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That McLaren/Ferrari start
That McLaren/Ferrari start
Posted By:   |  11 Mar 2009   |  11:36 pm GMT  |  42 comments

Here’s a shot of the practice start I was talking about in my post on Tuesday. Kovalainen in front, Raikkonen behind, but the Ferrari was ahead after 300 metres or so, fantastic grip off the line and it’s the first part of the start which makes the difference.

I mention it because it also caught the attention of some of the engineers from other teams I spoke to.

I’m finding this McLaren under-performance story fascinating. There are many who think it’s a new approach to testing in a season when testing will be banned from two weeks from now onwards. McLaren have even run Monaco parts along with the rest of the job sheet.

Ex team principal Ron Dennis stepped in today to say that everything is under control and that they will fight for the title. I’m sure they will but the car lacks grip right now.


UPDATE: Here is a video that a number of you tipped us off about. Thanks for the link, folks.  [ Moderator ]


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Stephen Russell

What if the McLaren was using the KERS and the Ferrari wasnt 😉 lol


rpaco, i can’t find anything either on the fia regulations, or in (the official website) about the 100kph limit. whether this is a self imposed limit by teams just because the rear tyres are too small, or if it’s something recently brought in via the SECU for fear that KERS may have a secondary function of traction control, i don’t know. might see if i can find out (although i’m loathe to use my contacts unless it’s something really important…)

also, for the scoring system i believe that needs to be put to the FIA by FOTA officially, and the date that the FIA accept the submission for new proposals relating to the current year will be at the end of this week or the beginning of next.


McLaren is in trouble because they cannot anymore rely on refining the concept created by Nick Tombazis for the 2005 car because of the radical change in rules. Also the Ferrari blueprints they had access to are pretty much useless now.


Calm down everyone. Pre season testing gives only an indication at best. Being as everyone out there doesn’t have the whole picture its impossible to drawn any proper conclusion from these tests. Its all apples and oranges. Even Ferraris engineers don’t know as they only know their test plan dont know what macca is doing, and vice versa.

The test will be the championship. I wouldn’t even put to much significance on AUS as macca will always play the long game.


JA writes: You are not allowed to use KERS at the start until the car hits 100km/h.” [/Quote]
Ok James. I have just re-checked both the tech and the sporting regs again and I cannot find your statement above anywhere.

Also I would mention that the supposedly agreed change to the points system for this year, does not appear in the current 2009 sporting regs (05-02-2009 it still says 10, 8 etc.

So is there another set of regs that has not been published by the FIA. ? If so I cannot find it on their site

There is also an anomaly in the KERS application between the FIA tech regs and their interpretation on another well known F1 site.

However on a brighter side I see that stewards must hold an FIA Superlicense, living near the track or being a mate of (The now impoverished) Bernie is not enough 🙂


looking at that video, the cars looks very similar off the line and for the first second / 1.5 seconds. that’s easily enough to get to 100kph, then i think it’s KERS taking over and possibly the mclaren backing off as they are looking mainly at wheelspin and traction off the line (like when they do their mini launches from the box)


In the vid it is very noticeable


JA writes: You are not allowed to use KERS at the start until the car hits 100km/h.

The video doing the rounds is of one start. They did quite a few at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Clean side/ dirty side, sure there is always something in that and let’s face it, they didn’t both drop the clutch in response to lights did they?

We will know in Melbourne, but it’s certainly fascinating piecing the picture together with the information available.


What do you think about this picture [ link ] … I think everyone doubts to what McLaren do in testing even Schumi..


mclaren in a deep shit right now!!!…hamilton better improve his driving or he will become the next jacques villeneuve….


Personally I think it is understandable McLaren got it a bit wrong. They have such a sophisticated simulation and computing setup, but as anyone who works in Finance or IT would know, simulation and modeling is only as good as the source data you have.

In 2007 McLaren got bucketloads of data from Bridgestone as to how the tyres worked. And they proved better than any other team barring Ferrari at adapting.

This year they don’t have a lot of source data to work with and I think that has really hurt them because they are not used to working in an information vacuum. That’s why they are running so many seemingly inane tests, to acquire data for their simulations and models. This may help them as the development war kicks off during the season but you can put as much lipstick on a pig as you like – it’s still a pig.

