F1 Teams still on a sharp learning curve in Sepang
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F1 Teams still on a sharp learning curve in Sepang
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Apr 2011   |  11:47 am GMT  |  73 comments

The second round of the world championship takes place this weekend in Sepang and there will be a lot of learn from the action on track this weekend.

A tricky weekend to plan (McLaren)


Melbourne gave us a partial picture, with Red Bull clearly the fastest car, McLaren in much better shape than in testing and Sauber clearly the most gentle car in its tyres. But the teams are all still on a sharp learning curve when it comes to ways of getting the most from the tyres on race day and maximising the exhaust blown diffusers, now that single diffusers are the order of the day.

It’s also likely that there will be rain at some point over the weekend and that should give everyone a chance to learn some more about the Pirelli intermediate tyres, on which little running has been done so far by teams. Pirelli themselves did a test in Abu Dhabi where they wet the track to test the tyres out, but there was only the odd wet session in pre season testing in Spain, one of which was a full wet condition.

We should learn more about the adjustable DRS rear wing this weekend and its capacity to improve overtaking. The hairpin leading onto the straight at Sepang offers the ideal testing ground for the DRS wing, so we can draw more conclusions from this weekend’s race.

On the subject of the blown diffusers, one thing which definitely caught my eye this week was the statement from Renault that they used 10% more fuel during the race in Australia in order to maximise the exhuast gas pressure on the overrun in the corners. Here’s what they said,

“To power a blown floor effectively and generate additional downforce, an engine must produce significant amounts of exhaust gas. Simply put, the more fuel burned, the more exhaust is produced and potentially more downforce. Since the RS27’s fuel consumption rate is extremely good, the Renault-equipped teams were able to burn 10% more fuel than normal during the Australian Grand Prix without running out of fuel, therefore giving more exhaust flow to its partners using the blown diffuser.”

That is something like 15kg of extra fuel needed, which around Albert Park equates to about six tenths of a second compared to not carrying that fuel. Renault’s boast here is that their engine is that much more efficient than the other engines that they can have the gain of the diffuser without carrying more fuel than their rivals. That’s quite a benefit. I’d like to drill down into that a bit more over the coming weeks.

Renault were the pioneers of the return of the exhaust blown diffuser with Red Bull last season and they seem to have an advantage here. Meanwhile their rivals Ferrari and McLaren have a bit of an advantage on KERS, having optimised their second version of KERS this year. Red Bull has a different kind of KERS from the Renault and there is still a lot to learn about how that works. The heads up that they were using a start only system in Australia was a strong one but appears to have been not entirely correct. It’s only a matter of time before someone uncovers the truth behind what they are doing differently.

Tyre wise, the heat combined with the higher energy corners and the slightly more abrasive surface will mean that a “Perez” (ie a one stopper) is very unlikely in dry conditions. Pirelli are saying three or fours stops but engineers I’ve spoken to this week say that a car which is gentle on its tyres like the Sauber can maybe get away with saving a stop, so we will see a mixture of two, three and maybe even a four stop strategy.

This looks to be an area where Ferrari has a weakness at the moment – they are tougher on tyres than their rivals. It’s a key area for them to work on. Fernando Alonso said today that preparing strategy for Sepang is one of the most stressful of the season, “You need to be prepared for every eventuality. It’s not just a problem for us drivers, as its affects the whole team: in some cases you need to be ready with a plan B or C, or even maybe a D for all the various scenarios,” he said

Incidentally, the Sepang race is one of the least likely to see a Safety Car – a 14% chance in fact, one of the lowest probabilities of the season.

For my full pre race Strategy Briefing, with in depth analysis of all the considerations for race strategy this weekend, go to my Strategy Briefing, brought to you by UBS

Click on “Microsite Special” and then click the Sepang circuit map. Enjoy!

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73 Comments
  1. iceman says:

    Wow, I didn’t realise the downforce gained from blowing the diffuser was so great. Despite being very restricted on what holes it can blow through now, the effect must still be pretty large to offset starting with 15kg extra fuel. The gain must have been spectacular last year with the double decker diffusers.

