In Depth insight: Behind the scenes reading of the Australian GP
Insight
Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 15.59.08
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Mar 2014   |  5:02 pm GMT  |  204 comments

The first Grand Prix run to the new 1.6 litre hybrid turbo formula featured some fascinating strategy details, some inspired decision-making and plenty for the drivers and strategy engineers to work with.

This season with the UBS Race Strategy Report we will continue our groundbreaking analysis of the key moments of the race, but with enhanced co-operation from teams, to bring an even more in-depth review of the key decisions, to help bring fans closer to the race action.


Aborted start
The original start had to be aborted, as the Marussia of Jules Bianchi failed to get off the grid. This was important because it stretched the teams into procedures that hadn’t been used for quite some time and very few of the teams, especially those with pre-season test problems, will have practiced an aborted start procedure. So this will have put quite a few people off balance and led to several cars having less than ideal starts. This was an early example of reliability dominating the racing at this stage and forcing teams into starting in a less than perfect way having prepared the cars for initial start.

Early in the race Lewis Hamilton, who had lost two places off the start, retired his Mercedes and world champion Sebastian Vettel retired the Red Bull. This meant that two strong competitors were taken out of the equation, creating opportunities for others to get a strong result.


Safety Car plays a decisive role – Button makes big gains

As we spelled out in the pre race UBS Race Strategy Briefing, Melbourne has a 60% likelihood of a safety car, due to the difficulty of moving damaged or stranded cars on this walled circuit. But some teams raised that likelihood to 80%, factoring in reliability concerns with the new technology and also the difficulty of driving these new generation cars, particularly on corner exits lined with walls. All weekend we saw cars clipping the barriers as drivers struggled with power delivery.

On lap 10 a hard charging Valtteri Bottas hit the wall, puncturing his tyre and leaves debris from a damaged wheel rim on track. This caused Race Control to bring out the safety car. At the moment it was deployed, Jenson Button was 6 seconds away from pit lane entry and he made the decision, in quick conference with the team, to come in for a tyre stop. He was fighting the three cars ahead of him, Raikkonen, Vergne and Kvyat, none of whom took the same decision to stop on that lap, but instead did a costly extra lap at the reduced safety car speed limit.

By being first to stop, Button jumped all three of them, moving from 9th to 6th and setting himself up for a strong result after a poor qualifying.


Bottas benefits from his own error

Ironically, Bottas caused the safety car, but also benefitted from it. He dropped from 6th to 15th due to his puncture and was 106 seconds behind the race leader, but because the safety car closed the field up, he was only 8 seconds behind the leader at the restart and able to easily pass the cars ahead of him to rise back up to 6th.

Another key point about the Safety car was that it allowed the cars to enter fuel saving mode, which helped them to get to the finish on this high fuel consumption circuit without problems.

Raikkonen lost out in this phase due to the Ferrari stop arrangements, as he had to back off to allow Alonso to pit and for the mechanics to reset, ultimately losing 2 places under the safety car to Button and Vergne. Sutil and Maldonado stayed out, but the strategy didn’t bring either of them a result.

After the restart, we saw the pace advantage of the Mercedes, as Rosberg set about rebuilding the lead he had lost due to the safety car. He pulled away from Ricciardo at around 1.3 seconds per lap, a greater than the margin Vettel had over rivals in the final part of the 2013 season.


The tyre graining phase

In the second stint, from lap 25 onwards, the left front tyres started to grain. This meant the lap times dropped a bit for many of the runners. They did recover, but crucially some drivers were able to close up some gaps in this time. Alonso closed on Hulkenberg, for example in their battle for fourth and fifth places. Bottas in 9th took over 3 seconds out of Raikkonen who was clearly struggling with the handling of the Ferrari, especially in the braking zones.


Mercedes makes the most of its margin over the rest

A graphic illustration of the improvement of the Mercedes in all areas came in the run up to the second stops. Last season Mercedes often found that it wasn’t able to dictate strategy due to overusing the tyres in races. But Rosberg was able to manage the gap to his pursuers and had the luxury of delaying his second stop. It takes just over 22 seconds to make a stop in Melbourne and his strategy team was monitoring the second place car, Ricciardo, relative to Raikkonen, waiting for Raikkonen to be more than 22 secs behind Ricciardo at which point they knew that the Australian would stop; he wouldn’t do it before as he would not want to be held up after his stop.

Ricciardo get the margin and duly stopped on lap 36, so Rosberg could then pit safely and still retain lead even if there was a sudden safety car.

This is a perfect example of the reactive strategy approach, where a team monitors the car behind relative to other cars that are within its pit stop loss time and reacts to its moves.


Melbourne proves difficult for overtaking

A graphic illustration of how hard it is to overtake in Melbourne, particularly late in the race, came from the Magnussen and Ricciardo fight. From lap 50 onwards, Magnussen attacked Ricciardo. The gap came down to 0.7 secs, but the McLaren could not pass the Red Bull, despite having a straight-line speed advantage of 24km/h. On lap 51, for example Magnussen went through the speed trap at 309km/h to Ricciardo’s 273km/h. At that stage there were a lot of tyre marbles off the racing line and there is the perennial problem of Melbourne being a narrow track, with most corners having a single line into them.

This should not be a problem at the next race in Sepang, which has many multiple line corners and two consecutive long straights. Given this and the variety in straight-line speeds we are likely to see a lot of overtaking in Sepang.

Ferrari makes a mistake on strategy

Although they played a good hand in their battle with Force India to get Fernando Alonso ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Ferrari failed to cover Jenson Button at the second stop and as a result Alonso lost an important fourth place to him, as it turned into a podium with the disqualification of Ricciardo for fuel flow irregularities.

Button pitted on lap 32 and Ferrari did not cover it with a stop, but instead left Alonso out until lap 35. They did this was because they did not think that they could reach the finish on lap 58 on a set of medium tyres from lap 32. In fact that proved not to be difficult.

This raises a very important point at this early stage of the season: tyre testing is limited on Fridays now due to restrictions on engine mileage, as each driver has just five engines. This means that tyre simulations are even more heavily relied on than ever and this episode revealed that McLaren’s model was better than Ferrari’s.

It must also be noted that Ferrari said that they were managing an electrical problem on both cars throughout the race, which meant that they were down on maximum power.

The UBS Race Strategy Report is prepared by JA on F1, with input and data from several F1 teams, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli

RACE HISTORY GRAPH

Courtesy of Williams Martini Racing

[Click on graph to enlarge to full size]

The zero line is the average lap speed of the race winner, expressed as a constant reference point. The graph illustrates the changes of position, but also the gaps between cars. The pace advantage of the Mercedes is very clear.

Strategy Insights
Strategy Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
204 Comments
  1. Urko says:

    Race History Graph: That’s the way i like it;)

    1. Mike84 says:

      Yes, please let us have this every race if possible! It’s worth 1000 words.

    2. Ahmed Sydney says:

      I know it’s only one race, but from practice here is what I believe is the dry running pace order
      1.Mercedes (with > 1 sec per lap pace up their sleeve)
      2.Williams (need to be aggressive with development to stay in contention). Bottas without mistake & Massa (without Kobayashi) could have finished 2nd-4th easily.
      3.McLaren showed great dry pace with Button and Magnusson in clean air and are close behind Williams.
      4. Red Bull. Did well in mixed conditions and will improve, however their dry run pace is behind Williams and McLaren. They have a top speed deficiency which will be a big negative in Malaysia and other top speed tracks like Spa, Monza etc
      5. Ferrari. Would’ve struggled to be in top 8 without retirements of Hamilton, Massa, Vettel etc.
      6. Force India/torro Rosso.
      If Renault and Ferrari do not find a massive improvements in power and top speed, 2014 will be a domination by Mercedes, which will only be interesting if it’s a clean fight between Rosberg & Hamilton.

      1. Dren says:

        Red Bull is a clear 2nd in pace over the field by a good half second or more. It is just that Mercedes has over one second on them.

