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Who’s still updating cars as the season comes to an end?
Who’s still updating cars as the season comes to an end?
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Nov 2010   |  2:00 pm GMT  |  117 comments

The Brazilian Grand Prix was the penultimate round of the 2010 World Championship and many teams have already stopped developing this year’s car and are fully focussed on next year’s.

There are quite a few changes for next year, with the banning of the double diffuser, the introduction of the adjustable rear wing, the switch to Pirelli tyres and the return of KERS. In the paddock in Brazil there was quite a bit of dissatisfaction with KERS coming back.

It was Ferrari who pushed it through, funnily enough around the time they were due to appear before the FIA World Council to face the team orders charges relating to the German Grand Prix.

To make KERS more attractive next year the minimum weight limit has been increased and as a safety net the top teams also pushed through a FOTA edict on weight distribution with between 45.5% and 46.5% front weight distribution. This cuts down the risk of a team which decides not to use KERS being more competitive. The weight distribution has also been done with one eye on the new Pirelli tyres.

Whereas teams like Red Bull and Renault did not use KERS last year, next year they definitely will. The smaller teams are annoyed that they don’t have the opportunity to be competitive without KERS – as Brawn were last year.

Also causing general unhappiness is the cost of the exercise, put at around €10 million per team and the fact that the power output from the KERS has not been increased, to make it more challenging.

But all that is for next year. For this finale to the 2010 season, the teams fighting for the championship are still pushing, with updates to the McLaren and Ferrari noticeable in Sao Paulo.

Ferrari adopted their latest evolution of the blown diffuser with the airflow from the exhausts also blowing inside the side channels. This helps dramatically in terms of improving the efficiency of this element in each of its sections. The Ferrari diffuser differs from the Red Bull’s as it features a horizontal hole rather than a vertical one of the RB6. The central section used in Korea has been modified with more rounded profiles and the additional middle plate in the side channels is no longer present. Ferrari also had some updates to brake ducts, a tiny fin could be seen, showing that the teams were looking for any and all additional downforce possible on this downforce dependent circuit.

The weakness of this year’s Ferrari relative to the Red Bull was in sequences of fast corners like Sector 1 in Suzuka or Becketts at Silverstone. With these small but important increments, Alonso was on a similar race pace to the Red Bulls around Interlagos, while qualifying pace was hard to judge because of the damp track condition. Alonso was particularly fast once the cars switched to the hard tyre after the pit stops.

McLaren again made some detail changes to the front wing (see drawing left) and rear wing of the MP4/25. Noticeable was the return to the standard F Duct with air blowing into the flap of the wing, rather than copying the Force India solution of air blowing downwards into the main plane of the wing, which many teams have found has a more powerful effect (see photo below)

But the main novelty was in the front assembly with a different intermediate splitter under the nose cone. This one in fact is subtly different in its front edge, now slightly rounded and featuring a sort of slightly V shaped entry profile. This improves the efficiency around the front suspension wishbones, in particular diverting in a more efficient way the air flow, divided in two portions, one directed to the engine radiators, and the lower portion underneath the car.

Lewis Hamilton’s car struggled for pace in early part of the race, losing performance from the soft tyre early on. He was faster on the hard tyre after the pit stop.

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Excellent post I must say.. Simple but yet interesting and engaging.. Keep up the awesome work!

Second Hand Cars



I would like to make some suggestions about your LG techincal report.

I would like to see you add something that I found nowhere in F1 websites or blogs concerning more general technical aspects of the Formula 1 car.

For example, I would like to know how much downforce is produced by front and rear wings at different speeds (100km 150 200 etc).

I would like to know why Formula 1 has moved from low noses to high ones.

I would like to know how much downforce the diffuser generates and where is the center of that force

I would like to know how does the diffuser and rear wing work together.

I have other questions about the suspension and engines of F1 cars too. Average values are enough, but something which make me understand more accurately how an F1 cars work.

If you can point to me books which explain these matters, I’d be glad to know.