    1. TM says:

      That’s what I was thinking.
      So the blown exhaust benefits them by over 6 tenths? This sounds extraordinary to me. Also it must have meant that at the end of the race the Renaults were 6 tenths faster relative to the gap to their rivals that had existed at the start of the race, no? Were they?…difficult to tell I know but it’s interesting.

    2. wayne says:

      Mmm, is F1 looking to be more ‘green’ or not? Is this something that Renault should be boasting about i.e. they burn more fuel to achieve greater downforce? Or to put it another way, “we have developed an even more efficient engine which could burn less fuel but we are going to choose not too in order to generate excess waste products ie exhaust gas”.
      Additionally was Sauber REALLY “Sauber clearly the most gentle car in its tyres” or was it the case that they had little to loose and so were the only ones to try a one stopper. Perhaps other cars could have one stopped if it had occurred to them.

      Really looking forward to Sepang, for some answers that were not offered up in Australia. I quite like this track, the name even sounds great when you say it out loud. Go on, try it out “SEPANG!” sounds like a cartoon arrow embedding itself in a tree trunk!

      1. Sebee says:

        You made me walk around the office saying SEPANG! out loud. Must have looked silly.

        Others?

        Monzaaaaaaa – sounds like a low down force F1 car going at high speed. Fade out the “a” as the car goes by :-)

        Suuuu-Zuuuu-Kaaaa – sounds like F1 car up shifting.

        Spa – nearly always delivers a hydrating experience as the name implies. As in Spaaaahhhh! That was satisfying.

        Silverstone – well, nearly always between a stone and a hard place.

        What are the 3 most boring circuits on the 2011 calendar by the way? Not to say out loud but to experience on TV.

        The 3 really should have a proven track record of processions in any conditions. I mean – ones where we take a nap during the race, and upon waking up first thought on the brain is – “That was a great nap!” instead of “What’s the order? What did I miss?”

      2. Richard D says:

        Barcelona, Valencia and Hungary are the most boring for me. Abu Dhabi just escapes, for now…

      3. wayne says:

        I’d have to be controversial and say Monaco; it’s a race that is all about history and nothing about actually racing at all. I know I will be instantly hated for even suggesting such a thing but I want to see good racing not sentimental clap trap. Is the setting ‘magical’ though? Yes, even I have to admit that much so maybe I ma as sentimental as everyone else…. I think I may have talked myself round and need to go and take a lie down.

        PS BAHHHHHHH_RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN sounds like the start of an F1 race. Cars revving to the lights and then screaming their way down the straight!

      4. Sebee says:

        So far, the responses are funny. Funny because both replies say European races are boring. So far, we’re not helping the argument that these new exotic races are the pits. Argument you made Wayne.

        And for the record, Hungary has had some exciting races in past 10-12 years. Schumi closing championship, Button Win, Alonso/Hamilton drama. Etc.

        And Monaco is very enjoyable live. May I also remind you about the Schumi quali drama in 06 with subsequent drive from last to 5th I think, crashes in the tunnel, passes before line, Truly win, Mantoya win, etc. – I think Monaco delivers a fair share of action and drama nearly every year. And it’s easy on the eyes too. So I would veto your call on Monaco if I had such power of veto. :-)

    3. ben says:

      Surprising people aren’t realising the benefits of the blown diffuser. McLaren have been saying they feel the gains they could make from their temporarily abandoned version could give them up to 1 second a lap, but fascinating to see how much performance Renault are gaining from having it at least more perfected than most other teams and perhaps an insight into why Petrov, who really is nothing more than average, was able to get such a good result in Aus. Imagine what Kubica could have done with this car this season – no doubt more than enough to nick points off of the genuine title contenders at several meets this season and would have made it an even more close fought contest. I fear RB dominance.

      10 hours and I’ll be on my cheap-as-chips flight from Singapore to Sepang, tickets in hand for Platinum Block K at the first corner. I hope I don’t put the kybosh on it by wearing my bright red McLaren victory cap!

      Enjoy everyone…. F1 is back!!!!

