Insight: Different ways Lotus and Red Bull find speed
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Mar 2013   |  9:52 am GMT  |  105 comments

Before the season started, JA on F1 Technical Adviser Mark Gillan observed in the first podcast of the season that the key to success in 2013 would be thermal tyre management. And the first Grand Prix in Melbourne proved it, with Red Bull able to dominate qualifying, but losing performance in the race, while Lotus went the other way.

So what was happening? And will it happen again this weekend in Malaysia?

The key with the Pirelli tyres is to get the fronts warmed up evenly with the rears for a single lap in qualifying. But with the same set up, the car has to then manage that heat, particularly the rears, on longer runs. Having the front tyres in the right temperature window is particularly important for grip on turn-in to the corner.

One of the ways teams manage the heat is by playing around with heat soak from the front brake discs. It was while experimenting this early last summer that McLaren’s Jenson Button struggled, for example.

Red Bull had complete front drums in Melbourne, so little heat from the brake discs was going into the front tyres. Their car obviously doesn’t need that extra heat from the discs, with the downforce from the front wing and the front geometry generating tyre temperature. But they couldn’t keep the tyres in the ideal window on the longer runs on a chilly race day.

In contrast Lotus had a drum which stopped where the disc is located, so all the heat from the disc would have soaked through the wheel rim and into the tyre. Raikkonen’s success was based on getting ideal performance from the tyres and this allowed him to use one less set, saving 23 seconds of pit stop time and maintaining track position. Lotus insiders have paid tribute to his ‘patience’, rather than grasping at opportunities he managed the race to perfection and still had plenty of performance in his tyres at the end.

Managing front tyre temperature with these devices is an area where Lotus were particularly aggressive last season, even resorting to asymetric geometries last year from left to right, depending on circuit layout and important corners.

And it looks like they are doing it again this year, with excellent results in Melbourne.

Despite qualifying 1.3 seconds slower than Red Bull, they managed to race faster and use one less set of tyres to achieve it, with Raikkonen setting a fastest lap some 1.2 seconds faster than Sebastian Vettel on a two stop strategy to Red Bull’s three. That’s quite a swing from relative qualifying pace to race pace.

For the heat of Malaysia, they are likely to revert to a full drum set up to reduce heat soak.

This will be a crucial area of focus for the engineers and drivers this weekend. With the same medium compound as Melbourne, but also the hard tyre which has a higher working range, getting the balance right with track temperatures of 45 degrees will present a compleletly different challenge.

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Does it mean the let down of RBR is due to their overlooking of the temperature and cool condition of Melbourne? Does it mean that in a track like Sepang where the contrast will be more depending upon rain? And team will be forced to gamble more? Does it also mean McLaren where struggling for these reasons as well?


I'm pretty sure the McLaren case is different to this issue of tyre management. The drivers are talking about a lack of downforce and stability. McLaren is probably behind Lotus on heat management, as Lotus seems to be the leader here, but it is not the only problem.


Great article. Was I correct in noticing another front tyre management technique from Raikkonen, whereby when he followed Alonso and Massa in the middle stint he delibrately stayed one second behind to clear the dirty air, thus reducing lateral wear on fronts? Further credit to his patience over 58 laps.


Basically he knew he was on a 2 stop where everyone else was on 3. He could have killed his tyres trying to stay close enough behind to attempt an on track over take, or he could hang back setting competitive lap times, knowing that at some stage in the race he'll gain a 20-odd second advantage through strategy. And while hanging back in clear air, running a bit below full pace, adding further to the life of the tyres.

Eduardo Gutierrez

In order to win, Raikonen was cleaver to do his race with patience.


That's what is meant by his "patience"


Is that racing?


some reasonable and fair comments, but ultimately f1 is an endurance race and not a sprint - watch f2 or dtm if you just like wheel to wheel racing. they do it all the time, often cars are nose to tail for the whole race.

there are myriad reasons but at the end of the day the very high speeds (and high cornering speeds in particular), along with the tiny braking distances, are what create f1's lack of overtaking. it's nothing to do with tyres, fuel stops, or anything else. even if all the cars are the same, they'd struggle to overtake...


my only problem with this is that it discourages cars from trying to overtake - they either try over one lap and if unsuccessful sit back and play the waiting game. Or they burn out the tyres trying to do what racing should be about and overtake.