      2. Michael says:

        No, they’re are not. I believe Williams is also faster than Redbull and this will be proven out in the next few races.

      3. Tom Chiverton says:

        Only when they illegally turn the wick up on one car to see if they can get away with it.

      4. J Hancock says:

        But are they really?
        .
        Putting my tinfoil hat on for a second, it wouldn’t be too great of a conspiracy (for F1 at least) for Red Bull to have turned up the fuel flow on purpose to get more power (and better lap times), then created the fuel sensor issue as a smokescreen.
        .
        In a more prosaic train of thought, the conditions in quali masked any performance deficit, whilst Ricciardo’s fuel flow issue gave him extra acceleration and helped him stay ahead of Magnussen (who seemingly had a faster car). Melbourne is also a topsy turvy race regardless, slippery track with new cars and rarely a clear measure of performance.
        .
        Sepang is the first Tilkedrome of the season and should give a much clearer view of who’s where, barring the Malaysian weather coming into play.

      5. Tealeaf says:

        As if these Lawn mower/hoover isn’t sleep inducing enough already now we get to go to a Tilkedrome, can’t wait for these 2 Mercedes saving fuel toying with each other and leaving the rest of the field for dead, but when Hamilton wins its down to his brilliance and no mention of ‘the best car’ by the english speaking media, F1 2014! This is what the so called ‘fans’ want hope you all enjoy this farce.

  2. Wouter says:

    Any info on what caused the various mechanical failures? In particular of HAM and VET but also the Lotus. I’m quite keen to know what caused those Renault cars to fail, whether it’s a common Renault component or something.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Hamilton and Vettel both lapsed onto 5 cylinders, I suspect the problem is buried somewhere in the millions of lines of code needed to run an F1 “Power Unit”. Both Lotuses had an MGU-K failure, don’t know whether it was caused by hardware or software.

    2. Malcolm says:

      According to Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s engine developed a problem during the formation lap, of only firing on five cyliners, which compromised his start, and led to his eventual retirement.

  3. andy says:

    James what is the ferrari electrial problem? Iv heard there having too reduce the power and how much does this cost them and is it fixable?

    1. Harshad says:

      All I heard that Ferrari knew this might be the problem! (Recollect the rumours of Ferrari being down on Horsepower from testing itself), they are trying to fix this, but apparently they haven’t been successful doing so even in Maranello.

    2. Anil Parmar says:

      I read today that they hope to bring a software update to Bahrain which will increase their ERS output by 30% (so maybe just over 40hp). Unfortunately that means that the long back straight at China and Malaysia will make life hard for them.

      1. CC says:

        Also, it could make Ferrari a liability too – at Le Mans some horrible accidents happen when a car with massively more straight line speed hits the back of a much slower car while trying to lap it.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        So why us it bad for them when they can gain 40hp from the software update?

      3. Anil Parmar says:

        Whoops, I got the calendar wrong! It will be hard for them in Malaysia but not China which is now after Bahrain :)

      4. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Chinacomes after Bahrain, so from now its only one race before the update. I really hope it works, fingers crossed.

      5. Anil Parmar says:

        You’re right! Fingers crossed…Forza Ferrari.

      6. Dren says:

        Assuming they can fully supply their MGUK with 160hp from the ERS then it will be at the most 37hp. But if they are splitting the energy driving the MGUK between the ERS and the MGUH, that power gain gets even smaller.

    3. iceman says:

      I get the feeling that “electrical problem” might be a phrase we hear a lot this year. On the new power units almost any conceivable fault could be described as an electrical problem. Brakes failed? Electrical problem. Caught fire? Electrical problem. Con rod thrown out the side of the cylinder block and through the ECU? Electrical problem.

  4. goferet says:

    Yes Rosberg’s strong win showed once again that the best place to start a grand prix is at the front for with a clear track ahead, all the strategists have to do is react to what the competition is behind is doing.

    Thanks to the aborted start and safety car, the teams were able to save some more fuel, I guess the teams will always hope for a safety car at every race in this regards.

    As for Jenson, he must have a good hand at the casino for when it comes to gambling, he is usually right on the money and that’s why he’s so good at the inter-changeable conditions.

    I recall in 2010, at the Australian race he made the inspiring decision to switch to the dry tyres early and thus won the race.

    Regards Ferrari, perhaps they didn’t want to go on the mediums early because in the past seasons they have struggled with the more durable tyres especially the mediums & hards.

    Overall, the Melbourne fun strategy battle ended early as we didn’t have a fight for the win unlike 2013 which was so much fun and unpredictable.

    1. Ben says:

      You make a great point, Jenson often seems to be very lucky but it happens so often that it can’t just be luck. It’s why I think of him as the smartest driver in the sport. This year will favour the intelligent drivers but I think he’ll have to be very lucky to win the WDC!

      1. Dren says:

        He was also quicker on the medium tire than Magnussen who is reaping all of the praise. It is hard to say if he was on the soft due to traffic. Only if he can qualify better…

  5. ferggsa says:

    What I can read from the graph (and what made the race a bit boring) is that, still, with present aerodynamics and similar cars, it is very difficult to pass in most tracks, even with ERS and double DRS available, so I guess they do serve a purpose or things could be even worst in terms of processions

    MAG could not pass RIC, ALO could not pass HUL, PER could not pass SUT, and BUT in a faster car could not pass anyone, except by smart (and a bit lucky) strategy calls

    The other reading is that Mercedes and Williams are way faster then the rest, at
    least in Melbourne, and at least for now, good that they have 4 exciting drivers (yes, even Massa)to fight between themselves

    Pirelli is thankfully out of the discussion, but I hope it is not replaced by sensor issues in the future

    And regarding RedBulls DSQ, I think FIA should have black flagged them when refusing to comply, or imposed a drive through/time penalty, rather than let them finish and then DSQ them, it adds nothing to the sport, or the show, for that matter

    1. Rossi says:

      Agree on the ppl struggling to pass; although as much to do with the track most likely as others have alluded to.

      Not sure about DSQ RB as a team could possibly argue they were going to drop fuel rate below required in order to meet regs late in the race. By waiting until the end the FIA can (supposedly) be sure an offence has been committed.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        100kg/h rule is absolute, you can’t say “we’ll turn it down later” as you’re getting a performance benefit now. I agree with ferggsa, once it became clear RBR were ignoring them they should have been black flagged.

      2. Yak says:

        I believe the 100kg/h rule is for peak flow rate. It’s not any kind of “averaging out over the race distance” arrangement. If you go over it at all, you’re breaching the regulations.

      3. Justabloke says:

        Yup thats how I read it as well. Imagine doing 120mph down the m1 the stopping or coffee, sorry officer nu tI averaged 70 !

    2. Alec Tronnick says:

      The Red Bull team are not stupid… That would have made the decision to keep going based on evidence… Most likely their Own systems & telemetry (on which they have spent squillions)
      If their system said they were using less than 100, I’m sure they would back themselves against a sensor that had already proved faulty in their car and others.
      Using less than 100kg/hr is the only rule they need to follow.
      The stewards have no right to tell them to “turn down the fuel flow rate”.

      1. Baron says:

        Yes they do.

    3. iceman says:

      I wonder to what extent the “can’t pass” problem is now “could pass but it would be too costly in terms of fuel”. Presumably it’s more beneficial to expend any spare fuel you might have during the pit stop phase when you get a lap or two of clear air, than to use it trying to pass, which might take several laps.

      Button’s successful strategy looks like that to me. If you’re behind other cars that have some sort of reasonable pace, save fuel like mad for the times when you can use it in clear air.

  6. goferet says:

    Meanwhile, with Alonso being the godfather of F1, I guess it’s his duty to baptize with fire the young guns and those that come through the test successfully end up having successful careers for instance;

    Lewis got tested when he spent the final stint behind Alonso in Australia 2007 and emerged at the end in one piece.

    Likewise, Rosberg got tested at Singapore 2008 when behind Alonso and passed with flying colours.

    Vettel made it through a fire storm at Monza 2011 when he kept his foot down in a battle with Alonso.