      1. wayne says:

        Maybe Kubica could have become the next wdc this year. It’s not impossible – like you say if that is what an average ‘pay driver’ like Petrov can do what might have been for Kubica?

        If I worked on that car at Renault I would be furious with RK indulging himself like that – but then we’ve had this debate on this website and my opinion on Kubica’s acciden was not popular!

      2. Russell says:

        I’m happy for you, but don’y forget your umbrella.

  2. Dale says:

    ‘Sauber clearly the most gentle car in its tyres’

    James I can’t see how YOU (or any other seasones F1 observer) can make that statement? Others could well have done the same had they chosen to, they just didn’t!

    Let’s us watch a few races before forming too many certainties.

    1. JamesF1 says:

      I agree in so far as a one-stop was an option for the entire field, however the reality of doing that, for any car other than the Sauber, is that they would have totally wrecked their tyres and ended up losing upwards of 5-6 seconds per lap, in which case Perez probably would have won the race. Therefore the other teams did what suited them best, given the amount that their cars wore out the rubber.

      The theme of Sauber being kind to its tyres was a common one throughout testing, with many commentators other than James drawing that conclusion.

    2. Luca says:

      I agree that its still a little early on tyre wear and that Melbourne is not a 100% accurate reflection of where people are – the track temp was low / its not a fully fledge circuit hence the difference in surface – also the set-up of the cars appears to have been quite a factor in Oz.

      Look at RB – time will tell, but i doubt Webber has lost that much speed to Vettel over the winter (0.8 sec in quali) and Webber’s tyre wear was as bad as the Ferrari’s over the race from what I have read, and so far RB are putting it down to a few set-up diffs between the two.
      Also, Ferrari appeared to be kind on its tyres over the winter testing, again from what i read.

      so roll on this weekend for a true reflection of what is going on…

      1. Russell says:

        Elsewhere I read that RB are hard on their tyres, but that this heats them up. Hence it’s good for qualifying but not for the race especially with warm weather conditions.

        Does this make sense?

    3. Jason C says:

      But the others’ tyres started to fall away rapidly which meant they had to change. This didn’t happen to Perez, hence the conclusion that the Sauber is more gentle.

  3. Jesper Mathias Nielsen says:

    The questionable benefit of KERS (or atleast a fully fledged one compared to a “start only” or whatever they have in that RB7) and Renaults decision to use 10% fuel to blow the floor (not really a relevant technology for commercial road cars) should also beg a review of Max Mosleys vision and attempt to make F1 green.

    1. TM says:

      Yes, Mosley (and what’s more, Mosley alone) should have realised some 3 years in advance that one team would develop a blown exhaust for 2011 and need to use 10% extra fuel to do make it work. Please. It’s time to move on from the Mosley bashing, the teams themselves decided this year to re-introduce KERS.

      He never tried to make F1 green. He tried to introduce technology that could be adapted to make road cars greener. There’s a big difference. Just look at the way the flywheel that Williams developed for F1 is now being used on road cars. The rapid technological development in F1 brought about by the intense competition accelerates development in countless other areas of society. It’s rather like the ‘developed by NASA’ effect.

      1. Rufus says:

        Nah, he tried, and I quote, “to spice up the show and shuffle the grid”. He claimed cutting costs, greener racing, technology in road cars, whatever, but that was the reason for more regulation changes in 10 years than in the entire previous history of motor racing.

    2. Martin says:

      Jesper, there is a difference between burning extra fuel to generate downforce and a power constrained KERS system. KERS was meant to have a larger charge capacity and power level, but this was capped to 2009 levels, probably for cost cutting. Greater energy capture through regenerative braking and battery technology improvements could help road cars. As you suggest flowing exhaust gases around the sidepods won’t help my next car. To be fair to Max, he has little to do with the engineering minds in Renault who came up exhaust systems. More damming for Max and the FIA was Toyota’s decision not to run KERS was it was too simple when it was already using it in sports car racing in Japan – with front wheel regenerative braking I believe.

  4. Azri says:

    Really interesting article as usual, James.

    McLaren – Still finding a way to unlock the potential of the back end and the floor of their car.

