Insight: One of the secrets of Mercedes’ success and some interesting pointers from Spain
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 May 2014   |  12:34 pm GMT  |  168 comments

The first European round of the F1 season is traditionally a time when teams bring new parts to their cars hoping for a performance boost.

We saw that to some extent this weekend in Spain.

But here, with the help of JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, formerly of Williams, McLaren, Toyota and Jaguar Racing, we have highlighted some interesting details, to help fans understand more of what goes on behind the scenes and especially some of the interesting things Mercedes and Red Bull in particular are doing with their cars at the moment, which contributes to why they are performing as they are.

Don’t look at this post as a dry analysis of aero updates. There are some pointers here which could become real talking points as the season goes on.

All teams have aerodynamic departments which will be looking to add 1 point of downforce per week in the wind tunnel and using computer simulations. The rough rule of thumb is that three points of downforce is worth around 1/10th of a second in lap time.

So in three weeks of development you gain 1/10th. This is why if you take a wrong path and lose time, as Ferrari did last year for example, you lose ground to the opposition.

It has been around 9 weeks since the start of season, so teams will be looking at around 3/10ths to aero gain and more from the new hybrid power units. However this post is mainly on the chassis side.

Mercedes


These channels on the rear floor section just ahead of the rear tyres are not new but highlight the mixture of complex carbon and metallic structures integrated in the floor with these ‘simple’ addendums literally riveted onto the top surface.

The channel clearly works though and sometimes the simplest solutions, even if not the most aesthetic, are the best. It shows that even the leading teams have afterthoughts. The floor is beautiful and this piece isn’t, but they aren’t too proud to do what’s right even if it looks ugly!

Everything around the rear cut out corner is about channelling air around the tyre. This is there to control that flow. This area is one of most sensitive parts of the car. You can lose a lot of lap time in getting this wrong.

This is an example of the secret of Mercedes’ success. Once again not new for this race but it is worth mentioning Mercedes interesting approach to their lower wishbone with a single outer wetted surface (highlighted) to help optimally manage the flow from the front wing and front corner assembly, including brake duct and narrow spacing inboard between the pick-up points onto the chassis. Mercedes have carefully checked the flow structures on this assembly.

The gain here isn’t all aero, it is also mechanical. The mounting points are very close together, the geometry is interesting. This can’t be copied by other teams because you can’t remake chassis pick up points under F1 rules on chassis homologation. They have to wait to 2015 to copy it.

This is the kind of item Ross Brawn was talking about last year when he said that there are some clever things on the Mercedes which rivals can’t copy.

This corner of the car is very sensitive aerodynamically, but the gain here is also mechanical and helps with front grip and protecting the tyres. It’s hard to say exactly how this works without seeing the drawings. Other teams will be looking at this very closely. We might well see it on other cars next year.

Red Bull Racing


This could turn out to be a real talking point this season.

Red Bull were running flow vis paint on their rear wing and floor again in Spain. If one zooms in on the leading edge of the upper element (highlighted) one can see some intresting stripes as the flo vis shows what the air is doing through the wing. This is unusual; these perfectly regimented surface flow structures almost look as if they’ve been created by micro vortex generators.

What does this mean? Their rear wing flow structures are extremely stable. These stripes are unusual and you only get them if you energise the air flow. These structures are much more stable than any other team. This is a class act. It is a very strong, stable rear wing.

You see this kind of thing on aircraft rear wings, but not on racing cars. Red Bull’s clever aero peole may have learned something possibly from aerospace solutions.

If you look at Sector 2 and Sector 3 times in Barcelona, which highlight aerodynamic excellence, the Red Bull car was very quick and this is highly significant, indicating the car has massive downforce.

What is behind this striped pattern on the rear wing could become a real talking point this year and for sure all the teams will be studying images like this one, trying to understand how they are doing it.

Interestingly, Red Bull traditionally run more wing on their car because their approach is to get pole and lead races and and dodn’t worry about straight line speeds because the chasing cars can’t get close enough in the corners.

Now with an under performing power unit and a massively fast Mercedes rival, Red Bull doesn’t have that luxury and although they are sticking with the same aero and development philosophy, the problem for them could be that the car is too draggy for where they are in the field at the moment.

Williams


Williams have removed the integrated mirror stay between the mirror and central vane on the chassis cascade, but have retained the three element cascade profiles. The profiled stay may have been there to act as a stiffener, but potentially later found ‘excess to requirements’ and therefore removed. This is worth probably a point of downforce, so around 3/100ths of a second.

This is a small gain, but as part of a package it all adds up to around 2/10ths or 3/10ths of a second. Williams is bringing new parts to the car, which seem to be working and the team is moving forward.

Ferrari


Ferrari’s exhaust diameter has increased. In recent years there was always a clear trade-off between the smaller diameter exhaust’s better diffuser-blowing capabilities and improved aero benefits versus the detrimental loss in engine performance.

With the ban in 2014 on blowing towards the floor and the impact of the turbo charger in 2014 this trade off no longer exists to the same extent, so exhaust diameters tend to be set for optimal engine performance. It is interesting that Ferrari have tried a modified system.

In the blown diffuser days aero staff wanted a narrow pipe for maximum blowing pressure, which the engine people wanted a wider diamteter for better engine performance.

With the turbo taking energy, the pipe is sized for performance, so it is interesting they changed it after four races.

This indicates they are retuning the power unit, one of their biggest weaknesses. These updates are pretty powerful in terms of gains, but if you get it wrong can cost you. In the blown diffuser days you could lose 10hp with a narrow pipe, but the gain on aero was in tenths of a second, so the trade-off was on the aero side.


Whilst not a change for this race it is interesting to highlight how large the Ferrari front brake ducts are compared to their rivals. Although larger doesn’t necessarily mean worse (from an aero perspective) Ferrari’s ducts are surprisingly open. Not new but stands out. It is surprising how large they are. Their rivals go for less scooped duct.

There tends to be a size beyond which it becomes detrimental. They are doing it because they want to cool brakes, but also because it provides an optimal aero solution for front corner, maybe they help enhance performance. McLaren traditionally have been the ones with largest ducts.

McLaren


McLaren had a revised front drum geometry (everything inboard of the red stripe) and detailed changes around the brake ducts including the addition of a grill (highlighted) to probably stop tyre rubber fragments into the cooling system, thereby stopping any potential blockage. The hot rubber tends to stick on the grill rather than enter the system.

Given the amount of marbles on the track on Sunday this was a prudent design. With the advances in pressure monitoring systems this type of grill could also potentially act as a mini rake for Friday running.

Typically Brake ducts mods like this are very expensive from a tooling point of view and give around 2-3 points, so 1/10th of a second. It wouldn’t be worth doing for less than 1/10th but it’s all carbon and lots of pieces so a very expensive piece of engineering.

Sauber

To remove a reported 15kg of mass from an F1 car in a single update package is an impressive achievement. This should be roughly half a second of lap time.
It is unlikely they were 15kg overweight before, but they were a bit overweight. The centre of gravity will be improved and there are lots of other benefits, like they can also run more sensors. This is a significant gain. They need it because they are struggling a bit.

