F1 Winter Break
Some key trends to look out for when F1 testing starts
Some key trends to look out for when F1 testing starts
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jan 2011   |  5:49 pm GMT  |  137 comments

The start of F1 testing is just 23 days away and most of the teams are flat out getting their first chassis built. It’s an exciting time but also a nervous one. From talking to a number of teams this last week they all share an anxiety that one of their rivals might have come up with a silver bullet, this year’s equivalent of the F Duct – a must-have aero device which gives a good few tenths of a second advantage and all must copy.

The ones they really fear are those built into the chassis, like McLaren’s F Duct scoop last year, because chassis have to be homologated and you cannot make changes after that. So you have to go about copying it in a different, less effective way.

It’s interesting that McLaren has decided to launch its car after the first test and it will be closely scrutinised for any clever new devices when it breaks cover.

Red Bull will have its new car at the first test and Ferrari will also be in Valencia with a new car Engineers at Ferrari are painfully aware that it’s been a while since they truly innovated, brought out something that everyone else had to copy.

McLaren, like Force India, have taken the option of bringing an old or interim car to Valencia on February 1, partly to get more development time in the wind tunnel, but also to use the first test to cover lots of ground with the full range of Pirelli tyres. This comes on the back of a test in Abu Dhabi where they used Gary Paffett for both the young guns test and the Pirelli test, which gave them good back to back information on the comparison of the tyres. Force India did the same with Paul di Resta.

Pirelli will be bringing a large selection of tyres to the tests, not simply four compounds. They have yet to specify the tyres for the first Grands Prix and the Bahrain specification will probably have to be made soon after the second test in Jerez in order to have the lead time to make and ship the tyres for the first race. Last year Bridgestone brought the super soft and the medium to Bahrain, Pirelli have to decide their four compounds from the range and then decide which two to bring to Bahrain. How hard should they make the super soft? Do they want to be conservative at the outset or produce a more edgy tyre, which will make the drivers and strategists work harder? To me that equals better entertainment for fans and I hope we see it. We don’t want every race to be like Montreal last year, where the tyres weren’t lasting at all, but a few races of that kind would be welcome. And from speaking to teams they’d welcome that variety too.

But it’s a tough choice for Pirelli. The choice they make will suit the characteristics of some cars more than others and, after probably two tests, they will know that when they make their choice.

The lesson from the Abu Dhabi test was that the tyre wear was high on the Pirellis and once the performance had gone off they didn’t come back, unlike the Bridgestones. The other lesson was that Yas Marina wasn’t ideal for testing because it constantly improves, so engineers don’t know how much a change is worth relative to track improvement.

The Pirellis work fine on a 2010 car so by having well sorted reliable 2010 cars out there pounding around, Force India and McLaren will get through almost thousand kilometres and learn a lot.

All the other teams will hope to do likewise in Valencia, but with a brand new car there is always the risk of lots of time spent in the garage.

The other factor for McLaren is that race drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton didn’t do the Abu Dhabi test as part of a deliberate ploy. So they will want the maximum time on the tyres to get a feel for them. When I spoke to Button about this at the final race he was adamant that the tyres will have changed a lot from the November test to February 1, so he wanted to maximise his mileage in February when the data would be more relevant.

Photo: Darren Heath

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Is there any information about being able to use a passive F duct like Mercedes last year rather than an active one like McLaren? As far as I understand from the rules, the active one is banned but a passive one might be allowed


No type of F duct is possible next year, either passive or active. Rule 3.9.1 states that:

"No bodywork situated between 50mm and 330mm forward of the rear wheel centre line may be more than 730mm above the reference plane."

In effect this rule prevents any bodywork from being present in front of the rear wing, i.e. you can no longer connect a shark-fin to the a rear wing. It it therefore not possible to run a duct to the rear wing.

Very limited forms of blown rear wings will still be possible but only through the 15cm wide slot in the centre of the rear wing. This is nothing new, such wings have been used for years.


Slots in the wing are banned so passive isn't possible anymore


"As far I am aware the new wings movement may make the device obsolette"

You can only use that in one place on each track


As far I am aware the new wings movement may make the device obsolette. The mercedes did eventually work though did it not. But not aswell as the Mc-duct. I hope the rule is clear though unlike the diffuser saga.


I know Mclaren uses two different designers, one for the design, one for the developement of their chassis and yes you can tell, one year great design the next year great developement, they alternate, I was wondering if that is still the case or have they finally fired the weak link. There are not two neweys.

I am exited about the new yearthough. But I very much want Button to win. So go Mc-silver team.


