Why the 2012 season has already started
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Oct 2011   |  4:03 pm GMT  |  103 comments

With the championship settled, teams are using the final races of the season as a test session looking at “carry over” items, which could be used in 2012. Ferrari’s Nicolas Tombaszis said last week that they would be trying out some new parts, including a new front wing.

And so it proved in Korea. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa carried out back to back tests over the weekend, with Alonso taking the wing for the qualifying and race. It featured several Red Bull-esque touches, such as the endplates, the main plane slot and the large top flap, and was considered to be a possible direction for 2012.

It was hard to judge from qualifying, where Alonso made a mistake in his final run, but it appeared that there was nothing much to choose between the performance of the two Ferraris in Q2 or Q3.

The new wing in Korea

The word from Italian colleagues is that the new wing wasn’t intended to transform the performance of the 2011 car, but to understand how the front end of the rival RB7 works and influences the aerodynamic balance of the car. The set up of the RB7 is notably deeply raked and this worked perfectly in terms of aero balance and feeding the rear diffuser with a high pressure air flow.

The old wing Ferrari used in Suzuka

The configuration of the Ferrari in Korea was not able to give the car a gain in terms of speed on the straight and on the fast corners, however it is believed to have improved rapid direction changes.

In India in two weeks time we are likely to see many of the leading teams pushing forward with 2012 development parts, using the final three races as an extended test session so that they can all come out of the box primed and competitive in February next year.

“The focus has to start moving towards next year,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “We have less than four months to design and build a completely new car, which is why Adrian (Newey) elected not to attend this race. He is busy back in the UK focused on RB8.

“The remaining races are the only track time other than a young driver test between now and when the new car is born, so we will look to learn everything we can out of the track with the time we have available and that means pushing right up until the chequered flag in Brazil.”

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Newey spending time at the factory rather than the race has to be troubling for the rest of the teams.


I totally agree, the man is a design guru! I give him enough respect in that department and I can only hope for miracles to happen for the field to balance up otherwise they might run away with it again.

They do their jobs well at Redbull and I prefer all teams go do their homework and if a car is not legal then it gets banned...no more chit chat and finger pointing on legal issues. The FIA should be more swift in making decisions.


CLEARLY JAMES THE BEST DRIVERS DO NOT ALWAYS RISE TO THE TOP.... kimi would have been a three time world champ then or alonso a 5 time champ by now. alonso beaten to the championship first by button in a brawn and then vettel in a redbull last year surely wasnt the best driver rising to the top !!!! This artificial push button racing and overtaking is NOT going down well with fans and the sport is losing its traditional fanbase... but maybe it's picking up a whole new fanbase of xbox and wii toting impatient, quick-fix thrill seekers.... as for me i dont think ill stick on much longer.


Dear FIA, Pirelli and FOTA, thank you for turning the F1 Championship into the WRSC (World Rubber Saving Championship) for the new millennium. I was tired of watching the fastest drivers in the world race the fastest cars in the world as fast as they would go in a glorious, arresting display of man and machine in perfect harmony. I was similarly tired of watching supreme talents like Hamilton being able to unleash the full force of his skill in front of 150, 000 live fans and 30 million world-wide viewers. I am thrilled now with the weekly battle between giants of tyre-saving brilliance, rubber saving genius’ of the highest calibre. I cannot wait for the next stint where the drivers drive round at 80% capacity for 15 laps (or 30 minutes) for fear that the comedy destructo tyres might at any moment ‘fall off the cliff’. While I appreciate that tyre management has always been a factor, I would like to thank you for making it THE deciding factor in F1, with driver’s innate raw speed a distant third behind the ‘push to pass’ buttons.

I enjoy listening to the likes of J Humphrey heaping massive praise of Pirelli week after week, calling the racing thrilling and exciting because of the part the tyres play – calling it amazing ‘racing’ every time a driver on the ‘correct’ tyres for that precise moment cruises up and blasts past a driver of equal or greater talent because they were foolish enough to spend their entire career to date developing their ability to drive a car fast rather than learning how to make insanely fragile tyres last another two miles.



Whilst trying not to make you look foolish, I can understand that, in your view, Hamilton IS indeed the best driver. Ever!

This year, unfortunately, "they" have introduced some tyres that degrade and destroy his ability to drive in anger or whatever it is that you mean. Not only that, there are other drivers who are trying to stop him from winning or overtaking... That is called racing, for you.

If you don't like the tyres degrading, watch "days of thunder" and you'll see it's not a new problem.

Drivers have to drive quick, but not only that, they have to adapt to whatever the conditions are and the quicker they can do this, the better drivers they are. It's the same rules for everyone, the best ones come on top!

My compliments to Vettel, as he has shown everyone how to win a championship in stile!


[mod] I do not believe that Hamilton is the best driver. 'Ever!' I do not even believe he is the best all round driver on the grid today (I have said numerous times in numerous posts that if I had to bet my house, all things being equal, I would bet on Alonso).

In my opinion, Hamilton is the most exciting driver and possibly the outright fastest over a lap on the grid. I watch motorsport, in mnay forms, as entertainment and he certainly delivers in that category. F1 would be worse for not having him involved. And if you read a few of my other posts, or indeed the one you are replying to, you would realise that I know that tyres degrading have always been a factor in F1.



Maybe some of the 'fastest' drivers should learn to adapt to the regulations better. It's pretty clear from the comments on this thread who you are talking about.

My response is fairly straight-forward. From our perspective as armchair commentators, 'fastest' is a subjective term, and almost all of us declare our subjectively biased commentaries as fact from time to time, which is fair enough; we're all entitled to an opinion.

