going to send someone over there to keept watch over the teams for 2 weeks?

    And does the summer shutdown allows the designers to work on the design of the car on their computers? And if that is not the case, how is the FIA going to make sure no one works on their computers (in the office/home)?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s not so much the FIA as the teams, under the auspices of FOTA. I’ll find out the mechanism for policing it. Good question

  21. colm says:

    Thanks for not taking a holiday too.
    This site is my fix.

  22. Usi says:

    Hi James,

    I am a bit curious about the summer shut down at F1 factories. What is the logic behind this shutdown? Is it cost optimization or what?

    In my view, they are only saving electricity bills as the teams at the front end will work extra hours after the break.

    It would be great if you could write an article on how an F1 factory operates.

    Keep up the good work.

  23. richard hughes says:

    Hi James. Well with the thought of 4 weeks without my fix, its great news that you will be still updating your site.

    one suggestion, if i may.

    With such a large following and active community that your site has, why not add a forum to your site?

    1. James Allen says:

      To keep the standard of debate high, the comments are better

  24. EM says:

    PS where I come from keeping humming for the summer break isn’t really a good thing!

  25. Ted the Mechanic says:

    Hi James, just wondering if you could do an analysis of why Michael Schumacher has failed to get up to speed in the Mercedes this year? Any insight or theories from other drivers and/or engineers would be most interesting.

  26. djw0208 says:

    James,

    good to hear the site is still going through the summer. How about some fun? Here are a couple of ideas.

    1)Separated at birth . . . I watched ‘Aliens in the Attic’ with the kids the other day and Austin Butler is a dead ringer for Sebastian Vettel

    2) F1 Cafe – I’ve given this one some though. If you were opening an F1 cafe, what food and drink would you serve. Here are some thought starters:

    - Gerhard Burger
    - Giancarlo FizzyCola
    - Michael Milkshaker
    - Johnny DumFries
    - Brawn salad

    etc. etc.

      1. djw0208 says:

        a selection from the sweet Trulli?

  27. Bluey from Oz says:

    G’day James

    I’m an avid fan of your website and can only imagine the workload that goes on behind the scenes.

    Keep up the great work – it is appreciated – this site is on my daily must read.

    I look forward to the articles / videos etc over the next 4 weeks of the summer shutdown.

    Some suggestions (if I may be so bold) for articles / thoughts from yourself / bloggers on:

    A) Driving standards this year ? – on track and the basic understanding of the race rules.

    B) Parity between the cars in this year’s championship ?
    The last couple of races it has become very apparent (mainly because of the type of circuit I think) – but during the race all but 5 or 6 cars are on the lead lap – the rest of the field are 1,2 or sometimes 4 laps down.
    Is it time to look at promoting some of the leading GP2 teams with help from Bernie’s wallet?

    C) The Paddock view
    Something along the lines of and Interview with “lesser known” individuals of the paddock; or maybe a few pictures of (not professional perse) behind the scenes in the paddock – being from Down-Under and never having been to a GP in the Northern Hemisphere, this would be of interest.

  28. EM says:

    I’m not one to start a new topic unrelated to the main article so can I suggest a great debate for August would be driver of the season so far.

    I’m thinking fans of Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Button and Alonso could make some robust claims for their man.

    1. James Allen says:

      Great idea. We’ll start it at the end of the week. Please send in your proposed driver to kick it off. 100 words, please

  29. RickeeBoy says:

    James,
    Whilst I’m no engineer I can see than RBR and Ferrari has a can that is riding the bumps well and the aero package is producing excellent downforce and the package is working with any track bumps. To me the McLaren still looks incredibly skittish on super hard suspension and the team seem to expect the aero to give it massive downforce.
    I see that the FIA are also about to close the loophole of possible movable floors.
    Still think McLaren could make its biggest gain from a rethink on its suspension.

  30. Anup Kadam says:

    Hey hie James,
    I would like to know that at Hungary during the safety car period Vettel said that he was sleeping but when i saw the video couple of times i doubt he was sleeping. Accordingly to be it was team orders to held up Alonso and let Webber create a gap on Alonso.
    Don`t you think those were the team orders.
    Vettel is lying. During the race he was totally angry bcoz he was penalised and his race engineer told him to shut his mouth.
    That indicates it were the Team orders.

    The same happened during Turkey when Lewis was told by his race engineer to swtich his car to fuel saving mode and Button was attacking him.
    Lewis confirmed on his radio that is Jenson going to Attack him and his race engineer told him that he wont means that indicates the team orders were given to both the drivers.
    So point here is that why dont FIA investigate against this to teams.

    Vettel is not mad enough to sleep.

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