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168 Comments
  1. Pkara says:

    Mercedes have developed a slick car.
    The likes of Red Bull, Ferrari..will catch up to a point, but its not going to be this season as some of the solutions mean designing a new car & engine configuration. The engines are locked in by the F.I.A. so any reworking or modifications would be on the 2015 cars. So they can only refine the engine mapping & aero packaging & suspension within the constraints of 2014 regulations.
    Mclaren I really hope can rise above the mire they seem to be swimming in. I think they need new blood in there with KMag as much as I like a Brit in a Macca he’s on his way out at the end of this season…I reckon Alonso will be there.
    Williams are doing a proud job of it & Bottas is showing the car can compete but not on a Merc level.

    1. Tommo says:

      I can’t see Alonso wanting to join, they’re stuck in reverse gear at the moment!! He’s better off at Ferrari than McLaren to be honest.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      I did consider Buttons time was up but KMag will have to start matching him or the love might run out fast. McLaren have other young drivers and after a mega start KMag has seriously gone off the boil and had some really poor starts. He’s also been out qualified by Jenson which is typically the Frome boys weakest point – Ron Dennis isn’t sentimental – if KMag doesn’t buck up by the end of summer his McLaren career might be short lived. Especially since Honda have mentioned a Button/Alonso team as good for their marketing.

      1. HP says:

        Honda have announced they want Alonso? Do you have a link that proves that?

      2. AuraF1 says:

        It was confirmed by Martin Whitmarsh who said that Honda were offering 50% of driver salaries as part of their sponsorship and that they wanted Button and Alonso and it was added pressure on Perez (at the time) for his seat.

      3. Ozherb says:

        I suspect that as long as Ron Dennis has anything to do with McLaren ie until he dies, Alonso will never drive for McLaren again due to his actions in Hungary 07′ qualifying.

      4. Pkara says:

        Don’t think that will happen.
        That means they’ll have one aging race driver in Button & Alonso who is on the cusp of being classed as an aging driver though his potential is far superior than Buttons in terms of car feedback.
        So as much there is a limited Button connection with Honda Racing Team, I think Ron Dennis will choose somebody else it’ll be the Heiki bon voyage all over again.

      5. AuraF1 says:

        You mean like Ferrari? With the oldest driver on the grid and Alonso just 18 months behind? To be honest I don’t think the age thing is as big a deal any more – we know drivers keep in physical shape better than they used to and Webber, Schumacher and Barrichello were still out there years older than Button or Kimi or Alonso. Granted it wouldn’t be a long term state of affairs as I don’t think many drivers would retain the hunger into their 40s (at least not the starving hunger required in F1!) but Honda have offered to pay 50% of driver salaries and said Button/Alonso was something they were very keen on. Given Alonso leads the F1 drivers marketing reach index and Button leads the UK and Japan Marketing reach – it would seem a hard headed business decision as much as anything.

      6. Kramgp says:

        There is always a lot of chatter about how the other Macca driver will beat Button. But you have to say that come seasons end Jenson is always there. He is like Kimi in many ways with his reliability. And the teams know if they deliver a good car they will get the victories.

      7. Urko says:

        Same here)
        @Pkara; Heikki.??! C’mon, what do u ppl see in this guy…???

    3. Richard says:

      Not sure who you are referring to, but KMag is not a Brit! I think Button also senses his F1 career is coming to an end.

      1. Pkara says:

        I meant Button as the British Driver.
        I know KMag is not British.

      2. Goob says:

        Button’s performance is very poor throughout his career… the Double Diffuser got a WDC in 2009, and that’s about the only thing that happened.

        He is a very negative force.

        He was a ball and chain on Lewis, and now that Button’s politics have him leading the team, it nose dives, as expected.

        I have seen him nicknamed the ‘Snake’, which is probably a fair reflection of his abilities in F1.

        I for one will be happy to see a genuine racer at McLaren, and that is simple reason why a great team fell apart… their feedback loop is a disaster… the engineers don’t have a clue what to do with Button’s feedback… nothing they do improves the car…

        Ron Dennis should purge Jenson at the earliest… even Perez would have been better for them.

        I would like to see Alonso and Kobi pair up at McLaren… they are the only notable hardcore racers, after Hamilton…

      3. Jean-Luc says:

        Thanks God you are not coming around for a tea Goob; my wife would certainly have kicked you out for a comment like this about JB. He is kind of a racing God to her, wich I truly struggle to understand but feelings will always hold that sense of mystery.
        To say the least, I totally agree with you. The longer he stays there as lead driver the worst it will get for Mclaren

      4. F1 Badger says:

        Bizarre post Goob.

      5. Jez Playense says:

        What a strange post.

        Button Scored more points than Lewis at Macca whilst they were team mates.

      6. TimW says:

        A bit harsh on Jenson, he’s a good driver who thoroughly deserves his place in F1. Button might not be quite on the level of Hamilton and Alonso but he isn’t that far away, he hes won races and a championship, he outscored Perez last year and is currently outscoring Magnussen. Jenson wasn’t the only driver at Brawn in 2009 and Brawn were not the only team running a double diffuser. There are 22 seats to fill and Button is there for a reason.

        P.S, where did you hear him reffered to as the snake? I’ve never heard that anywhere.

      7. Richard says:

        Because the McL car got so fast under Lewis’ stewardship as No.1? McLaren are a poor team considering their budget and facitilies in my book, with limited constructor success for quite some time. Jenson is not at fault here.

      8. TacomaJack says:

        DiD “kobi” mean Kobayashi? Now there’s a guy who will stick his nose in it.

      9. Tealeaf says:

        Why does Button sense his career coming to an end? He’s beating Magnusson, he overall beat Hamilton, he beat Barrichello and Vettel to the championship in 2009. If anything the massive pressure is on Hamilton to deliver the Formula Mercedes championship, if he cracks and lose to Rosberg then another driver will sense his career coming to an end when he’s in his 30′s next year.

      10. Pkara says:

        I think you are preaching to an empty hall.
        Button is not an option for Mclaren. They are looking into 2015/16 & need a better lead driver.
        I think its delusional to even contemplate having Button there next season.

      11. grat says:

        Button did not beat Hamilton at McLaren. He came in second to Hamilton two out of three years. Everything else is just using statistics to prove what you want to prove.

      12. Richard says:

        He did not beat Hamilton, Hamilton beat him 2-1! Results don’t carry over year to year as each season starts everyone starts back at zero if you had not noticed. In 2009 he had the double diffuser rocket ship so we know where that came from. We also know Vettel’s championships came from Adrian Newey. As for Hamilton now he’s eventually got a decent car he’s flying.

      13. matthew says:

        overall what,he was beaten comfortably in 2010 and 2012 despite the fact lewis had more dnfs.button was supposed to shine at mclaren after lewis left,,,,that hasnt happened.now button is blaming his rookie team mate.

      14. Dan Hoyes says:

        Blimey. No one’s ever considered that KMag is actually a very decent driver but actually… SO is Button?