The absolute fact of the matter is that 'fastest' happens to be dictated by finishing a race distance in first place consistently, within any given set of regulations, and not awarding the prize to the driver who can post the fastest individual lap time.

While I can sympathise with your frustration regarding the current regulations, I don't believe they have invalidated the nature of the sport. F1 is not an equal opportunities exercise, and the dice will always be loaded in somebodies favour.

For the past two years Vettel and Red Bull have had the short odds, and he has taken his chances. You can't begrudge the guy for making full use of the opportunity that has been presented him.


Great points Casimir, but in terms of the tyres introducing a false variable. I stand by my argument, although I will explain it a bit better! These tyres are engineered to be deliberately fragile - that is the false variable I am talking about.


The FIA often has no choice but to change the rules, as innovative teams find ways of exploiting the current environment in ways the FIA had not envisaged when drafting them.

From a purists perspective I understand your frustration with road-relevance and the environmental agenda. However, F1 is a business, not a sport - perhaps this is the problem - and those in control are making what they feel to be the best decisions to secure the future of that business.

In that regard, road relevant technological benefits will not disappear. Marketing F1 as a mechanism to enhance road car development, whether it does or not, is the best way of attracting big manufacturers to the sport.

We could argue all day about whether big manufacturers mean better racing, but that is the bent from the FIA at present. Personally, I prefer the idea of independents rather than corporate conglomerates, but 'corporate' seems to be associated with 'security', an idea I don't necessarily believe in.

Your argument on the tyres doesn't seem that sound to be honest. Tyres have never been an artificial variable, they're the most fundamental variable of the lot. If we put the Lotus cars on a different tyre compound they could gain several seconds a lap that would take years of aerodynamic development to achieve.

To suggest that the tyre manufacturer has manipulated the outcome is a bit specious. For this to be the case they would have to have expressed some degree of favouritism toward one team or another in advance of issuing tyres to everyone.

As far as I am aware, the tyre development has been largely black box. No-one was absolutely sure of how the tyres would work, and so development direction, be it tyre conservation or otherwise, had to be decided without prior knowledge of the actual potential of the tyres. The fact that the tyres favoured certain teams over others was, initially at least, stochastic.

I only have to think of the year Fernando Alonso won his first title. Design flaws notwithstanding, Ferrari were hamstrung by an inferior tyre. Surely this constraint was as artificial a variable as we currently experience today?

It is also not the case that the sport has become less and less about the driver with each passing year. Think of the Williams of 1992, and any year with traction control. The driver may have had fewer buttons to push, but the exercise of racing was far simpler and less skilful. And again, quite frankly, the number one question on a driver's CV has always been 'do you have the fastest car'. Gimmicks are part and parcel of F1.

By your own definition 'fastest' is the ability to go as fast as possible, but you provide no definition of the time frame in which this speed is measured. From my perspective it is simple. The race distance is the frame of reference, not 1 lap or two laps, or a stint or whatever.

You don't seem to like the implication that driving flat out for 1 lap precludes drivers from doing so again and again, which is fair enough. But truthfully, when has this ever been the case? And in cases where this was the norm, what was the racing like? Was it as competitive as it is now? In the past 20 years, when we have had instances of 'absolute flat out' racing they have typically been characterised by absolute domination (Mclaren - Senna, Hakkinen, Williams - Prost, Mansell etc.., Ferrari - Schumacher).

Personally, I don't have much of an issue with the regulations as they stand. I would appreciate less tinkering, and if they froze the regulations entirely for a period of 3 years I wouldn't mind at all.

Disagreement is a good thing, and you are obviously very passionate about F1, so don't take my objections with anything more than a pinch of salt.


James, the best drivers do not ALWAYS rise to the top. More often the guy in the best car rises to the top with some exceptions. I don't for a minute believe Button was the best driver in his WDC year but he rose to the top (he's better now than he was then). I do not believe that Vettel was the best driver on the grid last year (mayebe this year though) but he rose to the top.

However, I am talking about the tyres and the deliberately false variable they introuduce to the racing. The guys who are best at saving rubber and preserving their tyres rise to the top.


And maybe the FIA should stop tinkering with the rules every year, making sweeping fundamental changes, often for reasons that have nothing to do with racing such as the highly hypocritical 'environmental' agenda and the desperation to be road relevant. New fans must be utterly bewildered.

Not sure where in this post I begrudge Vettel anything...?

I also do not think that F1 has been 'invalidated'. I just do not like the current direction. I want to see these drivers driving as fast as it is safe to do, using their skill and talent for speed rather than their skill and talent to preserve rubber. Having the races manipulated by the tyre supplier to introduce artificial (and it IS artifical) variable is not my cup of tea – but I have no problem accepting that other fans with equally valid views do enjoy this.

The point is, every year it gets less and less about the driver’s ability to dance the car on the edge of human endeavour and go fast. The first questions on a driver’s CV now should be: Do you have the fastest car and this year’s must have gimmick? Are you able to preserve silly comedy tyres over 15 laps or so? Do you have a full understanding of KERS and DRS? Can you multi-task 30 buttons on the steering wheel at 200mph without having an accident. And THEN can you drive a car like the devil himself?

Yes, fandom plays its part, which is no bad thing as there is no F1 without fandom. I also disagree with your definition of fastest. Your description is a better definition of ‘first’ for me – either way, in F1 currently, sometimes to go faster you have to go slower and that just does not compute and it obviously does not compute with some of the drivers either. Why would it? It’s a great analogy for life but it is not a great display at the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’.

It’s great that we all disagree, makes life interesting.


