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Posts Tagged ‘raikkonen’

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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Battle of the Strategies

April 14, 2013 Leave a comment

After a three week gap and the dust settling over the Red Bull saga, the Formula 1 circus rolled in to the Jiading circuit in Shanghai, China. After the practice sessions it was evident to see that the Lotus and Ferrari’s were quick on the long run pace. Tyre degradation was the biggest concern though as the soft compound was degrading at such a high rate.

Qualifying was uninspiring due to the teams conserving tyres for the race. Only seven drivers setting Q3 times with Button, Vettel and Hulkenburg settling for slow times or no times to optimize strategy on the Medium compound tyres. Lewis Hamilton made the most of the soft tyres and taking pole position.

As the five lights dropped the Mercedes of Hamilton had a good jump and pulled away from second position Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus who in turn was swamped by both Ferrari’s of Alonso and Massa. A clean start for the rest of the field behind as Kimi settled in to fourth position.

Fernando Alonso wanted to make an early impression and lay down a marker and on lap three with DRS enabled swept around the outside of Hamilton in to turn one and with a great run out of the final corner, Massa took second spot off Hamilton going in to turn one. The soft tyres, as predicted, dropped away after just six laps. Mercedes gambled and stacked their cars on pit entry, but thanks to some slick pit work Hamilton had a quick stop and Rosberg was serviced in quick sharp time also. Ferrari opted not to stop both cars and Massa lost out massively by staying out one lap longer and dropped to fifth and never recovered from that position.

With thanks to © Getty Images and ESPN

Mark Webber started from pit lane after his car stopped out on track in qualifying without fuel due to a fuel rig bowser error meant that his car was not carrying the required fuel sample putting him to the back of the grid. Red Bull decided to start the Australian from pit lane to break parc fermé and allow for setup changes. This all came undone on lap fourteen when Webber tried to pass the sister team car of Vergne in to turn six but the door was firmly slammed in front of him and it damaged the front wing. After his stop there was an issue with the rear left wheel at it popped off in turn fourteen forcing him to retire from that race.

Story of the opening part of the race was how Hulkenburg was able to get past both Button and Vettel and had great pace in front of Vettel. They pitted on the same lap for new medium tyres but a slow stop for Sauber allowed Vettel through. Sauber on the second stop switched the soft compound but left Nico out for too long and his race pace fell away and dropped backwards through the field.

Due to the strategic warfare playing out it allowed for plenty of overtaking but the DRS zones were too powerful and allowed for relative easy overtakes unless you are Kimi Raikkonen. The Lotus with clearly more grip tried to go to the outside of turns four and five to negotiate a slower Perez at the time but was pushed way out on the grass and speared in to the back of the McLaren damaging the front wing. The Iceman opted not to pit and to battle on, to his credit considering the understeer he still maintained great pace.

If it was not for that damage it would have been likely that Kimi could have made an impression on Fernando Alonso who at this point was romping away to an emphatic victory. Controlled, patient and calculated allowed the ‘all-round’ best driver to secure his first win of the season in front of Raikkonen and Hamilton.

The Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel was on the mirror strategy by starting on the mediums and running them all race until the last five laps where he pitted and came out thirteen seconds behind Hamilton’s Mercedes. Vettel’s imperious driving qualities once again prevailed by holding on to those tyres but also smashing the lap times and came right up behind Hamilton going in to sector three of the final lap. On the approach to turn eleven both cars had to negotiate a Caterham and Vettel ran too deep in to the corner, he ran under the one second marker required for DRS but could not make the impression in the final couple of corners and Hamilton took another podium for Mercedes.

One week now before the chaos resumes in Bahrain. This race will hold special regard for me after visiting the track in 2011 for the race to be cancelled and also my parents living in the volatile country for three years. Protesters have already started to use the F1 as leverage to make their voices heard once again for the human rights campaign. It is likely tyres will again be at the forefront of the teams minds. I for one sincerely hope the tyres are the only issue and the Grand Prix is not over shadowed by politics as the teams head to the Middle-East.