        He’s easily beaten every teammate since 2003, with the exception of Lewis. And even then, everyone thought that Lewis annihilate Jenson, especially as Lewis had the advantage of already being at the team and it being see as very much ‘his team’. Jenson scored more points, more podiums, more points finishes and had a better championship placing. Even if you only want to go on the 2-1 stat, you can hardly call that a convincing victory! And don’t just point to DNFs – Jenson’s had them as well, but (perhaps because of driving styles) Lewis has ALWAYS had more DNFs than teammates and Jenson always has less (think back to Sato breaking the Hondas every race). It’s Prost v Senna all over again. I’m not saying Jenson’s better than Lewis, I’m just saying he still massively underrated. Maybe because of qualifying, but you don’t get points for that.

        Also I can’t believe if we’re discussing what’s wrong at McLaren, barely anyone is mentioning the technical department that is bleeding talent, losing the technical director to Mercedes, title sponsor to Ferrari and the loss of main backing from the engine manufacturer. That last one is huge.

        But no, no, of course it’s all Jenson’s fault.

      15. David in Sydney says:

        Button’s getting married to his sweetheart (lucky beggar) and will be off at the end of this year to raise kiddies.

        Alonso will leave Ferrari (they just can’t manage themselves out of a wet paper bag until they get someone of Brawn’s caliber in charge… hint).

        Alonso will lead McLaren Honda or Vettel will lead McLaren Honda next year.

      16. TimW says:

        Richard and Grat, you are wasting your time arguing about the whole Button beating Hamilton thing. It used to irritate me but I just ignore it now, in the minds of the Lewis bashers, Lewis 2, Jenson 1 will always be a win for Jenson!

      17. Doug says:

        Button is yet again beating his latest hot shot team mate.
        He’s doing a good job in another pants car. Everybody and his dog knows that the car needs downforce and according to Eric, it’s on the way.
        If the team gives Jenson half a chance he’ll be fighting for a podium. F1 is a data driven sport and Jenson is the 3rd highest paid driver after Hamilton & Alonso..can anybody guess why?
        Unless JB drops the ball and starts to be dominated by KMag he’ll be driving for McLaren Honda next year!

      18. Steve Zodiac says:

        Jensen has said he wants to World Rallycross next as they are not nambypambying it up but are “throwing everthing at it” mind you once Todt & co get their claws into it they will ruin it quicktime with loads of silly regulations.
        By the Mclaren’s engineers don’t seem to have a problem with JB’s feedback, they just made another poor car, if Ron wants to make some changes I don’t think he should be looking in Jensen’s direction.

      19. Steve Zodiac says:

        Sorry for the typo’s ; do and way

      20. Gaz Boy says:

        Have you noticed how Macca has suffered from a brain drain in recent years? People called Paddy and Pat amongst others……a team can’t afford to loose quality pedigree personnel who can provide the design and engineering section clarity of thought and clever insights which obviously Scuderia Woking are seriously lacking.
        Also, dare I say this, but have McLaren been distracted by production cars? Seems a hell of a coincidence that their gentle decline in F1 results has dovetailed with their commitment to fight Ferrari in the road car market!

      21. AuraF1 says:

        @Gazboy – Paddy really does have the luck of the Irish though – not sure about a brain-drain but definitely a lucky charm – first he doesn’t oversee the 2012 McLaren which is on occasion faster than the Red Bull. He oversees the absolute pile of crap that is the 2013 car then does a runner to Merc, having no input on the 2014 car, he now gets the plaudits for running the fastest team. And now he’s in a co-team principal role he doesn’t have to put his technical leadership to the test as he isn’t responsible for that side any more. Don’t know if he’s talented or just knows when to jump. This would be the opposite of James Allison who designed a very decent Lotus but left while it was still doing OK and jumped into Ferrari where he no doubt gets loads of hurled Italian abuse from LdM despite not having much input into their 2014 car and now he’s got to put up with rumours of being replaced by Adrian Newey bought in at any price.

      22. John in SD says:

        @AuraF1, great post – lol

      23. Limelee says:

        Button doesn’t seem capable of leading the team forward. This weekend he blamed the car for his woes, he then said they didn’t know what needed fixing, then he said it was the tyres, then he said his good performance in practice was an anomoly, then he said Kmag was inexperienced and this was hurting development, then for the race he blamed the tyres, the start and the stategy. When Mclaren left Australia with points, he said it was luck. Button needs to step up and motivate the team , because there’s a Frenchman who has been a shining exams if how to lead an underperforming team and put in exceptional performances that bring hope to an already overwhelmed workforce.

      24. Pkara says:

        Well said Limelee :-)
        Button is surplus to requirement

      25. Kramgp says:

        Good point, I would like to see Ro Gro in a macca

      26. Vlad says:

        Get Kimi back! :D

      27. Jean-luc says:

        In fact JB never gives proper feedback. He tends to go blaming his equipment and whinging as the race week-end goes on. He has no input whatsoever in the car’s performance and therefore the car has to be just perfect for him to be able to deliver. He won the 2009 WDC by pure accident of finding himself at the wheel of a Brawn; simply.

  2. Blackmamba says:

    McLaren must be careful they don’t fall into mediocrity the way they are headed. It’s not guaranteed that Honda is gonna elevate them towards the sharp end even with a competitive power unit. Right now they have the best PU on the grid but they are behind Force India, Williams and in Spain even Lotus leap frogged them. So it must be their chassis and aero package that are rubbish and there is nothing Honda can do about that. Either that or the drivers aren’t doing their job properly. All through Hamilton’s time there McLaren never had this much trouble with tyre temperatures they always new what direction to take to optimise them but since last year they are struggling in almost every Grand Prix. Surely that’s not coincidence.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      McLaren seem to build cars with an incredibly narrow window of operation. This was true even with Lewis but I think he was able to drive round at least some of the issues. I mean 2012 wasn’t that long ago and they actually built a faster car than Red Bull – but threw it away with loads of operational errors and a summer diversion into mediocrity. It’s easy to forget though after the 2013 nightmare that yes someone actually built a faster car than Red Bull under the old rules – and it was McLaren – as so often the case though they threw it away.

      The reshuffle is good at McLaren – but I think Ron Dennis needs to stay away from the races. He should leave it to Eric Boullier and concentrate on aggressively hiring back as many good aero people as he can. Ron is a great businessman but his constant declarations that the team will gain a second when they clearly won’t are just causing panic and disillusion within the team. It’s like LdM at Ferrari – they tend to go better when he’s not barging around demanding results.

      1. Dave Emberton says:

        I feel sure when Boullier accepted the job he wasn’t expecting to have Ron Dennis very publicly looking over his shoulder at races. It could turn out to be a short-lived arrangement.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        I fear you may be right. Boullier knew he was going to be answerable to Ron in the hierarchy but Ron did say he wouldn’t be on the pit wall or even likely to attend races. Has he even left Eric to it once? I know he’s new at McLaren but he’s not new at the job. Ron does tend to micromanage unfortunately – which is his weakness not his strength.

      3. Krischar says:

        @ Dave Emberton

        Eric Boullier is far worse than Martin W and not good enough to lead the team.