I disagree, you could look at any period of the sport and apply those questions. The best drivers rise to the top whatever the rules


C'mon Wayne that's unfair. We have had some great racing this year and I don't see why the fact that a lot of it is down to tyre issues is a bad thing.

I suspect that fandom is playing a part in your analysis and that drivers you like may not be doing so well with the new tyres.

That doesn't mean the tyres are bad for racing!

I'm a big fan of Hamilton and Webber for example and would love for them to do well, but both are having (or have had) issues getting the new tyres to work for them.

I don't criticise the tyres, I think their characteristics have created some thrilling races. I have to criticise the drivers, they just haven't learnt how to get the most out of their rubber (yet!).

I'm a big Jenson fan as well and he is really doing well with the tyres.

I think what I'm getting at is that the tyres are a new aspect that has contibuted to the spectacle to the detriment of some of the drivers. That doesn't make them bad!

I just hope that Lewis & Mark get get to grips with them in time for next year and really start to shine again!


We have seen some great examples of 'making the rubber last'. I suppose it comes down to what you define as racing doesn't it and what aspects of F1 you enjoy. You and I enjoy different elements, obviously, that's not unfair that's just being human. The point is there is always a 'new aspect' because the FIA just can't leave the rules alone for five minutes. There was a fundamental issue with overtaking, so rather than address the fundamental issue they have introduced a false variable in the game. I don't like it - this isn't what these drivers spent their formative years preparing for!


Because of this, despite knowing that the F1 tyre has no relevance to their road tyre, I would not buy a Pirelli for my family cars out of principle.


Yeah man, saving tyres, push to overtake buttons are so boring this year

otherwise we would have seen some great racing action from alonso, hamilton, schumacher


P.S if Humphrey makes one more reference to Partying or Karaoke I think I might just scream and cry real man-tears of frustration. Not even RBR care as much about their parties as JH seems to! Can't we just hand the whole job over to Brundle and his no nonsense approach? It's real fun to listen to DC and MB laughing and joking during commentary, as the things they laugh about a) matter and b) are actually funny.

I think next year I will be missing JH when SKY completely butcher the coverage in their usual plastic, fascile and patronising manner 😉


Yes fair enough.

But also fair enough that many of us think that 2011 has been fantastic. And yes, I do largely credit the tyres for that.

To me, it's so much better now with tyres presenting genuine strategic options and overtaking opportunities, rather than the pass-in-the-pits era of refuelling.


So true. F1 in 2011 is in a dreadful state and doesn't reward the best drivers. Sadly we have the least deserving back to back wdc in history driving for a team with no class and to make it utterly intolerable it's all gleefully served up by [mod] Jake Humphrey.


Daniel, not true, I was happy until the tyre fiasco. The season was exciting for you but so-so for me. Fair enough?


Guys get a grip, some people are never happy!

It has been an exciting season with lots of racing, why is it an issue to enjoy the racing even if based on rule changes - isn't that what F1 has always been about?

Hope the teams throw caution to the wind in the last few races & really start testing some interesting stuff to mix up the grid a little.


Now we understand the story behind this:

At Monza, half the front wing of Webber mysteriously went missing after his crash, Newey told the media...a few races later Ferrari has a RBR copy frontwing.



Your kidding! Did that really happen?


Yes, the story is true but I am sure Newey was joking.


If any of Schumacher's years of domination (2002 & 2004) are anything to go by, then Red Bull are going to have a pretty miserable 2012 for after a year of domination, Schumi went on to have pretty miserable seasons i.e. 2003 & 2005.

As for Ferrari, the fact that they're already testing parts this early just shows a sign of desperation from the Italian team & only proves, no one in the Red team knows what's what so am certain another head scattering year is on the cards as the horse whisperers can't figure out why they can't get heat into their tyres fast enough.

The only top team I see stepping up to fill the power vacuum is the blokes from Woking for after a year to forget were mistakes were the norm, 2012, will finally be the year where everything clicks & works like clockwork for what I have seen, they have finally got to grips why Red Bull were so good in qualifying & with pole already in the bag, half the battle is won.

So expect to see lots of shouting Red T-shirts after every race come 2012. It's good to be back to the normal years


I think the pole in Korea was entirely Hamilton's effort. In my opinion he's the best in F1 in a single lap. And in Korea he was too good for the rest. It wasn't the car. Unfortunately McLaren and Ferrari are still behind Red Bull. I hope that will change next year. It's getting boring.


Next year's Ferrari will also feature a Ham-resistant bumper bar at the back.. 😉

The early development will result in a championship winning car for Alonso while the Maccas driver partnership will end up turning to tears as immature Lewis implodes when Jense continually out-performs him.


I wish people were avoiding writing such immature comments in here. James is a great journalist, gives us lots of insight into the F1 world and his site and forum could definitely do without such childish comments.


There is no material known to man that is Ham resistant.


To say Ferrari testing new parts as a sign of desperation is a gross overstatement. Ferrari are gathering useful data to be plugged into their simulations as well as CFD; and gathering useful feedback from the drivers as to how the new wings are performing.

McLaren on the other hand will probably lose a lot from the mandatory exhaust positioning - look at Silverstone as an example.

Don't forget that this is the first year on the Pirellis - the teams will now know a lot better what makes the tyres tick and last. Ferrari will be a lot better on their tyres next year, most probably.

Don't forget that next year the Pirellis will be moving 1 step down. (2011 supersofts = 2012 softs, 2011 softs = 2012 mediums, 2011 mediums = 2012 hards) This will benefit Ferrari a lot.


I'm sure you got this the wrong way around. I thought the tyres will be made 1 step harder for better durability.

I'm sure James Allen can confirm this.


I seem to remember Paul saying it would be as I said it; so that he could compensate for the teams developing cars that were kinder to the tyres.

