A return to winning ways?
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Singapore Grand Prix
A closer look at the ever-changing Formula 1 cars
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A closer look at the ever-changing Formula 1 cars
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Sep 2010   |  7:16 am GMT  |  61 comments

I heard an amazing statistic this week in Singapore from the manager of one of the teams. He said that a Formula 1 car has 4,000 parts on it and during a season they change up to a quarter of them!

The aim of course of all this development is to lower the lap time and Renault boss Eric Boullier told me that since Bahrain the Renault has improved by 1.7 seconds a lap.

Singapore is always a significant date technically because for most teams it is the last opportunity to bring a major package of upgrades to the car. From now on the cars will not return to the factory again until after the season has finished, even after the Abu Dhabi tests. That’s not to say that there will not be new parts on the cars in the remaining races, but they will have to be flown out in engineer’s luggage and they will be individual components rather than packages.

In sharp contrast to the last race in Monza, Singapore is all about downforce, the more the better. So you see more elements on the front wings and some very elaborate designs.


Red Bull are really going for it. There were sounds of grinding coming from their garage in the early hours of Saturday morning as new bodywork parts were fine tuned before being fitted for FP3 and qualifying. Here they had not one, but two new specifications of front wing and there was one of each for both drivers. They did back to back tests on them during Friday practice. The aim, as with all the teams’ updates, was to find more downforce and to improve the airflow to the floor and the rest of the car to improve stability and driveability. Look at how steeply angled the main element is. Both drivers used the same wing for qualifying and the race.


Ferrari were interesting to watch during the weekend, trying various configurations during practice, making the most of the track time. They had a new Singapore front wing, with the outer element of the endplate further back than before and a different main element. But they also had wings of the type used in Monaco and Silverstone. Alonso raced the new wing.

Alonso's car without F Duct channel to rear wing


In Friday afternoon practice they did a comparison test between the F Duct rear wing and no F Duct. Alonso said on Friday night that he thought it was better with the F Duct, but then his car appeared without it for qualifying and he stuck it on pole. This was because the simulations for qualifying and the race showed that the car would be faster here without it, the extra downforce more than making up for the additional speed the F Duct wing would give on the straight. On this occasion Alonso was willing to sideline his instincts in the face of raw data.

..and Massa's with the F Duct channel

McLaren were miles off the pace the last time we went to a high downforce and bumpy circuit, in Hungary. Here they were more competitive and part of that has to do with the way that they have evolved the rear end aerodynamics. This has allowed them to run the suspension softer and that helped over the bumps.

McLaren had a sumptuous looking new front wing on display this weekend, based on the main profile introduced at Silverstone. This layout has the purpose to separate the airflow into two channels, but with both directing airflow around the outside of the front tyres . There is so much detail in this wing, check out the tiny fin vents on the inside of the top element. And contrast the complexity of this wing with the simplicity of the Ferrari one. McLaren ran a back to back comparison between this wing and the previous version and Button opted to run the new one.

In contrast to all of the above we have Hispania’s car, built by Dallara. This car has basically not had any development on it at all.

The high downforce wing in Singapore is the same as...


The most stark illustration of this is the front wing. If you compare their front wing for the low downforce Monza circuit and for the high downforce Singapore circuit you will see quite clearly that they are exactly the same!

For reference the Hispania was 3.75 seconds off the pace in Turkey, earlier in the season and here in Singapore it was 6.4 seconds.

..the low downforce wing in Monza

A tough race for Brakes
With new rules for 2010 requiring drivers to start the race with full fuel loads, Singapore has become one of the toughest races on the calendar for the brakes. The reason for this is not because there are many big stops from high to low speed. Rather it is the lack of cooling opportunities.

There are 17 braking moments on every lap and an incredible 21% of the lap time is spent braking – that’s 22 seconds of braking in a 1m 45s lap. On two occasions the driver has to put over 100kg of pressure on the brake pedal. If the carbon discs and pads are not given a chance to dissipate the heat and cool down their performance fades, so getting the brake ducts right to finding ways of cooling them is critical.

The brake discs were 28mm thick at the start or the race and during the course of the Singapore Grand Prix they wore down to just 22mm. A set of brake discs and pads for each F1 car costs £10,000 and at the end of the 61 lap race they are thrown in the bin.