        Ron gave to much crescendo in the pre-season testing like Mclaren are here to win and other positive spins

        Personally i feel Whitmarsh have done a much better job with Mclaren. Mclaren produced a fast package in 2010 and 2012. They had decent machinery in 2011 as well. In 2009 after Mid-season Mclaren have turned a woeful car into race winner in the second half of the season. All these whitmarsh was at the helm in Mclaren. With the arriival of dennis and sacking of Martin W. Mclaren decline continues and it’s has gone from bad to worse

      4. TacomaJack says:

        How alike Dennis and Montezemolo are starting to look with their constant ‘declarations’ pressuring their own teams beyond reasonable expectations. They are not similar people, but their actions vis-a-vis the teams look so alike

      5. grat says:

        I think McLaren needs a driver who knows how to set up a car. 2012, especially Canada, suggests that McLaren is seriously lacking in that department right now.

      6. AuraF1 says:

        What about Canada 2011?

      7. Michael says:

        @ grat They had one. He’s driving for Mercedes now.

      8. grat says:

        @AuraF1: Jenson does well in the damp, and put on a controlled, yet aggressive drive that stands out as one of the best drives of his career. The car obviously suited him in 2011. I also don’t believe he didn’t see the yellow helmet coming up behind him. ;)

        In 2012, by his own admission, Jenson got “lost” on the setup (much like he’s “lost” this year), and eventually (after being lapped in Canada by his teammate) they copied Hamilton’s setup, and Jenson started being competitive again.

        @Michael: Yeah, I agree, but I was trying to be “subtle”. ;)

    2. Richard says:

      Mediocrity! – I think they are already there! I suspect when the driving force moves to producing road cars things go awry. It remains to be seen if they can turn things around.

    3. Ahmed says:

      Even button is complaining now so things must really be bad… Ppl pinning wayy too many hopes on honda returning mclaren to the glory days, its almost as big a hype as when renault and williams recently reunited and look how that turned out

      1. David in Sydney says:

        Huh? Button’s normally the first to complain… Button complaining is not a sign of problems, it is situation normal.

      2. Ahmed says:

        Lol, maybe I should rephrase and say “complaining more thn usual” I’ve read an article where button has stated that thy don’t even understand the problems that they are facing

    4. paul says:

      Sadly I also think Ron’s hands on management style is also out of date and old fashioned – we aren’t in the 80′s anymore. Managing using a culture of fear doesn’t work – why would anyone want to work for them?
      The approach at Red Bull is like the approach of the British Cycling Team Head. Give the guys the backing to do exactly what they need to do their job – with Newey this is let him work on a drawing board, remove all line management responsibilities etc etc.
      Under Whitmarsh yes they were a bit soft and Ron says distracted. Well take away the design a bit of road car for us when you’ve got a minute and focus 100% on F1 rather than if that Front wing doesn’t work you’re sacked…

    5. Random 79 says:

      Good point you make Honda and McLaren having the best power unit right now.

      There are some that think that Honda won’t be up to the task, but McLaren need to get their own act together, now, otherwise it will be them that let Honda down.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        If that happens, I wonder if the Tokyo manufacturer would allow its V6 products to be used by other teams from 2016 onwards?
        Do Macca have exclusive use of the Honda from 2016 onwards? Or do Honda have a contractual clause that allows them to supply other teams if certain chassis performance parameters (i.e success!) are not met by Macca?
        Intriguing!

      2. Random 79 says:

        If I remember it correctly Honda will supply only McLaren for 2015 and then (depending on how that goes) look at supplying an additional team or two in 2016.

        But just hypothetically speaking, if Renault and McLaren are still a bit rubbish in 2015 but Red Bull and Honda are both awesome in 2015 then I’m guessing that we *might* see Red Bull Honda in 2016.

        Although it’s a bit of a mystery how we’ll know that Honda is awesome if McLaren is rubbish, but frankly that’s not my problem :)

      3. Random 79 says:

        “Good point you make Honda and McLaren having the best power unit right now”

        I just re-read that and realised it came out completely wrong.

        It’s supposed to be “good point about Honda” and “McLaren having the best power unit right now” – two separate statements, not one single one saying that I think Honda has the best power unit right now.

        Honestly I’d be surprised if they can best what Mercedes have done, but it would be nice in 2015 if we could have at least two engine manufacturers that could match each other at the top.

  3. Marc Saunders says:

    Dear James, The vórtices in the rear wing of Red Bull are called the Taylor-Görtler vórtices and are usual in surfaces that are curved in an axis perpendicular to the flow direction. They are known since the beginin of aerodynamic and here we see a clear example why are experts so needed in such a complex device like an F1 car. Please look at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02107041#page-1

    1. mark gillan says:

      Dear Marc,

      Of course these generic vortex structures are not uncommon on F1 rear wings, or any other high lift device, but what is uncommon is to see them so defined on track flow vis pictures due to the very transient nature of the onset boundary conditions. One tends to see these highly regimented flow vis pics in the tunnel, or in CFD, but less so in ‘real life’ conditions, unless of course there is a strong geometric forcing function.

      best regards,

      Mark

      1. Mark Saunders says:

        Thank you Mark Gillian for calling my attention over the transient structures. I forgot it is not the wind tunnel. It is what this interesting articles cause, I mean great interest in technique and a continuous learning by the tech-freaks like me. Best regards.

    2. Glenn says:

      Thanks James, fantastic article. I think we would all like to know the secrets behind Red Bull’s performance!

      Not my area of expertise, but I found this interesting in looking up these vortices observed by Marc:

      “…the wavelength can be set by the upstream flow disturbance environment, by surface roughness or by other surface disturbances such as heating and cooling wires or suction and blowing strips. This paper is concerned with the selection of GV wavelength and the way to induce vortices with a desired wavelength using suction and blowing strips.”

      From
      http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1678-58782004000300003

      1. tim clarke says:

        yes. what he said.

  4. Pete says:

    This article talks quite a bit about “points” of downforce. It is clear that a “point of downforce” is some sort of unit of measurement. But what unit is it, technically? Downforce is a force, so I get the “real” downforce is measured in Newtons – but this real/actual force is a function of the amount of air going over the car, so clearly is a function of speed, but this notion of “points of downforce” seems to be a way of taking speed out of the picture… Would love to understand it better…

    1. mark gillan says:

      Hi Pete,

      A point is a non-dimensional aerodynamic measurement which can refer to efficiency (i.e. downforce/drag), downforce or drag. For instance a lift coefficient (Cl or Cz) of 3.5 is 350 points or alternatively 3500 counts (as 10 counts is 1 point). Cl or Cz is defined as the down force /(0.5*air density*velocity squared*the reference area)

      1. Pete says:

        That’s hugely helpful – thanks for this and for all your interesting articles.

    2. Roy says:

      I assume the unit of measure for ‘points’ is for tenths or hundredths of the coefficient of drag and would appreciate knowing. Thank you for a great article; a true service to those of us who like to think we are technically minded.

    3. Alex Ward says:

      In simple terms, downforce changes with speed, so points of downforce is the average downforce over a speed range that the car will be actually using.

  5. Vivek says:

    James,

    I did a quick comparison of the fastest lap times / race times between Barcelona 2013 and 2014. Fairly straightforward races with no safety cars etc.

    Alonso was flat out in 2013 on a 4-stop strategy. Lewis and Nico were also flat out yesterday, as they were racing each other right till the very end.

    The fastest lap time was just over 2 seconds slower and the overall race time about 110 seconds i.e. less than 2 seconds per lap slower. At least the Mercedes cars are not very far off from being as fast as the 2013 cars. With the rate of development in 2014, at the end of the 1st year of this set of rules, these cars could be closely matching 2013 cars. Is the comparison valid?