    Ferrari – Too hard on it’s tyres, which really cost them dearly. Another problem? Felipe Massa’s race pace.

    RedBull – lack of an efficient KERS system.

    No one is perfect… but RedBull do have the most strongest package out there.

    1. TheLegend says:

      Who said Ferrari is hard on tyres? Massa waste them a lot because he can’t warm them, but the car looks ok on tyres when Fernando drives it. They could have done a two stops strategy in a normal race, but the three stops were needed due to race circumstances. The only two drivers that complained about tyre degradation in Melbourne were the Red Bull, both of them.

      1. Lilla My says:

        Not a good start for Massa… he complained last year that he was unable to warm the tyres properly and he was supposed to do better this year. I hope he pulls himself together and don’t use that old excuse again…

        On Ferrari 3 stop strategy: Alonso’s 3-stopper was influenced by circumstances as he found himself in traffic and was forced to fight his way through demaging the tyre more that expected. But Massa didn’t really find himself in any unexpected situation. He himself said that he put the hard tyres on the middle stint as he wanted to get to the finish line on them, but was unable to and had to get one more set of soft tyres. So in his case it was the inability to manage the tyres or the problem of 150 Italia being hard on them. So he did complain too about degradation. But the again – Massa keeps complaining about the tyres so maybe it’s nothing exceptional/special ;-).

      2. TheLegend says:

        Exactly what I wanted to say.

  5. Nick says:

    hej James, very good spotted about the Renault engine, 10% extra fuel for the other teams that’s a lot.

    And Renault still wants to improve the engine complaining that they have less power then Ferrari and Mercedes.

    But can it be due to they used non-agressive approach to have less fuel consumption?

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Nick,

      We are going with very limited data on fuel consumption. 2009 is the last time we had car weight figures and the different cars potentially run fuels with slightly different densities. The companies put a fair bit of effort into things like this. It is not necessarily the case that the Renault is more fuel efficient – this could be PR claims – than the Mercedes Benz engine.

      The fuel mass difference of 15 kg needs to be averaged over the race, so the overall penalty is closer to 0.3 seconds per lap, although pace at the start is usually more useful than pace at the end.

      In terms of engine power, if you look at where the Red Bulls have been slow in the last two years, it has been places like Canada, Spa and Monza. How large is the deficit in terms of power and lap time? Less than or equal to the 0.5 seconds that Adrian Newey claims…

      My fairly unscientific analysis is that to achieve reasonable race pace and reliability, the Renault engine is wound back more than the Ferrari and Mercedes engines. The couple of instances that we have seen of the drivers going to full power mode – Vettel on Webber in Turkey and Webber on Hulkenberg (I think) at Monza, struck me a unique events. This is also reflected in the Q3 qualifying gains the drivers make relative to Q2.

      The engines are designed for 19000 rpm, except some have been more tailored to 18000 rpm than others. To get the power back, run the engine richer, at the expense of efficiency. In Renault’s case it is doing tricky things with the overrun mapping, effectively wasting fuel.

    2. smellystudent says:

      I read it not as “10% more fuel than other teams” but “10% more fuel that would otherwise be needed”

      1. Nick says:

        yes, right. I meant to reach the same efficiency like RB has now – they (other teams) need to have 10% more fuel.

    3. Lilla My says:

      I’ve found this statement by Renault: “Since the RS27’s fuel consumption rate is extremely good, the Renault-equipped teams were able to burn 10% more fuel than normal during the Australian Grand Prix without running out of fuel, therefore giving more exhaust flow to its partners using the blown diffuser”, so that would mean that they’re able to use 10% more fuel than with normal setting (of their engine), not 10% more than the rest of the pack. After all, every engine burns different amount of fuel probably, so it’s impossible to say “10% more than other teams” since teams use different engines using different amounts of fuel and you can’t compare yourself to all the teams in this respect at the same time, but only to one team, or to your normal settings (which is the case here). :)

  6. James Miller says:

    Hi James,

    Has there been any reason given for the relatively slow lap times during the race in Australia? Even on low fuel after the final pit stops it seemed that most teams were unable to get close to qualifying pace. Was it just related to the nature of the circuit or is it a characteristic of the new tyres? If even the top teams are putting in race laps some 4-5 seconds slower than qualifying, is there not a concern that in Europe we may see some faster GP2 race times than F1?

