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Comment of the week…and some TV news
Comment of the week…and some TV news
Posted By:   |  28 Jan 2009   |  5:45 pm GMT  |  18 comments

As regulars here will know, I occasionally like to highlight a feedback comment and there’s one here from Rpaco, who clearly has worked in the car/racing industry at some point. His comment in response to my post yesterday about Charlie Whiting’s briefing really made me laugh.

“Well I trust that the new BBC team will keep us informed of the engine number being used by each car. A spreadsheet will be needed to keep track of them all. Though I have a vision of the Lottery commentator, “the voice of the balls” giving the statistics on each number. ‘This engine was last seen as a bonus Friday engine Monaco and Spa. It has covered 1200 miles and 3 hours on the dyno.’

“Let us also hope that Charlie’s KERS training program for the Marshals goes somewhat further than his stated “We shall send them some instructions to read” All marshals are the salt of the earth, largely unsung, without whom this sport could not exist and many posses great knowledge and a deal more experience and common sense than the so called race stewards.

“However not all are great readers, and a more practical training is necessary, a few 10,000 Volt shocks should do it. 🙂 *Dont touch the ****ing car when the ****ing light is on!”

Actually we could all do with some more information on KERS and engines. It’s often hard to keep tabs on who’s on what engines even when you are in the paddock! And as for KERS, I’m told that there is currently no plan for an on-screen graphic telling the viewer when a driver is hitting his KERS button. I’m sure that Bernie’s FOM TV technical people will get onto this as the season goes on, as it would be indispensable when watching a good dice between two cars.

It rather takes away from the KERS story if the public hasn’t got a clue when and how it is being used. Don’t you think?

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To pick up on Daren’s comment that Also, KERS in F1 apparently has no relevance to road cars,
In fact I would see KERS being of huge significance eventually in “Greener” road vehicles, but of course without the F1 restrictions, with maximum energy recovery and re-application.

Ok the actual execution in road cars may be different but the origins for the F1 systems may well have come from areas already being explored for “civilian” use.

Before I retired from the car industry 6 and a bit years ago, at least 3 if not more major motor manufacturers were developing 36Volt systems with Altermotors (I will explain why later if anyone is bothered) a related principle is used by the F1 electrical KERS. Although this is not new if anyone remembers the NSU Prinz from 35 odd years ago, which had a 12Volt Dynamotor, my neighbour had one, it went through sets of brushes about once a month. The flywheel system is used in China on some ancient goods vehicles.
However the first thing that springs to mind is Scalextric and the braking effort provided by shunting (shorting) the motor when the trigger is released on to the back stop beyond the end of the rheostat (which creates back emf, its all down to Mr Flemming’s hands.) So the principles are relatively old fashioned it is just the packaging problem and the access/control method. Also of course the voltages must be very much higher to save weight.


Can someone explain the attraction of free practice on tv? it sounds like live coverage of golfers on the driving-range, a cricket net session, or Man Utd’s training ground.

I’d rather see a GP2 race than f1 cars going round on their own, not yet up to full speed, doing systems checks.


The teams are spending about £20 million each on KERS systems which will all be restricted to the same performance levels and will all be used at virtually identical times by the drivers. Some teams aren’t even planning to use it initially, and Toyota are already claiming that it will prove a disadvantage on most tracks.

Also, KERS in F1 apparently has no relevance to road cars, and besides it is looking ever more likely that KERS won’t be used in 2010, or will it at least be standardised.

In short… what a waste of money!


Turbos were totally different because they were not limited to seven seconds of boost per lap, as KERS is, they were on all the time. Yes JA. They were on all the time, but not at the same boost pressure.
Although you were but a stripling then, you must remember the boost being turned up for a few seconds in order to overtake, but as I said in another thread, the turbo lag prevented the driver being overtaken from responding immediately.

In those days also it was possible to follow another car within a couple of inches, (probably due to the relative inefficiency of the aero package) and actually gain a usable “tow” from the partial vacuum created by the car in front, whilst still retaining steering ability. Remember one Mr Mansell chasing someone around Monte Carlo literally on his tail for six solid laps never more than 6 inches apart. (it was either Schumi or some other fellow, racing driver probably)


JA writes: To pick up on Bradley’s point and Oscar’s too, the problem is that we will not be able to see for ourselves when KERS is used so graphically because the engineers are telling me that the drivers will probably all use KERS at the same places, especially when close dicing.

Turbos were totally different because they were not limited to seven seconds of boost per lap, as KERS is, they were on all the time.


Who cares about HD anyway, hopefully the beeb will bring back the mac! 😉


Thanks for taking a look at this James. If you look at Nate’s information that’s all we have at present regarding the HD situation.

The BBC are refusing to be drawn on why FOM aren’t releasing an HD feed. Leaks from the Beeb suggest that initially they were believed all the races would be in HD, then this was downgraded to ‘Crown Jewel’ events (however you determine which races these are…), before finally being told there would be nothing.

It’s been suggested that this is exactly what happened to ITV, where you expected HD to become available by 2008 but it never happened.


On the HD thing..

Original link :

“F1 will not be broadcast in high definition on the BBC in 2009.

Director of BBC Sport Robert Mosey said “we’d very much like it to be” but HD F1 broadcasts are not available yet.