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61 Comments
  1. François says:

    Mclaren was still off the pace in Singapore. Att least in the race pace they were 1 second off.
    With 4 races remaining, this is a Redbull vs ferrari fight.
    Mclaren should concentrate in 2011 car. And for lewis sake, they need to make it stronger!!! how come lewis’s suspension breaks so easily?

    1. James Allen says:

      They had problems keeping the soft tyres in. But Ham’s quali pace 0.2s off the Ferrari is undeniable

    2. alk says:

      Not everything is lost. They were much slower in Monaco and Hungary. So some progress is apparent.

      And 20 points deficit is like 9 points in last year’s points. In 2007 Kimi had much larger deficit and still managed to take title. He needed luck, but in this case ‘just’ 3 wins is enough to regain title lead even if Webber will keep finishing second. Larger gap for 1 and 2 place in new points system makes title hopes of both McLaren drivers very much alive.

    3. Jim says:

      At this stage of the season, with only a win separating the drivers, it would be mad to concentrate on the 2011 car. A mistake or coming together with the red bulls/ferrari (neither of which have been flawless) would put them right back in it. Similar to Alonso, even if the car is not super strong, Hamilton will extract everything and more. Lets not write them off just yet.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Totally agree, mate. I am looking forward to see Lewis reaction for the next GPs. For sure he can not be written off so soon.

        I think that we will see the two best drivers on the grid at their best on this four last races… and it seems it will be amazing!! I do appreciate the talent and skills of Mark, Seb and Jenson, of course, but I think that Fernando and Lewis are to show why they are considered by the fans as the best.

        Fingers crossed for a close fight until Abu Dhabi!!

      2. Jim says:

        Agreed, but I think Webber has been Mr Consistency this season, so he would still be my tip for the title, especially with his points advantage over the others. Webber, Lewis and Fernando will take it to Abu Dhabi, I think.

        Vettel just lacks maturity this season, and despite his speed, I think that inconsistency will cost him dear. All those unconverted pole positions…

        Button is not fast enough in normal conditions to compete with the others. Yes he made a couple of good calls earlier in the season, but that is not enough to win a world championship alone. He just isn’t quick enough…

    4. Mark M says:

      Have you seen the pictures of webbers wheel after the race I have never seen a tyre still inflated that has moved that far from the rim

  2. Ashish Sharma says:

    Dear James,

    It has been great to follow the technical analysis of the wings, the diffuser, the f-duct and for a fan it is great to get to see the technical aspects more up close and personal than ever before (esp. with the great photos from Darren Heath). Keep up the great work.

    I have one request on that front: if you could cover the use of the aeropaint (i remember seeing a Red Bull rear wing painted green at practice in Monza) and how exactly do engineers use it for analysing their models. It would be great to hear about that.

    1. malcolm.strachan says:

      It’s pretty simple… smooth lines are good, and messy lines are bad (messy lines mean that the flow has separated and there is turbulence, which cuts downforce and increases drag).

      This is a similar example, but from dirt and water after a wet-to-dry ALMS race at Mosport:

      http://www.mulsannescorner.com/mkiiic-4.html

      http://www.mulsannescorner.com/R&S-MS4.jpg

      The three photos in the first link show nice streamlines; however, the photo in the second link shows a lot of turbulence.

      Same deal: smooth lines = good, messy lines = bad. ;)

  3. Luke A says:

    James,

    Did you hear Button’s post race interview with the BBC where he said that McLaren brought an upgrade to Singapore but didn’t use it for reliability reasons. He said they’d hopefully have it working at Suzuka in addition to their other planned updates for there.

    Can you shed any light on what this update was? It sounds more like a device than an obvious piece of bodywork. Kind of sounds quite exciting and I remember Jonathan Neal saying they were bringing various “devices” to Singapore. Maybe it’s something innovative and new.

    I reckon if McLaren get their updates working well at Suzuka (where they said their new front wing should work even better too) then they could challenge Red Bull as McLaren have been good on fast flowing circuits this year and Suzuka has quite a few considerable straights.

    1. Crumb says:

      Good point, I’d like to know more too. Plus this experimental gearbox thing that Ferrari were playing with in Singapore.

      I think the McLarens will struggle in Suzuka.
      The first sector is so suited to cars with great high downforce that the top speed advantage of McLaren in setor 3 will not be enough.
      I’m pretty sure we’ll see a repeat of Singapore, Red Bull quickest – if the drivers get their act together in Quali that is, then Ferrari, then McLaren.