    As for the other young guns

    Perez lost his cool when chasing down Alonso in Malaysia 2012.

    Maldonado crashed towards the end at Australia 2012 when behind Alonso

    Bottas hit the barriers whilst behind Alonso in Australia 2014.

    1. Voodoopunk says:

      Godfather?… what a joke.

      1. Goob says:

        God Father is a villan… that part makes sense, [mod]

      2. Multi 21 says:

        That’s only slightly libelous.

      3. Doobs says:

        zzzzz

    2. Fernando "150%" Alonso says:

      I thought i was the only one to notice that Bottas crash was when he was chasing a (usualy) very fast driver ;)

      1. goferet says:

        @ Fernando “150%” Alonso

        Yes, hopefully Bo77as learned his lesson so next time he will approach with caution.

  7. Harshad says:

    Good to see that even Force India challenged Ferrari long enough.

    Considering the fact that One Red Bull/Williams/Mercedes was out of the race, Ferrari should consider themselves lucky enough to score 18 points from this race.

    What’s the point of pouring so much money, when you can’t it right (for years apparently)? and they don’t want to cut costs…..

  8. CC says:

    McLaren and Button pitting early twice was a masterstroke of strategy – get in the pits and put on fresh tyres provided – provided – you can get into clean air and put in some stellar laps. Jenson did this very well – although his first inlap into the pits were marginal to say the least.

  9. Harvey says:

    James, you have explained to perfection why there needs to be a rule change regarding the safety car. Safety car is deployed and Button gains two places. Safety car is deployed due to Bottas swiping the wall and Bottas gains 98 seconds by pitting and closing up under the safety car. Why can’t the 96 seconds be added to Bottas’ time after the race? Why is anyone allowed to gain places under a safety car? You can’t pass, so the order when the safety car is deployed should be the order when the safety car leaves the track.

    1. aezy_doc says:

      That’s just daft. What if one team pit and another doesn’t after the safety car is deployed? Not only are they a pitstop ahead but now they get their place back as well! You simply can’t do this if cars are on differing strategies out just happen to miss the pit entry as the safety car is deployed. At least this way they gain track position. As for adding time at the end of a race,in Bottas’s case he did gain time but lost 9 or 10 positions. Punishment enough I think.

      1. Yak says:

        The way to stop position changes would be to simply close the pit lane entry when the safety car is out. But it’s not even that simple. If for example someone has just made a stop before the safety car happened to come out, pulled out of their pack to make a stop and was 20-something seconds back before the SC deployment… the safety car comes out during that lap and bunches them back up, and that guy now has fresh tyres and the others don’t have the opportunity to respond until the end of that first restart lap. That’s not really fair either. In leaving the pit lane open there is indeed a degree of “win some, lose some” with safety cars, but overall it’s more of an equal footing for the teams.

        But yes, adding time post-race is a terrible idea. For one, Bottas wasn’t the only one who closed up on the others. The whole pack condenses. Are you going to apply time penalties to the entire field post-race? If there were several safety cars in the race, a few lead position changes… you could get to the end of the race and regardless of who crossed the line first, have no idea who technically won the race.

      2. Dave Emberton says:

        Yep. I’ve always felt it was ironic that the immediate effect of the SC coming out is everybody diving into the pits at once, which is inherently dangerous.

        With no refuelling, nobody should need to pit, so just close the pitlane. There’ll still be some people getting an advantage, but that’s pot luck, and it might help to reduce the (already far too long) SC period.

      3. ManOnWheels says:

        “The way to stop position changes would be to simply close the pit lane entry when the safety car is out.”

        We had that already and it was a bad rule, because drivers that went through debris and had potentially damaged tires cold not stop and change them for safety or have their cars checked quickly without getting penalized, so they stayed out and eventually got themselves and others into trouble.

        You have to accept that every safety-car-rule is bad in some ways. There are people who will profit and people who will suffer. That’s part of the game. But you can’t sacrifice safety for fairness.

      4. Nick says:

        ManOnWheels, I did go on to say that it’s not as simple as just closing the pit lane, even if I didn’t give the example you did. Similarly when they had refuelling, sometimes the SC would come out right when someone happened to need fuel and they basically had no choice but to go into the pits and cop the penalty for it.

        Leaving the pit lane open isn’t a perfect solution, but as far as I can figure it’s the best one available, in terms of both fairness across the field and safety.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      What an utter joke that would be. Drivers/teams win and loose under safety cars, thats just the way it is and everybody accepts it, it’s not there to make the racing fair, it’s their to reduce the risk to marshals cleaning up debris on the track and thats it.

      1. Dimitar Kadrinski says:

        Very well said. +1

    3. FOLKDISCO says:

      I suspect we *won’t* see a succession of drivers deliberately clipping the wall in order to pick up vital seconds behind the ensuing safety car. But if we do, people might call this foolhardy cheat technique a “Half Nelsinho”!

  10. Dave says:

    I’ve just realised that bianchi wasn’t allowed to unlap himself although I’m not sure if he was at the back of the line during the safety car period. Was he viewed to be too far back for it to be worthy to be unlapped or has the rule been discretely dropped this year?

    1. J Hancock says:

      I don’t think anyone wants to wait half an hour whilst the multi-lapped traffic hammer round by themselves only to watch them disappear into the abyss the moment the Safety Car pulls in again. For a car one lap behind I can see the sense in it, but a car two or more behind by the mid point of a race is beyond help anyway!

      1. ManOnWheels says:

        Is he? What if another driver gets into problems and falls behind the same amount of laps? And if that’s the last one in the points? Don’t say it can’t happen, we’ve had almost the whole field eliminate itself in Monaco. Something like that could happen with just enough laps done to be counted as a race finisher.

    2. CJD says:

      this unlapping rule is stupid

      if – then the lapped cars should go through the pitlane, when everybody has closed up – they will end up behind the field, without needing some other laps to close up again.

      but then FIA has a problem with their laptimers ..

  11. Michael Powell says:

    Great sounding cars this season, none of that gruff racket that we had last year. Its even better than the V12 and 10 eras. Those souls who can’t hear the improvement must be suffering hearing loss from too many seasons with the TV sound turned up too much.

    Clearly the electric power is too great for most of the older drivers, and the newcomers are better able to harness the extra torque without harming the drive package.

    Cars don’t break when they’re parked up, its often down to the driver’s hands and feet how the machinery survives.

    And if you use more fuel you are bound to overheat and suffer damage. Seb didn’t last long enough in the race for us to know how much fuel he was blasting through the injectors, so we will have to guess.

    Who would have expected Marussia and Co to be above Red Bull in the championship?

    1. bunchies says:

      “Great sounding cars this season, none of that gruff racket that we had last year. Its even better than the V12 and 10 eras.”

      Disagree

      “And if you use more fuel you are bound to overheat and suffer damage. Seb didn’t last long enough in the race for us to know how much fuel he was blasting through the injectors,”

      Do you own a turbo-charged car? Richening the fuel mixture (i.e. using more fuel) has the effect of COOLING the engine.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        He’s having a laugh to provoke a reaction, don’t worry old Bernie is on it regarding noise.

      2. Michael Powell says:

        Ummm… Yes, I have two turbo-diesel 3 litre cars, a 2.8 litre turbo-diesel van, and a boat with two 3 litre turbo diesels. Shove more fuel into any of them and you get more of the following: noise, power, heat.

        You’re talking about richening the mixture, but that’s not the approach that’s appropriate here. Rich mixtures give less power than an optimum mix of fuel and oxygen, so what’s the point of that?

      3. Chris Chong says:

        Diesels work very differently from petrol engines. With diesels, the revs are controlled completely by the amount of fuel pumped into the combustion chamber. In that sense, there’s no such thing as running a rich mixture on a Diesel engine.

        On petrols, the revs are controlled by the amount of air allowed into the combustion chamber (via the throttle body) and the air/fuel ratio per combustion cycle remains consistent, although most fuel systems will create a richer mixture during acceleration and heavy load to reduce knocking and to reduce temperatures.