    Vivek

    1. Darren says:

      You have to remember there is nearly always a negative difference in lap time when they change regs. Looking back at the last time they changed engine, the 2006 fastest lap times were generally 1 second per lap slower.

      I think fastest lap is less meaningful now a days anyway, they are never on low tanks and fresh tyres during the race unless there’s an unscheduled stop at the end of the race.

      By next year with a few tweaks to the engines and the rate of development of aero I don’t doubt they will be as fast if not faster than the 2013 cars.

      Something I keep harping on about but I can’t understand why the don’t allow development of the “power unit”, well I do it’s cost obviously but the whole ideology of these small hybrid engines was that they are “greener” and more relevant to road cars. Surely then with a fuel limit any increase in performance is also an increase in efficiency, which is green and relevant to road cars…

      1. Random 79 says:

        “I can’t understand why the don’t allow development of the “power unit””

        Same here. You mention the cost of development (and that’s a valid point) but I dare someone to tell me that Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault aren’t spending truck loads to develop what they can anyway.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        I suspect its a pay cheque with lots and lots of 0s at the end…………
        Having said that, F1 always been expensive, but the FIA could try and flex its muscles to try and minimise that expense…….but that’s wishful thinking of my part.
        F1 cost is similar to depreciation on a car – it can’t be avoided, but it can be minimised by making astute choices.
        Over to you Mr Todt……….

    2. Tealeaf says:

      Alonso wasn’t flat out last year, the tyres held back the cars and even then they would habe easily lapped this Merc. Also the point is look at last years pole compared to this years..

  6. Mike Martin says:

    Wow, what a cool article! Insight information like this is the reason I visit this site. The large amount of your free time you spent to educate us a little is highly appreciated. If you ever place a tipping jar in the corner of your site I am definitely trowing in some beer money.

    Thanks Mr Allen!

    I am always surprised by the large amount of braking dust I see when Jenson is braking. Just by the look Mclaren seems to to have the best system. Not sure why they have so much dust compared to others.

    1. Ticketyboo says:

      +1 A very good and insightful article.

    2. Random 79 says:

      And if the next technical article comes out sort of garbled then you know they’ve spent your beer money wisely ;)

      1. Steve Mc says:

        I like you, Random, you make me laugh! :0)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Cheers :)

  7. Seymour Quilter says:

    This is top notch stuff, thanks James and Mark Gillan!
    I love seeing the way the cars develop during the season.
    Looking forward to the race strategy write up as well!

  8. furniture says:

    James,
    Any further info on the Ted Kravitz ‘story’ on Sky’s F1 after-race paddock show that FA’s Ferrari was running an illegally overpowered KERS unit during qually (and would have been in the race too, as it presumably has been in all the races so far this year, if it hadn’t been spotted by the FIA in parc ferme)?

    1. Mhilgtx says:

      Wow do you have a link?

      Why wouldn’t that lead to DQ?

      1. mtm says:

        It’s not a “story” as such, just Ted putting forward whatever he thinks as a possible, maybe with lots of ???’s after he says it so he doesn’t have to back up the content.

        Ferrari made changes in Parc Ferme to “Adjust model of MGU­K DC power (at FiA request)”

        The FIA document is here: http://184.106.145.74/f1-championship/f1-2014/f1-2014-05/Formula%20One%20Spanish%20Grand%20Prix%202014%20Document%20-%2036.pdf

        Ted’s notebook is here:
        http://www1.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/f1/9307238/ted

      2. Random 79 says:

        Ferrari. FIA.

        Maybe enough said ;)

    2. Anil Parmar says:

      Think that was just ted jumping the gun..

  9. Jim says:

    James, on the subject of weight (losely connected with your McLaren comment), are there any plans to help the drivers out here. Poor Jenson look anorexic! Maybe do something like they do in horse racing, where the jockey carries weights, if he’s under a certain limit? If they don’t bring a rule in like that, then it’s only going to get worse and deprive us of talent like the Hulkster. Let’s face it, the engineers will take every gram of movable balast they can get their hands on…

    1. Quercus says:

      I await the day when a team takes on a legless driver, both for the weight saving and for the design packaging advantages such a move could give them. F1 is a ruthless sport!

      1. D Vega says:

        Zanardi is available.

      2. Christopher Cathles says:

        Quercus:
        “I await the day when a team takes on a legless driver………”

        Alex Zinardi?

      3. Darrin from Canada says:

        Classy guys… real classy.

        What’s next, making fun of sick children?

    2. aezy_doc says:

      If it helps, I have plenty of moveable ballast around my waist.

      1. Random 79 says:

        The mind boggles ;)

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        hahaha, i’ve been ‘legless’ a few times in my life. terrible hang over next day though.

      3. GWD says:

        Somebody break out the flow vis paint…

  10. Bru72 says:

    Aldo Costa has designed Mercedes a superb car in the W05. Good work Aldo.

  11. fox says:

    It’s a shame Ross Brown could not enjoy [officially] those victories by his creature – Merc.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I bet Ross is smiling quietly to himself………..
      The last 25 odd years have been more or less a boxing match between the Brawnmesiter vs the Newey factor……..Ross has certainly landed the knock-out blow against Adrian so far this year!
      However, as Ross knows only too well, you have to make every victory count as a team never knows when its competitive number will be up, so that is why Merc must make the most of their superiority and enjoy and revel in it. For example, in 2004 Ferrari couldn’t stop winning; in 2005 Ferrari couldn’t stop loosing…………that’s why in F1 a team must always make victories count and if a team is a dominant position completely make the most of it.

      1. Pete says:

        smiling quietly or cursing at himself?

        I bet the latter. He worked so hard and now the politics of Lauda and the corporate hunkiness of Wolff is getting all the champagne.

        Life is cruel, but RB is a legend. Shame on Merc for allowing this to happen.

      2. KRB says:

        Brawn laid a very good foundation, that’s for sure.

        Agreed that you never let up. Never take your foot off your opponents’ throat.

        Lastly, loosing? Gaz, I thought you were a guardian of the English language?

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        Yes, apologies for the spelling mistake, too much Italian wine when I typed………I should have had that Anglo-Germanic wine instead, apparently its a lot sharper and has more fizz!

    2. Random 79 says:

      I agree with Gaz on this one.

      Even if he’s not publicly been given credit for his contribution I imagine he’d still be a bit satisfied with himself.