F Duct is outlawed now


So it's more accurate to say driver operated/activated F-duct is banned, not all f-ducts?


Outlawed, but they say we'll see get-around attempts - like a blown rear-wing.


Passive F Duct, not activated by the driver


There will be rear wing stalling device at every car next eyar. What good a passive F-duct is when you'll already have a superior drag reducing gadget?


Do cars being tested have to meet the rules in full, James -- that is, do they have to go through any sort of scrutineering? Or are are they allow to do whatever they like -- perhaps to bluff other teams that they're following a certain line of development?

I ask this because I'm suspicious that last year during testing, Red Bull ran that wire-gantry affair on the nose of their car so as not to give away the fact that they had developed a flexible front wing.


No, there is no scrutineering at tests


James, you are going to Madonna di Campiglio, aren't you? Will yoy write about the event? Are you going to Valencia as well?


Yes to Madonna - of course I will write on it. No to Valencia, I'll have someone there for me. I always do the Barcelona test, for various reasons


Well I hope you haven't booked your flights James as I'm looking to go to the BCN test and noticed that the Montmelo site has different dates to you. Their site reads 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th. If you're here a weekend early come round to mine and I'll make you a wee paella, ha ha.


I easily can understand that... I would prefer to go to Barcelona "for various reasons" 😀

Totally off topic: how many people are working to keep this site the way it is?


A whole army.


Ah, that would be telling..


I think the smartest would be to have one 2011 car and one 2010 for testing.

So the 2010 car will be reliable, running all the miles and gather valuable info about the tyres, while the new car is tested with the Pirellis too and being tuned properly, which takes time in the garage as you mentioned (as the 2010 car still runs).

I didn't realize it was allowed to test with the car of last season, because they are so different. I wonder why RBR didn't just use their 2009 car for testing at the tests of 2010 then.

Anyway, it is about to start folks (testing brings lots of fun stuff too), it actually went pretty fast thanks to sites like these with regular updates and contributions, cheers James!


There might be a bit of teasing involved too: "we're keeping a secret until it's too late for you to imitate". You'll know by the other teams' squealing afterwards, or mockery if it doesn't work as intended.


"I wonder why RBR didn’t just use their 2009 car for testing at the tests of 2010 then."

I imagine Red Bull didnt show up with an RB5 last year because there wasnt a new tire mfg making any testing done with an older chassis not pertinent to the current program as it wouldnt carry over to the new chassis.

my .02


THe point is that they could have used the 2009 car because the tyres would work on it, unlike the 2008 tyres on 2009 car. It's a question of priorities.


The tests are for one car only per team



Also there is homologation to consider. Chassis are not cheap.


Any infos about Mercedes?


James, i agree on the tyres. Super softs/Softs that last +20 laps are clearly not soft enough to make the races more exciting, in my mind the softest ones shouldnt last more then 10, wbilst the hard tyres shouldnt offer anywhere near as much grip. I know this sounds a bit extreme but its supposed to be all about the racing. It worrys me that the tyre makers in F1 (past & present)are trying to show road users that their tyres last long time and give good performance rather then their tyres make a great race!

Cant wait for the season to begin, the test sessions never seem to answer any questions (usually create more of them) and everyone will be looking at every car for that "next big thing" to copy.


Building image of their grippy soft compound which only last for the next 2 month on a 1000cc family car from far east would be pointless 🙂 Traction and durability is their main language to talk to their market. It's kinda two sides of the blade.


I apologize for what is probably a dumb question, but what makes Yas Marina a track that "constantly improves"? In other words, why is it true of that track and not others? (I guess I'd been thinking that all tracks did.)


Track evolution is quite complex. I recall some tracks have varying amounts of water content in their soil and that can affect things.

However, the general common factor however is rubber laid down, and how much dust is removed. If you take a track that is used regularly the track get's 'bedded in'. There aren't large periods of not usage. Take Monnaco for example. There is zero running at that track apart from one-weekend a year. You'll see drastic improvements over a weekend as rubber get;s laid down and the track evolves and cleans up.

Yas Marino doesn't see as much usage as other tracks, and is also next to a desert of sand.

As I said, it's actually a very complex subject. I know tracks that can differ by 2 seconds on any given day.


Indeed, imagine an engineer at Ferrari who wakes up in the morning and goes, "Madonna mamma mia! I haven't yet innovated today!" Must be a funny scene...

Innovation these days means "confrontation" in many cases as teams don't like to be beaten by their direct rivals, but that's the way things are. I just hope there are no "fan cars" like that Brabham or other exotic creations, otherwise the season will begin with a bang.