I know it's a balance and the racing is still interesting to watch from a strategy point of view but I'm struggling with watching a sport where cars are pacing themselves rather than racing flat out from start to finish.


Sandman, you're kind of making my point, if you pass quickly its ok however if you don't your tyres wear quickly and overtaking is out the window as your tyres go off quicker when following the car infront.

Sebee, not sure yet will let you know after a few races.

Liam, you are right but my problem is I want to watch wheel to wheel racing not 56 laps of tyre management with some wheel to wheel racing in the first 2 laps.

Yak, yes but the 3 stoppers couldn't push hard because their tyres would go off as did Alonso's when he was trying to chase down KR. I wanted to see him continue that chase and set up a thrilling climax to the race sadly the tyres stopped this from happening.

I know Red Bull are struggling more than others but just reading this on the bbc website is exactly what I'm talking about


It doesn't really discourage overtaking on track. Lotus had a 2 stop planned for Kimi, where most others were on 3. If all the teams/drivers were quite realistically looking at a 2 stop, they'd have to do their overtaking on track (or with undercuts, or through quicker pit stops, etc). If Lotus were on a 3 stop, Kimi would have had to push a lot harder and do his overtaking on track.

But Lotus did the figures, decided a 2 stop was the fastest way for Kimi to race, and he raced accordingly. Everyone else out there running an extra stop had to do the overtaking in other ways.

I mean really, one could kinda argue that the others have to push even harder. Kimi got a 20-odd second boost from not stopping, so the others out there need to get on with it and really make their own 3 stop strategies work. Which means pushing hard, getting everything out of every set of tyres and not wasting time behind other cars.


The rules don't say how you must win. You just have to be first over the line at the end. If you hang back and manage your tyres to hit your proper targets along the way, with Kimi not seeing the leaders romp away ahead of him, what incentive is there for him to overtake?


Do you think the delicate tires kill all non-DRS zone passing since it costs tire wear? Or all passing in general?


Kimi did overtake hamilton on lap 2 and disposed of sutil with ease compared to alonso. So i suspect kimi was holding back because he had to make the 2 stop work unlike alonso, massa, vettel etc.


Very little understanding of all the dynamics involved in the success, but still amazed by Lotus and Raikkonen achievement in Melbourne. Two stops while everyone else does three and top speed at the last lap, thats amazing.


But this has just been explained above?....


wow that's a great article. I remember an article about 18 months ago stating how much effort Mclaren had invested in understanding the tyres and last year they even had some ducts that could be adjusted mid-race. Looks like Renault are winning the battle though!

Patrik Lindqvist

I'm a somewhat causal F1 fan with limited technical insights but reading this was one of the best five minutes I've had for a long time, thx :)Thx!


I agree, great insight! Really shows how Kimi ran a smart race in combination with his car.


I work with a guy who is just starting to take an interest in F1 and I sent him a link to JA on F1 as its a complete site for all levels from the 1st time viewer to the all out obsessed (me). Love articles like this James, this has become my go-to site for my F1 fix.


Thanks, spread the word


I second Patrik's compliment. It is definitely articles like this that sets JAoF1 apart from alternative sources of F1 news.

The only problem is all this extra insight is in danger of changing me from being a casual fan to being a nerdy techy one!


The nerdy techy stuff is a major part of the fun once you get into it.

Come over to the dark side Pete...


Welcome to the World of the hooked! 🙂


Word in the pit lane is that a few teams have found a novel means of keeping their tyres within optimum operating temperatures during the race. Whilst factors like camber and toe-in affect the amount of energy put into the rubber, their parameters need to be adjusted to optimise overall cornering performance rather than tyre temperature per se. Hence the introduction of wheel-rims with a nominal mount of what might be termed 'lateral eccentricity'. By instigating a slight reciprocating movement parallel to the axis of rotation the tyres can be subject to subtle shear forces during straight-line motion thus maintaining tyre temperatures over and above those generated by an otherwise well-balanced car. As concentricity is maintained in the plane of rotation no adverse effects are experienced by the driver.