      I’d also like to think he’s also still quietly cheering on his team :)

  12. Gaz Boy says:

    Great insight – Mark Gillian sure knows his mechanical (and electrical) onions!
    The Merc engine has three major advantages as far as I can tell (over Renault and Ferrari).
    1) Superior fuel consumption, meaning Merc powered cars can push harder and not worry as much with coasting to save fuel.
    2) Less thermal discharge, meaning less heat, meaning small radiators and side pods can be used on the Merc F1 car. Smaller radiators and smaller sidepods means better aero efficiency, better straight line speed, and a cleaner less cluttered airflow to the rear axle, increasing rear downforce.
    3) More torque. Much more torque. Anywhere from 80lb ft to 100 lb ft more than the Renault. That’s a huge amount more twisting force, resulting in massively superior acceleration. That’s about the same torque as a small hatchback, such as a Fiesta or Corsa. So Merc powered cars have effectively got an extra small little engine over the Renault and Ferrari powered cars! Also, the Merc engine’s torque curves appears to me to be quite “meaty” so the drivers don’t have to rev the engine to within an inch of its life, and have more useable power at all stages of the rev range.
    The Merc is an excellent, refined machine, but the Red Bull is producing excellent downforce as well, and in my opinion is so far, the only chassis to match the Mercs in terms of downforce. Red Bull are running more rake than any other car – nose down, rear end up – and a team can only do this if they have an aero map that is very stable with ride height changes. This is probably where the Bulls are generating their downforce, but of course, with an engine that is producing more heat, worse fuel consumption and is down on torque (and has a more peaky torque curve) it will be difficult to catch the Mercs at this moment, but it is a long season, so don’t write the Bulls off.
    James, any chance of Mark doing a comparison of the respective torque curves/maps of the three different engines? The way Bottas was able to leap away from a close following Daniel in acceleration zones tells a viewer just how superior the torque of the Merc engines is.

    1. Mhilgtx says:

      Also you can add a report the US Broadcast gave stating that the Mercs had superior software for application of all that torque.

      Essentially as they explained it the effect is similar to traction control.

      1. James Allen says:

        Whenever a team dominates there is always a suggestion of traction control

        Remember F1 has a common ECU, controlled by FIA and supplied my McLaren Electronics.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        James, although there is a standard ECU as you rightly point out, isn’t the engine mapping/torque curve/maps controlled by the team engineers and could potentially be “manipulated” as a form of torque control???
        Where would F1 be without rumour and innuendo when it comes to the murky world of differentials and wheelspin control systems!

      3. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        But does the ECU control the E-KERS application? Given this is low end torque, then perhaps fine control of its use to suppliment engine power could be used as a form of traction control?

      4. Mike Martin says:

        @ Gaz Boy +1

        I have no proof but I have the feeling RedBull/Renault did really clever things with there engine mapping before 2014.

        They have never been caught but it raised eyebrows.

      5. ManOnWheels says:

        Gaz Boy: AFAIK the maps are static and to have a torque control, you’d need a feedback loop where torque or wheel speed sensors feed back into the engine management, and this is not possible, as far as I have understood.

      6. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Mhilhtx: That’s an excellent point I forgot about – the way clever electrics can “manipulate” the engine mapping and throttle application.
        Yes, it is noticeable how little wheelspin the two Mercs generate, even leaving a slippery pit-lane. Perhaps Mark Gillian could also explore the rather murky world of engine mapping as well?

      7. Elie says:

        Definitely all in power delivery like the RB9 last sept in Singapore.
        Mercs power units perhaps biggest advantage is the flexibility. The separation of the compressor meaning it can “spool” independantly from the turbine allows a more linear response at all times. Merc probably are 2 or more steps ahead of there customers in integrating these systems. Along with better harmonising with the chassis early on -theres a whole lot of advantages in there.

      8. Iain:R8 says:

        @Gazboy re traction control

        It’s almost certain that they are using a type of ‘switched reluctance motor’ /generator. WikiP for more info. The drive waveform can be varied in the interests of current/voltage control, along with wave shape. eg a gentle on curve etc. These MGU types also need a tachometer as part of the control circuit. Inbuilt TC.

        @Elie re split turbine compressor

        F1 Tech Regulation pdf is on the FIA web site for all to see, surprisingly! Technical directives are hidden from us mere mortals. BUT….. rules.

        1.26 The Heat Motor Generator Unit is the electrical machine linked to the exhaust turbine of a pressure charging system as part of the ERS.
        5.1.6 Pressure charging may only be effected by the use of a sole single stage compressor linked to a sole single stage exhaust turbine by a shaft assembly parallel to the engine crankshaft and within 25mm of the car centre line. The shaft must be designed so as to ensure that the shaft assembly, the compressor and the turbine always rotate about a common axis and at the same angular velocity, an electrical motor generator (MGU-H) may be directly coupled to it.
        5.2.4 The MGU-H must be solely mechanically linked to the exhaust turbine of a pressure charging system. This mechanical link must be of fixed speed ratio to the exhaust turbine and may be clutched.

        So I not sure how it could be separately spooled. Hybrid turbos are the next big thing, but not in F1 according to the rules. Maybe I don’t have that F1 way of interpreting rules. What do you think? If Mark Gillan is reading, maybe he can chip in.

    2. mtm says:

      > so the drivers don’t have to rev the engine to within an inch of its life

      None of the cars are revving much past 11-12k rpm, that’s more to do with the max fuel flow kicking in at 10500 rpm.

  13. Mark says:

    How much of the development upgrades are actually done between races, and how much is done in advance – but released race by race. i.e. Europe is traditionally a time for upgrades, but are all the Spain upgrades done in the three weeks since China, or last year, but held back for a few races, a bit like sand bagging?

    1. Phil says:

      Teams do not hold back updates for a few races. Why would any team have performance updates but not use them straight away?

      Work will have started on the upgrade packages the team brought to Spain probably before the first race and added to them during the intervening period. It takes time to design, test and build the parts required for these updates but you can be sure the teams will use them as soon as they are available. They work up to the last minute to bring updated parts. It’s not uncommon for team members to bring new parts to a race meet in their hand luggage and turn up at the track with them an hour before practice starts.

      1. Bradley says:

        Some updates may be ready for a race but not appropriate to it; e.g. a high downforce wing ready in time for a low downforce circuit. Perhaps tested there in P1 then shelved until it is useful.

  14. Rick says:

    James, a great article! I always read these technical analysis, such a difference from other sites that specialize in gossip, rumours and made up stories! Thanks for existing.

    1. Quercus says:

      I bet James is thankful he exists, too. ;-)

      1. Random 79 says:

        Lol :)

  15. H.Guderian (ALO fan) says:

    Off Topic, but…. (GrandPrix247)

    Raikkonen: Exactly who made the decision for Alonso to pit first?

    Hours after the chequered flag in Spain, Kimi Raikkonen’s long talks with Ferrari officials were dragging on, according to MTV3, reporting that the Finn was unhappy with his treatment by the Italian team in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

    Raikkonen answered an emphatic “no” when asked if he now feels like the number two driver at Maranello, because Fernando Alonso received first call for pit service despite running behind the normally ice-cool 2007 world champion in Barcelona.

    He was, however, ‘furious’. In a television interview with Sky, the 34-year-old answered “I don’t know” when he was asked who made the decision to pit Alonso first – an advantageous tactic usually reserved for a team’s leading driver.

    Asked if he wanted to pit before Alonso, Raikkonen mumbled, shrugged, and stormed off. Later, having been beaten in the race by Alonso, he played down the strategy incident, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

    “There was not much between the two,” said Raikkonen. “In the end it makes no difference. It was a very disappointing result for Ferrari.”

    ### He was, however, ‘furious’ ###

    Me: Raikkonen, who was responsible for the (crazy) two stop strategy??? *YOU* AND YOUR RACE ENGINEER.

    Me: It seems that after the 5×0 the IceCreamMan is starting to melt.