  4. Sam G says:

    Hispania clearly aren’t even trying to race.

    Zero effort going into the car, and chucking in whatever driver gets them the most cash on the day.

    If they were making even the minimal effort to get race results, they’d have at least a generic low downforce and generic high downforce wings, and put their two fastest drivers – Klein and Chandok – in the driving seats.

    Still love to see the McLaren parts though. Such ridiculous and wonderful complexity. I’d love to see what their cars would look like today if all the extra appendages hadn’t been banned.

    1. Mark M says:

      The car was built by dallara, dallara realised it was a dog/ hrt were slow in paying for car and both parties realised that it wasn’t worth the time and money to develop a car that Geoff Willis said was possibly the worst car he has ever worked on

      1. Nick F says:

        Surely they could have at least done one set of updates. I doubt you would have to work hard to improve the car. If they basically copied some of the things from the other cars with minimal R&D surely it would be better. It couldn’t really be much worse.

  5. Maurice A says:

    Hello James,

    There was a segment on this on ONE. You were interviewing the Force India engineer about the brakes. For a team like HRT struggling and the expensive components no wonder its so rewarding and satisfying. Red Bull must of spent hundreds of millions to get there car where it is today.

    1. Red5 says:

      I maybe wrong but I thought some of the cars components are purchased from the same source, for example brakes are either Hitco or Brembo.

      Most of Red Bulls money probably went into building up Adrian’s team and subsequent aerodynamic developments.

      With a customer engine in the back of their car I guess RB can devote more time to improving other areas.

  6. Dave says:

    6.4 seconds off the pace is an incredible margin. Is Hispania’s lack of development because they are concentrating on next year, or is it purely due to financial difficulties?

    1. Red5 says:

      We’ll see next season whether they can reduce this deficit.

      There may have been recent cost cuts in the sport but the best brains are still working for the top teams.

      You could argue that the lack of testing hurts the smaller teams but in reality the bigger teams will still pull away at the front.

      Darwin had a theory that sums their situation up best.

    2. MAS says:

      I’m curious about that as well. Since Hispania were set up from the beginning as a team running a customer car, as it were, I wouldn’t expect them to have had the necessary facilities and personnel to build their own car at the beginning of the season. The deal with Dallara apparently didn’t include development and they either haven’t bothered or been able to do so themselves.

      Early in the summer HRT and Dallara announced they had parted ways so it’s safe to assume they’ve known since then they needed more personnel and new facilities. Usually when a team makes major acquisitions and hires a lot of new staff or prominent personnel it gets a mention on at least one of the major F1 news-sites. I haven’t noticed anything at all like that about Hispania, has anyone else? If not I think it’s pretty safe to assume HRT can’t have done anything at all on their 2011 car.

      The only thing I’ve read is that Kolles wants to relocate to his old DTM factory in Germany and there have also been rumours of a partial takeover by Epsilon Euskadi (which has the necessary facilities). But no such deal has been announced as of yet and even if it did come to that, they’d only have 5 months or so to build a new car. That’s less than Lotus had last year and they built a very conservative car.

      So even if a deal is done they’ll be at the back of the grid. Either with a hastily built new car or with the current car, modified for the new regulations (so without double diffuser).

      Of course, all of this is assuming they can claw their way out of the financial mess they are in currently.

      Have you heard anything about HRT’s future James? Either on the financial or technical front?

  7. jonrob says:

    McLaren- 10 separate elements on each side of the wing, vs half that on the Hispania.

    Looking at what is basically the result of a vast difference in resources and money between the front of the grid and the back, one has to feel a bit sorry for Hispania, who look like they have turned up with a 10 year old old second hand F3000 car that their uncle left them in his will.

    With that level of development (none) how can they bear to turn up each race knowing that they are going to be humiliated, 6-10 seconds off the pace and growing more through the season as the rich teams develop.

    I think that smart surfaces will be on the cards very soon and that Red Bulls “row of rivet heads” was not merely a desperate “Quick rivet another plate on the bottom, it’s still bending too much” but the start of the air friction management surface designing. (ie golfball dimples etc). What chance does Hispania have in catching up to that? Only if Adrian Newey should have a major mental deviance and join Hispania and then work miracles on a tenth of his normal budget, would they stand any chance of improving significantly.

