Posted on August 31, 2011


The FIA has confirmed an 8 month calendar for next season’s F1 World Championship, with some refinements on the draft calendar circulating earlier this year. The main talking points are the confirmation of Bahrain, which moves to the fourth round of the calendar, the dropping of Turkey and the inaugural Austin version of the US Grand Prix pairing up with Brazil at the end of the season. Many F1 personnel I spoke to at the weekend in Spa had something of a heavy heart about the punishing sequence of back to backs at the start and end of the season, More…

Posted on August 30, 2011

The Strategy Report

The Belgian Grand Prix was one of the most interesting races of the season from a strategy point of view, with the top four finishers using four different strategies. Most of the practice was run in wet conditions, so no-one had any tyre data and therefore raceday was a voyage into the unknown. How long would the soft tyre last? How much slower would the medium tyre be than the soft per lap? What was known after qualifying, as a result of most drivers doing up to six laps in Q3, was that the soft front tyres were blistering, even More…

Posted on August 29, 2011


Sebastian Vettel’s win on Sunday had many significant aspects to it, but perhaps the most significant is that it dealt a body blow to his rivals’ chances of closing the gap in the championship. Vettel has now extended his lead in the championship in the last two Grands Prix to the point where he can clinch his second world title as early as the Singapore Grand Prix, five races before the end of the season, if he wins in both Monza and Singapore. At just 24 years, he would be the youngest ever double champion. The reason is that with More…

Posted on August 29, 2011


Sebastian Vettel may have led team mate Mark Webber home in a triumphant 1-2 for Red Bull yesterday, but behind the scenes feelings are running high between the team’s technical chief Adrian Newey and the F1 tyre supplier Pirelli about the safety of what Vettel did yesterday. Pirelli were unhappy with Red Bull for running extreme camber angles, outside of their recommendations. The reason for doing this is to get better turn in to the corners. But the problem is that with the unique vertical loads every time the car goes through Eau Rouge and then the high wheel rotation More…

Posted on August 28, 2011


There was plenty of action all the way down the field at the iconic Spa Francorchamps but who did you think was the exceptional driver? Sebastian Vettel Scored his ninth pole position of the season with an impressive lap to continue Red Bull’s utter domination of qualifying. Made a good start and though he was passed by Nico Rosberg on the first lap, the German retook the lead on lap four. Suffered from severe tyre blistering, but good strategy and coolness under pressure ensured he stayed out in front to score his seventh win of the season and 17th of More…

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Posted on August 28, 2011


Today was a fascinating Belgian Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel taking the lead on four separate occasions, giving an idea of how things chopped and changed. Here are a few other numbers from today’s race to provide food for thought: There were 8 lead changes in the first 18 laps. Vettel today moved onto 259 points, which is more than he scored all of last season in clinching the 2010 World Championship Vettel becomes only the second winner at Spa from pole position since 2002. The other was Raikkonen in 2007. It was Vettel’s 17th win, from his 24th pole, More…

Posted on August 28, 2011


Despite suffering from severe tyre blistering in the early stages, which forced him to pit twice for new tyres by lap 15, Sebastian Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull team mate Mark Webber and Jenson Button, who started 13th on the grid and survived a scare when his front wing was broken early on and he was forced to stop. Given the problems he faced, problems which basically forced his team mate Mark Webber to run the whole race on the medium tyre, it was one of Vettel’s most impressive wins to date. It was greatly More…

Posted on August 28, 2011


Romain Grosjean clinched the GP2 title this weekend, following in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg. Now he needs to move back into F1 and it will be very interesting to see what happens. Grosjean has had an F1 chance before, of course, in 2009 when he was drafted in by Flavio Briatore to replace Nelson Piquet Jr. It was the wrong move at the wring time, he came in with no testing, mid season and up against Fernando Alonso in the other car. He was too young, not prepared and wasn’t physically strong enough. Now, More…

Posted on August 27, 2011


The FIA Stewards have penalised Pastor Maldonado for the incident in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton. The Venezuelan will drop five grid positions from 16th to 21st on the grid after the stewards decided that he was the one most at fault. Hamilton gets off with a reprimand, but it’s important to recognise that in the stewards’ eyes he too is guilty of “a breach of the regulations” by causing an incident under article 16.1 – in this case the relevant definition from the menu of definitions in that Article must be “caused a collision”. Close inspection of the replays show More…