  16. Mhilgtx says:

    Thanks Mark for the very readable article and James for all that you do. What a great site and sport to follow.

  17. Goob says:

    McLaren must fire Button… he was out of F1, before BrawnGP made the mistake of bringing him out of retirement…

    The double diffuser WDC should have been given to a worthy driver, who had demonstrated prior racing skill… Button was a waste of everyone’s time, and still is.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      High profile names tend to walk away from Macca before they get fired!
      I’m thinking of Lewis, Pat, Paddy et al…….all left Woking for pastures new.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Maybe you should drive for them Goob, show everyone how it’s done?

      Just remember: Blue flags mean slow down…more…

      1. James Clayton says:

        Em no they don’t… they mean you have to let the car behind you pass; there’s no explicit requirement to slow down.

    3. John says:

      Mr.Goob,

      Respectfully your comments seem to consistently deride Button. His record stands for itself. Give the man some credit. He’s a proven winner 15 times over. He’s a world champion.

      Can you even begin to substantiate your assertions?

      1. James Allen says:

        Agreed

        There is a constant attack on a driver here

        Please moderate your attacks or they will no be published – Mod

  18. TurboMuncher says:

    Hi James & Mark

    Another excellent piece of insight, thank you both.

    On the subject of engine developments, and specifically the split turbo / intercooler solution, clearly this is something all the non-Merc teams would like to have. As far as I can tell, engines are now frozen for 2014 (notwithstanding reliability tweaks, etc.), however between Nov and 2015 manufacturers are free to develop again before the end of Feb 2015 where they’re frozen again for FOUR YEARS?

    My questions are:
    1) Is there’re enough time for the manufacturers to copy this concept before engines are frozen again next season?
    2) is the four year freeze accurate, I.e. Will other teams get one shot at copying this design and however well they do it by Feb, be stuck as it is for some time thereafter?

    Thanks

    TM

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I have wondered about this issue relating to Honda, and their relationship with Macca, who have a relationship currently with Merc…………..I don’t have an answer to your questions, but relating to Honda it is a bit of grey area seeing as they officially will only be an engine partner from January 2015.
      It’s a good point you have raised – should more manufacturers want to come into F1, and that is why the Formula has been changed to entice more engine suppliers back onto the F1 grid, then would they get a dispensation clause from the FIA being as they start late?
      Perhaps James and Mark can delve the politics of this slightly open-ended situation.

    2. mtm says:

      The 2014 regulations have an increasing number of the engine functions frozen each year (except 2016-2017 which keeps the same number of frozen functions) then from 2019 onwards most of it is locked in.

      See Appendix 4 in the technical regulations:
      http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/regulation/file/1-2014%20TECHNICAL%20REGULATIONS%202014-01-23_0.pdf

      I guess it depends if the follow on changes from extending the turbine spindle through the V of the engine and relocating the compressor require the areas that are being locked down to change. Someone else might know enough about engines to say??

  19. Paul D says:

    Why are Mclaren getting so left behind in the development race.

    Strikes me they’ve got fundamental operational issues to resolve. We know it’s not the engine strapped in the back afterall.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I’ve got a theory on Macca and their poor performance in recent races.
      I think the problem is their front suspension and front wing, amongst other issues. I suspect the Macca has a very limited ride height window, which requires the suspension to be also very limited in its travel. Bear in mind Macca use pull rod front suspension, then it doesn’t have that much travel and direction anyway – pull rod suspension gives better centre of gravity benefits, but is severely compromised by a lack of compliance and adjustability. Any how, I suspect bumpy, uneven surfaces are upsetting the Macca quite severely.
      I suspect because of this rigid ride height/suspension problem, the Macca’s underbody airflow is stalling badly, and the car is loosing downforce every time it strikes a bump or kerb. To prevent an underbody stall, I reckon Macca are running a rideheight operating zone that is very tame, and I don’t think the car will respond well to running with a lot of rake (nose down, rear end up – like the Bulls).
      I also fear Macca’s front wing is flawed: possibly when the McLaren’s front wing gets near the ground at a certain point it will stall, and because of McLaren’s wing design the stall will be too big, a good analogy being like a light switch. Add on the compromised ride-height issues I have explained, and although the Macca may produce peak downforce for a certain moment, it is not producing clean, efficient, and most importantly consistent downforce like the Mercs and Bulls.
      So, in other words, Macca’s front wing and front suspension design is badly flawed and is holding them back at this moment in time, blunting their competitiveness.
      I suspect Ferrari have exactly the same problem, because like Macca they are the only other “top” team running pullrod front suspension which severely compromises it.
      If I were McLaren and Ferrari, I would seriously think about redesigning the front suspension to go for a push rod front suspension design for next years car.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Whoops, I may have made a bit of a clanger! Some websites says Macca are using pullrod suspension this year, the others push-rod! So if it is true Macca are using push-rod suspension, discount that bit from my post.
        Having said that, in mitigation, even if McLaren are using the more conventioal push-rod front suspension, the point I made about the front end lacking compliance and suppleness is still relevant, and even if it is push-rod suspension it still appears to be too stiff and is not “talking” to the drivers when it comes to adjustability.
        I still think my opinion on the front wing and floor is possibly correct, the point is Macca are not producing good consistent downforce which is hurting them.
        Whatever front suspension are using, its flawed anyway, and couple with a poorly designed front wing/floor section is giving the drivers a poor ride and lack of confidence.

      2. mtm says:

        Mclaren have gone back to using push rod this year. They had a pull rod setup in the MP-28.

        Also, Australia is one of the bumpier tracks due to it being a street circuit and that’s where they did well!?

  20. Torzonborz says:

    Fantastic article, thank you very much Mark and James!

  21. Knuckles says:

    Interesting stuff James, but I’m surprise about 2 things:

    Re the Merc and the inability to change suspension mounting points due to chassis homologation. Wasn’t chassis homologation changed already in 2012, making it possible to change the chassis during the season provided that homologation (crashtest etc.) are repeated?

    And re large Ferrari brake ducts, weren’t they introduced together with the blown wheelnuts so that the nuts actually have some air to blow?

  22. ferggsa says:

    My perception (very non technical) is that MB leapfrogged RBR by about 1 sec, but RBR still holds a .5 to 1 sec advantage over the rest, depending on the track, not fully showing yet because reliability, pit errors, DSQs and VETs problems in adapting to less downforce

    So my very boring prediction for the season is that HAM will be WDC but ROS and MB will try to make it fun for the fans like WEB/RBR never did (OK, just in 2010)

    VET and RIC will fight it out for 3rd (hopefully shown on TV screens), and ALO will have his worst season ever in 5th on pure merit (as usual), and hailed by his fans (as usual), given Ferrari’s shortcomings

    So the real fun is to see who ends up 6th, Ferrari’s “No.2″? the FIs fighters?, the Williams Flying Finn? the French Lotus late bloomer?

    I’m leaving Macca out because IMHO they should better start on next year’s car than waste time in this one

    The other question up for grabs is after which race will Maldonado get his first 12 points? (license ones, of course)

    So, contrary to most fan’s opinion I intend to have fun watching the rest of the season, just had to change my expectations on it

    1. Random 79 says:

      I’d say that Ricciardo is showing the advantage that RBR have over the rest of the field pretty well so far.