I disagree entirely. I am really hoping for "Fan Cars" or the like. F1 in the 80s was fantastic - great jumps in innovation (fans, moving outer bodywork, movable side skirts, etc, etc), really intense driver rivalry and politics (oh my God, the politics!).


I was talking more about 1970s stuff really, the fan car is from 1978:


I'd say racing was more dangerous back then, let's not get carried away by nostalgia. We've got plenty of "intense driver rivalry" these days, I mean you can't ask for more than Vettel/Webber duels or I dunno Hammo/Alonso, even Jenson vs. Lewis in Turkey last year. I think it's alright.

In any case, what do you do with f-ducks and quacks - you can't use them on road cars. OK, a couple of general ideas from F1 probably found their way into mass car production but F1 technology is irrelevant for us normal motorists. I can't afford a Ferrari or McLaren super duper cars so why bother? I want bread and circuses which achievable with a lot less money than F1 teams spend right now on various gimmicks. Innovation - who cares? I don't, F1 circus is there to make show, I want to be entertained, that's all.


Agree that racing was more dangerous, but for me the major safety improvements have been tracks, carbon fibre safety cells etc.

If you see how badly those cars disintegrated around the driver it is unreal (martin donnelly etc).


Off topic: James, do you know when the BBC will be 'launching' their 2011 F1 coverage plans?


Is the new line up confirmed? I heard it's gonna be Brundle on lead commentary and DC in second commentary and the same trio for presenting?


No press release from BBC yet. I dont think they confirmed anything till Feb the last 2 yrs - certainly 2009 was late Feb when they confirmed the line up.

Just A Bloke (Martin)

Brundle & DC have been confirmed Legard is out.

See link on Autosport website and elsewhere I'm sure now.


I see. Hopefully the rumours aren't right because I can't imagine Brundle and DC being an energetic duo lol! 😛 I'd love to see Crofty and Brundle together but that does mean breaking up great chemistry between Crofty and Ant in the radio commentary...hmmm..


Interestingly the boys at mclaren mentioned they had one or two things up their sleeve for 2011.

I was interested that mercedes said last week they thought their car was very strong and should be a champ contender. We will see...

Any chance of a tech article on the difference between a single and double diffuser?


If Pirelli can find a way they will try and help Ferrari surely?

They are an italian company and will be thrilled to have their tyres on such famous Italian cars - in F1 for the first time (?).


Nobody questioned if Michelin helped Renault did they?

They're probably going to be accused of it by some in the UK press I'm sure but it would be a PR disaster for Pirelli if they were seen to be favoring one team, even if it were Ferrari.


I think Michelin did help Renault - understandably.

The point James' was making about Pirelli choosing compounds

after the test - and knowing by then which work best for certain teams - would be hard for them to resist. Who can blame them?


is there anywhere (online) that you can watch the testing?


Good question. Not on TV. You can follow live twitter feeds, we are hoping to have that working properly by Feb 1 on JA on F1 Tweets.


awesome, cheers James


Hi James

I imagine you have a busy schedule but it would be great if you could put together a short video on your website with clips of the testing, some commentry even sneak in a few interviews if all that is allowed, Home video style like you did when you went to see i think it was virgin racing last year off the top of my head, it was definetly one of the new teams.

Would be great to see, better than the tweets i imagine. Your articles are great on their own, but just giving you something to think about.



Yeah, what a shame.

Sometimes you can find raw footage (some of it good quality) from testing, though you often have to be quick because it gets pulled down fairly promptly when the FOM complains


Sorry, that is completely against FOM rules.


Is it possible for a team to take one older chassis and one new chassis to a test?


No, they are one car tests


I hope, for the sake of entertainment, the new tyres won't work as long as the Bridgestones ;).

What engines are used during tests? Are they the same as during the season or is the choice free?

And one more question out of curiosity (something mentioned by James) - does anybody remember when was the last time Ferrari actually came out with something innovative like the f-duct that everybody would want to copy?


To name 1 thing recently, wheel fairings. Everybody copied them. And last year, their wheel rims (which need to be homologated) Evry team will copy and have special rims this season.

Going back alot further, Ferrari were the 1st with paddle gear change, and lights/data on the steering wheel.


Thanks :). I've actually found some interesting answers to my question. Some really entertaining :).


What about the tilted engine for last year? Guessing most people will do this.


Double diffusers are banned this year, and the purpose of the engine angle inclination was to allow for a bigger diffuser.


Probably not. The engine angle was to allow a big double diffuser, which are banned this year, so no need for slanted engine.



Porsche did that with the 956 and 962 Group C cars in the 1980s.