Posted on August 27, 2011


Sebastian Vettel took his ninth pole position of the season after one of the most exciting qualifying sessions for many years. He beat Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber to pole after a thrilling final run on the slick tyres on a damp track. It was quite a turnaround for the German who was slower than his team mate when the track was wet, but onto slicks he found a margin of 4/10ths of a second. There were many surprises; Jaime Alguersuari was outstanding in the Toro Rosso in sixth place, Bruno Senna qualified seventh ahead of team mate Petrov and More…

Posted on August 27, 2011


Mark Webber has signed the long expected one year contract renewal deal to stay at Red Bull, after a summer of negotiations with team boss Christian Horner and Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. The deal was announced this morning, his 35th birthday. The deal means a sixth season with the team for the Australian, who has played a key role in building Red Bull up to world championship level, along with David Couthard, although more recently Sebastian Vettel has been the one who’s taken the spoils. Webber described the decision to add another year as a “no brainer”, given the More…

Posted on August 26, 2011


Although there appears to be a commercial dimension to Renault’s decision to replace Nick Heidfeld with Bruno Senna, it is also based on performance. The German was outqualified 8-3 by Vitaly Petrov and although he has performed slightly better in races, as you would expect relative to an inexperienced driver, this is clearly not in line with what Renault management was expecting. It’s hard for a driver to come into a team mid-season, but the team has said they expect Senna to be on Petrov’s pace by Singapore. As for this weekend, I’ve commissioned some stats from the leading stats More…

Posted on August 26, 2011


This morning I had the chance to drive in the latest generation mobile simulator, which has been designed and built for Shell by ex Ferrari and Red Bull electronics chief Anton Stipinovitch. The simulator, based on a 2009 Ferrari chassis with 2011 electronics, is due to be launched publicly later today, but I had an early go this morning here at the circuit and it’s mind blowing. Stipinovitch’s company, All in Sports, is based in Modena and does a lot of work with Ferrari on their in house simulator. The new mobile version, which Shell plans to take to events More…

Posted on August 25, 2011


With this weekend being the 20th anniversary of Michael Schumacher’s debut in F1, there have been tributes aplenty from fellow drivers but none more effusive than from his great rival of the mid 2000s, Fernando Alonso. “I have great respect for him, he’s one of the greatest or the greatest in our sport,” said Alonso. “The numbers are there and impossible to repeat for us. It’s been a great pleasure to drive with him all these years. I will always remember all the battles with him. It was a priviledge to drive against Michael Schumacher. “He decided to stop and More…

Posted on August 25, 2011


There was drama in the Spa paddock this afternoon as the jilted driver in the Renault camp, Nick Heidfeld, turned up wearing team gear and saying that he has a valid contract to race and has launched legal proceedings against the Renault team. His replacement, Bruno Senna, said that he has a confirmed deal for two races, Spa and Monza and that beyond that it depends on some legal issues but that “the intention is to do the rest of the season.” Renault confirmed this at 4pm with a statement saying, “The team’s present intention is to give Bruno the More…

Posted on August 24, 2011


Less than 24 hours before the drivers are due in the Spa Francorchamps paddock for the FIA Press Conference, Renault has confirmed that Bruno Senna will race for the team this weekend. A brief statement said only that he would race in Spa in place of Nick Heidfeld and that he would be in the press conference. The team will announce more details in due course. The news was first broken by BBC’s Eddie Jordan on Monday and comes after a disappointing campaign for Heidfeld, who was drafted in to replace the injured Robert Kubica. Senna drove in Hungary on More…

Posted on August 24, 2011


Riad Asmat, who was one of the founders of Tony Fernandes’ version of Team Lotus, has been promoted to a CEO role in a move which brings the recently acquired Caterham Cars operation and the GP2 team all under one umbrella. Asmat will be in charge of anything to do with automotive and engineering. Formerly he was CEO of just the F1 team. “In F1 the goal remains the same,” said Asmat. “Grow over the long-term and achieve our goals in realistic timeframes. Next year we need to take another step up and we have the building blocks in place More…