      As for Maldonado: As of now he has accrued three points I think?

      So if he’s to acquire another nine points that should take three races (assuming only three points per race), which would mean he could potentially reach his target by the time they hit Silverstone, but because I’m feeling nice and factoring in the fact that he doesn’t get points for attempting to drive through walls I’m going to say Hungary, maybe Belgium :)

      1. ferggsa says:

        He already has 4 points, he got 1 for nipping Ericsson on Sunday, but I will settle for Belgium as you say

      2. KRB says:

        In Pastor’s mind, he’s tied 4-4 with Grosjean. :-)

      3. bmg says:

        I think he has more, “Sorry” thinking of his demerit points on his license.

      4. KRB says:

        Pastor got another point added for his first lap clash with Erikson, so isn’t that 4 now?

      5. Random 79 says:

        4 points it is then, so now I’m leaning more toward Hungary :)

  23. Jonathan Powell says:

    As has been said above James,another fantastic article and insight into the technical side of F1 and one of the reasons why I regularly visit your site.

    What perhaps would have been an additional beneift would have been images of the back of the grid teams cars to show the differences and where they are losing out performance wise.

    With regards to comments about McLaren it is not acceptable that with their resources and the best engine that they are not performing better once again this season.

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

  24. Pete C says:

    Given the fuel consumption hasn’t been as big an issue as predicted are any teams looking at reducing the amount they carry to save weight ? According to the in race fuel updates Hamilton and Massa are regularly 1.5-2 % better than the rest. They could lose 1kg and gain 0.1s a lap over the race ?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Not only that, but it would be less weight to push around.

      Unless I’m wrong, it would take less power to drive a car holding 50 litres of fuel than it would to drive a car holding 100 litres of fuel, so the less fuel you have the less fuel you actually need to drive at the same pace, so I’m sure there’s a magic amount that they could start with to gain performance and still make the race distance.

      Does that sound right to anyone else?

      1. Steven M says:

        It makes total sense to me.
        But, would Mercedes want to risk Hamilton(or Nico) not finishing a race he is leading because they didn’t give him enough fuel? Would that be wise? Could that cost either driver the WDC? I think the risk is too great.

      2. Random 79 says:

        I think toward the end of year once one or the other is leading by about 250 points they should try it just for giggles, but maybe that’s just me ;)

  25. Marc says:

    Fascinating insight and indeed, what else would there be to report on, since there’s no more racing, just a show case parading on track disguised as a race. I’m really frustrated with F1 in general and with this season in particular. It’s “the one team takes it all” scenario year after year. Too bad, so sad.

    1. Tone says:

      I’m with you.
      I hate the lack of testing. I understand why they impose it and understand the chosen technical route but why a freeze on engines? If they’re serious about helping the real world with relevant technology however, then surely that’s the one place you can genuinely make a difference. Mercedes may have still been untouchable but at least there’s hope if other teams can test.

      The real GP championship unfortunately starts and ends in the off season. The rest of the year is a series of parade laps around the world masquerading as a championship.

    2. Gary says:

      The rise of single team dominance, and on-track racing principally ocurring within teams, is a result of the massive ramp in technology. The out of control budgets are due to the same; technology.

      In short, technology is ruining motor racing.

  26. Krishna says:

    The point about McLaren’s brakes brings me to ask if these teams run around with disc brakes or drum brakes, or is it a hybrid of both?

  27. graham says:

    Brilliant Article, Mr Allen.
    It is stuff like this that keeps me coming back to your website. These technical insights are not found anywhere else.
    Thanks

  28. mem says:

    not wishing to start any rumour but Brawn popping in to Ferrari for a cuppa does look interesting.
    I think a year out is enough to refresh him and
    nobody should give up something they are good at.
    What he put in place at Mercedes blossomed this season and has shown he still has it.
    Also , Aldo Costa. Why did they think they didn’t need him?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve spoken to friends who have spoken to Ross and he has no intention of going back to work at Ferrari

  29. RobertS says:

    James when it shows that certain drivers are using less fuel, why don’t the teams ask the driver to turn up the fuel mix therefore going faster? Or do they start the race with a lot less than 100kg??

    1. James Allen says:

      Not a lot less, but Merc have certainly been starting with less

      HAM had ROS where he wanted him so no real need to burn off fuel. If he and needed to he could have turned it up to defend, is what this shows

      1. KRB says:

        Or is it that he started with less than ROS, so at the end they had roughly the same amount of fuel left?

        I would love it if the FIA released post-race car weights. Surely this info gets out to the teams.

  30. bmg says:

    James do think this ban on copying parts from other teams should be dropped?

    The fans are screaming for closer racing between teams and this could bring them closer together.

    Im in OZ and I’m starting think, why should I deprive myself of sleep when I know who is going to win.

  31. FADA says:

    Hi James,

    I noticed that by end of the race, Lewis had used 3kg less fuel than Nico. I was thinking, why didn’t the the pit tell Lewis to increase the fuel mix and burn more fuel? It would achieve two things: 1) Lighten the car. 2) Increase pace. I Would like some insight into this if anyone has any? Assume he had loads of fuel in the bag or was he already at the 100kilos/hr limit?
    I don’t get the point of saving all of that fuel during the race and no being able to use it your advantage at end.

  32. neilmurg says:

    please note:
    loose, opposite of tight; loose, looser
    lose, opposite of win; lose, loser, losing

    I know all posters don’t have English as a first language, so the rest of us need to set an example

    1. KRB says:

      It is a pet peeve of mine. Also it’s and its, which is a simple one (i.e. it’s always means “it is”).

  33. Peter says:

    Has anybody noticed how slow F1 cars are. It must be getting embarrassing for sponsors to see their money being spent to produce a car that is barely faster than a GP2 car. In fact the top 3 GP2 qualifiers would have qualified for the F1 race!!!

    Can the belief that F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport be justified any more?

  34. AlexK says:

    Thanks for the great article! The level of insight makes it a great read. It is a shame however that some posters dont respect the work done and start discussing topics that have nothing to do with the article!

  35. Jim says:

    A small point, but I love how McLaren’s “all carbon and lots of pieces so a very expensive piece of engineering” brake duct appears to be partly masked with a strip of insulating tape :-D

    On a more serious note, apart from translating to lap time is there a definition for a “point” of downforce?

  36. kev says:

    The red bull wing looks like its using something called lifting line theory from aircraft vortice work

  37. wayne says:

    Maybe the stripes on the picture was not caused by aero.
    I have been searching photos to get the idea where the element and the highlighted part are. Then I found this photo.
    http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-photos/10913/2014-spanish-formula-1-grand-prix-friday/243143/#/243143
    Looks like the photo was taken when the RB10 was going out of the pit for testing and the stripes were already there.

  38. Derek Nickels says:

    Can JA or Mark Gillan answer this please? During in car footage from the Merc’s,the front suspension appears to be turning as a complete unit on a pivot point in the centre,much like a home made soap box billy cart’s steering does. Is this an optical illusion caused by the brake ducts or is it really happening? If it is happening,is it legal? Wouldn’t such movement fall under “Active Suspension” bans? I’ve looked on other cars and haven’t noticed it to as much of an extent.

    Cheers

    Derek

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