Perhaps Ferrari have reinvented it.


There was the flexi-floor controversy a few years ago, which was quickly banned by introducing floor-stays, I think.

I don't remember any innovations in Rory Byrne's time (he might disagree), just cars that were mostly quicker that any other team's. Signing Schumacher might be said to be innovative!!

In Enzo's time the emphasis was always said to be on engines so maybe the 1.5 litre V6 of 1961 could be thought of as innovative - powerful and compact. The shark-nose on that car was, I believe, claimed to be an aerodynamic breakthrough, by it's designer. None of the other teams copied it though.

Even further back, when the formula was for 1.5 litre blown or 4.5 litres unblown engines, Ferrari went the 4.5 litre route and won with it. This was, I think, the first unblown engine that had been built specifically for Grand Prix racing for probably twenty years, so could be said to be innovative.


The only engineering solution I can think of is the periscope style exhausts that exit through the top of the engine cover.

Everyone copied it for years - and it has only recently changed as teams started to use the exhaust gases in the blown diffusers.


Exactly Martin. While mclaren had the best f duct, they didn't have the fastest car.

Which is what guys like Byrne and newey appreciate better than most. Every part needs to be good.

I'm delighted to here Rory is involved in the 2013 aero regs. And that they are based on lower wing aero and more floor based.


Signing Schumacher might be said to be innovative!!

Not any more ...


well we'll see!


Wicked but true.


"does anybody remember when was the last time Ferrari actually came out with something innovative like the f-duct that everybody would want to copy?"

Yes, I believe at least one team was quite interested in their 2008 car, if memory serves correct


That's right. There are many things about Ferrari cars that McLaren know but they're not allowed to copy due to the spygate.


I think Ferrari had a flexible (or moveable) floor in 2007 (?). It was banned very quickly though, so I don't think there's many details about it....



Do you know yet which drivers will be doing which days?


Williams have said that Rubens will driver 1st day at Valencia.


I think I've read somewhere that Alonso is driving the Ferrari on Feb 1st and 2nd in Cheste.


Not yet, should know soon


One interesting thing to note I guess is that RedBull hasn't really had big innovations on their car that people have copied.

The flexi-wing debate is still an interesting development however. Still haven't figured it out 🙂


Ummmm.... didnt everyone try to copy Red Bulls blown rear diffuser last year?


Might be worth noting that RBR had the best non-DD car and the best non-SRW car.



Yes, but things move on very quickly


hmmmm..I cant see why the FIA have not introduced the rule that all teams must begin testing with the car they intend to use for the season! Why should any team be allowed to run "interim" updated cars from the previous season, when they have had the time to produce their new cars prior to the first test? And what real value is there to running interim cars rather than the new one? ok, so tyre data can be gathered, but new cars need mileage to test component reliability. You could argue most of the running gear reamins the same as the previous years car, so reliability is not a major issue, but track time is the only way to properly test a new chassis is it not? And making sure all teams bring their new cars to the first test for the new season may help to reduce some of the glaring incosistencies we have seen over the last 3-4 years...double fart box, F-Duct et al etc etc blah blah blah drone drone yawn zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! #:)


what would be the point of testing if you couldn't make changes after testing? That's just a waste of fuel then isn't it


What purpose would that rule serve?

If the teams disadvantage themselves by having an older car, then it's nothing that needs legislating against.

Not so long ago teams would regularly only introduce their new cars at the start of the European season, the second or third race of the year...


The purpose of that rule would be to stop the sudden surprise on first raceday of some team or other finally unveiling their "secret weapon". 09 we had the sudden introduction of the double fart box, then last year McJalopies turn up in Bahrain with their f-duct nonsense. If the tech rules are supposed to create a level playing field, then last minute innovations like these when only 1 or a select few teams have them should be outlawed. Last year in testing the F10 looked ominously fast, only to find that McJalopies f-duct gave them a 6 kph speed advantage on the straights. Luckily, their jalopy was deficient enough in other areas to negate that advantage. But as I recall, many people were very angry McJalopies were allowed to get away with the introduction of something nobody else could directly copy because it was built into the car and homologated. Everybody else then had to design and implement a copy of this device, costing more time and money and to everyones annoyance.


He must be a FIAT fan then....


Someone comes up with some clever idea and owns it. You expect them to give it to others just like that. How the cars would differ from one another, or maybe you'd like all the cars be the same, I mean standard cars.(?)


Isn't that the point of F1, it's a technical exercise not just entertainment.

Personally I would prefer that the "secret weapons" were of a mechanical nature, not aerodynamic.