Here's the best I could find so far:

"Probably next season the medium will become the hard," he said. "We'll probably slot something in between the current softs and mediums - We want to keep about one second between each. The super soft and soft gap is about right to be honest, because you've got a 1s speed advantage but you've got a clear degradation and limitation on use.

"If we could replicate that now with a new medium and a new hard then I think we'll be well placed."

Source: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/93680


Wow it sounds like you've done some hefty thorough research to come up with these conclusions. So Red Bull will fail next year just because of you've decided to cherry pick a data trend from Ferraris past that has no relationship to how the group at Red Bull will perform?!

And since when was McLaren being top considered the normal years?


Your right his season in 2003 was awful... 6 wins compared to everyone else who could do no better than 2 and a Championship in his back pocket in the end.


I am not sure that the woking team will be in great form next year. Remember how they were 1 second behind before they copied rbr's exhaust at the beginning of the season. And when the rules with the maps were changed for 1 race maclaren was lagging again a lot.So they must be clearly on the backfoot with next years regulations.


That isn't necessarily the case. MP4-26 was compromised from the off with the ban on exotic and expensive heat shielding materials. The car had been designed around a radical exhaust design that would have made the car very competitive. Unfortunately, packaging the car around the exhaust meant the team were forced to create a fairly tall gearbox which raised the centre of gravity of the car to the detriment of performance. This would have been offset by the gains made with the radical exhaust but the exhaust only worked when made from the exotic materials that were banned early in the winter tests. This meant they had to go with the next best option which was to blow the floor with what has now become the standard exhaust exits. The fact they have managed to make this compromised car able to compete with the Red Bull is impressive and bodes well for the future. After all, we are witnessing a return to periscope exhausts, they're nothing new. All teams have had a decent handle on them for years now. In addition to this, the U shaped side pods could come into their own if the periscopes are placed in the side pod channels and used to energise the air flow to the beam wing.

Next year I want to see a 4 way fight at least for the titles. Red Bull vs Mclaren vs Ferrari vs Mercedes in equal machinery. That would be the best season ever and if Renault or Williams can step and get in the mix all the better. Fingers crossed!!


'05 Ferrari was a great car but had Bridgestones which were crushed by the Michelin's


Ross Brawn doesnt agree, he's said the 05 Ferrari had several design flaws beyond the bridgestones.


Schumacher and Ferrari won both titles in 2003. Hardly miserable.


Of course all the teams will be looking at carry over items for their 2012 cars. They will also be looking at ways to minimise the loss of the blown diffuser or how to produce much needed downforce on the medium to high speed corners/bends in view of the regulation change. The RB7 car was a supreme exercise in aero efficiency and the production of high downforce whilst minimising drag. Knowledge and experience is power and I expect anything that can be gleaned from the Red Bull's design might be useful, but really they need to understand how the car worked as a whole as the effect of that style of front wing on a Ferrari might differ to a lesser or greater extent.


All I can say is... Mclaren should dissolve their marketing team... They have entire England marketing for them... Strange coz' the New Zealanders ought to be doing so. 😉


The full effect of the RB front wing would not be revealed on a lesser car. A little naive by the Ferrari team and indeed smacks of desperation.


Let us make no mistake here, Ferrari and McLaren are incredibly strong teams. Even when they mess it up they are usually there or there abouts and still usually manage to win races. Newey is a master of Revolution, McLaren in particulr are not so strong in this area but they are masters of evolution as they prove DURING each season. The rules for next year are a bit more stable, the only fear is that Newey will come up with the next 'blown diffuser' concept that leaves everyone else trailing.

FIA: Leave the damn rules alone for five minutes please so we can compare cars and performances year on year - any such comparrison for the last few years is pointless. This might also give new fans the chance to actually understand what they are watching!


I think you can take it that they know what they are doing! They operate at a very high level, only problem is that Red Bull are closer to the edge


A hypothetical but very possible situation - Fast forward to March 2012, yet again Ferrari turn up in oz with a car inferior to Red Bull. Alonso, Di Montezemolo et al say don't panic but behind closed doors we know they will be fuming ... surely the sword would fall on Stefano?

Assuming this to be the case, could you envisage a scenario where Ferrari approach Horner to replace Stefano, or would they persist with appointing within (or Briatore!??)? Is it the same for team bosses as it is for drivers going to Ferrari, would Horner be interested in leaving a successful team which he's helped to mould? They failed getting Newey but could Horner play a role, also in getting Vettel in a Ferrari in a few seasons time, either replacing/partnering Alonso?

Its sad to think that a team like Ferrari have to copy a relatively fledgling team with their designs, but what Red Bull have done in a short space of time is incredible. They are professional and ruthless, the attention to detail in design, strategy, operations etc is second to none and they seem to maximise almost every situation.

For example as a Ferrari fan I go to Spa and Monza most years, generally it has suited the car. Having struggled last year I wasn't expecting RB to turn up and win both comfortably. Rather than bleat on about a lack of power in their engine or giving up, they set about bringing specific developments and setting up their car to outgun their more powerful rivals. I was disappointed but I came away with a lot of respect for them.

They clearly operate close to the edge with design legalities and with continued rumours about the RRA. You don't hear about flexing wings so much anymore and it seems as if they have a huge advantage for a few races (until they have a large points margin) until the FIA / teams figure out whats going on. I like that especially if you can figure out loopholes or grey areas, Ferrari used to and its engrained in F1 but RB seem clever enough to get away with whatever they are upto. Whether this is pushed by Newey's team, or by Marko and above, there's clearly a culture at Red Bull that they'll do whatever it takes to win. I don't see that at Ferrari or other teams to such an extent(admittedly that's from the outside looking in), a lot of credit should go to Horner. He is orchestrating the team, he stands there in front of tv cameras being grilled by ... well Eddie Jordan, taking flak from rival bosses or from the FIA. I would love to see Horner at Ferrari and having that much interest in our car, its a huge sign of flattery.