    Thanks,

    JM

  7. Interesting info from Renault (Sport F1 I suspect?). It also proves that Todt’s efforts to make F1 “eco-friendly” & “green” are useless! I mean if they’re burning more fuel this year with the exhaust blown diffuser, what’s the point of bothering with KERS?

    I think the pecking order will remain more or less the same, it’s not possible to turn the tables in two weeks. I just hope the race will be a bit longer than in 2009.

    1. Luca says:

      think Renault’s point is that they are able to use mappings that keep the engine revving a lot of the time whilst the driver is actually off throttle (whilst braking and throughout a corner for example), without it using any more fuel than say a Mercedes or Ferrari unit…

      of course that is complete speculation even from Renaults point of view as its not like they are able to back-to-back test all these engines against one another.

      1. Well, Renault can learn one or two things from Team Lotus aka 1 Malaysia, for example. I’m sure they kept the Cosworth CA2010 engine’s fuel consuption figures. There are ways to know, the teams have got their spies in the paddock equipped with cameras and other “funny” devices.

        Personally, I’m not blown away by the blown diffuser-mania, the cars sound weird. It’s as if the engine is protesting and it’s bad for one’s ears. I think they should ban these exhaust wars.

      2. Drez says:

        Hell no. More innovation, if you want a spec series go watch something else.

      3. Drez, I watch spec series too, I’ve no problem with that and in some cases spec series can create more excitement than F1. Innovation is a nice word but it’s for 13-year old kids who just got into F1 and go into a convulsion at reading about stuff like carbon fibre or gas-to-pass systems. It increases spending, that’s all it does. Of course, it’s “manna from heaven to armchair experts worldwide”. Horses for courses.

  8. Born 1950 says:

    Isn’t burning extra fuel to create additional downforce rather against the spirit of the rules? In some ways it’s reminiscent of what Brabham did with their fan car (though of course I know in most ways it’s very different).

    I’m struggling to understand how blowing the exhaust gasses over/through the diffuser has such an effect. Perhpas you could find an engineer to give a detailed technical explanation, James?

    As I said in my first paragraph, I can’t help feeling this is not a good way to go, especially if teams are burning fuel just to create more exhaust gasses. Hardly environmentally friendly, is it?

    1. Aaron95 says:

      Who really cares? If they inject extra fuel into the exhaust and run the cars with flames shooting out the back, I don’t know of any fans who would complain.

    2. Luca says:

      its all about air flow and relative speeds of the flow over and under the car. As the air is forced under the car more quickly than the air passing over the top of the body, low pressure is created and the car is forced down into the road. The exhaust gases that are being pumped out into the diffuser under the car are being pushed out at high rates and helping this air flow and its speed relative to the air over the car….

      also see:
      http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/red-bull-rb7-open-fronted-exhaust-blown-diffuser/

    3. Alex W says:

      I agree that the pistons in the engine are technically now an illegal moving aerodynamic element, but you can’t really ban pistons!

      As to downforce, do a Google search on aerodynamics, it’s all there, but the basic logic is that fast flowing air is “thin”, slow moving air is “thick”. Thick air ontop of wing and thin air on bottom, thick air wants to get to the thin air, and pushes down on the top of the wing, pushing the car down.

    4. jonrob says:

      Born 1950 (I’m 4 years older than you)

      “I’m struggling to understand how blowing the exhaust gasses over/through the diffuser has such an effect.”
      By creating a faster gas or air flow over (or rather, under) certain surfaces.
      In VERY basic terms faster moving air is at a lower pressure than slower moving air over the same distance. The faster moving air is forced to take a longer path and is thus stretched out, thus the lower pressure. A low pressure under something creates downforce by virtue of it being less then the pressure on the top thus the total effect is of being pressed downwards.
      Using the exhaust gasses in addition to the normal airflow artificially increases the air/gas flow in certain places and hence increases downforce. But there are difficulties in doing so, firstly the exhaust configuration itself, (which must be tuned exactly) and the heat it gives off, capable of melting cable insulation and burning other parts and then the fact that it is not a constant flow; early attempts to keep a higher gas flow on the overrun led to increased temperatures. We may see our first exhaust inspired fire this year.