Unfortunately, the way the rules are at the moment, aerodynamics is/are where the performance comes from.

And what about the abusive names?


You must be a Mclaren fan. Haha


James, I thought that abusive names for Teams or Drivers where banned...


Yeah. I am too kind of bored talking about all that over and over. Bring on the new stuff!

Also I have similar thoughts on running the old car. OK, you risk the new one brakes down, but then you've got more time to sort it out and the more you fine tune it, the better. If it was me I would roll out my new gear as soon as possible.


The chassis is just the monocoque, right?

So you can add things to it (aero devices, where permitted) but can't change the shape of it or drill holes into it.

Is that about right?


With McLaren's F Duct, the air came INTO the car through a hole already in the monocoque, was blocked by the driver's knee and back OUT of the car.

So how did the other teams design their F Ducts if not allowed to drill holes etc for the air to divert IN/OUT the car?


Ferrari let the air run through a hole made for electronic cables, if I remember correctly. Others I don't know.


James, alot of talk about innovations etc. But if Red Bull, and Ferrari to an extent, can still have their bodywork flexing, but passing all scrutineering checks, then surely they will start favourites? To my knowledge not even McLaren has worked out how they were doing it, any info/thoughts on the whole flexy saga? thanks mate, cracker of a site nowadays keep it up!


The FIA vertical load tests on the wings are not representative of the actual compound loads when racing, thus the car passes the test(s) but wings will still bend at higher loads on the track. Ironically the greatest flexing is likely to be at higher speed, whilst the greatest need is at lower speed.

If the FIA had chosen to enforce the rule by official "side on" track photo against a calibrated background, the outcome of last year may have been very different


I think the only people who seem to think the side on photo evidence as a legitimate way to ban flexi-wings are (most probably) Mclaren fans with a few mercedes folks in there. Let it go. You cant use something as subjective as a photo even if against a calibrated backdrop because to be accurate they would spend more than the typical 2week period analyzing every single photo passing that point and then referencing know sizes of components on the car, telemetry at that exact point (to eliminate nosedive from braking, bumpy track etc). Even then you would be able to completey rule out chassis roll, tire pressure... you get the point.

The says no flexing body work, yes, the scrutinering checks define the rule though. How many times did they have to change the rules to finally stamp out all the flexing rear wings? Otherwise it would be like picking a stranger from a lineup in a murder case because ext to all the other crooks he looked more like a murderer. Get with it please. Yes the Redbull wing appears to flex, Whitmarsh and Brawn were mad because they couldn't understand why in order to copy so they tried to get it banned, then they just pouted in the corner because the new rules they pushed for didnt have much effect, at least not on the Redbulls. Dont you for one second think that Mclaren was trying to actually claim moral high-ground on this by contesting the wings.


Devilsadvocate, (I've been away a few days)

I'll let you get away with that purely because of your name, otherwise I will have to qualify each point (which I can ) but I cant be bothered atm.


Yes I agree whole heartedly, but, the fact still remains that Red Bull's flexing wings still passed the tests and it still gave them significant advantage which they can still call upon this year can they not? I personally think its a joke when you can visibly see (in motion) the parts are well outside the rules yet can still be raced.


That is why the test needs to be changed. Every track has a sufficiently flat bump free section alongside which a calibrated background or step series and opposite a special camera (probably triggered by a loop which also reads the car's ID) can be set up (If you like, similar to that of a Horse race finish line camera but set at ground level)

At many circuits we now see gutter or kerb mounted shots a still or half second shot is all that is needed, it's really not at all difficult.Readings may be taken at random during the race to establish any car's height above the track.


What a breath of fresh air tyres going off and not coming back, thats what road tyres do over their life espcially in wet weather hence Pirelli tyres are already more like real life it seems. Hopefully they last maximum half race distance not all race and we had last year. Be great to see 1-3 stop options and see which works best with drivers doing different strategies.


That's certainly what happened to the p zeros on my Porsche. Usually once every 6000 miles !

Anybody who has driven with them will tell you no fan should worry about then lasting too many laps (IMHO) 😉


completely agree!


"Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton didn’t do the Abu Dhabi test as part of a deliberate ploy"

I must have missed something, can you pls elaborate on the ploy? interested to know more.


It's explained in the piece, Paffett did back to back testing of Bridgestone and then Pirelli then went straight into McLaren simulator to model it.


I think due to one of the tests being a "young driver" test they could use Paffett for both, which of course would help them understand the differences


That was pretty crafty by McLaren 🙂 At 29 years old and with several years experience as a test driver, Paffett isn't the sort of driver that most other teams ran in the "young drivers" test, but obviously McLaren had checked the rules carefully! I wonder if the FIA might impose an age limit for official young drivers tests in future.