For 24hours I was unable to send any message in your blog. It’s the 2nd time it happens to me. Whenever I hit the submit button, nothing appears.


Strange. We’ve had hundreds of comments in the last two days. Including yours. No problems our end


Where do mercedes stand with KERS? Obviously the Brawn car didn’t have KERS, sp does that mean that Mercedes have to develop a system or was the unit on thw McLaren developed by Merc??


Merc had the best system last year


Races like Singapore, Japan and Brazil were such a bore, only Canada was a really exciting race as tires were wearing forcing drivers to make more stops. More stops makes for more variable racing which is exciting; so either make 3 compulsory tires needed for the race which means 2 stops, or bring back refueling but make the tanks smaller so at least 2 or 3 fueling stops are needed.


James and others have suggested having tyres that are “marginal” i.e., that wear more quickly. Thus giving the situation where drivers who are hard on their rubber (by driving fast) need to make more stops compared to those that are able to nurse their tyres (and drive slightly more slowly).

But, as always, the tyre supplier is not going to create a tyre that makes them look bad – they won’t want all the drivers moaning about their produce as it negates their reason for being there \ gives them bad PR.

I applaud the FIA for making rule changes – to alleviate stagnation. Newey makes some good comments on how RBR have been able to capitalise on the new regulations (or larger changes than had occurred for some time) which came into force at the start of the ’09 season. Brawn took a leap too, but their resources weren’t big enough to move them thru in 2010 due to fighting for the championships in ’09.

For me, this season would have been similar to ’09, if it hadn’t have been for RBR’s reliability issues – especially for Vettel. But I’m not complaining because the unpredictability has created a close championship.


If KERS is limited to the same output as previously then it’s a waste of resources.


James, I just pre-ordered my copy yesterday through this site. But it seems that I will need another one for a Chistmas present. Is it possible to add another copy to my order, so I only pay the shipping costs once? If so, what do I have to do?

Thanks in advance.


No worries. I called GP Legends Customer Service and they solved the problem in 1 minute. Thanks again!


Question about Williams. Will they use flywheel-based KERS on the next season or the “usual” one as others?


Ferrari were one of the leading agitators for KERS in 2011. Is that because they have been developing this technology and are now feeling confident they now have a winning edge with it? Noticeable that because Ferrari has so much more power and influence with Bernie and FIA, Ferrari are able to push for change when they are not winning everything but are able to slow down the rule changes when they are winning from year to year.


Ferrari wants KERS in its road cars, that’s why they’re pushing for it.


Hi James,

Do you think the movable rear wing idea will actually make it to the end of the season? i heard reports on the BBC when it was announced that they think it wont. thanks jacob


I was of the same perspective as several other fans regarding KERS and how it makes overtaking seem like that in a video game. But if you really think about it, how is passing with KERS any different from using the F-duct to pass? Both methods use a driver aided auxiliary resource to provide an extra boost on straights.


Probably best to reserve judgement on KERS – if it produces more overtaking in conjunction with the adjustable rear wings I, for one, will not be complaining.

On a side note – McLaren, please stop working on the 25! It’s a dog. Always has been. The fact it even sniffed a podium in the first place is Herculean on Lewis and Jensen’s parts.

Every time you fiddle with the front wing you’re just wasting man hours!

I hope you’ve now shifted focus to giving the boys a decent car for next year.

In the mean time just give them a MP4-12C for Abu Dhabi, it’ll probably have more grip.

If I hear that old mantra “yes, we have an update for (insert circuit name here) which will make us much more competitive” before Yas Marinas I will despair.

In fact, that could be a good year in review drinking game. Every time someone in a McLaren shirt announces a new update, down it.


It’s a racewinning car! One of only three on the grid. Only one car can be the fastest and in F1 nearly half the teams are capable of of building a championship contender. McLaren built the third or second best, depending how you look at it.

McLaren has been soundly ahead of the reigning constructors champion, has at some point lead the championships and has won races. That is not a bad result at all. Furthermore it was close enough to the front that the drivers had a real shot at the championship. Merc, Renault and Williams would have signed for that this year.