      Try looking here for a view on blown floors diffusers etc.http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/trends-2011-exhausts-and-diffusers/

      1. Born 1950 says:

        Thanks everyone for the explanations, but I do actually understand how a chord works.

        My problem is that I can’t see how an exhaust produces enough gas to have the effect it clearly does; I would have thought to create a jet of air that’s speeded up over the underside of the diffuser would create back pressure in the exhaust that would strangle the engine to some degree… or are Renault perhaps burning the extra fuel outside the cylinders — say, in the exhaust tract, afterburner style? If they are, I would say this is not in the spirit of the rules. I am struggling to see precisely what Renault are doing — if they are not burning the fuel in the exhaust tract are they burning the extra fuel in the cylinders but with the exhaust valves open?

  9. Ade says:

    Red Bull will need a KERS system as Sepang else that long straight could cause them problems. It has been mentioned a few times how much a difference a blown diffuser system can make, I read somewhere that it could give an extra 20% downforce if the engine overun is used a lot.

  10. TheLegend says:

    Renault generates THE SAME downforce as the others. I mean:
    Renault burns 75 units of fuel, then they have 75 units of exhaust gases.
    McLaren and Ferrari burn 100 units of fuel, then they have 100 units of exhaust gases.
    If now renault burn 25 more units of fuel, then they will have 25 more units of exhaust gases. They had a disadvantatge with that, but now they are equal to the others.

    1. devilsadvocate says:

      No… Simply put that is wrong… Last year Several teams discovered that retarding timing and running rich on overrun essentially meant the fuel was burning while the exhaust valves were open accelerating airflow through exhaust blow components. If you are off throttle fuel consumption an therefore exhaust gasses are low which without burnig fuel on overrun means you have a huge step in downforce as all exhaust blow components have no airflow which creates front to rear downforce imbalances on corner entry which is bad.
      So back to the solution, the R27 engine burns less fuel than the Ferrari and merc engine so that means that up until thy reach the fuel burn levels of those two they essentially get free downforce. So at an equal fuel load the Renault powered machines actually have a downforce advantage at the very critical corner entry location when the driver is off throttle and braking. This the other teams perhaps can say they male more downforce on a straight due to higher duel burn, they have to choose what sacrifice they will make to still have downforce on corner entry at the cost of significant weight penalty or deal with imbalances in overrun situations entry to at best stay even on fuel weight with the Renault cars. Could explain why Seb was almost 2 seconds ahead of Hamilton after the first laps in Australia even without KERS

  11. UncleZen says:

    Born 1950
    to answer your question, the way I understand it is like this: the air flows under or over the car, over the car it hits the wings and creates a pressure differential, lower pressure below the wing and higher pressure above the wing the effect of the pressure difference is to push the wing downwards – hence downforce. The same occurs below the car with the normal airflow, but when you “blow” the exhaust gasses over the rear diffuser you increase the pressure above the diffuser causing another pressure differntial, giving yet more downforce

    1. Born 1950 says:

      Thanks, but I understand the principle of blowing the diffuser by increasing the speed of the air over the underside of the car. My problem (as I outlined as response at the end of comment 8) is understanding how exhaust air can add up to so much as to increase downforce enough to reduce lap times by half a second or more. Burning fuel just to produce downforce somehow seems slightly immoral to me, when they’re trying to green the sport with KERS and the like.

  12. unocvIII says:

    Formula 1 is greening up… Kinetic Energy systems, wings to reduce drag….

    “…teams were able to burn 10% more fuel than normal during the Australian Grand Prix without running out of fuel, therefore giving more exhaust flow to its partners using the blown diffuser.”

    or not…

    It is interestin though, because if your calculations are correct (which there isn’t much reasont o doubt) then the diffuser must make up atleast 6 tenths of a lap just to break even!