Fantastic data for the boys at mtc then.

Do you know if they have done tge same with other teams?


Would it be fair to say that experienced drivers like Alonso, Schumi and Button will bring more to these tests in terms of their feedback and finding those valuable tenths of a second?

So the new teams will essentially struggle to make as much improvement with less experienced drivers?


They like to think they do and I'm sure that's the case. Main advantage of a guy like that in testing is that they get the car sorted so they can drive it on limit


James, it'd be great to read a piece on the technical value drivers bringer to their team. I keep hearing about Schumacher, Alonso and Barrichello excelling at feedback whereas other don't. Who are the best at it and why? How much influence does driver input really have? How does that process work during the off-season? How do drivers improve on that aspect? How does that expertise (or lack thereof factor into the team's testing program?

Thanks in advance for considering it!


I also agree. For arguments sake - lets say ham is 3/10ths quicker than button. However if button were to improve the car by more than that gap over hamilton then he is surely quicker? PS i am a hamilton fan!


Second that.

I remember a video with someone from McLaren talking about the .5 secs that Fernando claimed to bring to any car in terms of feedback / development.

Could be very interesting to have an article comparing different drivers - the quality of their feedback, how can they actually help the development of the cars...


i think not having the new mclaren at the first test is a lost opportunity....

i dont think a week more of development time can really incorporate the findings on the new tires...

red bull's approach seems more logical: test the new car with new tires... gather all types of issues with what is wrong and tackle those issues.

mclaren's approach seems very complicated..

is like running one development project on the interim car.. gathering data on that, incorporating that data into the development process of the new car.. and by the time they get to the second test... they will be able to test.. whether the data integration process was "spot-on" or not.. if not there will be a delay of 2 tests compared to redbull..

mclaren seem to like taking the complex approach ... and i wonder if that catches them out.

(i am just an arm chair enthusiast.. no F1 insider.. but "problem solving" can depart from simple principles)


There is a small problem with your suggestion actually. The simple fact that a Formula 1 car costs approximately $1014 per mile to run so the additional cost is not as small as you make out. The less well funded teams would be at a disadvantage if this took place because they would most likely remain with 1 car whilst the big boys get twice the mileage.

With the engine freeze and chassis homologation, one car tests have proven perfectly adequate in recent years as the test programme no longer needs to iron out flaws in the latest qualifying engine etc.

The teams now only need to evaluate electronics, set up, aero and ride quality which is why we see the teams have begun developing bizarre looking aero measuring devices.

The testing ban does disadvantage young upcoming drivers on the one hand but it does make the ladder to F1 via the feeder series a necessary one. The pay drivers often side skip a few rungs of the ladder and never make the grade whereas those who bother to go all the way from karts to GP2 champion tend to fair ok once they get to the top. Lewis Hamilton would be a gleaming example of this.

To me the testing restriction seperates the wheat from the chaff as only the best can make the step up.


Or alternatively they have something on it that they don't want the other teams to see at the first test.

I believe the main reason is to get loads of mileage on the tyres. It's the one item the teams know least about.


I think they want to use the old car as they understand it and can fiqure out what differences the new tires make rather than havning a new car and new tires to understand


Plus, if there is one thing they know about the MP4-25 it is that its reliable. This means they can pound the life out of the tyres and then get enough data to incorporate into the new car.

Mclaren, please give us a good car. Pretty please.


Quick question, to James or whoever knows the answer

In the age of cutting costs while other teams want more testing why not allow teams to run 2 cars at these tests?

They already have the entire team there, and the track, and the parts and the cars (I presume they have a spare in case the first brakes in some horrible way [crash, etc...]).

It would only add a small cost extra for a 2nd car to be run and added to that it could be driven by the 'test driver'.

Added to that it would mean that when new drivers get to F1 they actually have some experience as opposed to just sim work. And teams will then have a bigger reason to have new up and coming drivers to do so. The driver would then have a clear advantage over a pay driver and as such would lessen the value of the underperforming rich pay driver.

RULE: 'A 2nd car can be run in addition during all tests. Any driver/drivers that make use of this 2nd car are only allowed to take part in a maximum 30% of the races for that season'.

Any flaws I'm not seeing here right now?


Certainly makes sense to have fresh knowledge of the old car on the new tyres for when they switch to the new car. If they see issues on the old car then they know its the tyres otherwise the tyre can be ruled out and they can just fix the car.