Obviously, only teams which have historically struggled to maintain the minimum required temperatures have been able to make use of this strategy. The effect is enhanced when the harmonic sweet-spot is attained. Although the natural frequency of the tyre compound is markedly different to that of the induced oscillation, under certain conditions the latter achieves an integer multiple of the former and this bolsters the effect.

A simple and admittedly rather loose analogy regarding this sweet-spot can be found in those old western movies where the spokes on the wagon-wheels appear to slow down and then become motionless whilst the stage-coach is being chased by indigenous pre-Americans determined to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. That is:-

(# of spokes passing given point on wheel)/second = n x (film frame-rate).

Where n is an integer or reciprocal thereof. Ergo, order emerges out of chaos.

Although the FIA strictly regulates rim specifications apparently the clause governing so-called 'out-of-true' tolerances is flexible and individual teams are at liberty to arrange custom designs with their suppliers.


Is this an early April fools' day joke?


Another nugget from you!

Damn! You've got to give it to the brains in F1.


Ergo you have posted something that no one understands.


sorry, I'm being facetious. What you have written does make sense, and thank you for posting, but it would be much easier to digest if you simplified your language or at least explained the technical jargon as you went.


So wobbly front wheels maintain their temps better, is what you mean.


Yes, in a sense 'wobbly' fits the bill - but probably best reserved for describing failed artefacts on celebrity cooking shows or those sites where even scant clothing seems to be in short supply.

I prefer 'micro-oscillation' - more long-winded but in keeping with my writing style.


the language, English; and quite descriptive.

Great comment Innes.


It all makes sense now!

Remember those occasional botched pit-stops in 2012 when the 'wrong' tyres were brought out and a mad scramble ensued to fetch the 'right' ones?

Was, in fact, a case of RIGHT tyres mounted on WRONG rims.


Great comment to a great article.

Grayzee (Australia)

Excellent stuff! Thanks, James. That's why I keep coming to this website. No one else can provide insights like this. Keep it up! Thanks again.


Tyres, tyres, tyres, tyres.

Can we talk about racing and drivers going for it all the time instead of cruising to a delta, the pinnacle of motorsport, you know F1?

People saying "yeah well, tyres were always an important part". Tyres never dominated F1 this much, and you know it. Every preview of a race is now more about tyres than anything else. Same for race commentary and the review of a brace, it's always tyres, tyres, tyres.

I just watched some clips of 2005 and the way those cars fly over the curbs and move around while the driver pushes them makes them look like cars from a much higher formula than the current F1 cars.

But F1 and its audience seems to have chosen American Wrestling style fakery (DRS, gummy tyres, KERS) to real wrestling because "hey, more overtakes, lol".


As Spinodontosaurus says, 2005 had some of the most boring races in recent memory. As a season, it was interesting, but the racing was terrible! I don't miss it.


Yeah, those races from the late '90's and early 00's sure make me nostalgic.

"My heart is still pounding! Can you believe there were actually TWO OVERTAKES during that race?! It's a record!"


Scream it from the rooftops! F1 is becoming a parody.

At least lets have two tyre manufacturers. If one wishes to provide joke wheels, the other can provide fit for purpose ones. Guess who every team would flock to.

Racing is about going fastest.



2 tyre manufacturers would be a disaster. Then we'd be back to one team getting special, very expensive rubber that not even the other customers of the same tyre manufacturer could get hold of, making the race series a boring processional joke - e.g. the Schumacher Ferrari years.

One tyre manufacture, mandated to produce decent, non-degrading rubber, with minimum 2 mandatory pitstops every race would get us back to real racing with the most skilful drivers winning.


In the Schumacher years, the teams were allowed to choose either Bridgestone or Michellin. I recall teams like Jordan running on Bridgestone alongside Ferrari. The teams were free to choose the tyre that suited their car better.


Sorry, no we can't. No pinnacles here.

The pinnacle of motorsport these days is LMP1.