‘Easy’ win for Kimster

March 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Well it is a while since I have written a blog here but I thought I would make my grand return for 2013. I had planned to write consistently but as ever life seems to interrupt along the way and it gets broken up. Along with writing I hope to be able to bring a podcast to the site also.

It is a couple of hours after the race down under around Albert Park, Melbourne and many fans and viewers will be stepping away or back to bed with very wide smiles on their faces. I for one I am exceptionally pleased to see Kimi Raikkonen win for Lotus.

© Sutton Images

After the initial washout of qualifying before both Q2 and Q3 were run on Sunday morning prior to the race I think most people thought this would be a stroll, quite literally, in the park for Red Bull after what can only be described as a stunning pole position lap from Sebastian Vettel, such commitment in very challenging conditions.

Start of the race actually felt quite tame in some respects. Usually the season opener is drivers dusting the cobwebs away from the winter break and the race craft is not quite there but from turn one onwards it all seemed relatively clean other than new boy Chilton in the Marussia having to pit for a new front wing after contact with van der Garde’s Caterham.

The front of the field squabbling for position all the way down to turn three after negotiating the mobile chicane of Mark Webber after a software failure did not allow for a correct bite point for the clutch, the drivers escaped and the race started to unfold.

Fernando Alonso made a wonderful sweeping move around the outside of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes around turn three and hunted down his team mate in quick smart fashion. Come the end of lap one Vettel had calmly created himself a two second advantage. That would whittle away quite sharply as both the Ferrari’s came tearing up behind him quite menacingly.

Ferrari initially appeared to show equal fairness to the drivers whereby Massa was allowed to pit first and have the luxury of strategy advantage over his team mate who was behind. Were the tables turning at Ferrari? No. Come round two of pit stops Ferrari pitted Alonso earlier to take him out of the traffic and Massa was asked to push to see if he could two stop. He could not and was left tucked up behind Adrian Sutil.

Force India have quietly gone about their business in pre-season, turning many laps and appearing to have a car capable of at least fifth in the constructors at the moment, Adrian Sutil though had other ideas. After starting from twelfth on the grid he quickly made his way up the field starting on the medium compound tyre which proved a great strategy call for the first two stints which put him right in with Vettel, Alonso and Massa. The quad group all running together for many laps as the strategies unfolded.

While this was happening Kimi Raikkonen was carefully lurking off the back of them controlling his pace and his tyre management and in doing so put himself in the window of a two stop strategy. This was quite a surprise as many had foreseen it to be a three stop race but Lotus got excellent longevity out of the super soft compound in the opening stint allowing the ‘Flying Finn’ to only stop twice in the race. It would appear Lotus have an advantage of a car that is very kind on its tyres and looks after them well.

It has to be applauded the valiant effort of Fernando Alonso though. The Spaniard setting fastest lap after fastest lap trying to bring the gap down between the two and the three stop strategies. It was not to be though and other than a moment with a Caterham he could not close the gap and Raikkonen conveniently set the fastest lap of the race with just a few laps to go just to let Alonso know he was not winning today.

Kimi has been quoted as saying “It was one of the easiest races I have done to win. Hopefully we can have many more of these races.” and quite honestly it was. He was flawless in his drive and kept the measure of his competitors when he needed to and turned the wick up just at the right times. He seems to feel at home with the Lotus and the freedom he has. His latest interviews we have even seen a more open smiling Kimi which is rather nice but his cool character approach was always a winner with those that liked him.

Raikkonen wins in Melbourne © Sutton Images

So what have we learnt from Melbourne? Kimi is up for it, Fernando wants it and Vettel is not really sure what to think. Red Bull have made improvements to what is already a good car but have they over done it and now have degradation issues? I doubt it and I think Malaysia may see Red Bull come to the front again but now more than ever they have a big challenge on their hands and it’s not just from one team it could be anything up to three teams currently.

And just to round my first piece of the season up, a word on Mercedes. Qualifying looks be a strong point for them but similar to the past few seasons, add the fuel in and the balance of the car changes. They tried their best to two stop with Hamilton but they could not and while Lewis is happy with the base clearly the overall package is missing something. Work to be done but definite promise for the Silver Arrows.