If the compounds haven't changed much though they'll have lost a little of their advantage but if they are a lot different the other teams could spend a while trying to work out if they have tyre or car issues..

I'm looking forward to what pops up at the test and where Red Bull puts fake component stickers this year!


James, one point was wondering about the Mclaren F-duct, given that at least 1 or 2 of the F-duct copies most notably that of Force India were better the original Mclaren design, was there really any benefit to putting it through the chassis other than maybe stalling other teams in their own development?

RBR and Renault both seemed to get something that at least functioned equally and Force India even provoking a redesign from Mclaren, all of which did not run through the chassis. Was it really more of a diversion or was there a genuine technical advantage and the others just had a better package to take advantage of their designs?

Interested in your thoughts on that


My guess is that it was about packaging. Its was easier and neater to include it in the design of the chassis than to add it to the car later. The other teams had to work around existing components, they had to move them around to generate the space needed for the f-duct, whereas McLaren had the packagind sorted.


off topic, sorry

what impact is there on Hispania leaving FOTA please?



I'm trying to get to the bottom of this myself


You can buy at least three decent engineers for €100,000 maybe four. My personal belief is that for 100k they don't get alot. They don't need to lobby to make f1 more real for the consumer and more relevant for road cars as they don't have any other agenda other than to be in f1.

What does Fota do with the 100k joining fee from each team (that is over 2m euros)!!!!!!


I just hope your estimate on Engineers wages are wrong as i'd really expect more then €25K to €33K to work as hard as they do!

There must be a lot more to it than just saving money - lets see what James can learn on his travels around Europe this week

Less than 3 weeks to go till testing!!!

Topless Porridge

I agree, I'd like to know what they do with the money. Although check your maths... 12 teams in F1, 11 in FOTA, €100,000 a piece makes €1.1m.

I think.


I still cannot understand how other teams managed to incorporate the F-duct. They could not incorporate the size of duct through the cockpit and had to rely upon a fluidic switch. I thought McLarens original interpretation for their activation was touch and go, but the subsequent copies could not have got through the regulations without a compromise between McLaren and the FIA.

I feel RBR have a big advantage in being able to generate good down force from a non DDD package, something I expect every other team to try and copy. Look back at all those teething problems RBR experienced and those copying will still have to run into the baulk of those. I shall be looking with interest at the number of cars that don't run KERS, I get the feeling we may be in for a surprise here.

Someone is going to come out with a novel edge here. The area that looks most promising is defined by the regulations on having a limited axle weight distribution during qualification, then allowing whatever in the race itself. I can see this as having changing characteristics that could make a difference?

As much as people want to see tyre issues create uncertainty, I an having problems seeing how this can be a marketing objective to Pirelli. That would just leave a "we produce crap tyres for f1" as their mission statement?

"The lesson from the Abu Dhabi test was that the tyre wear was high on the Pirellis and once the performance had gone off they didn’t come back, unlike the Bridgestones. The other lesson was that Yas Marina wasn’t ideal for testing because it constantly improves, so engineers don’t know how much a change is worth relative to track improvement."

With the actual race you had track temperatures declining until stabilising, fine sand making the track slippery and rubber being laid down. An overall negative at the start, coming back later on. As most of the improvements in the Bridgestones had to be due to the track rubbering in, I am finding it difficult to understand why any tyre will improve without a matching change in one of it's influencing parameters. In tyre testing I don't believe they had the declining temperatures unless they extended that into the evening and the track was fully rubbered in from virtually nothing when f1 turns up? The only thing we do know is that they had high tyre wear on a track in much better condition that you will race on and an old car with higher levels of down force. Tyre wear should go through the roof with those tyres if you factor in the variables to when you actually come to race the circuit this year?


hey hey hey down withj the 'perilles make abd tyres'.

Bridgestone for all the good tyres they made made bad tyres for F1 as of 2010.

Yes there tyres were good and strong for endurance and could last forever and never died, but F1 right now doesn't need that kind of thing. If Pirelli makes tyres like the current BS set then it will be an opportunity missed for F1 and Pirelli.

If Pirelli come out at the start and say 'we see the need for great differences in speed and length of running between the soft and hard tyres' and they chuck out a soft that goes 2 seconds faster but dies in the arse after a a dozen laps compared to the harder compound then I would say Pirelli have made better F1 tyres than bridgstone.

That would mean that each track teams would ahve to work out weather soft then hard is good or weather a top 10 should qualify on hards and then opt for 2 sets of soft near the end to smash through the field. Or weather a change to soft udner SC and then another a bit later before going to hards could be the way to go due to the extra speed.