They are the benchmark and that won't change very quickly. Ferrari are already resigned to losing downforce for next year with the loss of the EBD. That's what Ferrari assumed going into this year when cars lost the DDD, but Red Bull turned up with more downforce. I sure as hell bet that RB will be determined not to turn up with a slower car than this year, even without the EBD which they have close to perfected. I also believe that when the new 1.6l engines come in that Renault will produce the best engine ... they have most economical and driveable engine already and have plenty of experience with 1.6l turbos. It all looks pretty rosey for the drinks company!


F1 is all about stability - Williams had it when winning everything with Newey, Head, Willis and Renault in 1990s, Ferrrari had it with Todt, Byrne, Brawn, Schumacher in 2000s and now Red BUll have it with Horner, Newey, Prodromou etc in 2010s. CH might fancy the challenge and it might get Newey (and Vettel) to Maranello, but somehow I doubt it. Unless Bernie brokers it... as he did with Todt and Schumacher to Ferrari in the 1990s....


I've often suspected your jumping to Ferrari's defense as revealing your loyalties. Are they your favourite team out of interest?

As far as F1 teams go of course they know what they are doing, but relative to what? They are certainly comparable to Mercedes Benz and occasionally Mclaren but have a long way to go before they are troubling the front runners regularly again. In truth they occupy a strange performance no mans land between these 2 teams which leaves them foraging for scraps.

The fact of the matter is that they've been in decline since the end of 2008 and the rot probably set in before that as key design personnel left the team.

Ferrari have been progressively less impressive out of the box since the tail end of the schumacher/brawn era and then had to play catch up in season.

I think we are witnessing another great Ferrari decline such as we saw before they were rescued by Schumacher and chums in the mid 90s. Any success they achieve is probably down to the voices of Brawn, Byrne etc still echoing around Maranello and those echoes are getting fainter each year and I think it's set to continue.

Still, ironically in the context of the spygate scandal they'll have a nice red Mclaren next year courtesy of Pat Fry.

Also, what do you know about the missing Red Bull front wing rumour?


No they are not, as I don't have a favourite team. I defend any team when someone criticises them wrongly. Opinion is fine, but errors need correcting.


Yes it can't be emphasised enough just how small the differences in aero efficiency is between leading cars, but it makes a big difference on track performance.


Ferrari and McLaren had better be 100% focussed on next year because it's going to take everything they've got to beat Red Bull. The fact that Adrian Newey is already hard at work on next year's car should send shivers down the spines of his rivals.

I'm not expecting much change next year in terms of relative pace. It's really starting to feel like the Schumacher/Ferrari era all over again.


Ferrari experiment with RB style parts to better understand why they work. Maccas don't need to. They'll just steal the plans.


so true, hope we can see Ron Dennis say they had no idea how accidentily the Ferrari data is in their computer(s)!





Races: 17

Wins: 8




Races: 29

Wins: 9




Races: 827

Wins: 216




Races: 698

Wins: 174



As a result of the spygate episode, the FIA investigated the Mclaren factory fully (servers and all) and stripped the Mclaren cars down to examine every last nut and bolt to ascertain how much, if any Ferrari derived technology was on the cars. They weren't just looking for a Ferrari sticker on a wishbone, they were analysing concepts and how they'd evolved. The result of the investigation was that there was no evidence of any foul play on the part of the team.

We must remember that the Ferrari dossier was found in Mike Coughlan's private possession in 2007, well in his wife's if you really want to be picky. The 2007 Mclaren was designed in 2006 so they'd have to have had a time machine to put 2007 Ferrari technology on it. Reworking a complete design just to glue some Ferrari bits on would be pointless, it wouldn't work. This is why Mclaren were never charged with theft of Ferrari I.P, because it never happened.

However, because Bernie and Max were determined to give Ron Dennis a kicking, they decided to charge Mclaren with bringing the sport into disrepute as teams are deemed to be responsible for the actions of their team members (even in their private lives it seems). Bernie even admits this in his Biography. As such, Ferrari should have been equally charged as the whole affair was instigated by Nigel Stepney, a Ferrari employee at the time but Bernie and Max have a history of bias towards the reds.

Mclaren don't need to copy Ferrari. The only thing that keeps Ferrari ahead in the statistics is the fact they've been in F1 for so long. Mclaren have won 1 in every 4 races they have ever competed in. They do just fine on their own.

Also, I doubt it would do Mike Coughlan much good to enter a 2007 Ferrari into next years championship so I don't think you need to worry about that either.

Further to this, something people seem to have forgotten is that Stepney had sent the dossier to Coughlan as they were hatching a plan to defect to Honda together. Another reason why none of the data was found at Woking.



Bram Surely if McLaren are going to pinch someone's data it would be RBR's not Ferrari, why would they want to make their car slower!


@ Bram... Hahahaha... Good One


I am not an engineer nor do I know much about the tecnical side of aerodynamics but I am not sure how much you can learn from testing pieces for next year on the 2011 spec car. These cards are bolted down but the blown rear diffuser. The car will behave significantly differently next year with the hot gases flowing out the back. I guess I am seeing a disconbect here. But like I said... what do I know.