F1 is the pinnacle of spending insane dollars on microscopic 200 mph aero tweaks.


LMP1 are quick, very quick, but are outpaced by GP2 front runners, never mind F1.

Christos Pallis

I'm a huge F1 fan and I feel that I must agree with your view. I'm happy about KERS on the whole but DRS and TYERS is becoming a mute point.

I'll not go into DRS because the real topic here is TYRES. The fact that they are so temprimental as well as degrade so quickly does cause a problem. Yes we have overtaking but when I see it now I can't help but think "that's because his tyres are shot" or "they have made that DRS zone too long" it's almost never because "that was an amazing peice of driving". The effect of this has been to dilute the quality of overtaking not simply create more of it.

I also feel it doesn't promote differentiation between good and great drivers. Ok so Hamilton is super fast, he can drive a car maybe a tenth or two quicker than Button can BUT given the response the tyres have to those circumstances he wouldn't benefit from doing that so he drives within himself. Drivers like Button who maybe can't extract that extra tenth or two are now competing on a level with those that can because of the limiting factor of the tyre.

This all takes something away from F1 for me but the flip side of that is F1 is a business and casual fans like all of this, that brings in more revenue so guess what... We are stuck with it


What you say about Button and Hamilton is wrong. I like Button, he is a damn good racing driver but Hamilton has blown him to bits regardless of tyres.

Button has looked better than he is against Hamilton because Hamilton binned it a few times and had failures. You'll find that in practically all of those races he was faster than Button. Even Button's so called greatest win in Canada... Hamilton was quite a bit faster than Button and would've beat him had they not collided.

Hamilton is fine with the tyres.. Being a great driver is about being able to extract the maximum out of what you got.

Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel, Rosberg and Hulkenburg are in my opinion the very best and you'll find that they'll all get the best out of their cars irrespective of what they've got.


hamilton v button in canada .....don't I seem to remember that button had just overtaken hamilton when the collision happened ?

Christos Pallis

I agree with your view. The point I was trying to make earlier is that the great drivers will always get the best out of what they have but having less fickle tyres I believe they would have a greater margin of performance over the good drivers. Hamilton did indeed master the tyres better than Button, he learned to get them in the zone, baby them when nessassary and nail it when he needed to. BUT, if the tyres could take more punishment Hamilton could release his relentless pace and he'd show up lesser drivers even more. The limit of the tyres limits his ability to grow a greater margin than he currently does.

I also agree on your top driver ratings, Vettel, Alonso, Kimi, Hulkenburg they are all great and/or potentially great drivers, they have proved they are not simply good!


Hopefully other drivers will learn from this, and be 'patient' themselves.

Then the whole field can just be 'patient'.


Kimi: 'This was the easiest race of my life'...

At no point did he actually push/race, and he won.

He's now the MOST PATIENT driver in F1.


You're just following the wrong series. Try GP2 or any of the one make categories. F1 is about the engineering challenge as much as it is the driving.

It will probably get worse for you next year when we have to analyse why Ferrari's engine is so much faster than Mercedes.



whilst i agree that we should be talking about 'racing', you must realise that the tyre is also the FIAs easiet control measure for limiting speed and, to a degree, creating a level playing field.

If the teams were to use state of the art, stickiest of sticky tyres, then the drivers would probably need G-suits.

Personally, I feel that the real change needs to come in aero - remove or reduce the importance of aero and then everything else will fall into place. Racing should be a balance of mechanical grip, engine power, aero and driver ability - at the moment aero is the top heavy influencing factor.

As for Lotus - the do have a heritage of thinking outside of the box and coming up with good solutions that make sense for their budget.


Your comments on sticky tyres, while basically true, misses a significant point. If Pirelli would provide tyres with the same grip levels as those currently on offer, but did not overheat and die within a couple of laps at maximum adhesion, then the drivers would be able to actually race, rather than just tool around at 85%.

If you want to encourage pitstops, require 2 mandatory stops within a pit window starting 20% into the race and ending 80% of scheduled race distance. I'm getting tired (no pun intended) of these marble-shedding monstrosities dominating the race, or should I say regularity rally?

