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Archive for May, 2013

DRS downfall of Formula 1?

The current state of Formula 1 has become somewhat questionable in recent years. The introduced of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), Drag Reduction System (DRS) and new Pirelli tyres have all created a recipe that appear to be leaving the ‘ die-hard fan’ with a sour taste in their mouths.

 

The sport has gone through a series of shake ups throughout the 2000’s. One of the main reasons was to stop the Schumacher/Ferrari era of dominance but other factors started to become apparent to the sport in terms of the show. Never has Formula 1 focussed on ‘the show’ as it has done recently.

Bridgestone were masterful with Ferrari and Schumacher, they were good across the board as a single make manufacturer, but it was not enough. Bridgestone were not interested in making high degradable tyres to spice up the racing. The Japanese manufacturer sells to a market to appealing to every day drivers and wants to showcase the tyres at the highest level.

Step up Pirelli. The Italian tyre manufacturer gained the contract in 2011 and their brief was to have tyres that degraded quickly to make racing more interesting. Quite simply put this was an intriguing move after having near bullet proof Bridgestone’s for so many years.

 

2011 was already shaping up to be a pivotal year but more was to come, welcome Drag Reduction System. A system devised to create low drag of cars in a straight line by flipping the rear wing main plate to allow easier over taking. Detection zones were created so it did not become “too easy” to use.

Finally we have KERS. The Kinetic Energy Recovery System was introduced two years prior to DRS and Pirelli tyres. It is a system designed to recover the kinetic energy that is present in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process. It stores that energy and converts it into power that can be called upon to boost acceleration. “Currently the regulations permit the systems to convey a maximum of 60kw (approximately 80bhp), while the storage capacity is limited to 400 kilojoules. This means that the 80bhp is available for anything up to 6.67s per laps, which can be released either all in one go, or at different points around the circuit. Lap time benefits range from approximately 0.1 to 0.4s.”

 

In the space of two years Formula 1 saw three fundamental additions introduced, not to mention the complete redesign of the aerodynamics of the cars. So where does that leave us on the weekend of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix around Circuit de Catalunya? Personally, I see a false way of overtaking, tyres are that unreliable and a system hardly ever mentioned up and down the paddock.

KERS I have no issue with. It is a system that is under heavy development and we are now starting to see be introduced in to road cars and could lead to even greater technology. The potential of KERS is broad and unknown but exciting.

My biggest issue is DRS. Most people will say tyres due to the nature of the design and compound. I believe Pirelli are fighting a losing battle though. They have to create tyres for racing but when the racing comes when a small slot gap in the rear wing opens and the job is done, no tyres are even required.

The art of defending is a dying art form. It is near enough impossible to defend from DRS. Not only that but we are seeing some highly dangerous late manoeuvres to defend the perusing car coming at a much faster speed. Drivers being pinned up against the pit wall in an attempt to defend their position in the following corner. Even if completed, occasionally we are seeing a second detection zone straight after and the hunted becomes the hunter.

Formula 1 has done too much, too fast. They brought three new things in to spice up the racing all at the same time. As it stands currently, thanks to the nature of the tyres drivers do actually have to preserve them and engineers have the challenge of making a car light on its tyres. Those two combined are enough of a challenge. Without DRS drivers could still get close and try to overtake. A Ferrari may burn through tyres faster than a Lotus and we could see Fernando Alonso properly defending a position from Kimi Raikkonen. Give the driving back to the drivers, force the issue, allow them to attack and defend.

DRS is the downfall of Formula 1 for me. Pirelli are fighting a losing battle because everyone only looks at the tyres. The company has done well to adapt to every situation thrown their way. It is has reached a point now where Formula 1 cannot identify as entertainment or a sport. Blending the lines needs to happen soon.

With a completely brand new set of regulations coming for 2014, Formula 1 could be about to enter one of its bleakest periods…

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Update and Livestream of the WEC 6 hours of Spa!

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Sorry for the recent inactivity folks. I have been on the move and my colleague has been quite busy lately. We haven’t forgot you and we are making the appropriate preparations to revamp this site and the podcast! In the meantime you absolutely can not miss the racing action going on this weekend whether it be the World Touring Car Championship, World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, DTM, etc!

Many of these races will be available for viewing online after the race is done airing live.  However, the WEC have a livestream going on for the 6 hours of Spa! A race that is considered the final proving ground for the teams and drivers prior to the years biggest event at the 24 hours of LeMans!

Commentary by the fantastic team over at Radio LeMans

The livestream can be found here.