THAT would be great racing and the tyres would have provided something and THAT IS what f1 wants and need right now. Another set of softs that can do a full GP distance is not wanted nor needed and if Pirelli come out and say that is what they are doing then right from the start we know they have missed the point of f1 tyres.

People need to get into there heads that a tyres that lasts forever without peaking or dropping is good. That is an endurance tyre. Go watch Le Mans, somehow all the tyres there are brilliant then. F1 isn't Le Mans and the tyres don't work. F1 is about a show, a spectacle, not an endurance epic.

Bridgstone tyres were like the movie Titanic, it was long, not many peopkle really liked then, but they are the critics choice and made lots of money (through image). Pirellis I hope will be like Inception, lots of stuff happens and things fly at you and you have tyres within tyres within tyres and it's great and at the end you think WTF just happened... come again... I want to see what Nolan comes up with next!


Bridgestone were extremely cautious that the public image from F1 did not tarnish their reputation by making trick tyres that gave a spectacle but of very little commercial gain to the company.

Pirelli are not there for the love of the sport, there has to be a return. Making tyres that liven up races could well be a far greater challenge than those that deliver unparalleled performance. It's just the public may not take the same view and this then becomes a waste of money for the company.


I wonder who will be this seasons Sauber in pre season. There is always one team who runs the entire time on fumes leading us to believe that they have built a flying machine but turn up at the first grand prix even further behind than they were last year.

I always enjoy who trying to figure out who is sandbagging and who is trying to attract positive publicity. I remember being convinced in 2009 that the under funded Brawn team was doing the later. How wrong was I?


Well, at least you didn't have to wait long to find out. They just barely made pre-season practice before going off to the first race.


I ´d like to see pirelli taking the four compounds of tyre to every race and than the teams deciding the two compounds they want to use for saturday and sunday.That would create a more number of strategys and it would bring more excitment to the weekends.

As for the solutions for the new cars i´m expecting something diferent for almost all the teams. On 2009 the Red Bull was the fast car without a double diffuser so we might see some teams going with the rear suspension Red Bull style.

Maybe Mclaren doesn´t want to show their car to soon, maybe their running late with the new car, they spend the last two years running the first test with fluid paint to analyse the aerodynamics of the car and maybe this year they decided to spend more time on the wind tunnel because of that. There´s to many maybes to know for sure.

As for Ferrari they were very reliable on the last year tests so i think they imagine they can put a lot of mileage on the tyres even with the new car.The problem for them in my opinion will be kers again as they had some glitches with it in 2009.

Red Bull are trying to put the car ready for the first test, i think it´s important for them to be there with the new car because of their lack of experience with kers. Also they had two blown tyres at the Abu Dhabi test so they will be tryibng to sort that out.

Those are again the three teams i´m expecting to be fighting for the championship followed by Mercedes and Renault.


Don't forget the tyre supplier already has to ship intermediates and full wets as well as the two compounds. Logistical and financial considerations surely preclude them taking any more than that.


yes , financialy would be more expensive...but the possibility of teams using the harder tyre and teams using the softer tyre maybe would make races more interesting.


One for all of you techies/regulations experts out there (you know who you are ;-).

Is there any rule forbidding the use of the moveable rear wing as an air break of sorts?

I think I read it can only be used by the following car, but is the range of movement specified?

i.e Can it tilt higher than the normal standard setup under braking?

Probably not, but a in moment of madness I just wondered.


No, it is not made out to be that way. But the regulations also don't specifically state where the wing has to end up while under braking. But since the system will be de-activated(after it has been set to low drag) when the brakes are touched, I don't see any other adjustment possibilities other than the wing being stuck in the air brake position. Unless there is some creative interpretation of the rule I don't see that happening... But here is hoping. 🙂


Or even an air brake.....



Having been a lead comentator, I just wondered what your thoughts are on Martin becoming the lead comentator, do you feel it is a roll he will slip into easily, and how long do you think it will take David to settle into his new role?


James, Red Bull used a rear pull rod susprnsion, a feature that I don't believe that Mclaren or Ferrari used. Do you think that Mclaren and Ferrari may incoporate this system in their cars for 2011?


why would we not want every race to be like montreal last year???! that was a great race!


My view about tyres is that the harder of the two tyre options should be designed give you a maximum of 58% of the laps (if you are Button) and the softer tyre should give you a maximum of 33% of the laps. In a 60 lap race, the harder tyre would give you maximum 35 laps and the soft tyre would give 20 laps. You are still 5 laps short so everyone will be forced to stop at least twice.

Depending on how one manages their tires, we will have drivers opting for different tyre strategies for sure.

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