With a front wing there isn't much of the car itself that is still ahead of it. The key is looking at how it manages airflow, where it sends airflow to the rest of the car, and the loadings of how much downforce it can produce. there's not much uncertainty to eliminate in terms of testing front wings so that is all fine. The only issue would be suspension setup as it would affect how the wing works with ground effect etc


Hi Michael,

The blown rear diffuser is relatively simple compared to the front wing as all there are no following interactions - it just amplfies the effect of the diffuser.

The front wing influences the flow to the rest of the car. As the speed increases the wake gets larger and chopped up more by the front tyres, which are rotating at different speeds. The flow of the air behind the wing is important for the effect of the wing. Therefore you will get some wings that work really well at low speeds, but don't have quite the same benefits at high speeds.

What Ferrari did appears to be about gaining understanding. There are wind tunnel air speed limits in the rules, so for high speed interactions the work is either done on computer simulations or the track.


Hi Michael, the absence of the hot gases from the diffuser next year will not prohibit testing of key items, particularly towards the front of the car and items above the cockpit - such as the roll hoop and engine cover back down over the "coke bottle"

The front wing is the most important part of the car in modern aero as its the leading edge of the car through the air. If you cannot control the air flow properly from this point, the whole car is screwed. In particular, if you want to run a car with "rake" and generate under car downforce (even ambient air based and hot gas) you must get the front wing and the upper body parts right.

In addition, the hidden parts of the aero story - such as material composition is critical for the teams to test. If you can improve the composition of how the car parts are baked and the material can then flex appropriately under load then you will gain additional points of downforce. This is a critical area and one Red Bull seem to have an edge on at present.


I meant without the hot gases flowing out the back of nex years car. 🙂


Just goes to show that the top teams have the money to continually improve and that the design departments never stop work!


If the testing becomes really serious, might we see some real mixed-up races at the end of this year, with some top drivers finishing further down the field and some midfield drivers finishing higher up?

And could we see, for instance, a front-running car being brought in mid-race and an alternative front wing being fitted -- or are they not allowed to change parts during a race?


They're allowed to change parts as long as they are of an older, or identical spec if I remember correctly.


Hi James,

I'd be intereted if you could find out from your engineering contacts in the pit lane as to the view on who will lose the most from the loss of the blown diffuser. The British GP hit McLaren harder than the other top teams and Hamilton's superior low speed traction relative to Webber got me thinking that some of McLaren's recent gains may not translate to 2012.




The 2012 regulations will have a major impact RBR, no more blown diffuser lower noses, its will almost be like going back to 2009 designs

I think the major talking points for 2012 will be flexible floor tricks (Webber's Monza spec car)and "blown rear wings" Looking at this year designs, Mclaren have a good starting point for 2012 IMHO, Ferrari will be buoyed by the return Bryne who pioneered periscope exhausts.


It's true that the absence exhaust gas blown diffuser will hit some teams more than others, but they will already be aware of this and will be making every effort to compensate by other means. McLaren as do Ferrari of course have their design history to draw on such as from 2007/2008 when they both had good cars in various stages of the season. It will be interesting to see just how much of the McLaren 2011 car will be carried over such as the L shaped side pods for example.


I think the gains that they made since Nurburgring will still be valid; most of it was done with simple knuckles-down aerodynamic engineering rather than from the blown diffuser. The losses they made in Silverstone, however, are still very real.


With the new exhaust regs next years cars will be as close to the '09 spec cars as is possible under the no refueling era and for a quick refresher...

RB5 fastest single diffuser car by a long shot and only one to challenge BGP01 before moving to a DDD. This will be the first season since '08 that Newey has been focused on the new car before the season was over. '10 an '11 challengers were class of the field from day 1 and he had less time to build them.

Ferrari F60, slow and unreliable dog, plus coming off two years where the car was problematic to be polite and an while always being there or thereabouts couldn't challenge for 1st in either championship even with one driver fully supporting the other.

Mclaren MP4-24 sloowwwwwww but reliable, in '10 and '11 were always there or thereabouts but never could mount a successful charge, seem to have sorted their quali pace but in so doing lost their race pace advantage RBR. Forgive me if I'm not going tone crossing my fingers expecting morerhan just a bunch of talk coming from woking.

Oh and I almost forgot, Seb becomes more and more focused and reliable every season, even if the RB8 isn't a world beater he will still e a force to be reckoned with.


2012 did indeed begin in Korea. We saw in Korea that Red Bull will stop at nothing to ensure Vettel wins and Webber loses. Sure, it's fantastic that Webber picks up points BUT not at the possible expense of Vettel.

After more than half the race, Webber was looking a clear favourite to win the race just a few seconds off the lead, on the soft compounds with plenty of life in his tyres and a pace advantage over Hamilton and Vettel. Hamilton's super soft tyres start going off and Hamilton is told to "box". Red Bull have this information.

It is clear now that Webber will cruise to victory - he may not even have to pit again, such is the life of the softs, but even if he does he will get to use is super softs for the final stint, as it will only need to be a relatively short one and he will be able to come home like a steam train. Whatever your viewpoint, Webber has an excellent chance of victory at this stage.

Red Bull tell Webber to pit, Webber questions this decision "Are you sure you want me to pit?"; knowing his soft tyres have plenty of life. However, Webber is not a smart driver and therefore does not have the racing brain to make his own calculations on the fly - the way a smart driver like Button and Vettel can. Therefore Webber has no choice but to accept his team's decision and he boxes the same lap as Hamilton. This is a double whamey.

Firstly, by pitting the same lap as Lewis he misses the chance to overtake him by doing a couple of hot laps on the circuit, and more importantly, he removes his soft tyres which have plenty of life still remaining in them, and in that moment it kills any chance he has to win the race, as now he can no longer challenge Vettel by doing either a short last stint on supersofts or even softs, or by not stopping again.