If you want to encourage overtaking, increase KERS maximum boost (as they're doing next year) to a level greater than can be recovered from braking within a single lap, and reduce the amount of allowable wing.


Yes, whilst I am not saying the tyres are perfect (and thus the mgmt of race tactics) but my understanding is that the tyres are suffering the degradation more acutely on cars with higher levels of downforce e.g. Redbull. In my mind its all a balance at the moment it's too far out of kilter.

And besides its still part of the engineering challenge. In the same way that harnessing a good co-ander effect is. If lotus are able to design and set a car up to go one stop less than others in a race, then clearly the rest of the field have failed to master that challenge.


I agree with this. Have been saying it for ages.

I know we need aero etc, but seriously we don't need to so much that the F1 car can drive updide down at 60kmh for example.

I'd love to see engine manufactures being allowed to produce engine that produce 900+ hp (made up by a combination of a traditional combustion engine plus some form of green energy if its a must). Put grippyer tyres on. Smaller fuel tanks so the cars run lighter and refueling returns. and way less aero, reduce the maximum wing sizes to those of the 1980's again and let teams design fancy stuff with that (I'm sure they'll still get great results out of the wings, but no where near where we are now or even in the 90's).

Be great to driver's just absolutely wrestling their cars around these modern tracks (and the old ones) with the ultimate in speed (not going slower each year, or even at the same lap time as the last 4 years...) with no traction aids, no overly dominant aero aids, and running light.

Would just be fantastic.!


I agree, on why the tyres are being used the way they are, but also on it being a bit misguided and aero needing a shake-up. While I like the whole development race side of things, I think the weight of things needs to be pushed a little more back towards driver skill. Whether a driver has a chance at the WDC, or even just scoring some points depends largely now on whether the team have developed a car that is both fast and kind to its tyres. Of course having the fastest car has always been a big part of it, and certainly the driver still needs the skill to drive it into the points. But an equal driver in tyre-killing machinery doesn't stand a chance no matter how they try to drive the car differently.

I'd also like to see an aero change that makes it easier to follow cars in front. At the moment we too often see drivers closing the gap on a guy in front, only to get stuck behind, and then because they're stuck behind and the car slides around more, the tyres drop off and they're doubly stuck there.

I remember one of the things Pirelli mentioned about this year's compounds was that they improve stability under braking. Why? Braking zones in general are a big overtaking opportunity. If anything I'd think you'd want less stability so the drivers with better brake and car control can make use of those abilities on track. Drop the crazy aero a bit and you also lengthen the braking zones, opening up more opportunities. Drop the crazy high deg tyres and maybe the drivers will have some more opportunities to run off the line to make overtakes, instead of being stuck to just one rubbered in rubbish-free racing line that they can't stray from.

It's not like it would kill off the development side of F1. The teams would still be pushing to have the best aero package, the best tyre/heat management, etc. But I'd like to see driver skill carrying more weight, as well as promoting some more interesting and varied on track action.


Good points. If we want regular tires, let's have regular cars with no wings and other aero items.


Very well put. The thing that actually dominates F1 and stops the over taking is aerodynamics.. Aero also takes away much of the driver skill element.. Clearly they're still the best in the world and they'd all be damn quick in anything but the difference between drivers would be much bigger in cars with less aero.

If we have awesome durable tyres, crazy aero and the best drivers in the world there is no overtaking at all simply because they are absolutely flat out and can't get within a second of eachother without understeering off the track.

With all that in mind it makes sense to have crazy tyres, DRS and KERS.

I'd prefer if they gave them stickier tyres and less aero though... 1989 aero would do nicely...


I don't completely agree on the skill level aspect. The greater cornering speeds, shorter braking distances etc, make things more challenging - Sebastien Bourdais was regarded as behind the car, even though he excelled in a ChampCar, a series with less downforce and more power.

A greater power to grip ratio will mean that there are more opportunities for driver errors on the exit of corners, but it is the braking areas in getting to the apex where the best drivers make time over the rest of us. The slower the car, the more time a driver has to get things right, the easier it is. Look at the fitness levels that the current drivers need to maintain versus the drivers in the 1950s and earlier.