    1. TheLegend says:

      That’s what I thought. 6 tenths of a lap it’s something impossible burning only 0.25 l. more per lap…

      1. unocvIII says:

        It mus’nt. Remember the 0.25L more per lap doesn’t go towards going faster per say, that is just burning it for the gas.

        So they are putting through 0.25L of petrol in gas form on average per lap

  13. cjf says:

    Renaults exhaust design is also a little less efficiant at evacuating exhaust gasses than a conventional design and as such costs a little engine power.

    The gain from a properly working blown exhaust makes this loss acceptable though.

    These blown exhausts must add a shed load of performance to be worth these compromises in weight, power etc.

    It’ll be interesting to see how useful they are in the balance at Monza for example where the added downforce will be worth less relative to engine power, braking ability/acceleration(and as such weight).

  14. Red5 says:

    If Renault ditch the blown floor (15kg of extra fuel) and KERs (20kg of motor + batteries), Petrov could well be on the podium again.

    And surely a lighter car will be gentler on its tyres, 2 stops for the black and gold rocket?

    1. The other Ian says:

      There is a minimum weight that the cars + drivers must weight. So taking out KERS and the batteries, won’t save weight, since you would have to replace that with ballast.

      1. Red5 says:

        The key is in the packaging of the KERs system.

        Lets wait and see if Red Bull can maintain their large advantage with KERs fitted.

        It’s not clear whether Mark Webber was running the system in practice today.

  15. Danny says:

    Hi James,

    I do have a question for you about the article; it would appear that things are a little contradictory. If Ferrari provided the entire back-end of the car, engine, suspension, transmission, etc…, to Sauber, how can the Ferrari be hard on its tyres and the Sauber be gentle on them? Should the wear rates not be very similar?

    Could it have something to do with what Felipe Massa said at today’s press conference; something to the effect that “he was very aggressive in his setup which caused the high degradation rates.”

    Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

    1. The other Ian says:

      Maybe Ferrari should ask Sauber if they can swap the cars! :-)

  16. Franko says:

    Mr Allen,10 points for interesting article.
    However a true indication of teams I feel
    will be assessed this weekend in Sepang
    Renault with its Exhaust design,the unbearable
    heat/KERS long strights we will se the colours
    of Renault as true or false.
    Same applys to Red Bull not runing the KERS in
    Melbourne begs a lot of questions the the answers that were given including Mark Webber
    car.

  17. Andy C says:

    I was interested to hear Christian horners explanation of the front wing, basically saying it is because the rake of the car is aggresive back to front.

    I’ll file that one under a bunch of baloney Mr H.

    The rake doesnt explain why the wings are seen to flex out of camera shot when the car speeds up. Whether they pass the tests or not, putting up a theory like that is right out of the jackanory stable.

    1. iceman says:

      Not just the wing either, there are comparative pictures around showing the whole nose deflecting downwards.
      But apparently the FIA is happy to let people make their bodywork as flexible as they like, as long as they can arrange for it to pass a few specific load tests.

  18. drums says:

    James, impressive and helpful not only the post but also the ‘Strategy Briefing’. I’ve enjoyed both. Many thanks.

  19. Mario says:

    Adrian Newey does not feel at all comfortable with KERS. He kind of admitted this in an interview for Reuters last week. I wonder whether this has something to do with Newey being ‘old fashioned’? Maybe KERS does not fit in to his idea of what a car should be.

    I reckon this might be Achilles hill for RBR.

    In the same interview he was eager to explain McLaren’s fortunes turnaround. He said they simply copied our exhaust.

    1. James Allen says:

      Gascoyne doesn’t like it either

    2. Andrew Woodruff says:

      Not proving much of an Achilles heel so far for RB7! There will only be a few tracks (I’m guessing Montreal, Monza and possibly Sepang) where it isn’t the clear class of the field.

      I have to say that, if it is true Newey doesn’t like KERS, I am with him 100%. He designs thoroughbred racing cars with such an astonishingly deep and distinguished bloodline that it must be an insult to have to incorporate such a tumorous device. Competing against machines from Ferrari and McLaren that have devoted so much resource to perfecting their KERS, is like a “clean” 100 metre sprinter running against competitors who are being fuelled by competing drug companies. And winning. You’ve got to love that!