      4. Doobs says:

        F1 cars aren’t diesels.. (yet)

      5. Voodoopunk says:

        @Doobs

        May as well be, I’d rather diesels than the nonsense we have now.

    2. Castor says:

      I can’t hear the cars over the sound of the commentators breathing…..

    3. AndyK says:

      Umm.. Over fuelling would cause the engine to run cooler.

      1. Michael Powell says:

        You are all missing the point. It doesn’t matter whether its LPG, petrol, diesel or jet A1, if you add more fuel you get more output.

        Obviously if you don’t add the required oxygen too, you will change the mixture to rich. But in this case we have pressurised air flow caused by a turbocharger, so we can add as much air as needed to burn the fuel and keep the mixture a lean as required.

        Hence the limit on consumption as required by the FIA.

        That’s the whole point of supercharging or turbocharging, you can get much more power from a tiny engine, the size of that in a Fiesta in this case, by blowing in a lot more combustible materials. The limit is reached when the engine is overloaded, and breaks, or in this case, when the FIA limit is reached.

        When last we had turbocharging in F1, perhaps the only limit was on pressure used, I don’t remember. This time they also measure fuel flow rates in order to limit the maximum power used at any one stage of the race. There is a separate measurement made of the total fuel used for the whole race, and this is to give some regard to efficient use of fuel. It’s not about driving flat out all the time. Look at the way that Nico held back for much of the race except for the start and the re-start.

        The only people who know how complex and interrelated all these technical considerations are will be the dozens of team engineers huddled over screens at the back of the pits and elsewhere. We got a partial insight into that when Gary Anderson was around, but now that we don’t have him, we have to get the odd snapshot from former drivers who rarely know enough about the engineering.

        Why, for example, is Max Chilton finishing every race? Sure, his car is a slow one for F1, but it would still beat every road super car by a country mile, and probably win in every other road racing series it could enter given a few changes to gear ratios and the like. So why is it so reliable with Max at the helm?

      2. ManOnWheels says:

        Because Max is not demanding enough of it? ;-)

    4. Sujith says:

      Finally some Love for Formula 1 in this site. All I could see in the past few days are a lot of complaints!! :) I am a fan of this sport and is happy with the new rules. It has its problems, but we all thought the 2010 season would be so boring after the first race in Bahrain remember? The first Race after the Re-Fueling ban.

      How wrong were we to make a quick judgement there?

  12. Steve Rogers says:

    I often think that people who complain about F1 being boring are just those incapable of appreciating the technicalities. Reports like this one are fascinating to those with the eye for detail.

    1. Voodoopunk says:

      Great… so unless we like it, like you do, we don’t understand?

      1. Steve Rogers says:

        I didn’t say anyone doesn’t understand, I said some people don’t find the engineering interesting. I wasn’t insulting anyone’s intelligence. People enjoy different things. I find cricket boring but that’s not cricket’s fault.

      2. Yak says:

        I’m no engineer or anything, but I find the technical and strategic side of things very interesting, including the 2014 changes. That said, I didn’t like what I saw and heard on race day at Albert Park.

        Not everything has to be black and white.

      3. Michael Powell says:

        Correct.

      4. Steve Rogers says:

        I agree. The technical report is interesting, but I’m quite disappointed with the engine sound. It will take a lot of getting used to. On the upside, it doesn’t give my wife a headache so she’s able to stay in the room.

      5. Martin (England) says:

        Thats an upside ? :D

    2. Goob says:

      There will always be a few who don’t mind watching paint dry…

      Graphs are nice, but I’d rather watch a full fledged overtake based on the old slip-streaming effect… none of this DRS nonsense.

      1. Michael Powell says:

        Yes, each to his own. This is why F1 appeals to millions, they can all take it at their own interest level.

        Some will see it as a soap opera, and be involved in the personalities of the drivers, and also now, in the team principals and some of the engineering staff.

        Others will see it as a gladiatorial event and will be following their team through thick and thin, rather like football fans who, to me, seem uninterested in the actual quality of the display as long as they win.

        You might want to see the cut and thrust of a sword fight where one contestant lunges past another on the track. You may not be interested in who made the sword or how long, light or flexible it is. For you, the technology is a diversion from the spectacle.

        I might want to see it as a game of chess where complex moves are played out and the end result is in doubt throughout. And yes, where the driver is a pawn in the game, a minor player in the grand scheme.

        In fact, I’m not too bothered if I happen to hear who won before I’ve had a chance to watch a recording. For me, the method of the winning, and losing, is the interest. Sometimes it adds to the interest if I know that somebody is way back, but will somehow manage to get through the pack to the front.

        Yes, it’s all things to men. And women. But not all. Some people think that golf is more interesting. Now that takes some explaining.

  13. SteveS says:

    Five of the eight Renault powered cars retired with mechanical issues. (I’m including Kobayashi and his brake problems which led to a crash)

    Of the six Ferrari powered and eight Mercedes powered cars, only one retired with mechanical problems – Hamilton.

    Renault have made some progress since Jerez but they are still well behind the competition in development of their “power unit”.

  14. Bayan says:

    Ferrari dropped the ball when the safety car came out. It looked like Kimi was approaching the pit lane entry and they could have called him in as at that point, it was expected (and i believe already decided) the safety would be deployed.

    1. Phil Glass says:

      Yes, and I would like to know what Raikkonen himself thought about the strategists.

    2. Sri says:

      yes, this shows again Stefano is not up to the mark. Maybe Kimi should have just come in and then they would hurriedly do the service.

    3. iceman says:

      I don’t know, on the replay of Button entering the pits it was clear it was a decision made at the last possible moment. He only just managed to miss the bollard at the start of the pit entry. For anyone ahead of Button at that point, as Raikkonen was, it would have taken a super-fast reaction to make the decision to pit.

      1. aveli says:

        right.

  15. Anthony says:

    Great analysis James! Much appreciated…

    1. OzHerb says:

      ^^^^^^
      This

  16. Richard says:

    Is it just me but all of Nico,s gp wins inherited by a LH breakdown? I also think the constant going on about how brilliantly reliable his engine was was a little testing!

    1. SteveS says:

      It’s just you.

      Rosberg won China 2012, with Hamilton not retiring.

      He won Monaco 2013, with Hamilton again not breaking down.

      Rosberg won Silverstone 2013, inheriting a win when Vettel broke down.

      Even this weekend it’s not fair to say he inherited the win from Hamilton, given where and when LH had his problems. LH led the race for less than five seconds.

      1. aveli says:

        many chances for them to race each other. rosberg will show you just how good he is.

      2. Jon T says:

        Didn’t Hamilton’s tyres blow out at Silverstone ’13? Hardly a fair example.

      3. Phenom says:

        In China 2012 the Mercedes was particularly well suited to the track, nobody got close. Oh and Hamilton wasn’t his teammate then either.

        Monaco 2013 there was a well publicised pit stop screw up on Hamilton’s car, but due to the nature of the circuit Rosberg likely would have won anyway.

        British GP Rosberg inherited the win first from Lewis’s tyre blow out and then from Vettel’s retirement, Hamilton would have walked that race.

        As he would likely have done in Melbourne, he had the measure of Rosberg all weekend despite missing an entire practice session, he out qualified him by 3 tenths in equal machinery!

        So yes, do a degree you are correct! The problem is he will have the psychological edge going forward so perhaps he will actually beat Hamilton on equal terms one day soon.

      4. Tealeaf says:

        Why would Hamilton of walked the race at Silverstone if he and Vettel didn’t both run into trouble? Hamilton was only 1.9sec ahead of Seb when his tyre failed and Seb was catching him so it was anybody’s race, I would say Nico walked Monaco and was faster than Hamilton all weekend. At Melbourne I have to say Hamilton seemed to have the speed edge on Nico but then again Rosberg is a average driver operating at his maximum give him a break, he could well do a Button/Brawn 2009 and deserves it after many years of hard work, this is the opportunity both have been waiting for now its time to deliver, or I’m sure Vettel and Alonso will pick up the pieces if Merc implode.

