Sunday 25 March 2012

Surprise Win for Alonso in Malaysia

Ferrari managed to beat the odds to win the second race of the season. McLaren had some bad pitstops with Lewis Hamilton which put him third overall whilst team-mate Button finished fourteenth after a lost front wing and four pitstops.

Rain dominated the race and as the cars started on intermediate tyres it was clear that the rain was falling much heavier Perez was one of the first to stop for full wets which put him in contention after the race was stopped due to the weather. Perez was challenging for the lead as Alonso's car seemed to be fading. However, a trip of the kerb meant that Perez had to settle for a brilliant second place and Sauber's highest finish since parting company with BMW. The Ferrari's appeared to be much better in these conditions, but not Merecedes who were slipping backwards during the race. Schumacher got tagged on the first lap which put pay to a competitive afternoon, but Rosberg also suffered, slipping backwards.

Technical Update
Both Williams and Sauber have been working on brake ducts. Most teams have large ducts on the front to pull in air into the brakes to assist in cooling as shown on the picture below. However Sauber and Williams have closed up the gap and used a vertical fin to provide more aero stability. Williams have even used the fin to mount a small winglet to aid downforce. Both teams show early promise so far this year.

Old Duct configuration on 2010 Williams

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Malaysia Preview

Lotus and Red Bull have sought clarification from the FIA on the status of the Mercedes rear wing Aero system. This has two purposes. One, it means there will be clarity about the interpretation of the rules and also the formal determination will contain a lot of technical detail which will allow Red Bull and Lotus to begin to build and test similar systems. The truth is that nobody knows exactly what the system is. There has been a lot of speculation and even official sources have come up with two versions. So we will have to wait for the verdict, but what is all the fuss about?

Mercedes Rear Wing showing location of duct under DRS activated Flap

The underside of the F1 car has been a battlefield for many years. First. It was skirts and the so called ground effect cars that glued themselves to the track. Powered by turbo breathing engines they produced the holly grail of speed and good handling
Skirts and turbos were outlawed and since then there have been many changes of the rules to keep the speed down which has been countered by tweaks by the teams to aid the airflow under the car. For those not familiar with the underside of the car there is a large wooden plank which is there to manage the ride height. looking under the car at the front there are a large array of vanes and fins to guide the air smoothly down the length of the car. This is why a trip across the grass can be so costly. lost or broken parts can mean all the difference these days.

Underside of 2010 Williams with Front Wing Removed

Saturday 17 March 2012

Button Wins in Austrailia

Button found a gap into turn one off the line to seal his fait. Hamilton looked set for second until Vettel managed to get in front as a result of a pit stop after the safety car was deployed. Red Bull are still right up there with a second and forth place finish, but Mercedes were unable to convert their good qualifing position into a decent result because of gearbox problems which put Schumacher out from third. Ferrari did better than expected with Alonso finishing a creditable fifth. Sauber proved that if you keep pushing and get both cars in the. Points, you can beat the big teams. Sixth and eighth warmth them third place in the team title ahead of their engine supplier Ferrari. The dominant teams to look out for next week are Mercedes lotus and Williams, who all failed to deliver a finish for both cars, and of them only Mercedes suffered a mechanical failure.

Australia Qualifying

The first F1 qualifying session of 2012 got underway in dramatic fashion as Alonso spun out and qualified twelfth, whilst Massa qualified a lowly sixteenth. Clearly Ferrari are not sandbagging, and they have some serious issue to deal with before the next race.
Meanwhile Hamilton put in a blistering first lap in Q3 to nail the top spot and that enough to secure the top spot with team-mate Button in second followed by Romain Grosjean in the lotus Renault.

Michael Schumacher has returned to the top in a Mercedes which is causing controversy because of a system that harvests air from the rear spoiler and directs it to the front of the car to aid breaking. Sounds all very strange and we can’t wait to understand how this is achieved. For now other teams are asking the FIA to take a fresh look at the system which they feel contravenes article 3.18 of the technical regulations which outlaws the use of a driver operated system that alters the airflow. Mercedes maintain this system is in someway linked to the DRS and therefore not a separate system. Mclaren thing the system is legal which means either they are confident that they have a much better car....or they are working on a similar system!

See Martin Whitmarsh’s comments here:

In the run up to the Malaysian Grand Prix we will be looking under the cars to try and understand what is going on in this complex area of aerodynamics.

No mention of Red bull in this piece yet. They are further down the grid than expected,but they too have some interesting things going on at the rear.

Friday 16 March 2012

Austrailia Post Practice Report

First practice is out of the way and the first qualification session is closing in. This year we will be concentrating on the cars, Lifting the lid on the in season developments as they come on line.
It is easy to think that the cars have been built over the last winter, but the truth is most of the development has been started midway through last year or earlier. These days cars evolve and there has been talk over the winter that the teams will continue where they left off.
The story of race one will continue to be the exhausts. The rule changes to the defusers should limit the amount of additional downforce. However, Red Bull have introduced a lot of ducts around the back wheel area. Mclaren as mentioned earlier have gone high with their exhausts. Ferrari complain that they don't yet understand the car. They went for a more radical approach to the build as last years car was not fully competitive. Q3 will prove if they have been sandbagging.

See Practice one here:

Monday 5 March 2012

Almost there!

Less than a week to go until the first f1 race of the season and there is already drama in the pit lane as two teams failed to test their cars in pre season testing. The rest of the 2012 grid have been testing in Spain and there are signs that a lot of work has gone into design features at the back of the cars. The controversial blown defusers are outlawed in 2012 an the small print says that any areodinamic effect must be incidental. This as always is up for interpretation but the smart teams will have been working with the FIA technical people to avoid any risk of complaints from other teams.
As you would expect Red Bull have exhausts that remain low whilst Mclaren have gone higher which we presume may derive some down force from the rear wing. Mclaren have a similar configured nose to last year whilst most others have gone flat. All have had to amend the front end to meet new safety rules.