The perspective that a car that does not dominate the season is “a dog” is completely wrong. In the end, McLaren is one of twelve teams who are all working on the highest level of motorsports and they aren’t entitled to anything. Race wins and contending for the championship, if only for a time, are good results for any team, even for so-called top-teams.


Harsh but true. I had a rant weeks ago that McLaren had failed its drivers and that has been borne out. I don’t believe Jenson was just whining about poor traction etc. Hamilton has had an average result after a supreme effort.

A real shame for Jenson to loose the Championship with a second rate ride. He should be congratulated for keeping up his own standards and staying to the end. He’s in a different league to Massa.

You have to give full Marks to Hamilton for fighting so hard. It led to mistakes but he would have been supreme in a first rate car.

With the rule changes next season McLaren need to get their technical team to improve dramatically. There will be blood on the floor at the end of this season.


His own standards? Is this on a career long timeline or just the 1 season at Brawn? There is a chasm between his abilities and that of Vet/Alo/Ham. Being in a different league to Massa isn’t really a huge accolade.


Is it just me or does anybody else hate the route f1 is going down next year with kers and the rear wing joke. Seriously it’s getting a we bit computer game now. I would rather have 1 class overtake a race like sutil on the toro rosso on Sunday rather than 25 false overtakes a race we might see next year. I hope it fails miserably and they put the 2 of them in the skip very shortly. What was wrong with races like Australia Malaysia china Canada spa brazil Korea this year. Nothing leave it alone please and stop these dopey rule changes every 5 mins


Always prefer overtaking on track (KERS assisted or otherwise) rather than relying on tyre change strategy to get ahead which demands far less driver skill.


Mostly agree. On the face of it, a boost button belongs on an Xbox controller not an F1 car.

Skillful and strategic driving to overtake is what we are used to. But a dozen position changes per lap is NASCAR.

If KERS kills off current racing techniques or creates a substantial gap to unequipped cars then it’ll be a backward step.

It wasn’t that bad last year but that’s no guarantee.

Are adjustable wings any worse than F-ducts? If it involves the drivers more and allows them more control for the set up of cars it may be an improvement?

I am sure rule changes help the sport. F1 needs to be the technical pinnacle of motor racing, so it must evolve. We should just be concerned of which direction they take.


Oh man. I thought KERS was terrible for the racing.


Though I wouldn’t say it was terrible, the push-to-pass implementation left a lot to be desired.

But KERS is not really about that. The push-to-pass could also have been achieved with engine-settings (eg temporarily allowing 20k rpm) or adjustable aero (F-duct or a flap like next year).

KERS is about how F1 cars use as much of the energy the engine generates as possible. KERS is simply about more power. Using KERS and having a push-to-pass system are completely different issues that have become entangled only because of the specific way KERS was implemented. It’s important not to confuse the two even when the FIA do.

KERS is important (and potentially very lucrative) technology that should be in F1. Push-to-pass (whether via aero, engine-management or KERS-boost) is artificial nonsense out of video-games and movies.


Seemed to be more a case of ‘push so the other bloke can’t pass.’


Very true, that is another flaw of those systems.


Might be a stupid question but will blown diffusers work next year or do they only work with double diffusers.


As far as I can gather they can technically work with any type of diffuser, it’s just that because openings in the diffuser have been banned to prevent the Double Decker Diffuser, exhaust gasses also can’t be directed into the diffuser.

Craig Scarborough did a nifty piece on this on his blog. http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/ferrari-open-fronted-blown-diffuser/ He explains it much clearer than I can and there are pictures!

In short, the main problem with blown diffusers in 2011 is the fact that, without openings in the diffuser, teams can’t blow the exhaust-gasses directly into it. This prevents the DDD but also the open-fronted variant of the blown diffuser (which is the most powerful implementation).

Exhaust gasses can still be blown over the top of the diffuser, which is how some teams have already tried to exploit the same principles (I’m not sure if this practice still fits the definition of a blown diffuser but let’s not complicate things further).