      5. KRB says:

        Rosberg has 4 wins to date, so it’s not the biggest sample size. But the Merc at China 2012 got the tires right, and Nico was never threatened.

        In Monaco last year Merc almost got caught out by the Safety Car … Nico was lucky to get out just ahead of Vettel. It caught out Hamilton. Monaco is the easiest race on the calendar to control from the front, of course.

        In Britain last year, he inherited the win b/c of first Hamilton’s puncture, and then Vettel’s gearbox flaring up. Both would’ve won the race had they been incident-free . He was also helped by Webber getting tagged by Grosjean during the start, which pushed him back down the order, out of position.

        As for Australia, you can’t really say that he inherited the win, as we never got to see a true racing lap from Lewis. Certainly we can say that his only realistic challenger for the win was removed with Hamilton’s retirement, which made it a relative breeze.

    2. DML says:

      Surely only Silverstone last year could be called an inherited win for Rosberg. China 2012 and Monaco 2013 were won from pole if I remember correctly. I don’t think we can say for sure what would have happened on Sunday if Hamilton had not had issues and retired other than that it would have been a more interesting race.

    3. Voodoopunk says:

      Never mind when Hamilton wins the next one from lights to flag you can venerate him for being the best ever.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Not down to the car then?

      2. J Hancock says:

        You should know by now, when Jenson Button or Sebastien Vettel win it’s down to the car.
        When Nico Rosberg wins it’s because somebody else fell off.
        When Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso win it’s because they are the greatest drivers in the history of motor racing.

      3. Glennb says:

        Only when Vettel wins ;)
        When HAM doesn’t win, its the car. When he does win, its HAM. I like HAM, its just some of his fans are a little ‘one eyed’.

      4. Voodoopunk says:

        Of course not, didn’t you know? he doesn’t need the best car to win.

      5. aveli says:

        no, hamilton doesn’t need to win another race to be described as the best ever f1 driver. he is the best ever because there is enough evidence of his driving on you tube for you to enjoy. even if his car fails at every race this season, he is still the best ever!

    4. Brian Bell says:

      No – Nico won in Monaco 2013 from pole and China 2012 from pole. China 2012 McLaren nobbled Hamillton and then Button to make it easy for him though :)

    5. Mike from Colombia says:

      Agree. Rosberg has not had a proper win yet. Mercedes had a perfect storm in China 2012.

      Hamilton qualifying mistake gives Rosberg an unchallenged run in Monaco.

      Double luck-in at Silverstone with Hamilton and Vettel retirments gift laggard Rosberg the win.

      Australia 2014, Hamilton on pole by 3/10ths and early retirment hands a walk in the park win for Rosberg.

      His first real win is yet to come.

  17. Bob says:

    Hi James,

    Great story and love the addition of the graph, more plots please!

    I do, however, not quite see what is represented. You say the zero line is the average lap time of the race winer as a constant reference point. Yet during the safety car Rosberg’s time is at zero and all the drivers close up to his time. Is it a moving average? ie calculated cumulatively for each lap?

    Could you possibly publish the formula you use? or possibly the whole spreadsheet?

    1. Malcolm says:

      The zero line looks like the average on a lap by lap basis, averaged over a number of laps, so when they close up behind the safety car they all have similar short term averages.

    2. aezy_doc says:

      It’s easy to see really. The zero line is an imaginary car which represents the average lap time of the eventual winner. Each driver line represents how far behind/ahead (in time) of this imaginary car they are at any point in the gp.
      Normally cars fall behind the average at the start as they are slower and catch up towards the end as they are faster. You end up with a graph that forms a U shape. Pit stops are shown as steep declines in the graph, Bottas’s slow lap is similarly shown. Safety cars and periodic rain are seen by the driver lines rising above the zero line. This is because events like safety cars and rain can significantly skew the average lap time.

    3. Mathematical wonder says:

      It’s clearly not an average because the area above and below the line ought to be the same for an average…

      1. Bob says:

        That’s right.

        Having reread all of this I now understand it to be the gap to a hypothetical car lapping at Rosberg’s average lap time. A better description and some axis labels would really help. (I still think the actual formulae would be the simplest)

    1. IS says:

      Make one to get rid of double points instead

      1. Fernando "150%" Alonso says:

        +1000

      2. Steven Pritchard says:

        +2000

        (Double points)

    2. MISTER says:

      Yeah right! They spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bin the power units because we don’t like it. This technology will end up in our cars in 7-8 years.

      They just need to make sure they add some decibels.

      1. Voodoopunk says:

        …and a fuel sensor that works correctly, unless of course you’re happy to adjust the sensor on your car to the correct operating tolerances.

      2. quattro says:

        How much they have spent, have no baring on whether it is perceived as racing/exciting or not. What goes on after the lights go green is what counts.
        Besides, the technology has been there for years for manufacturers to use – They choose NOT to.. F1 has not invented the wheel here.

      3. MISTER says:

        And how many cars are on the road with ERS?
        The technology has been around, but nobody mastered it to make it safe to be implemented in road cars. This is what F1 will be doing, mastering the technology.

        If they manage to make the engines “scream”, who cares if they are V6 or V8? The sound, the speed, the racing and drama is what will matter.

    3. Random 79 says:

      Yep, as of right now it’s up to 10 signatures: Victory is assured.

      If you think the V6s are bad you should be glad they didn’t introduce V4s as that was the original plan.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        I think originally it was 1.6 litre straight/inline 4 unit, but Ferrari and Adrian Newey pushed for a V6, because they said a straight 4 would require a spaceframe to cradle the engine, where as a V6 could be used as a stressed member, as per normal.
        Don’t worry – if this downsizing continues, then in 2020/2021, we can look forward to a 0.8 litre straight 3 hybrid electric/hydrogen Formula!
        Wonder what Jeremy Clarkson would make of that?

      2. Random 79 says:

        “…power?” :(

      3. Dave C says:

        Don’t worry power will continue to decrease and car weight always on the increase. If we’re down to 600hp now with 690kg cars expect 1000cc motorbike sized 4cly PU with a battery pack by 2022 and probably 450hp and 800kg car. Formula 1 eh haha you have to love it going from the 80′s 1400hp 500kg car to what we have now what a progress in speed and technology.

    4. quattro says:

      An investor/group of investors, with lots of cash, love of racing and commitment to succeed have a golden opportunity now.
      Introduce a series with electronically none-complex cars, unrestricted V10s, good and fair balance between mechanical-aero influence and refueling during race – basically back to the basics where the driver MATTERS.
      Top drivers and racing fans will have a chance to choose between real racing and “F1.6 Green” racing – the investors have an unlimited upside right there, if things are done correctly.

    5. Anil Parmar says:

      V8′s weren’t challenging for the drivers, so no.

      The tone of the engine is fine, but they need to be louder.

  18. Peter C says:

    “Melbourne proves difficult for overtaking” – except for Bottas that is – 19 in total I believe. For a dry race I struggle to think of such a double yo-yo by a driver. It also ensured, as a Williams fan, not only did we achieve double our 2013 points haul in one race, we also doubled our TV coverage compared to that entire lousy season too.

  19. cartweel says:

    that race graph is very ominous for the rest of the season… look how rosberg just pulled away from the field after the first safety car then just turned down the engine. It also looks like Ferarri may have more pace than they showed- but force india may not. Seems like this is going to be a battle of Rosberg/Hamilton.

    I don’t like the sound of the cars, but I do like that they are much harder to drive- I can’t remember the last time I saw so many mistakes. The drivers definitely have their hands full this year and though it should make the racing better, it won’t. Instead of Vettel domination it is going to be MERC domination. Hopefully the midfield battles will keep it interesting.

    1. aezy_doc says:

      A Merc domination could see a 3 way battle. Hamilton and rosberg taking points of each other and a sneaky 3rd driver picking up consistent scores a la Raikkonen 2007.