Incredible. Make up your own minds. Yes, Red Bull want Webber to get points and lots and lots of them. BUT NOT at the expense of Vettel, or NOT in a situation which may put Vettel under pressure, which Webber in P2 undoubtedly would have.

So, even with the drivers championship sewn up, Red Bull do not allow Webber a chance for victory. The lines for 2012 are already drawn up. The team do everything in their power to ensure the car is setup and working well with Vettel, if it works for Webber too, that's just a bonus. What is Webber doing at Red Bull in 2012? Better driving around in a HRT than being the shoe shiner of Vettel.


Your description of the events concurs with my thoughts. There was absolutely no reason to bring Webber in when Lewis was a sitting duck with a good hot lap and Vettel was next in line.

He was cheated out of a potential race win by his team.



Read the Strategy Report


Oh come on. Like you every fan has their favorite driver as do I, but they don't let that blind their judgement. I am an Alonso fan, but that doesn't stop me (or most F1 fans) from appreciating other drivers when they deliver a great drive (like Hamilton in Korea). Vettel has proved time and again that he is one of the best & a couple of clicks above Webber. Just check the quali stats.

Am sorry that your favorite driver is not doing that great, but please stop this nonsense and enjoy the racing.


Appreciate your thoughts, however I don't see how they are relevant. Sure Vettel is a superb qualifier. Vettel was arguably faster in race trim as well. The key though, was that Webber was on a different tyre and hence a different strategy to Vettel. Red Bull did not allow Webber to follow thru on this strategy, as it would have given him the advantage over Vettel and an excellent chance to claim victory.

They forced Webber to pit when there was no need for Webber to pit, and hence destroyed Webber's excellent chance for victory.


How are you so sure Webber could have cruised to the win? He would have had tyres that lasted long enough? Say he stayed out and Vettel and Hamilton pitted. They would be chewing up the gap to him on soft tyres that were 20 laps younger. By the time Webber went for the softs for a final banzai stint; then Vettel and Hamilton would be far far less than a pitstop behind him.

However what he could have done was gambled on 1 or 2 quick inlaps in clear air to see if he could jump Lewis


Read the Strategy Report. The answer is there


Do you need some tinfoil? New Softs will be faster than 15-20 lap old softs.


What a bizarre comment.

Agreed, new softs will be faster than old softs. But equally, new super softs will be faster than old softs. Think about it. If you still cannot "get it", let me know. As I said, think about it.


I had Webber pegged as favoutite to win half way through as well.


Within the RRA, (resource restriction agreement, not sure if's I've used the correct acronym) Do the public get any visibility of team spend? With 2012 development taking place on track which fiscal budget will this be allocated to?

More on the RRA, I don't understand how Red Bull can afford to fly front wings around the world at costs of an estimated £100k (unbudgeted) and still be within the agreement.

I'm not saying the RRA is a good thing, but if it exists it would be interesting to know how it is policed.

Can you offer any insight?


The gap between top teams is very close, small improvements eventually add up as the package comes together.

Gap at the back of the grid is far greater, will be interesting to see who is capable of making a major step forward next year.

As always, reliability and consistency on the track could be the deciding factor. Talent wise, the grid has rarely looked so good.



Great article as always.

Will this '2012 now' idea lead one of the top teams to run another driver on Friday morning?

I'm particularly thinking of Ferrari. When the axe falls there, it does so very quickly..


No, because the race drivers must evaluate the new parts and compare


Given that there's a lead time of about 12 months on an F1 car I'd be seriously worried if any of the teams in the pit lane arent close finalising the design and development direction of their new cars by now.

That Ferrari are already testing new for 2012 parts suggests they may already be at that point and want track data to go with CFD and windtunel data.


"The set up of the RB7 is notably deeply raked and this worked perfectly in terms of aero balance and feeding the rear diffuser with a high pressure air flow".

With the end of hot blown diffusers next season is there any advantage in still running a deeply raked chassis? If not, does that mean RB have more work to do than the rest? Or will the rest be moving towards a raked solution that is a year too late?


Rake will give better downforce regardless of everything; as long as the diffuser doesn't stall. The lack of hot blown diffusers doesn't mean rake becomes a bad thing. However, you can run less rake by not having the blown diffuser


I expect the teams to run less rake next season with the ban on EBD. The reason I suggest this is that running the disparate ride heights front to rear can make the car behave unpredictably in pitch but the EBD resolved this by helping to maintain constant pressure through the diffuser thus maintaining rear ride height under deceleration and other varying conditions. Also, the rake was made possible by the EBD because it used the high pressure exhaust gas to form a virtual skirt around the sides of the diffuser preventing dirty airflow from the wheel wings etc from entering the diffuser and stalling it. These characteristics will be lost thus eliminating much of the usefulness of running the rake. I expect to see more focus on the beam wing and the upper edge of the diffuser in terms of innovation.

The U shaped side pods of Mclaren could be copied by a few teams because placing the exhaust exits in the channels on the top surface of the side pods could help energise the airflow to the beam wing in a similar way to the F2002. Also, as Mclaren will be able to return to a more optimum packaging for their gearbox the U Pods will be much neater and they will be able to lose the clutter at the back of the car and really get some good flow onto the rear aero parts.

F12010 to kill time until March

I think Ferrari this year didnt anticipate Vettels progress, and so went to conservative. They also need(and Mclaren in particular) to raise the bar in terms of race operations.

About the tyres, I think teams took different strategic decitions this year(durability vs ability to create temprature), and this could have gone both ways theoreticly.

Now everybody knows more about this. I still feel though that RBR/Newey has a more systematic aproach&understanding about the importance of different perfomance-parameters, and how they work together.

