I’ve picked out a couple of Darren Heath’s images from Japan to write a short post about as they offer a nice behind the scenes insight. Some of you may be familiar with these things but others might appreciate it.
I always prefered looking at this page when I was commentating and still do now when preparing the live text commentary on the official F1 Apple iphone app.
The lap is divided into three sectors from left to right and the last lap time is at the end on the right. The sector time is to the nearest 1/1000th of a second and the maximum speed at the measuring point on each sector is indicated in KMH.
Where a sector time or lap time is purple, that means it is the fastest anyone has done in the session. A green sector of lap time means its a personal best for that driver.
The numbers down the right side are the total number of laps a driver has coevered in the session, while across the top are the fastest sector times anyone has done and the ‘ideal lap’ time, which means the three fastest sectors added together. Often these are not all set by the same driver, especially in Suzuka where the Red Bull was untouchable in Sector 1, but the McLaren and Brawn were pretty fast in Sectors 2 and 3, which are less downforce dependent.
Above the timing screen from the McLaren pit wall, you can see the radio buttons for communication with drivers and key personnel. Note the button in the bottom right of the screens, it is for speaking to the Strategy people back at McLaren’s HQ in Woking, England, who are modelling the race on computers and advising the race engineers what to do next.
The banks of TV monitors are from CCTV cameras all around the circuit and Whiting and Blash can judge clearly whether an incident merits a red flag or a safety car and the exact point at which yellow flags are being waved.
They can then forward these images to the race stewards, who sit just down the corridor at every venue, for consideration.
This was important during the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying when five drivers failed to observe the yellow flags and the session had to be stopped three times for accidents. Race control was a very busy place in Japan.