In 2005, the only action you ever saw was the cars flying over kerbs.


I watched the 1996 season recently. It took them about 5 races before tyres were even mentioned. And even then it was only briefly. And the tyres in question had only been worn out because the drivers were 100% on it lap after lap after lap....



(Although JA can only report on the facts as they stand).


drivers like '78 champ mario andretti had experience running asymetric geometries on champ cars on ovals.

he brought that knowledge to f1.


they actually set them up to turn left/right depending and the driver is required to steer straight!!


Great insight, never knew about these things before reading your site!


What can I say, a great article!


Thanks for that James it explains partly why Kimi as so comfortable in the braking zones where there's a lot of time to be had. I think those Lotus engineers will be hunted down by the big teams because they seem to be getting the car just right on Sundays for 2 years now:

The other thing is Raikkonens brilliant driving , I think he learned last year the effect on tyres of shadowing or chasing down the car ahead - probably even more so than the earlier part of his career.

I'm certainly no fan of having tyre engineered racing but it just goes to show the truly gifted racers know how to get the most out of them.

unF1nnished business



great article james. My friends wonder why I watch F1 so much. I tell them read a few websites like and you will understand why.

People complained about aero dominating a few years ago. Now people are complaining about tyres dominating. This is happening because somebody has found an advantage using tyres. Earlier somebody found an advantage using aero. Once tyre usage is optimised by all, somebody will find an advantage using something else. People will then complain about that something else.

I think this is great stuff that Lotus has found. F1 is about the package and tyres are very much part of it. Just as much as the aero, driver, engines etc.


Good stuff Srinivas


You think it would be simple for teams to have some kind of temperature map for tyres working range/track temperature and ambient temp. Depending on the last two you could change the first to exactly the correct operating window.

Perhaps this is what lotus are doing by controlling the brake temp soak?

unF1nnished business

Interesting read!

James I have to ask, do teams ever get upset with your exposure on technical insights?


I've not had any heat from anyone, if that's what you mean!

It's all a game. There are some very good people like Giorgio Piola, Gary Anderson, Mark Hughes etc here at the races, all looking to get technical insights

unF1nnished business

Yes the heat! lol.

I seem to recall Piola exposing Lotus' height adjuster in early 2012...soon afterwards it was made illegal.


Great article! The Hungarian GP last year had somewhat similar elements to it as well, at least as far as Kimi's driving goes. During the middle stint, he was deliberately taking it easier (to the degree of his team wondering if everything was ok), only to blast a number of fastest laps when others went to pits to leapfrog a number of cars, eventually finishing 2nd. He seems to know when to push and when to wait.


I agree with your Hungary observations, but this time his "taking it easy' times matches the times his peers who are not taking it easy. In Hungary last year its was preservation = speed, this time he had so many factors against this but somehow he was able to be equal or faster 80% in his stints if he wanted to, and with older tires. It was a matter of speed in demand, I've observed in the Australian race with sector times and clean air/traffic factors and tire age.. he was able to reply when he needs to. He was the only diver to go quick or quicker at the end of its tire life like it was in the Goodyear vs. Bridestone vs. Michelin designed to last against the Pirellis designed to do otherwise. Unexpected in a way but.. Pretty much like in 2005 season with one tire races, one set of tires per race. I think the factor is 75% in his driving style which is quite uncommon i heard. I read somewhere, Newey described Kimi's driving style as to maximising the mathematical model known as the "the traction eclipse - friction circle - trading retardation against cornering load". He said Kimi was a master at it. Managing understeer (as he mentioned with his fronts last weeekned)to manage the mass dynamics of the car. An example he showed in the 05 Monaco Grand Prix, he was down a pit stop (SC) but he was able to lap faster at will and more to win the race with 50% more fuel load. He qualified pole(10 place penalty) in Monza 05, one stop less fuel (tire failed though but with amazing race speed). Later that year Alonso(I'm a huge fan) mention for the first time in Suzuka he said he felt faster than Kimi, and yes at sprints(like Australia 2013)he could be a few laps faster during the race but not as fast and long as Kimi did. And ultimately before his final stint in traffic(web/but)Kimi was faster and at the end and in ultimate lap speed. Hopefully Lotus could give him a car like the McLaren MP4-20 or the F2007.