Posted on August 23, 2011


Track characteristics and key strategy indicators Spa Francorchamps – 7.004 kilometres. Race distance – 44 laps = 308.052 kilometres. 19 corners in total. Average speed 238km/h. Circuit based on public roads. Aerodynamic setup – Med-low downforce. Top speed 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without. Full throttle – 80% of the lap (high). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (high). Fuel consumption – 3.35kg per lap (high) Time spent braking: 14% of lap. Number of brake zones – 6. Brake wear- Low. Loss time for a Pit stop = 18 seconds (average) More…

Posted on August 22, 2011


John Surtees the 1964 world champion with Ferrari got together with the man who leads the Scuderia today, Fernando Alonso, to discuss the magic of Spa Francorchamps, venue for this weekend’s Shell Belgian Grand Prix. It’s only a four minute edit, but you can tell from the questions they ask each other that this is an engaging meeting across the generations; Alonso asks Surtees about the sensitivity of slipstreaming in his day, for example and they discuss the challenge of the key corners on the track. Surtees won the race for Ferrari in 1966, but Alonso has never won at More…

Posted on August 22, 2011


This weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa marks the 20th anniversary of Michael Schumacher’s F1 debut at the wheel of a Jordan-Ford, a truly astonishing statistic. Schumacher becomes the first F1 driver in history to still be active 20 years after his debut. He also took his first F1 win at Spa in 1992. It is also 17 years since he was disqualified from victory in the 1994 race for having worn down the plank under his floor too much, and 7 years ago at Spa he clinched his 7th world title. “Everything for me comes back to Spa. The More…

Posted on August 19, 2011


It is said that “tradition is an experiment which worked’. This evening on Facebook there is an experiment taking place which will be eagerly watched by sponsors, rights holders and broadcasters and, if it works, could have a significant role to play in the way F1 media is consumed in the future. Budweiser, the sponsor of the FA Cup competition, is streaming the opening round of the FA Cup live tonight at 7-45pm on its Facebook page, taking the content live and direct to its consumers. It expects around 100,000 of Facebook’s 700 million audience to watch and may show More…

Posted on August 16, 2011


I posted the other day on Kamui Kobayashi and his chances of moving up the grid to a top team and made the point that Japan could do with it as the sport is in decline in Japan. Several readers asked why this is the case, so here’s an overview of the situation, as I see it. It’s a slightly misleading picture to look only at the fans who come to Suzuka each year as they are some of the most dedicated fans on the planet. Their consumption of team merchandise and willingness to queue the night before the race, More…

Posted on August 14, 2011


Kamui Kobayashi has won many fans in his brief F1 career to date for his swashbuckling style; not just his signature bold overtaking moves, but also his defensive driving, which has also been very effective. I’ll put my hands up and admit I love Kobayashi as a racer, he’s top quality entertainment and I love his spirit in a car, which reminds me a little bit of Jean Alesi. Alesi made a big impression in a midfield Tyrrell car and ended up in a Ferrari, something which many fans would like to see happen with Kobayashi. It would be an More…

Posted on August 12, 2011


Sergio Perez has been quietly effective in his rookie season in F1, doing enough to ensure that the team took up the second year of his contract. Looking closely at it, he has done rather better than that. He’s outqualified his team mate Kamui Kobayashi on five occasions of the nine that they have been racing together this season, he’s scored points in two races and in only two of his races has he finished lower than the position he started in. Those are pretty reasonable figures for a rookie in F1, but he will want to move forward from More…

Posted on August 10, 2011


By their own admission Team Lotus is not where it expected to be at this stage, which was fighting with the slowest of the midfield teams; in Budapest the car was three tenths slower than Buemi’s Toro Rosso and half a second slower than Maldonado’s Williams. Although the car was two seconds per lap faster in Budapest than Virgin or HRT, it remains perilously close at the foot of the championship table with Trulli’s two 13th place finishes keeping the team in the lucrative 10th place, ahead of HRT with one 13th place. One topsy turvy race could turn that More…

Posted on August 9, 2011


We had a fascinating debate on JA on F1 last week, prompted by a post on Electric Vehicles’ place in motorsport and the extent to which the FIA should try to incorporate electric technology into F1 cars and its efforts to establish a state of the art international EV racing series leveraging F1′s global appeal. The post had well over 200 comments with some really interesting observations. One step on from that, I’ve been fascinated by this short video sent to me by a friend who lives in Los Angeles, the city of the car. It’s about a work called More…