I think KERS is being approached wrongly for F1. If they really want to promote technical innovation and improve the green credentials of the sport there should be no arbitrary limit on the power output of KERS over a single lap. The only limit should be how much energy can be harvested from braking and the weight of the system. This would mean that teams had to design low weight efficient and powerful KERS systems and this would be a completely different optimisation problem. Currently, the energy source has to only be comparable to the allowed energy output on a given lap.

A deregulated approach would promote KERS as a real driver of performance and teams would focus on it like they used to do on engine technology. This, however, would obviously cost a lot of money to teams if a lot of development went into KERS therefore they could institute a KERS-only budget cap.


To sum it up, money is the issue in F1. Both privateers and manufactures want to spend less and less. Some even want to earn money with F1.

The only reason FOTA was created is to have more money from Bernie and put less money in the sport (track testing, wind tunnels, CFD limitaions).

I agree with you KERS introduction is a bit weird as it won’t be an differentiator between the F1 teams. One might say that the packaging, the weight and the cooling of the system are differentiators which is true (reason why Mercedes system is so praised) but we want differentiation in power output.


When it comes to KERS, the financial argument just does not fly. Unlike little tweaks of the car’s aerodynamics, a functional KERS is a potential source of income.

KERS can make a team money. It does for Williams, and they haven’t even raced it themselves! Likewise, Flybird systems (who developed the mechanical Honda-system) is now a standalone company that caters to both motorsport and transport as well as working with Jaguar Cars. Besides, every engine-manufacturer has an interest in this technology anyway.

They want F1 to be economically sustainable? Really? What better way than to use their best asset- meaning their engineering expertise.


I agree that the limitations (quite aside from being artificial) are preventing KERS from being useful. Not just in F1 itself, but it also prevents the teams from contributing to the development of relevant road-car technology. And given the fact that the F1 teams have large budgets and the greatest engineering minds of the automotive industry at their disposal, the contribution they could make to that should not be underestimated.

Furthermore, more freedom means that more possible implementations can be developed and evaluated, perhaps suiting different budgets? I already linked a story from Craig Scarborough’s blog today, and though I don’t wish to take anything away from James’ excellent tech-reports, I’m linking yet another story. http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/kers-anatomy/ The “Flybird”-system he describes on there seems especially well suited to smaller teams (no batteries either!).

Besides, with the engine freeze and the incredibly specific regulations regarding the rest of the car, there are very few differentiating factors between the cars. Differences in performance come from aero and aero alone and even then the differences are minute. Looking at the formula1.com technical page shows only a succession of changes in curves of tiny flaps.

The huge budgets and immense talent of F1 engineers are directed at bending the regulations instead of the laws of physics which is just such a waste. This gives us the very close racing we’ve been enjoying, of course but it does make F1 seem a bit like a spec-series in (an expensive) disguise. F1 will always have to walk that tight-rope between competition in the factory and competition on track. KERS seems a useful, but not too extremely useful, area on which to spend some money and on which to put some engineers.

Finally, we don’t need a budget cap for KERS. First of all, unlike all the aero-malarkey it is technology that can actually make money. Williams, for example, has been successfully exploiting its KERS without ever having run it for themselves -let’s see the F-duct do that! And the manufacturers will develop it anyway. Even Ferrari is building a hybrid and how can companies like Mercedes and Renault not be on top of this?

Second, this is the perfect time because no money is being spent on engine development (or shouldn’t be anyway). Let the engine manufacturers take a leading role for the first couple of years. Their parent-companies need the technology anyway and it’s not like they have anything better to do until the preparations for 2013 start. After that regulations can be put in place in the interest of cost-restriction and racing if it’s really necessary but a short period of wild and free development is no bad thing.


KERS : Krazy Economy Ruining System

It´s crazy for KERS to come back. It adds zero to race interest, drives everyone Krazy, and creates a bigger gap between rich and poor teams.