Sorry i meant one stop more fuel for a one stop strategy in Monza 05 but still on pole. Not much luck in the race though. Cheers James.


I think every one is making too bigger deal about Red Bulls qualifying speed.

Yes they probly are the fastest in qualy but as Lewis Hamilton said they were the last cars out on a drying track.

I really dont think Red Bull as any where as fast as ppl are making them out to be.

Webber with his "better" setup inished 6th in OZ thats after the fact that Rosberg retired.

That's hardly blinding speed is it?

Red bulls excuse that the weather caught them out is a load of crap!

it was cold and rainy all weekend. What did they suddenly expect it to be 40 degrees on Sunday?

You didnt need to be a climatologist and a satellite

to workout the weather was going to be pretty much the same on sunday as it was the rest of the weekend.

anyone with a smartphone and a weather app could have told it what the weather was.


Red Bull were not the only team caught out by the weather. Merc were too, thats why they ran a lot of front and rear wing; they were set for wet running, but it didn't rain. I don't know of many satellite equipped climatologists that can provide a brave prediction of Melbournes weather. It is just so unpredictable.

As for Webber, more than anything else, his race was fouled by a faulty ECU (as well as the team being caught out by the weather).


Judging by the 2 previous days common sense told u what the weather was going to be like. The weather was exactly the same from friday to sunday so I still dont get there point.

As for Webber his telemetry was exactly that a telemetry issue all that happend was the team didnt know what was happening with his car but it had no bearing on the performance of his car.

And his Kers issues only lasted the first 20 laps.

as Mclaren said the issue was with the receiving equipment in the pits.

Bottom line is everyone had the same weather and the same tires and Red Bull whatever there excuse they werent fast enough on race day.

its not like there were 2 clouds hanging over the Red Bulls following them around the track.

But anyways in a few hours we will find out just how good they are.


The simple reason why super computers do weather forcasting is that common sense can't.

As for Webbers ECU problems, McLaren has already apologised for ruining his race.

You seem assume that telemetry is of minor importance in F1. You couldn't be more wrong. In modern F1, telemetry issues are of fundamental importance; like with fighter aircraft, all design processes, strategy etc are driven by supercomputers. To burtress this, at every race, the cars transmit about 1.3 terrabytes of data. Thats enough to completely exhaust the hard disk capacities of 3 average home PC's.

F1 is way, way more than some greasy guys changing oil and pumping up tyres. Its a sport, but its not football.


Thanks James for answering my question with a awesome technical insight.


Kind of sad... let see, team radio to Hamilton.

Hey Ham... if you are chasing a car, please stay clear at least one second, otherwise, you will cook your tires....

Hamilton radio:.... If I keep pushing the tires they will not last.

Team radio: aaah, we understand that, so please keep on driving around and don't do something wild, remember the tires.

Ham: What!!! I don't get it...

Team: Yes, DRIVE LIKE A GRANDMA. Confirm that please, over.


OMG did I ever laugh - thank you, thank you


Sadly that's gonna be our season this year, again.

Nursing those things to the finish line.....

Guess the drivers should actually be nurses not racers.


James - what tools are available to the drivers to make changes to the car during the race via steering wheel. I believe previous years they were given some tools but was not utilized much.


Regarding the drum set up, doesn't it suggest that on warmer temperatures the degradation on the lotus will be lesser than red bull's?


great article, thank you for giving these useful informations !


Great article.


I think a correction in terminology is in order here. A "brake drum", at least in the U.S., has referred to the type of brakes that existed prior to the advent of disc brakes. I would think that a more appropriate term would be "disc enclosure".

What I'm sensing here is whether or not there is a full, or partial, cylindrical covering around the circumference of the brake disc that would trap a certain amount of heat in the disc which would then get transferred to the wheel via its contact with the disc hub.