    Everyone knows that front end of the grid makes money, while the back end just consumes it, thus the poverty gap is self perpetuating.

    1. malcolm.strachan says:

      “who look like they have turned up with a 10 year old old second hand F3000 car that their uncle left them in his will”

      I actually laughed out loud. *thumbs up*

      Golf-ball-style dimples would not yield a positive effect, as they pursue different aerodynamic aims than a front wing. A simple strategy like that would have been pursued long ago, if it were beneficial. It would not take long to make a mould that had little bumps all over to result in tiny dimples in the resin on whatever surface they wanted to test.

      1. jonrob says:

        The dimples reduce drag by causing the air to separate from the surface quicker. This is something that would be advantageous. One would use it on the underside of wings. In fact I believe it is not allowed at present.

      2. malcolm.strachan says:

        If the flow separates from a wing early, it will reduce the downforce it creates, so it would not be advantageous.

      3. jonrob says:

        It is what the F Duct is used for.

      4. jonrob says:

        Quicker not earlier.
        The continued adhesion of the air to the rear of the wing creates drag, a clean separation reduces drag and creates a stall. This is what the F Duct achieves, however smart surfaces may create the same effect without the F Duct.

  8. Jim says:

    In fairness to Hispania, the Turkey circuit is much shorter than Singapore. But point stands, given their lack of money and development, it is hard to see why they persist in the sport if they’re not going to bother doing anything other than finish last each race/retire. It is almost bewildering that the likes of Prodrive didn’t get the place, given their proven track record and links with major car brands. I actually cannot think why there were not offered the place!

    1. Spencer says:

      Wasn’t it because they didn’t want to run a Cosworth engine???

      1. Jim says:

        I heard that too, wonder if there was any basis in that rumour. James’s new post seems to say Mosley wanted a load of Cosworth teams, hence why Lotus were chosen (“Mosley wanted a fourth customer for Cosworth to make the engine programme viable”). But surely a good new team would have far outweighed the benefit of having a struggling team consistently occupying the last row of the grid.

  9. Rowan says:

    thanks for the focus on the wings, a visible demonstration of the push for the championship from the big teams, and how woefully underfunded Hispania are. I actually feel sorry for them.

  10. Red5 says:

    Certainly a lot more attention to detail visible on the McLaren wing. There were also some great shots from the underside of Red Bull during qualifying / race.

    I guess front wing development be restricted in 2011 with the movable within 1 sec of car in front rule.

    4,000 parts on a car!! It would be interesting to understand what parts are not changed during the season, either due to regulations or due to other factors.

    Question about the blazing Lotus. Have F1 cars ever had on-board extinguisher systems?

    1. Martin Collyer says:

      I have always thought that on-board extinguisher systems were fitted, since way back in the dark ages. One time a team (Alfa-Romeo???) were penalised for running with an empty extinguisher. Gerard Ducarouge got the blame and lost his job. It was a long time ago, I may have some of the details wrong.

      I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about it not working.

      1. Stewart says:

        F1 cars have extinguishers fitted in the cockpits, but those aren’t much use on an engine fire.

  11. hesus says:

    Some statistics: In last 5 races – Alonso 93 points, Webber 74, Massa 61, Vettel 60, Button 44, Hamilton 37 (two non finishes but how much did it cost him 20 points?) It shows that Mclaren is loosing ground to RB and Ferrari. It doesn’t look good. I am also interested in flexi wing tests in Singapore – is seems to me that it was the key to Red Bull loosing its edge they had in Hungary.

    1. Luke A says:

      Hamilton has had 3 DNF in the last 4 races. McLaren were ahead of Red Bull at Spa and Monza – Singapore inherently doesn’t suit their car and they actually put on a pretty good performance (especially in qualifying). Expect them to be right up their in Suzuka fighting for pole – mark my words, I expect Hamilton to be on pole.

      1. hesus says:

        My mistake, sorry. But Germany didn’t go well for them and it seems to be track with similar characteristic to remaining races. I hope Mclaren will bounce back – from the spectator’s point of view it will be entertaining.

    2. Mojo66 says:

      I’ve taken a closer look at the oboard from the race today, and the only front wing that is still flexible is the Red Bull one.