Posted on August 9, 2011


It’s good from time to time to glance at the Constructors’ Championship table and remind yourself of the big picture in terms of the state of play between teams. There is the usual disproportionate sharing of points with the top two or three teams hogging the majority and the new teams desperate for even a sniff of a single point. But it’s the midfield teams which are so interesting at the moment. Last year the top four teams were followed by Renault in fifth, then Williams, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso. This year Renault has 66 points, Sauber 35, More…

Posted on August 7, 2011


Stefano Domenicali, the team boss of Ferrari, has been hosting a summer break version of the Wrooom winter sports event which has traditionally prefaced the start of the F1 season. Some important messages have come out of this event and from the Ferrari website at the same time. These are principally an insight into his and Ferrari’s thinking on drivers for the future and the strategy for making sure they are competitive in 2013. But he has also said quite clearly that he doesn’t think that Lewis Hamilton will drive for Ferrari at any stage. First the drivers: “For the More…

Posted on August 5, 2011


The battles over the greening of F1 continue, with Bernie Ecclestone again casting himself in the role of the roadblock. This time he has said that the concept of F1 cars running on electric only in the pit lane – one of the new regulations for 2014 approved by the World Motor Sport Council – is not right for the sport and he will personally see to it that it doesn’t happen. “Formula One is absolutely not the right place to have electric engines. It’s like having ballet dancers with sneakers. More comfortable, but it doesn’t work,” F1′s 80 year More…

Posted on August 4, 2011


It’s now August and although they lead both championships comfortably, Red Bull’s last race victory was in Valencia in June. They have maintained their 100% record in qualifying, but on race day they no longer have the fastest car. In Budapest we saw a reaction with Red Bull mechanics using up one of their four curfew free nights of the season on Friday to work into the small hours on the car to get it right for qualifying and the race. This involved changing the specification of the car from what they had intended to run, with modifications to the More…

Posted on August 4, 2011


To follow up the post after the Hungarian Grand Prix regarding the explosion on Nick Heidfeld’s LRGP car, which aroused great interest from readers, the team’s investigation has now been completed and the results found. The simplest thing is to let technical director James Allison explained what happened: Three days after the incident on Nick’s car, has the team identified the reason why it caught fire after the pitstop? Allision: “As with most accidents, several incidents combined to cause the fire that Nick suffered in Hungary. First of all, we ran a slightly different engine mapping strategy in qualifying, which More…

Posted on August 3, 2011


Ferrari and their partner Shell carried out an fascinating experiment last week, which hasn’t been tried before in the modern era. They wanted to see how the Shell V Power road car fuel you can buy on the forecourt would perform in an F1 car and how it would compare with the race fuel Ferrari use. The FIA regulations stipulate that Formula One race fuels must be composed of compounds normally found in commercial fuels, but there are some tightly controlled areas where they can innovate with additives for more power or to control temperatures and such like. A lot More…

Posted on August 2, 2011

The Strategy Report

The Hungarian Grand Prix was a fantastic race, again very close between the top four cars, any one of which could have won it. The closeness of competition and changeable conditions made it another race where strategy was the decisive element. The winner put together the right combination of decisions, based on the data assembled in practice and a judgement when a sudden shower fell late in the race, not to pit for intermediate tyres but to wait it out. Meanwhile several drivers saw their races compromised by poor strategy calls and we had three midfield runners in the points, More…

Posted on August 1, 2011


One of the more extraordinary moments of the Hungarian Grand Prix was the fire and subsequent explosion on Nick Heidfeld’s Renault following his pit stop. This was the second fire for the German this year. He had just made a stop in which he was delayed and the sidepods caught fire. “In his second pit stop we had a problem with one of the wheel nuts meaning that the car was sat at high revs for a long time, ” explained LRGP chief race engineer Alan Permane. “This meant a build-up of heat which caused a fire. Although it looked More…

Posted on August 1, 2011


Changeable conditions ensured a thrilling fight for victory with some standout performances all the way down the field at the Hungaroring. So who did you think was the outstanding driver? Jenson Button Qualified third in one of his best performances of the season and made a clean getaway at the start to maintain position. As has been the case in other races with changeable conditions, Button looked after his tyres and made the right calls. Was faster on softs than Hamilton on suoersofts. Enjoyed a great wheel to wheel battle with his team-mate but his decision not to pit for More…



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