      Also, why can’t everyone leave the Red Bull front wing alone?! They tested it, it passed. They changed the test and tested it again, it passed. Other teams had a whole winter to catch up; they changed the test AGAIN, and it still passed. The wing is clearly legal. McLaren should have spent more energy working on their front wing than on that octopod exhaust, simple.

      Another great article James. Cheers.

    3. Markin Brundell says:

      Probably Newey would give thumbs up for KERS, if it would give them an advantage. Nothing to do with feeling unconfortable or being old fashioned I believe, He is an engineer after all.

      Looking forward to Sepang and another Red Bull victory, provided they still decide not to use KERS. No, I dont like the team that much (especially after 2010), but they are the only team with ability to “prove” that KERS is an anchor. Or at least show again that it is not really necessary system to be competitive.

    4. The other Ian says:

      Maybe McLaren should copy their front wing design as well.

    5. jonrob says:

      Until KERS is properly developed in terms of new materials and packaged so as not to penalise the car by it’s extra weight, and the limits on energy storage raised substantially then the advantage to many teams is dubious. If it does not bring a definite advantage then it is just another thing to go wrong.

      To use carbon fibre laminate with complex and compound bending qualities in the front wing is not old fashioned, it is at the forefront in aeronautical development, helicopter blades can be made to bend and fly almost without a collective control.
      Ok Adrian was aid to be still using a drawing board two years ago, but a drawing board has many uses, ask anyone who has worked in a drawing office. You can get a hell of a lot of cups of tea and reference books, in between the sketches, if you set it horizontal. It takes a while to change over because the sequence of drawing actions is quite different on CAD to that of a machine head and a Mifa (auto pencil with flat lead).
      But also don’t forget, that like Neo in the Matrix, Adrian, can “see” the airflow. That’s why he is one of the best ever.

  20. greg says:

    hi james.

    good insight on this topic with the renaults.

    can you explain how the blown defuser works. ie. do they run the hot exhaust fumes under the car or are the venting the hot fumes in a way to direct cold air under.

    my understanding is hot air is less dense & cold air would be better?

    starting to confuse myself which way its being done.

    i understand the 10% fuel! some clever guys at renault to make that work with kers.

    good work james, keep it up this season.

  21. There was a torrential downpour yesterday in Sepang. If it is anything like yesterday at 3.30, I can see Free Practice 2 being red flagged.

    Qualifying will require a banker lap for every session again this year.

  22. Paul Moss says:

    It appears that the pit straight at Sepang is the only place available to use DRS. Why not the back straight? Its virtually the same length. Is there a theory that ONE overtake point per lap makes for better racing? It seems very arbitrary to me.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s specified by the FIA for the race only. In practice and qualifying the drivers can use it when they want

      1. Red5 says:

        Is there any indication that in the future both DRS and KERs use will be unrestricted?

        It looks like both systems provide an advantage when exiting a corner, kind of double boost down the straights.

        What about a system that could offer overtaking possibilities in the braking zone or around corners? Either use the movable wing(s) to generate additional downforce when braking and cornering or use it on the straights to reduce drag. Then the FIA just need to specify how many time a lap the system can be activated and leave the drivers to decide when.

    2. iceman says:

      One possible explanation might be that allowing its use more often would make overtaking too easy – the idea being to make it possible, but not a foregone conclusion.
      I think the reason for preferring the pit straight to the back straight is that it’s preceded by a slow corner. If they went for the back straight, then it would be difficult for a following car to stay close enough through the fast turns 12-13 to make effective use of the DRS on the straight. Similar to how it was in Australia.

  23. Seven says:

    Great article James, I just wanted to say I love the pic on the front page of Lewis (in the wet I think). Is there a link where I could buy a print !!

  24. Monaco is very enjoyable live. May I also remind you about the Schumi quali drama in 06 with subsequent drive from last to 5th I think, crashes in the tunnel, passes before line, Truly win, Mantoya win, etc.

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