Ferrari is allways strong and this will be Alonsos 3rd season. Mclaren are right there now, they just need to putting strong weekends together at a regular basis. Its difficult to maintain a competitive advantage for longer periodes of time, and RBR are forcing the others to improve on their weak points - it will happen. Next year will be tight as hell!

There is a lot of sucsessfactors in F1, but Newey does not control them all. Hats of to Christian Horner and RBR - a perfect combination of effeciency and innovation.


Ferrari largely copied Red Bull's blown diffuser concept this year. Reportedly, they have already copied Red Bull's rear suspension design into their 2012 car. Now they are going to copy the front wing too?

I hope Ferrari has the honesty to name their 2012 car the 'FRB7'.


since McLaren had to completely copy redBull's diffuser before Australia to make sure they werent dicing with Force Indias, means Ferrari arent the only ones.

and RedBull have also copied ferrari this year, unlikely as it may seem.


I think the point to be made is that of limited testing.

In the past Ferrari would test and test and test but now no longer can. Each GP weekend is a mini test, every lap producing information. Ferrari have nothing top lose and only to gain for next season. 55 laps with a new nose, varying fuel loads, varying tyre performance cross referenced with a troublesome wind tunnel is a lot of information to put in the bank.

In the past this would all have been done in a private test on their own private track with no cameras during the preceeding season.

I am sure all the other teams are doing similar or will be doing in India and onwards.



I've often wondered if the budget constraints have impacted Ferrari more than other teams. It is my understanding that they had to largest budget and therefore have had to trim more to reach targets.

Sacking employees, reclassifying job titles, and cutting the testing schedule wouldn't cut it. Ferrari would have had to adjust their whole development process to work within these constraints. Maybe we're seeing that they haven't found the right mix be on top just yet.

Any thoughts James?


Good question. I'll look into that



Could you please tell me which would be the best place on the circuit to spectate the Indian GP?

Since, it is inaugural, I bought tickets to Premium South Stand, which is between turns 10 & 11... and the Main Grandstand... Now I am confused as to which would be better of the two places to spectate from.

Please Guide 🙂


Ask F1 Trip Advisor. I wouldn't like to say until I've been there and I'll not get there until next Thursday.


Apparently there's going to be a new formula next year - it's called RBR-F1 - Red Bull Replica racing. It's kind of a heritage series whereby this years 'fans' of the RB7 build a replica of it in their own livery & fight for 2nd place at all the GP's behind the new all conquering RB8. PLEASE WILL SOMEONE BUILD A CAR THAT CAN COMPETE FOR THE F1 WC ? ? ? ? It's depressing. Really.



I wonder if you know of any new materials that the teams are planning to use for their 2012 car.

We hear and see a fair amount of talk on the aero packages for the cars, but I can’t remember anyone really talking about some new bit of material they found which replaces something, and is stronger and lighter.

I was thinking along the lines of metal, carbon, plastic’s, and ceramics that the cars are constructed with. We had the blown diffusers, but it was hard to work out if they found some new materials or just applied something in a different format to what we thought it was used for.


Meterials are tightly governed in the tech regs and many are banned. This is to prevent a spending war/arms race on exotic material applications such as berilium pistons at £10k a pop so the real developments tend to be in application and composite research. The teams are always finding new ways of weaving the carbon fibre to make it stiffer yet lighter, I guess they think this is too nerdy for the public to be interested in and choose not to talk about it much. Also, teams can't really reveal their best new ideas to the world for obvious reasons.


IE Mclarens banned octo-exhaust, due to illegal material . .


It would be great to see some other guys regularly challenging the Red Bulls next year - they've had a great run, but someone needs to start reigning them in now!

James - any more news on the Kimi/Williams story? The media was all about it a couple of weeks ago, but now there is nothing - could this mean it's a done deal?? Any inside info?


I'd just like to know what pirelli intend to do about tyres whose marbles choke up the wings of other cars, I'd also like to know how much more rubber is wasted in terms of marble deposited on track and then work out whether or not the carbon cost of the wasted rubber will be offset by the slower engines due in 2014. It seems bit contradictory that F1 is trying to go green and at the same firing god-knows-how-much rubber all over the place.

As for tyres affecting the race, they always have and always will, I'm not entirely convinced these deliberately crumbly tryres are good but the season has been


Formula One: New Jersey Grand Prix expected to be confirmed on Tuesday

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Formula One race coming to New Jersey. LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

A Formula One race for the New York City area is expected to be confirmed next week.

By: Steven Cole Smith on 10/21/2011

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Ecclestone wants Formula One race in New York

Speed TV on Friday said it will interrupt its regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. Eastern to "bring audiences live coverage of a special announcement regarding the future of Formula One Grand Prix racing in the United States."

The broadcast is expected to be the formal announcement of the previously rumored New Jersey F1 race that will take place in view of the Manhattan skyline, probably in 2013 and likely paired with the Montreal F1 race.

The effort to bring the race to a temporary street-circuit in Weehawken and West New York in New Jersey is headed by gentleman racer Leo Hindery Jr., who is the former head of the YES network, and who is married to Speed TV executive Patti Wheeler, daughter of former Speedway Motorsports Inc. executive and legendary promoter Humpy Wheeler.

A well-regarded NASCAR executive is rumored to be joining the effort, though that announcement may or may not come on Tuesday.

The race is expected to complement the already-announced U.S. Grand Prix scheduled to debut in November 2012 in Austin, Texas, as well as a race planned for Mexico.

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James, do you have any news on who Ferrari had hired? i heard that they hired 2 McLaren guys, and another for Materials or Composites. any other info?


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