      1. ferggsa says:

        Massa or Bottas

  20. Sergio says:

    Alonso said that in his 3 first laps he got an electrical problem with ERS. He had to enable and dsable manually. Usually the Race first lap is one of the strongest points of the Spaniard and just for this reason he was passed by Hulkenberg.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      If Alonso didn’t have an issue and took off from the line like he did so often last year, or like Rosberg’s amazing start, then he quite possibly would have been taken out by Mags losing it with the wheelspin torque he had!

      Also, I’m still expecting Bernie to come out with a scheme where teams get an extra championship point per 10 decibels increase in engine noise ;)

  21. AlexD says:

    I am trying to be objective, but I find it hard to find posotives from the race. There are some…Red Bull did not dominate, nobody got hurt in the race, there were new drivers performing well…..

    But I found it so difficult to watch the race, it was very dull. Most of all, the sound of the engine is terrible. It doesn’t sound like F1. I have a feeling it is a computer game. Did you notice how bad was the sound from the on-board cameras?

    I do not know…….shoul I be watching this sport because I liked it so match in the past? Most of the discussions are around disqulification of Ricciardo. Is it all that the first race was able to give?

    Ferrari is not the same team anymore. Even though it is still early days, they have no idea how to be the best of all. Second best, maybe…..

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      As you say, nobody got hurt, but did everyone see just how much the Caterham nose got under and lifted the rear of Massa’s car up in the air for a split second.

      Surprised there hasn’t been more safety chat on this.

    2. Krischar says:

      @ Alex D

      No Ferrari are not even second best, at the moment the barbs and experts view confesss that Ferrari are only 5th fastest. Just ahead of Force India and STR. Ferrari are not any more Ferrari they are mid-table team and a team who live / bask in the past glory and history.

      I Feel very sorry for Fernando, his talents have been clearly wasted in the past and this trend seem to continue. My only wish is Alonso should join some other team in the next two years who can give him a car which is worthy of his talents (World class)

      Wake up Alonso and salvage another couple of WDC’S for you and your Fans

    3. quattro says:

      “Red Bull did not dominate”
      …but Merc did, hugely.

      “Did you notice how bad was the sound from the on-board cameras?”

      That was the first thing I noticed already in practice 1…Some genius gave me the super smart advice…to switch off.
      http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2014/03/hamilton-leads-mercedes-one-two-as-2014-season-gets-underway-in-melbourne/#comment-926811

      “Most of the discussions are around disqulification of Ricciardo. Is it all that the first race was able to give?”

      Discussions, I think, tend to be around what media headlines are/what media chooses to focus on. Media have no interest/incitement to criticize the new formula as such, as negative emotions about the formula will spread and have direct and bad impact on their cash flows. On the contrary, I have seen media articles expressing excitement when discussing the first race, and declaring it as a success! Even here…which is a shame.

      “Ferrari is not the same team anymore.”

      I am starting to think that Ferrari do not care about being the fastest. I feel, they consider F1 to be a very cheap and very efficient way to market their brand world wide. As long as they are among the first 3-4 teams and fighting…for something, ensuring them of some TV exposure, they are happy. I really feel sorry for ALO…Maybe it is time for him to go on, maybe even to another formula – a formula were the driver can make THE difference, as it should be in a sport. Cycling? :)

  22. Don Bracken says:

    The fuel thing is a farce – if theres a 100kg fuel limit, why worry about the flow rate? If your flow rte is too high, you may stop short – do the maths.

    1. Bayan says:

      I too think the flow rate thing is not good for F1. Who cares how much fuel the teams use as long as they don’t use more than 100kg. Teams were already worried about fuel saving so restricting the flow rate just seems like it is not needed. I feel like they could have waited at least a year to see if it is needed.

    2. stoic says:

      That’s because your thinking consumption vs time, not consumption vs distance. If you increase the flow rate you also increase the speed. Say at 100kg/h rate you finish the race 1.5 hours, higher than that and you will run out of fuel at say 1.4 hours but cover the same number of laps.

    3. Goob says:

      The FIA can control who wins a race… they can influence results.

      This is all inline with the decline of F1.

    4. Dave P says:

      Yes.. that seems obvious at first but look a bit deeper.

      The reason for the fuel rate limit is to cap BHP… with more fuel it could get very high and thus dangerous. Now your view (and that of Bernie E) is thats not a problem as they will run out of fuel… BUT these are early days. As the aero gets more efficient, as the engine gets more efficient, on other tracks such as Monaco, you would be in the position of having an excess of fuel and thus could just keep on increasing BHP. Now by limiting flow you stop that and thus the next logical choice is to not put the full amount of fuel in saving weight but not increasing power. Thus the cars will go a bit quicker but not massively quicker. The fuel flow protects BHP for the future. Please will someone explain that to Bernie…

      1. Voodoopunk says:

        “with more fuel it could get very high and thus dangerous.”

        Heaven forbid that motor racing could be considered dangerous, I guess they should all just stop racing, just in case.

      2. Dave P says:

        I do not consider it dangerous.. the FIA do, hence a lot of the track lap records date back to 2004… Still I can see why they do it

      3. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Monaco? Monaco will be one of the most tricky races to finish without using too much fuel. Cars run extremely unefficient aero packages there and the race always lasts close to the two hours limit. People is geting the fuel limit a bit wrong. The longer the race, the more difficult it is to finish it. Monza, as it lasts less than an hour and a half and cars run with very low drag, its going to be an easy one.

      4. Dave P says:

        Errm Learn your facts – Quote from this site May 20th 2013 Monaco stratergy report:

        Full throttle – 45% of the lap (lowest of year); Total fuel needed for race distance – 120kg (very low); Fuel consumption – 1.55 kg per lap (very low)

        If you are not hard on the throttle you do not use much fuel!!!

      5. DML says:

        Don’t they run at full throttle for something like 70% of the lap at Monza? Think you may have got it the wrong way around there.

      6. KRB says:

        But that’s 120 kg needed for the Monaco race distance, which is reduced. If it was 305 kms it could be comparable. Of course the race distance for Monaco is the same this year as last, but it’s that factor alone really that makes it a low-fuel race.

    5. Andrew Carter says:

      James all ready has an article on this, go read it.

  23. Red Rider says:

    I really enjoyed this analysis James. Thank you

  24. Allan says:

    This story and the graphs clearly show that Mercedes have the advantage and shows that they have clearly just given the power unit to their customers and not told them how to maximise their cars. Williams have done the best job and clearly shows the engineering prowess at Grove. McLaren have done a good but not great job but I think everyone knows that Mercedes do not want one of their customers winning unless they can’t. However with the reliability issues, it is very likely if one or both factory cars retire a Mercedes unit will win such is the power unit advantage. The worrying bits are Ferrari and Renault – although if I remember the last major change Renault were down on power but Newey clawed most back by been clever. Looking forward to seeing the strategy and graphs from Sepang.

    1. Dave C says:

      Newey didn’t claw back the power disadvantage Renault had in 2008-2009, it was Renault using a lift in the engine freeze to cure ‘reliability’ issues that made them more powerful for 2010-2013. Newey can’t do much to influence a engine formula.

  25. Adam says:

    Interesting read, thanks as always :)

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned by any of the media is how good the Mercs’ starts were. Ric was absolutely pantsed by both of them until the breaking zone of turn 1.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Then you will be impressed when you look at Ferrari starts, Kimi gained 4 positions and Alo, without ERS, almost overtook Magnussen! Sepang has with Spain, the longest distance between start line and first corner. If the Ferraris start 5th or better, I would expect them to be leading the pack by first corner.

    2. Baron says:

      The “breaking zone,” liking that….

  26. D Vega says:

    If Lauda and his cronies utterly dominate this year at least we can look forward to an intense dual to the death between Hamilton and Rossberg.

    1. Random 79 says:

      If we have a Mercedes duel to the death I put $5 on Lauda ;)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        My money is on Paddy Lowe……

    2. luqa says:

      Not really. The precedent has already been set last year when Nico was told NOT to overtake Lewis.
      Do you really think MB will jeopardize these two guys taking each other out. They will drive to orders, just as they have in the past.