McLaren, I think, starved of data to base its designs on seem to have got it fundamentally wrong.

I think too, when you look at the past decade, McLaren have always been a bit peaky, a couple years very strong, a couple years mid pack, then back to form again. It shows just how impressive Ferrari have been since 1996 consistently one of the top two teams and even the outlier, 2005, they were still third best despite running around on the wrong tyres.


Kimi was on the clean side of the track. Heikki, on the dirty side.

Sometimes, the easy explanation is the good explanation



(1) had a lot of focus on trying to win the championships last year (which will have impacted on work for this year)

(2) trying to push the envelope is creating disruptive airflow for following cars and have found themselves getting stuck inside their own envelope.

(3) needing to get a car that will work for Lewis’ driving style, but don’t have the experienced drivers a team needs for car development.

(4) with the rule changes, they’ve lost the 7 tenths that Alonso gave them in 2007. Silly Macca.

Will Macca win the WDC or WCC this year? No.


I’m surprised how much coverage this simulated race start has been getting. Sure it appears as though the Ferrari has far more grip than the McLaren but we don’t have the data to know exactly how good the starts were from the 2 drivers. it would appear Kimi’s was better.

We also don’t know if Kovi was putting up any kind of fight in this simulated show-down. He may have been told to let the Ferrari pass instead of risking any silly pre-season collision.

Also exactly what parts were these two cars testing at the time? No doubt this would effect the outcome.

Is it not also possible the Ferrari used the extra horse power of the KERS for this start?

As for the rest of testing, I haven’t totalled up the laps myself but it would appear Ferrari have done a lot less laps than some of it’s competitors including McLaren. They seem to have suffered more reliability issues than most too. What good is speed if you can’t finish a race?

As with every winter test there’s always more than meets the eye, we have fun every year speculating but until all the cars are running the same set up at the same time, on track together for 70 laps or so it’s hard to say who’ll be on top.


Thanks to all the folks (including you, Matt) who sent us the link to that practice start. We might post it here soon anyhow, so no need to send it again. I’m sure you may be still pinging it to us because we are not clearing your feedback quickly enough! Blame it on all that sleeping malarkey that happens when it’s dark … Moderator ]


Having seen the video I think the difference is partly down to the KERS, the Ferrari seemingly gets a boost when their are next to each other…Also Kimi launches a sec earlier.


What’s the point of testing Monaco etc set-ups whilst loosing valuable points in the first races? I have a feeling that Macca have been a bit over-confident and over-complicated again, just as at Monza 2008, Brazil 2008….Also, I dont like the fact that they never admit any of their mistakes straightaway, always coming with the silly PR stuff…


Now if that had been LS driving the macca I may be worried
But lets wait for the real thing in OZ


I imagine use of KERS by Ferrari could account for the difference?

Also, if this is a new approach to testing (lets ruddy hope so!!) I suppose on long runs KERS would not be used so the lap is consistent?


I find it interesting that McLaren is experiencing grip issues when they have the most sophisticated tire simulation software.

Is it possible that they focused more on front end grip to suit Lewis’ driving style?

I like the line of thinking that it is an aerodynamic issue. They waited a long time to debut their 2009 spec wing, and then tested two in a row.

They obviously need to clean up the wake coming off of the air box. Maybe the shark fin of some of the other cars helps to keep the air from either side of the cars symmetric line separated before they hit the rear wing, keeping turbulent mixing from occurring in the dead space between the air box and the wing?

Then again if it was something simple like that, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem.

Maybe they should adapt Williams style flow conditioners around the airbox.


Seriously James, why are they lacking THAT MUCH grip? i mean it’s like Mclaren are in a different Fomula!


I’m loving this….McLaren are playing games with Ferrari!!!


Could Kimi’s rapid start be partly explained by the fact that he was starting on the cleaner side and Heikki was starting in the dirtier side of the grid?


Regarding McLaren, there are rumours in the web that they are sand-bagging, but I think they have some serious problem with the car.

I loved your ITV coverage, I used to watch ITV F1 coverage rather than STAR sports F1 coverage. You can give F1 tips to steve slater 🙂


Here’s video of some other practice starts [ link ]

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