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Monday, 28 March 2011

Schumacher Retires

Well in a sense but not yet in another...

So much was promised in pre-season testing.

The Australian Grand Prix was to see a competitive Michael Schumacher racing wheel to wheel with Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Button.  Maybe Alonso - the man in Schumacher's old armchair - would also have seen a tussle with the great MSc as wing flaps and KERS were deployed and tyre degradation became a major issue.

However in the race, a Sauber finished with one tyre stop only, Vettel was in another league (without KERS) as he stormed to victory like a man who had forgotten his family were with him on his way to the beach.  There was little obvious tyre degradation.  Schumacher went out with a puncture and retired when his suspension became dangerous after being butted up the rear end.

Lewis Hamilton was in the best of moods after the race as he mixed surprise with elation that his car had suddenly been fixed after pre-season woes.  His second place was a pleasant surprise to him and his long-term buddies at McLaren.

So what was learned from the first race?  Pirelli need to work out why their tyres did not wear out; Sauber need to get their protractor out and see if the 100mm radius intended was actually built into their rear wing;  Renault are very quick - for the second race running Petrov finished ahead of Alonso picking up third in the process;  Mercedes need to get all their quick components working at once; Ferrari need some speed.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Vettel's Floating Wing

As Seb Vettel flew to pole position in qualifying today, his front wing seemed to be as mobile as last season from the on-board shots.

While no doubt the wing is legal, it appears that again the rise and fall between the straights and the braking zones was as impressive as that of a pro ballroom dancer.

Behind him the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton slotted in to complete the front row of the grid just short of 8 tenths behind Vettel.

After pre-season promise, Schumacher could do no better than 11th behind his team mate Rosberg in 7th.

Kobayashi was impressive in his Sauber in 9th.  Mark Webber split the two McLarens to come in third.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Australian Grand Prix

The top six cars were separated by 0.73 of a second in today's practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

The two McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton led the way from Alonso, Vettel, Webber and Schumacher.  Massa was 7th quickest.

Jenson Button has won the last two races in Australia and seems to be looking good for a third win.   However we will see whether Red Bull can pull out the extra margins when it counts again this year when qualifying starts tomorrow.

It is good to see McLaren being competitive after their testing problems.  Mercedes GP have continued their pre-season promise.

Practice informs us of little in relation to proper qualifying and still less the likely race outcome.  However, assuming both cars in each team were on similar setups then we are starting to see a pattern of who will be quick in each team in relation to his team mate.   Also despite good times for Williams, Sauber and Renault in testing it is still McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull who are making the pace.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Schumacher for Australia

Most people in the know are predicting Adrian Newey's latest air-bending design for Red Bull to dominate in the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

So just to be different we will stick our necks out and back Michael Schumacher to be at or near the front of the grid and win through Ross Brawn's strategy, Mercedes reliability and the intelligent use of tyres.

WMSC | New F1 Engines

From 2013 F1 engine capacity will be reduced from 2.4 litre V8s to 1.6 four cylinder.

There have been cries of complaint from several quarters that this will result in a sport bereft of engine noise and power.  A particular reason given is that the rpm limit will reduce from 18,000 rpm to 12,000.

However please listen to a 1.5 litre 4 cylinder engine limited to 12,500 rpm - the 1980s BMW F1.

Intelligent exhaust tuning and limit state engineering will ensure that the spectacle will not be lost.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Pirelli F1 2011

2011 F1 tyre supplier, Pirelli have revealed their colours for the new season.

There are to be six colours:-

Wet - Orange
Intermediate - Light Blue  
Supersoft - Red 
Soft - Yellow  
Medium - White
Hard - Silver.

At the first Grand Prix, Silver and Yellow tyres will be on view.

Pirelli's Motorsport Director stated in his press release,

"We are very excited by the prospect of returning to Formula One for the first time in 20 years, and we are aiming to be a proactive and colourful parter in Formula One."

Pirelli's strategy is to make the differences between prime and option tyres more pronounced.  They will do this by providing a step of at least one compound between the tyres nominated for each race.

The most intelligent users of tyres will come to the fore - in recent years this proved to be Jenson Button.  
Brawn and Schumacher also have solid history to prove they can make the most of tyre stops and put in race determining times as tyres come to the edge of their wear limits.

F1 2011 | One Week to Go Go Go!

The new F1 Season is about to start.  Dont we know it!

Adrian Newey is the acknowledged master designer in the F1 paddock.  This year he will be seen to have produced yet another winning design for his current team Red Bull.

Equally however, when it comes to strategy, Ross Brawn is the acknowledged master.  With more pitstops for tyre changes, strategy will come to the fore.  Added to this Michael Schumacher was fastest in the pre-season tests in Barcelona.  So this year there will be challenges for the podium not only from Red Bull but from Mercedes GP who Schumacher elected to join when he chose to come out of retirement. 

To add to the mix, Renault have an innovative forward-facing exhaust to drive blown air over the rear diffuser in an effort to reclaim some of the downforce lost following the new regulations which have outlawed double diffusers.  Nick Heidfeld is standing in for the injured Robert Kubica who continues his recovery from a serious rallying accident during the closed season.  He has adapted to the new car very quickly.

Ferrari have been the most reliable outfit in pre-season testing and have two quick drivers including ex-world champion Fernando Alonso who narrowly missed out on the world championship last year to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Following the cancellation of the GP in Bahrain, the season starts next weekend in Australia.  The season promises to be more enthralling than ever.

Now McLaren are being vocal to those who have been ruling them out based on pre-season performance.  Martin Whitmarsh has explained that due to their policy of pushing innovations to the limits this has resulted in delays and some component failure.  He wants the team to be viewed as a serious threat from race 1.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Schumacher Fastest | Mercedes GP

1:21.249 !

That is the new benchmark set by Michael Schumacher in Barcelona testing today.

Is Red Bull's dominance still a done deal?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

F1 Testing Times | Barcelona

On day two in Barcelona yesterday, Sebastian Vettel set a seemingly unassailable time in his Red Bull of 1:21.865 - a full second quicker that Hamilton.

Most voices were saying hastily that Red Bull will be radically faster than the rest of the field this year with the possible exception of Ferrari.

However today new boy Sergio Perez in his Sauber Ferrari set a time of 1:21.761

He was followed by Felipe Massa with 1:22.092 and Mark Webber with 1:22.466.

With differing tyres and fuel loads and some teams concentrating on pace over long stints, times can still be misleading.  However Vettel's 'unmovable benchmark' has quickly been eclipsed by a rookie in a Sauber so things may be more open than appeared to be the case.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Pirelli Tyres - Smooth is Quick

Lewis Hamilton has been bemoaning the new Pirelli tyres and other rule changes, saying that they have made the cars slow and 'boring'.

He asserts that tyre saving will be the most significant aspect of race craft this year.

If this is the case then the smooth drivers will benefit.  Jenson Button is renowned for his smooth driving style and ability to make intelligent use of tyres and tyre choices.

Jackie Stewart always used to repeat the expression that smooth is quick.  Jim Clark and Stirling Moss had that style too.

Remember too the many races where Michael Schumacher was driving in third or fourth spot when following a spate of pit stops he came out in front.  Ross Brawn's strategy was often given the credit along with Schumacher's ability to put in two or three hot laps preceding the tyre stop.  Maybe the Brawn/Schumacher combination reunited since last year with Mercedes will come into its own again this year.