      1. Dave C says:

        Or they’ll turn down the PU remotely to suit their needs.

    3. Voodoopunk says:

      Yep, boring…

    4. quattro says:

      Toto was talking about have tough and talked to the drivers about implementing team orders “in certain situations”, already before the first race of the season had started – so do not get your expectations too high.

      And, even if they did not use TOs, I believe majority of the fans are not here to watch a ROS vs HAM fight every race…boxing is more exciting in that case, and you will be certain of exclusion of any kind of team orders in that case.

  27. Luke says:

    At least the lack of noise from these cars, teams can quietly go about some private testing this year, knowing they will never be heard. Ferrari could be driving Marnello 24/7 and know one would ever know!

  28. Ross McDougall says:

    James. Other sites ( bbc) state that red bull yet again have more downforce than any one else by how they are most stable in the corners. How long will it take for
    Them to catch up with merc. How much horsepower less can they run and beat the merc? Is there any idea who has the best fuel consumption while maintaining the most power as rosbergs car was never really put under pressure in Australia ?

    1. James Allen says:

      The car looked great, that’s for sure.

      The bit that is lacking is out of their hands to a large extent. It’s Renault’s bit.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Not sure if that was supposed to be funny, but lol anyway :)

  29. IP says:

    That Ross Brawn built one hell of a car! I would have loved to see him at Williams to get it up the factory Mercs… but alas

    1. Michael Powell says:

      Even Ross needs a break. He took a risk with his reputation in going to Honda, and got away with it. Every man’s career ends in failure (I’m watching you, Bernie) so it’s wise of him to have gone out on a resignation rather than wait for the chop.

      I claim to be the reason for Williams demise. I went there on a jolly organised by a computer company who were their sponsors. They had just, a week or two earlier, won their last championship, and were at the pinnacle of F1.

      During the day news came through that the computer company had been taken over, and most of the chatter turned to worries about job security.

      So there, perhaps I was the Jonah that did for both Williams and Compaq in one day. Sorry about that.

      I’ve never been invited back.

    2. Neil says:

      Looks like Whitmarsh did the same, but don’t expect much acknowledgement of that round here!

  30. Ward Hargreaves says:

    So the first race of the new season with the new “power plants” is in the books. Impression(s)? I watched this on my TV and found myself attempting to identify the missing component…and there was something definitely missing!
    It did not take long to discern the absent element – F1 engine noise! Plug in a bigger battery, dumb the engine down to 6 cylinders, take away three thousand RPM and blow it all out the back in a Massey – Ferguson exhaust system and what do you get? Kart racing with the sound of Honda water pump engines! Dumb planning!

    1. Michael Powell says:

      You may be confusing noise with power.

      A five-thousand horsepower electric motor driving the QE2 liner was much quieter than your average five horsepower lawn mower.

      As Beethoven could have told you, louder is never better, unless you are going deaf.

      1. Ward Hargreaves says:

        Michael: appreciate your comments. However, to back my point, please refer to Oz organizers who are contemplating suing F1 due to the dumbed down noise…or Luca Demontemezzello who has e- mails covering his desk on the same topic. Apparently I’m not the only one, Michael! No one mentioned power; the familiar F1 noise is the issue. It’s like attending a race for hopped-up Toyota Prius’.

      2. Michael Powell says:

        I once drove a Tesla Roadster in Maryland, and it was the noisiest car ever, not the electric motor, but my screams of delight as it accelerated like a bat out of hell. We kicked dust in the face of every noisy muscle car we could find.

        Don’t worry about the Australians, or the other backsliders, every step forward is met with an avalanche of derision. It’s not long ago I was being assured that mobile phones would never catch on.

        I liked the ‘new’ sound of a GP, that previously inaudible whistle being blown as a car enters the pit lane. Next year, as I understand it, driving through the pit lane will be using the (160hp) electric motor alone. For most motorists, 160hp is a great deal of power, after all.

        And the engines will have to be started at the exit from the pit lane by the electric motor. Wow, just like the rest of us do it!!! What a giant leap forward. Just wait until the backsliders hear about that one.

      3. Ward Hargreaves says:

        Michael: methinks you are integrating driver noise with car noise -or, in my view, lack of same. I have yet to attend an F1 race where fans were enthused by the excited verbal emissions of any driver; and the only screaming I hear coming out of Maryland is the anguish of Redskins fans…and rightly so. At the risk of being termed a “backslider” or one who does not embrace every change as positive, I believe it best for you and I to conclude that we agree to disagree on the issue of current F1 engine noise and leave it at that. Regards…

  31. Sujith says:

    What an anonymous weekend Sauber had in Melbourne? More like last year too.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Typical of the midfield teams really:

      Test day: Woah! :)
      Race day: Oh… :(

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        A bit like the end of the 2008 Brazilian GP when Massa and his crew thought they had won the WDC. “Yes, Felipe Baby you’re champion!……….oh, hang on a minute, Lewis is fifth………”

      2. Sujith says:

        Yes :)

  32. Paul says:

    James – you mention the teams won’t run much on Fridays due to the engine rule but I thought that Fridays was classed as a test day and teams could run a different engine that wasn’t part of their normal allocation (I’m sure last year teams only fitted the race units in for Saturday fp3 onwards?)

    1. James Allen says:

      No, it has to be one of the 5.

      Last year they changed engines on Sat am, that’s true, but it was still always one of the allotted 8 that had raced and qualified earlier in the year that went in

  33. fox says:

    Hoping for the rainy next ten races without safety car.

  34. Mr Squiggle says:

    I remember last year there was a debate over whether Vergne or Ricciardo should get the step up to from Torro Rosso to Red Bull.

    JEV had had a wild moment under pressure when he lost 7th. A few laps later, he gave up 8th position.

    By comparison, RIC held of the challenger and withstood the pressure.

    Dr Marko would feel vindicated on his choice.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Its just a shame Ricciardo’s race pace is weak. Vergne more than often beat him in the races, whrn Vettel is up to speed with a healthy car he will make Ricciardo look very ordinary in the races.

  35. Ashwin says:

    James,

    Regarding Hamilton’s engine problem.
    Does it mean that he is 1 engine down already or will the engine be allowed to be modified?
    Could you please clarify the situation.

    Thanks.

    P.S: A big Hamilton fan and a bit concerned.. thats all :)

    1. James Allen says:

      Depends if it can be re-used. They haven’t said yet

      Caterham is already one engine down from Friday in Melbourne!

  • JohnBt says:

    Accept all the new rules and understand how the fuel flow works with so much info since Ric’s disqualification.

    James, one very important question, Bernie wants the sound to be much louder but don’t you think it’s too late?. Sound booster is the only way but sounds kinda ridiculous and should not happen at all as exhaust will be real big.

    Do you think FIA will find a solution as I suspect they’ll lose a lot of fans visiting races this year. TV viewers will be okay though.

    I’m already not going to the Singapore GP but will be at Sepang to experience the real thing, disappointed or not I just need to hear how soft the volume will be for the heck of its as tickets are very affordable.

    1. James Allen says:

      I agree with him. The sound is being lost because of the harvesting of energy from Turbo etc. They’d have to look at that MGU -H again

      If one of the manufacturers sees a possible edge from doing it you can see them lobbying and the ones who are happy as things are will resist

      ‘Twas ever thus in F1!

      1. Michael Powell says:

        It would be ludicrous to increase the noise level. Noise is power that is being wasted. Nobody should want that.

        There was more spectacle from Roman chariot racing than we get from F1, but that wasn’t noisy at all.

        I miss the scream of the V12 engines, but time marches on, and we should too.

      2. Michael Powell says:

        Besides, Suzi Perry has a very soft and melodious voice and I would rather hear her than some grumpy Caterham rumbling past.

    2. Mark says:

      Sound is being lost because it’s wasted energy. The louder the sound the less efficient the engine.

      I love the new sound of F1, it’s sounds techy and futuristic. Like it or not the internal combustion engine is the past and electric/hybrid engines are a step towards the future.