  12. sean cleary says:

    Thanks for that. Alway enjoy reading the tech report.

    Any ideas why vettel didnt make a proper move on alonso?
    Some laps(towards the end when a 1 second gap existed) he’d gain 0.4 seconds on alonso and and seemed to back off?

    1. Red5 says:

      Alonso made it look easy.

      Vettel had no real options and couldn’t get close enough to make a move. He knew Alonso wasn’t going to make a mistake. And the Ferrari has been reliable enough to take the top spot again.

      For sure Red Bull must be frustrated that their apparent car advantage is not reflected in a significant championship lead. For all the talk about letting team mates race each other on track, in reality it has cost the team valuable points.

      1. sean cleary says:

        not to mention their reliability issues at the beginning of the season. cost them a few wins…

    2. malcolm.strachan says:

      Points.

      It’s better for him to get a second place than to crash out with Alonso and have the points-leader (Webber) go on to with the race.

      As it is, with Vettel staying in second for points:
      1. Webber, 202 pts, 4 wins
      2. Alonso, 191 pts, 4 wins
      3. Hamilton, 182 pts, 3 wins
      4. Vettel, 181 pts, 2 wins
      5. Button, 177 pts, 2 wins

      Note that even with Bernie’s medal system, the top five would be the same (Alonso and Webber have the same number of 2nd’s, and Webber has one more 3rd).

      If Vettel crashed into Alonso, here is what the points would have been:

      1. Webber, 212 pts, 5 wins
      2. Button, 183 pts, 2 wins
      3. Hamilton, 182 pts, 3 wins
      4. Alonso, 166 pts, 3 wins
      5. Vettel, 163 pts, 2 wins

      Note that Webber is now 29 points ahead of Button and 49 points ahead of Vettel. Also, with Bernie’s medal system, Webber would have a two-win advantage over both Hamilton and Alonso. Bernie’s medal system would have likely motivated Vettel to try a pass, as a second place wouldn’t mean very much.

      Had Vettel’s pass worked, the points would be:

      1. Webber, 202 pts, 4 wins
      2. Vettel, 188 pts, 3 wins
      3. Alonso, 183 pts, 3 wins
      4. Hamilton, 182 pts, 3 wins
      5. Button, 177 pts, 2 wins

      Note: Vettel would have 7 more points, and would be 14 points behind, rather than being 21 points behind having remained in position. In Bernie’s medal system, there would be a three-way tie for 2nd, one win behind Webber.

      Analysis:

      Personally, I think Vettel made the right move, as he is still less than a win behind Webber, with a lot of points left to be scored. Losing out on 7 points is definitely preferable to possibly ending up 49 points behind (almost two wins worth of points).

      In Bernie’s system, it would be a toss-up. A second place wouldn’t be terrible, just in case the season came down to a tie, and he would still only be two wins behind the tied leaders, just as he was after Monza, thus minimizing his loss. A win would bring him one win behind Webber, and tied with two other drivers for second, and would thus yield a greater benefit than the current points system. Finally, crashing out would put Webber two wins ahead of Alonso and Hamilton, with Vettel three wins behind. In this case, the win would be more enticing, but at the same time, he would still have much to lose. Therefore, I doubt that Bernie’s medal system would have created a much different finish, as Vettel likely would know that he had too much to lose to Webber, and not much to lose to Alonso.

      In both cases, I would like to have seen Vettel try for it, but completely understand his hesitation (even if it was the medal system). If I was behind the wheel, I probably would have gone for it, considering how this year’s points system benefits winning much more than 2009… but then again, I would have probably asked the team, and followed their advice, as they can quickly figure out the best outcome from the pit-wall, rather than me figuring it out behind the wheel.

  13. Galapago555 says:

    Great stuff like always, James.

    A little off topic, but re yesterday’s race: during the final couple of laps, yellow flags were waving on the sector around the finish line because of the fire in Heikki’s car. What would have happened if Seb had overtaken Alonso just on the straight, before crossing the finish line? “Overtaking under yellow flags”, so a drivethrough penalty, i.e., 20 secs? Could have been funny, couldn’t it?

  14. goofball says:

    Great Article James.
    Where do you find the time !
    You must have a team of people working for you.
    You just cant get this kind of analysis in any other form of motor sport.
    Although you lean towards your fellow country men :) your a good bloke.