It would seem to me that the less the disc is enclosed that less heat would get transferred to the wheel/tire due to the cooling effect from more airflow. Then, again, I guess the opposite could be true depending on how tightly packaged things were.


I'm pretty sure the primary purpose of the "brake drum" is an aerodynamic aid - rather than having air being whipped up inside the wheels, a shroud is put as close as possible to the wheel to calm the flow. In some cases it also covers the disc. That might give you an idea for the name - whatever the opposite of a turbine is.


Thanks for this, great insight. It now makes sense to me that the Lotus often appears with very blackened, brake dust coated wheels by pitstop time (like all cars used to), because their disc is only partially enclosed. In contrast, the wheels on the Redbull still appear very clean, no matter how long they run.

With regards to the Lotus, I'm still intrigued to find out about an issue one of your readers referred to in an earlier post. There were more sparks striking off the rear skids on this car at Albert Park than I've seen for a long time. It would appear they are running very low ride height at the back, contrary to the modern trend initiated by Redbull. What is the philosophy here?


Great article James love this site


Thanks James, highly fascinating insight.

Lotus have produced an absolute peach of a car this year. To think that Kimi stopped right in line with the 3-stoppers at the end of his 1st stint but then managed to stretch out his tyres so that his last set were in better condition at the end of the race than those 3-stoppers must bode well for his chances this season.

The only thing missing from Kimi's point of view is that he has never managed to reproduce his 1-lap pace since his return. I remember the qualifying pace he had at McLaren was other-worldly.


I'm so bored of reading about "tyre management". It's sad that at the so called "pinnacle" of Motorsport the drivers, the cars, the engineers are all being constrained by the tyres. Your never going to hear the likes of schumachers 60 qualifying laps again because it simply isn't possible! I dont think in an era when we have so many champions and great drivers and teams we should be restricting them with gimmicky tyres. This session would have been perfect with regulations remaining largely the same aerodynamically the cars would be pretty close and the RACING would have been brilliant! With the tyres being so peaky the chances of a genuine driver to driver battle are going to be a lot less than most fans would like. Instead one of the cars tyres will go off and all credibility is going to the team with the best tyre management!

Tornillo Amarillo

Kimi about Malaysia:

"It’s not really any special place... I don’t enjoy the heat and the humidity of the place..."

But he added it's a nice circuit...


Great article!

Interesting the difference here. I presume that as the season goes on Red Bull will better understand the tyres and thus it will be harder for Lotus to maintain this advantage?


More of this!!! I love this kind of article, thank you James.

Too much in the TV coverage, all we here about is the leading 3-4 stories all weekend - aero, tyres, drivers, weather. It can be repetitive for F1 tragics like me.

This kind of detail shows the true depth of engineering and inspiration behind F1 today.


Hi James,

Thanks for the great insight ... easy to read, and even a layman like me can understand .



So if its primarily the drum setup, wouldn't it be easy for other teams to copy what Lotus is doing? Or am I missing something?


I love the way Raikkonen race in Melbourne. It is so typical of him to score the fastest lap of every race (if possible).

The top three are all serious contenders for the WDC. I hope to see a three way rivalry.

However, I am not interested in another year of 7 or more races with 7 or more winners.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James - Kimi's fastest lap puzzles me. The teams spent the last few months playing their cards very close to the chest with regards to their true pace. What would be the advantage of showing the other teams the true gap in performance? That would just highlight how much better they have to get. It would be better (especially after one race!) to keep a bit of performance up our sleave. In F1, few of the leading teams would be saying "oh Lotus is too far ahead to bother improving". These teams are too experienced and motorvated to given in to any supposed psychological benefit of Lotus' actions.


Hi James,

I found the implied logic of this article interesting. After thinking about this for a bit, my conclusion is that with the cool temperatures the Red Bull had the rear tyres reach operating temperature notably before the front tyres. The sheer downforce level of the Red Bull and the suspension geometry choices that lead to one-lap performance and tyre warm up mean that if Red Bull went down the Lotus path it would most likely overheat its front tyres over a stint, which is no help even though the rear tyres are also overheating.




Brilliant James! Keep it coming!

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