      If a racing formula is the pinnacle of motorsport then does it really matter what the motor is? as long as it’s based on the best technology.

      Give it half a season for us all to get used to the new sound, and the TV soundpeople to figure out the best way to setup their sound gear to capture the sound better, let the cars get a little better understood and more reliable and it’s going to be a cracking seasons racing I think.

      1. Sujith says:

        Well said. Glad to see a lot of positive review. It sounds nice and futuristic.

      2. deancassady says:

        Good one Mark.
        F1 was in danger of becoming irrelevant to the automotive industry, and understandably having difficulty attracting power suppliers, whose corporate decision-making systems correctly evaluated potential entry into F1 as a break-even proposition at best, and an unmitigatable reputational risk; I’m thinking most specifically of BMW and Honda’s last foray.
        The fuel flow rate restraint is part of the formula to make it a positive business case for manufacturers to enter the sport, by making it relevant to road cars.
        Honda is rejoining in 2015, and I expect other manufacturers will announce applications to enter the sport within the next 18 months.
        Why?
        Because the forced development of this hybrid technology will give automotive manufacturers a critical technological advantage in their core business!
        I too was disappointed with the race, having yet again, one competitor clearly in a category above the rest, yet it is early days, and there will likely be dramatic changes in comparative performance for the entire year (or until they start to develop the 2015 cars).

        Hang in there, true believers, if the competition was better, I doubt the noise issue will continue to be as harped upon as it is now.

  • Spoo says:

    Hi James,
    Excellent analysis as ususal and the graph at the end is the best info one can find.

    I have a small request. If it is not too much ask, would it be possible to make the graph interactive? As in being able to mark and/or mask particular drivers. It will greatly improve the readability and really help comparing teams and drivers.

    Thank you

    1. James Allen says:

      We will be linking to an interactive graph with my input soon

  • quattro says:

    Now that it is, more or less, certain that the Merc engine is light years ahead of the Ferrari engine – are we to expect already that it is over (before it really has started)? F1 will be a race between the four teams running Merc engine? I mean, the difference IN RACE TRIM between ALO and ROS was so huge (>1 sec), that you would need a GOD (a real one! – I am still inclined to believe that ALO after all is human) in that thing to make up for it.

    As the rules forbid teams to upgrade their engines for performance, then this has to be the case?! Yes, it still is possible to change components for reliability/safety reasons, but that does not solve this huge performance problem in time does it? Sure, changing a component here and there for “reliability” reasons (implicit cheating I would say but given the “rules” there you go…), may give you SOMETHING performance wise, but in order to remedy such asymmetry you will probably need to do some heavy/big modifications to the thing(?). Especially If the reports suggesting that the Ferrari engine is significantly down on power AND is significantly heavier than the Merc engine (given that fuel usage is very strictly limited).

    I really really hope I am wrong in majority of what is mentioned above. If not, this semi-sport we have now, will for sure have to apply for a new name. Formula 1 -> Show 1…or why not Show 1.6T Green.

  • Ben says:

    As always great analysis but your graph has blown my theory out of the water that Ricciardo was punished because he turned up his engine at the end to defend against Magnusson. You can clearly see that the new McLaren super star backed off to try and recharge his batteries before a final push at the end. I wonder if more work needs to be done in the simulator to ensure he doesn’t back off to much in the future as this seems to be how he did not get that extra position.

    I think it is obvious that red bull new exactly what they were doing with regards to their disqualification, it’s a shame ricciardo was punished but as they say you win as a team and you lose as a team!

    1. Michael Powell says:

      I seem to remember hearing McLaren telling their driver to harvest some more kinetic energy in readiness for a final push for second place. It didn’t leave enough laps for that to happen, but as it emerged, there was no need.

      This is one of the newish strategic considerations for the teams. I understand each driver can use over thirty seconds of 160hp electric motor each lap, but that is a great deal of power and takes a lot of harvesting.

      Cars should, in principle, be able to do this without compromising speed and lap times, given forward planning, but if you miscalculate, you can easily find yourself with a depleted battery just when you need full power.

      It nicely spices up the mix.

    1. AlexD says:

      RIP FORMULA1:-(

  • iceman says:

    Have Ferrari made any comments about Raikkonen’s DRS? I noticed a couple of occasions when he could have used it but didn’t. Was it broken, and if so was it a significant disadvantage?

  • Krischar says:

    James do you really think Alonso could have got ahead of Jenson in the final pit-stop?

    Ferrari’s pace was very por from lights to the finish and Mclaren looked very strong in the final stint. I think alonso or Ferrari would have never stood a chance to fend off jenson even if they had chosen the correct pit-stop window/ timing?

    Your thoughts james?

    1. James Allen says:

      He was ahead of him anyway…

  • Sujith says:

    Totally un-related to the topic of the post. But James, do you have info on what is gonna happen to the Nurburgring? I heard they sold it to an automotive group called Capricon. Do you have more info on that? Maybe sometime when we’re covering the German Grand Prix weekend this year?

    I love The Ring and I am particularly sad with how things are developing with it. And all of this is happening when I am finally moving to Germany!!

    Thanks in Advance.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll look into it

  • Richard says:

    Why is the fuel consumption so high on this track? It isn’t that much of a “stop and go” track is it…

  • Johnny F1 says:

    Fantastic report James and crew. Did anybody notice that during pit stops most teams had two guys one on either side of the car who put their hands on the air intake box above the driver’s head? In slow motion review they do not appear to be cleaning anything – just holding onto that part of the vehicle. Does anybody out there know what they are actually doing?

    1. OzHerb says:

      Yes, I saw that too.

      I expect they are both pushing against each other to keep the car steady, to make it easier for the wheel changers to do their job.

      1. Johnny F1 says:

        Thanks OzHerb – Your explanation makes good sense to me. Let’s keep an eye on it for the next few races.

  • Michael Powell says:

    The graphs usually flatter the winner, with some of the other runners backing off when the game appears un winnable. But in this case the superiority of the Brawn car is underemphasised by what appears to be holding back after quickly establishing a decent lead.

    They have the same engine package as many others but appear to have eliminated the errors of the past season. That they have such a large margin over McLaren gives them plenty of room to adjust their race strategy if this is the pattern for the rest of the season. While the rest have to drive flat out, it appears that Nico can roll along with his elbow on the door and keep his engine unstressed.

    Red Bull always use a lot of aerodynamic downforce to allow fast cornering. You can’t get downforce without adding lots of drag, so speed is lower on the straights. To compensate they need lots of power, so that may explain why the FIA noted illegally high levels of fuel use just to keep up with being second best.

    How much more would they have needed to get on level terms?

    It’s probably time Red Bull ditched Adrian and called in Ross.

    Talking of ditching, it’s not too soon to give Perez his cards after yet another pointless and dismal race, and apologise to DeResta.

  • D Vega says:

    I read those fro Toto, but I hope Hamilton’s emotions get the best of him and he says, “To hell with it!”

  • erik says:

    I have been watching f1 since 1996 and first time i feel sorry for the guys competing there. I really don`t want to feel like this because this is not my problem, but i really liked f1 and there was something very extractive to me. This is not about the noise as majority of the people think. There was some kamikaze effect and now it`s gone. May be life just looks for the middle ground and extreme competition is the thing from the past but this i see in my everyday life enough to not to absorb it more from f1.
    Journalism is just the side effect and it is natural for them to make headlines big. This is in correlation to their paycheck.
    New technology is super, i`ll love it. That`s the way to go but there are too many people having a say about how the racing should be.

  • Justabloke says:

    Sorry to go on about the fuel issue again but do we know roughly what was the offending flow rate during the race? It has been reported that several teams had issue, were they all affected equally? Were they all the same engine supplier.?

  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

    Top Tags
    SEARCH Strategy
    JA ON F1 In association with...
    Download the chequered flag podcast today
    Download the chequered flag podcast today
    MTS
    Industry-Leading Testing and Sensing Solutions
    Multi award winning Formula One photographer
    Multi award winning Formula One photographer