He also suggested practice sessions will only be available online and ‘via the red button’, and said the BBC is looking into broadcasting GP2 as well.

Mr Mosey has made a series of remarks about the BBC’s plans for F1 coverage on the BBC’s sports blog pages. Here are a few of the major highlights:

The races will be on iPlayer, but precise red button plans are yet to be confirmed.

The idea is that F1’s home will be BBC One, with all qualifying and races live and uninterrupted on that channel. The rest will be online and on the red button.

We’re still working on GP2 and other scheduling details. Clearly, we’ll have a lot of new content from F1 itself – which will start with practice available online on the Friday of a race weekend. Catch-up F1 will later be on iPlayer with highlights on the site.

F1 won’t be available in HD though we’d very much like it to be. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m surprised at the choice of BBC One for the shows – I expected them to screen it on BBC Two, to keep it clear of any clashes with mainstream programming. It makes no difference as long as they stick to their promise of “live and uninterrupted” broadcasts – even if Eastenders is on, even if England finally wins a cricket tournament, even if the queen’s 17th cousin stubs her toe.

Having qualifying and races live is the bare minimum but he says “the rest will be online” indicating F1 fans will still get to see free practice live next year. Good news.

It would be a shame if nowhere could be found on the BBC’s many channels to show GP2 live. At the very least I hope it’s screened live on iPlayer. It’s provided some of the best races I’ve watched in the past four years. If BBC isn’t going to show it live on one of their channels I hope Eurosport or Motors TV can pick it up instead.

I’m very disappointed that F1 will not be in high definition in 2009. Once again it seems Formula One Group’s laughably slow adoption of new technology is to blame.”


I have to say I think we do need the information. Maybe not on TV but maybe via the live timing/info feed that many of us view during the race.

Wouldn’t it be great to know that as we watched Jenson Button start his last lap of Silverstone and take his first victory for Ferrari (stop laughing at the back!) we can all see that it’s been a magnificent drive because he hasn’t touched the boost all day!

replacing the recently fired Raikonnen –


Why do we need all this on-screen info telling us what’s been done, and when?

I don’t recall graphics saying “boost turned up” in the mid ’80s, yet we all understood what was happening.

The point of it all will be the overtaking itself, not accounting for the overtaking by saying “that was a combination of adjustable front flap and 0.3s of KERS activation”, surely?


“It rather takes away from the KERS story if the public hasn’t got a clue when and how it is being used. Don’t you think?” Surely it will be obvious when KERS is used because we will see cars overtaking each other. It’s all a bit pointless if the only thing the viewer will get from it will be a light on the TV graphics.


I dunno about you but i feel F1 has clearly moved away from what it used to be … It should just be what is was late 90’s early 00’s – obviously now that Michael and his dream team are no more, bernie doesn’t need to worry about 1 team/driver dominating..

On the note of the Beeb.. are they going to be using Fleetwood Mac’s “the chain” theme? as that is synonymous to F1 as Ferrari are.

Also HD.. well i’ve recently moved from Blighty to Abu Dhabi (or as my mates say, i’ve done a “Lewis Hamilton”).. Al-Jazeera Sports are also saying that F1 will be in HD..


RE tyres: for sure they could have their side walls painted to denote compound type.

If the telemetry is not available to us to see when KERS and or flaps are used then we shall need a great deal more cockpit shots of the drivers hands to see when they press the buttons. I am sure James would have done his homework and know which buttons are what on all the steering wheels, as would Murray of course, and hopefully MB and co will as well. A split screen or inset of the car being tracked would be ideal.

KERS roughly equates to turning the boost up to pass someone in the turbo era, the turbo lag mean that the one being overtaken could not respond in time to prevent the pass, however I would guess that KERS is instantaneous and will often be wasted in pass attempts. It is interesting that Toyota say that apart from passing, there is only one logical place on the track to use KERS which is at the start of or coming into the longest straight.

Not having HDTV and not envisioning any time I could afford it, I cant really shed a tear for you, Williams. But best of luck.


Thanks JA: I have been connected with the motor industry all my working life … Once you have done some trying, learning or racing on the track and been close to a team it changes your viewpoint. In my case it was with the BMW BTCC team and many “on track” hours at Brands half a lifetime ago.


JA writes: As far as I know it will be in HD. I’ll check that out but the chat at the end of last season was that 2009 would be HD.


You make some good points about KERS graphics, and it is a little disappointing that FOM won’t be rolling these out from the word go.

However, I believe that you’re missing the most important TV issue for 2009 which is the continuing absence of High Definition.

As you are no doubt aware, FOM upgraded to HD cameras during the 2006 season, yet we are seemingly no closer to an HD broadcast from them.

Can you perhaps shed any light on what is holding things up?

I find this delay enormously frustrating, especially since FujiTV have been broadcasting the Japanese GP in High Definition locally for the past three seasons.

Can anyone honestly say they don’t want to see their favourite drivers and teams battling it out at this level of quality here in Europe?


It’s not just KERS the viewers will need to be informed about: how will we know what tyre compounds the drivers are using if Bridgestone can’t paint the grooves any more? How will we know if the drivers have used their adjustable wings? How will we know how many of their engines they’ve used?

F1 just got a lot more complicated…

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