Besides, F1 is 10 years behind road cars : Prius and all those already have it, and now soon we will be electric or hydrogen or gas or ethanol. There is zero interest for KERS in F1 – who cares? this is old boring news.

KERS : a Big Dummy mistake : hollow “green” b.s. credentials for F1 that no one believes.

Still time to roll it back.


Agreed. But how else does F1 remain forward thinking and relevant without reducing engine size and emissions?

Don’t look if you’re squeemish-

Diesel F1.


More importantly, is it ESSENTIAL to reduce engine size and emissions or are we being too eager to trash the concept of the sport to appease a couple of sponsors? Until Formula Zero comes along with no mess and super fast cars F1 should be the pinnacle, not a way of easing engine manufacturer’s guilt.


@James Allen

Renault did use Kers last year, they dropped it for the second part of the season (bar Monza IIRC).


The ferrari needs some laps to get heat on their tires, you can check on many races this year that Alonso’s Ferrari gains momentum as the stint progresses. I do think that, if sunny, the pace is gonna be quite even.


As has been mentioned though, it’s likely to be a cooling track to a certain extent.


Super article, as always, James.

Thanks for using KERS all the way through without the redundancy of KERS system 🙂


James do you think that Hamilton would deserve the WDC if the Red Bulls and Alonso crashed/broke down at Abu Dhabi while in front of him and gifted him the win and the WDC, especially if Button was ahead of him and let him past?


I think that it’s hard to compare drivers from different teams. If you compare ones from the same team, I must admit that Vettel is worthier than Webber of the title. For me Alonso and Hamilton will be both equally worthy.

But, probably Webber will be world champion.


Webber and Vettel are only a few tenths apart. You cannot say Vettel is worthier unless you know there are no team orders at Red Bull.

Webber dropped that comment in Japan- “It was fun to bring the gap back down to Seb and after that track position is king, I know the rules and that’s how it is.”

The is every indication they have orders to “respect places” since Turkey.

It certainly explains Webber’s irritation.

And how many times have the red-bulls overtaken on the track since Turkey?

Don’t be suprised if the usual order is reversed now all bets are off in this last race.

Vettel is without doubt the better qualifying driver. Apart from that, you and we do not know.

If Webber has held his challenge together with so many extra hurdles, he deserves it more than Alonso and Vettel by a mile.

Hamilton did well with an uncompetative car so he’s been held back too.


Whenever anyone talks about who deserves the title this year, there’s an interview that springs to mind which, for me, sums it up perfectly. It was from Steven Bradbury, an Australian short-track speed skater who won a gold medal at the 2002 winter Olympics.

For those who don’t know, he won gold after the three skaters in front of him crashed on the last lap of the race; he was far enough behind to have no chance of even getting on the podium under normal circumstances.

When asked by reporters if he felt awkward accepting the gold medal given the circumstances, he said something along the lines of:

‘I’m not accepting the medal for this one race, it’s for the 12 years of sacrifices, hard work and training that got me to this point’

Regardless of how it all shakes out, the winner will have made sacrifices, put in the effort and done all that they could to get into a position to win – not just this year, but since they were young kids – and, in my mind, deserve the championship.


I was thinking Hamilton needed to look at that race.

Bradbury actually had 4 competitors fall in front of him in a field of five for the gold medal. He also made it through the heats because of a post race disqualification and the semis because two others fell.

He was previously considered unlucky because of the number of life threatening accidents he had endured.

But it was also a strategic decision to leave space to the leaders in case of a fall. He judged he was too old to win with outright speed.

An experienced and determined competitor….

Webber will definitely know Bradbury’s story intimately for obvious reasons.


Very good quote and a well thought out post. I would agree with you that if you cross the line and the points say you deserve it, the trophy is yours.


After twenty races, anybody that finishes top of the pile deserves to be there – how can you argue otherwise? It’s like saying Alonso doesn’t deserve it because he had a poor stretch in the first half of the season. The points simply don’t lie.