    1. saba says:

      i beg to differ, mulsannescorner is a great technical resource for aero info but thats if youre into lmp racing,…

  15. Geoff Richards says:

    “That’s not to say that there will not be new parts on the cars in the remaining races, but they will have to be flown out in engineer’s luggage and they will be individual components rather than packages.”

    I’m curious as to why this would be the case. Why can’t / wouldn’t the teams just use airfreight?

    1. James Allen says:

      Timing, mainly. Updates get frozen at the last possible moment and that means some poor sap taking five boxes of stuff with him in his luggage to arrive Thursday night and sometimes even Friday night! I’ve often helped people like McLaren’s Paddy Lowe or Geoff Willis in his Red Bull days to push two baggage trolleys each through Arrivals loaded with boxes!

      1. mick says:

        Wow that is amazing. An idea for a future article/video perhaps, James? the logistics side of F1?

      2. Dave says:

        Hi James,

        I would imagine that there is more chance of the parts arriving in time if they are being escorted by a team member than handed over to a 3rd party freight company. With the amount of baggage that goes missing every day are you aware of engineers arriving at their destination only to find some of their baggage is lost and never found? Could be some baggage handler F1 fans out there with some never used parts!!

  16. Kenny says:

    The more articles I read about Ferrari’s front wing being more “simplistic” and Mclaren’s being rather “complex and intricate” the more the expression of “sometimes being simple is better”.
    I believe you did mention before James Allen, that Ferrari went for a basic blown diffuser design and then evolving it.

    I think seeing proper confirmation about Hispania not making any actual upgrades during the season is a big worry. I think it’s genuinely a record that a team has not brought in any major upgrades for their car during a whole season.
    Admittedly, Dallara who made the chassis are normally used to just making the one chassis for F3 or something and it lasts in the category for a number of years before changes are made. So it’s kind of hard to put blame onto Dallara for that, but some certainly has to go to the technical department of HRT on those grounds. I think I’m also right in thinking we have NEVER heard the team saying that they’re going to bring such and such upgrades to certain races unlike Lotus and Virgin. Although having the team has given people job oppurtunities, I don’t think they are really doing themselves any good by being on the grid.
    Somewhat harsh of me to say so, but given their lack of having some sort of development schedule to atleast keep up with Lotus and Virgin and also their very poor people skills with their ludicrous driver musical chairs, I’d rather see them gone from the grid.

  17. Olivier says:

    James, I apologize for going completely off topic: what’s this thing with Lotus not being able to use the Lotus brand name?

    What a disgrace that is. As someone put it on their facebook fanpage: “no one dared to dream like Tony Fernandez …” There’s a lot of intrigue going on there … especially with ART GP popping up.

    Perhaps Tony Fernandez could rebrand the “Lotus racing team” into “Colin Chapman racing” as the entire Chapman family is behind his project?

    It’d be great if you dig into this story a little bit more?!

  18. captainj84 says:

    hats off to every driver who has had to sit in the hrt driving seat! Looks like a dog to drive. although Driving such a bad car can only help them become much better drivers, meaning hopefully if we get to see these drivers in any of the established teams we will be seeing some highly developed and competitive racers. Also i hope it is not to long before we see karun back on the grid, shame he hasn’t got enough money behind him to guarantee him a seat!

  19. EM says:

    I hate to read the phrase ‘updates worth 1.7 seconds a lap’. It needs context, it’s too simplistic.

    1.7 seconds a lap on which circuit? Compared to what? Under which conditions?

    It’s the F1 equivalent of football’s ‘he’s lost half a yard of pace’

  20. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    Great website, love the technical analysis you do here. Now to go off topic…I see Ron Dennis at the races these days and it got me wondering about how much input and influence he has in the McLaren racing team. I know he’s involved with the commercial side officially but what’s your understanding on this issue?

    thanks,

    Peter

  21. Stig says:

    First of all tnx for your high quality reports – they really give a greater experience for a fan following this cracking championship. Havent slept so badly at GP weekends since 90-91!

    I am rather pusled as to why you James and others seem to think that McLaren will be quick at Suzuka. Can not see where they will make up the time they will loose in sector one and I dont even think they will be quickest in any sector. I am curious though to se how close Alonso will be. Still think they will miss 0.2 sec. Mclaren will be closer to half a second, in racetrim at least.