Follow me on Twitter: @Nico888

A View From Down Under

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Rather than writing a full review I thought I would do a round up from Melbourne as I suspect most of our readers watched the race.

After a couple of difficult Free Practice sessions it was interesting to see that the McLaren’s had the outright qualifying pace. It has been documented that Jenson Button made a mistake on his flying lap and still was only a tenth of Hamilton highlighting the speed he had.

It was surprising to see Red Bull not deliver, Vettel made an uncharacteristic error along with Webber having no KERS. It is evident that the car is quick though even without KERS.

Shock and delight rolled in to one for position three. Romain Grosjean showing the magnificent work the Lotus team has done over the winter. The Enstone based team shook the entire field with the Frenchman’s lap, not least Mercedes.

Mercedes backed up their pace from winter testing with fourth position from Michael Schumacher.

Early hours in Europe and bleary eyed race fans were rolling out of the bed in anticipation for the first race of the season. Jenson Button won the McLaren battle in turn one after making a not so great start himself, but his team mates was even worse. The early pace from Button and the McLaren had shades of Red Bull from last year.

The unfortunate Grosjean went out early doors after a collision with Pastor Maldonado, the Venezuelan keen to show his ability immediately in 2012 trying to silence his critics. An early shower was also required for Michael Schumacher after hydraulic issues plagued him in to turn one where Vettel would capitalise.

Safety car out and the pack is closed up, Petrov’s Caterham grinded to a halt on the start/finish straight. Quick thinking McLaren pits their cars back to back but due to regulations they had to meet a specific delta behind the safety car gifting second position to Vettel.

Ferrari’s poor winter testing had gone from bad to worse in Qualifying but the skill, talent and ability of Fernando Alonso allowed him to greatly improve on his qualifying position in the race but he was hunted ferociously by Maldonado in a Williams that has some very encouraging pace about it.

Sauber’s regular vendettas towards the top echelons of the field in the early season were prominent again as both Perez and Kobayashi secured top ten finishes. Perez again only doing one stop in Melbourne this time though thankfully both cars not disqualified unlike 2011.

After the restart Button showed his raw pace again and from the sounds of his race engineer had plenty in reserve in terms of engine mix. Button drove a faultless race and looks to be in a very good position for the season. He appears settled and has little pressure on him as it is expected that Hamilton will beat him.

It is clear to see Hamilton is still not at one with this current era of Formula 1. If refuelling was still here and he could get rid of the tyres then arguably he would be controlling the McLaren. Currently he is not as there are underlying issues that he still is currently unhappy with. Red Bull is still an option at the end of the season with Webber likely to leave. Hamilton appeared to be more surprised at Button’s pace than his own.

After a wonderful race for Williams hearts sank as Maldonado crashed off of Turn 8 spearing in to the wall on the final lap. The Williams showed awesome pace and Maldonado was on to pass Alonso for fifth position, so unlucky for the team from Grove.

What have we learnt?

McLaren have built a very good car and the drop nose has little to no effect as it has been stated recently it is more what goes on at the rear of the car than the front.

Red Bull has a little bit of work to do but they are there and they will be challenging with both drivers and Webber looks to step his game up to Vettel.

Sauber looks to have a built a good car but it will need continued season development to secure a good championship finish.

Ferrari has issues. It has been reported that Stefano Domenicali and technical director Pat Fry both flew back to the team’s Maranello factory on Monday for an emergency meetings.

Lotus need a competitive race run at the front and not from the rear. Therefore it will be easier to call after Malaysia.

Toro Rosso surprise package and both Vergne and Ricciardo look closely matched on pace, like Sauber will need a full season of development.

Force India lucky with a point. Race pace is required as it lacked in comparison to testing.

Mercedes need to work on degradation but signs are that they have a good car.

Williams nearly were on for one of their best results in a few seasons just a slight mistake from Maldonado cost the team a sixth place finish. Commitment required from the team to update it but potential surprise package of the season.

Marussia finally got some running and Glock performed well, Pic had issues but clear that the car needs work.

Caterham will be disappointed. Car did not show a great deal of pace and reliability has hindered them.

HRT. Little to say, hugely disappointing but it is expected when you change 80% of the team members.