It’s the same argument for the Button bashers – does it really matter that his second half of the season was weaker than the first half? In the eyes of those who want/need to see somebody dominate a whole season, maybe, but the points situation doesn’t lie.

The only argument about somebody not deserving to win the championship is if they applied what some might deem to be illegal or underhand tactics – it’s why there are quite a few people saying they’d be a bit miffed if Alonso won the championship. Nobody would be saying that if he was leading – and went on to win the championship – had he been able to pass a (let’s face it) extremely weak team mate without the team having to resort to pretty shameless actions.


With regard to Button, I was referring to his title-winning season.


WHy wouldnt he deserve it? He has raced all the same races as the others, he has made mistakes, but so have the others. I dont think its going to happen, but…


Not really! It’s between Alonso, Webber and possibly Vettel. Ham had a strong mid season


I think you’ll find up to and including Spa, Lewis was completely faultless and many said was driving better than he ever had – essentially leading the pack even though he had been in the 3rd fastest car at most races and also had those two big car failures in Barcelona and Hungary. So to say he was just strong mid-season isn’t really a true fair assessment.

Hamilton and Vettel have had much more bad luck than the other 2 contenders and simply on that they deserve to be ahead. If something bad happens to Alonso and Webber than it’ll only really balance things out in my opinion and Hamilton would definitely be a worthy champion to this season.


Wow James, you’ve just amazed me. I honestly didn’t think you’d take that view and am sadly disappointed.


I think Hamilton will be the Key in Abu Dhabi. Red Bulls will watch what he does knowing he could take 3rd place from Alonso… In which case they let Seb Vettel take the Win and the Championship..

If Alonso puts the frighteners on Hamilton like he has already done in the last 2 races… all bets are off and RB will have to let Webber Take the Win and Championship.

Seb Vettel may not “Bon Ami” Webber, but he is not callous enough to hand the title to Alonso. I said sometime ago on this Blog that Vettel is the “man who would be King” and maintain that is still the case.


Alonso will still take the championship if he finishes 4th and Vettel finishes 1st. He will need to drop to 5th for Vettel to take it.


Given the McLaren’s straight line speed, it’s not inconceivable either that Lewis could get ahead of a Red Bull.

Can you imagine Lewis giving Alonso the championship!?!?


No. But I can imagine his smile afterwards if he is the man that deprives Alonso. That will be a Kodak moment.


Poor old Massa would be Mutley then?


So true. Possibly a Wacky Races moment, when Dick Dastardly gets his comeuppance??


james, abu dhabi looks like a ferrari circuit, with heavy braking and existing where good traction is needed. Is red bull strong in these areas? Not many high speed corners? Its looks an evenly matched circuit for both teams? Its down 2 the drivers now or good or bad luck.


This news on KERS for 2011 is distressing. A $10m spend for this nonsense when sponsorship is so difficult is madness. Even more mad is the idea of limiting it’s power to the effect of making it redundant in terms of advantage in the top teams. It appears that once again -the inmates are running the asylum.


Hello James, I hope you will see my message. For the last couple of months I can’t post on your blog. I put a comment, but I do not get a message “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. Instead I am being redirected to the top of the articles. I really want to participate…not just read:-)


Something similar happened to me during August. I guess it was because accidentally a part of my e-mail adress was deleted on the comment box, so I suppose as the nickname didn’t match with the e-mail, the comment was automatically rejected. Once I corrected it, everything worked again. Have you checked that?


We got this one!


Mclaren’s KERS system belonged to Mercedes. And now I guess Mercedes will have to supply the KERS system to it’s own team Merc GP and also to Mclaren & Force India.


I was wondering about that too. Why will Mercedes supply McLaren with their own KERS when they are rivals.


I suspect they’ll have to due to McLaren and Mercedes having a long term contract in place for one supplying the other with engines and other racing components. If McLaren’s 2009 KERS was indeed a Mercedes system, then I’d assume it’s covered in the contract and Mercedes will have to design, manufacture and supply it to McLaren.

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