    Think it will be Redbull first row, then Ferrari, then Mclaren with Kubica mabe spliting the Maclarens.

    Think Webber must win here – its their best chance of the remaining races, but I fancy Alonsos chances now that he`s on a 05-06 roll. Their certainly clicking at Ferrari now. Of the remaining contenders Alonso is the best at delivering top performance.

    1. Ryan Eckford says:

      I can tell you why McLaren will be quick at Suzuka, compared with the other title contending cars.

      The McLaren this year is a car which is strong through high and medium-speed corners, has great speed on the straights and is good when you lower the downforce level. It is good through slow-speed corners and also has good braking and traction, but because of the suspension of the McLaren performing best when it is stiff, there is more chance of it pervailing when it is at a lower downforce level than at a higher downforce level.

      The Ferrari this year is a car which is strong through slow-speed corners and has strong braking and traction, which helps it’s performance through slow-speed corners. It’s suspension performs best when it is soft. This means the Ferrari is good at circuits which have slow-speed corners and where braking and traction are important, regardless of downforce level. This means they still have good straightline speed, because . The problem is that even though the Ferrari is good through medium and high-speed, most circuits where braking and traction are important don’t have medium/high-speed corners, meaning that the car is less strong at circuits with medium and high-speed. It prefers circuits like Monza, Singapore and Monaco more than circuits like Suzuka, Barcelona or Silverstone.

      The Red Bull is a car that is very strong through medium and high-speed corners and is very good at higher downforce levels. Even though it is good through slow-speed corners and has good braking and traction, this is more likely to prevail at higher downforce levels. More downforce the better for Red Bull, less downforce is less good for Red Bull.

      My predictions for the pace setting for the final four grand prixs are:

      Japan: 1. Red Bull 2. McLaren 3. Ferrari
      Korea: 1. Red Bull 2. McLaren 3. Ferrari
      Brazil: 1. McLaren 2. Red Bull 3. Ferrari
      Abu Dhabi: 1. McLaren 2. Ferrari 3. Red Bull

      1. jay harte says:

        agree with you completely
        your analysis of who will be good at the following tracks
        is spot on .
        you should put a few quid on these predictions
        red bull will kick bottom at suzuka and korea
        and the might do the same at brazil remember the mclaren doesnt really like a bumby like interlagos,however the f duct will work a treat especially with all the fresh units lewis has left
        he completed 7 laps in the last two races
        abu dhabi is all mclaren territory
        totally agree

  22. Brian says:

    Yes, lets see that 1.7 second claim. Where’s it from? They visit NO track more than once year to race. So which track do they test at early and late in the year that they can make such a claim????

    At Singapore they were almost .8 seconds faster than last year going by the fastest lap in qualifying, in Q2, vs this years Q3.

    Remember last year in Q3 they had to run their first stints worth of fuel and Q2 was when they ran light.

  23. Lockster says:

    Hi James,

    Just interested to get your thoughts on why Klein was so much faster than Senna?

    In other words, is it just straight driving pace or having much more experience at settling the car up or perhaps a mix of the two??

    Cheers.

  24. Rich says:

    I’m not sure I really believe the improvement times you read about. When we use to have lots of testing we would turn up in Barcelona in early November, with teams running old cars generally just tyre testing, and the times were just often a couple of tenths quicker that the pre season test in January/February – there they struggled with track temp.

  25. El shish says:

    James, could you clarify what team officials mean when they say an improvement of 1.x seconds per lap. Does the Renault boss mean they would do the Bahrain circuit 1.7 seconds quicker now? I’m often confused when we talk about 0.3/0.5/0.7 improvements, particularly in the context of upgrades as such improvements can seem an impressive achievement if talking talking about a short circuit but can be utterly underwhelming if measured on a longer track, a la Singapore

  26. Stefanos says:

    Hi James,

    Great insight, again, and a good follow-up to a previous article on the outward-washing front wing endplates.

    However, seeing all those developments, I am confused and hopefully you can clarify. To my understanding, the current aero rules dictated that the front wings were to be lower, wider and on a single plane (aiming to reduce downforce, but not overtaking). It therefore makes sense that most innovation focused on the endplates. The new wings from Ferrari and McLaren are not only comprised of multiple elements and winglets, but the main plane is now interrupted.

    Have the rules changed, or is this a loophole?

    Thanks!

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