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    • March 19, 2012 1:32 am

      Technical Rule Changes 2012

      Revised exhaust exits

      One of the biggest contentious issues that took place in 2011 was the introduction of blown diffusers. This was a method by which the exhaust gases continued to flow when the engine is on overrun, exiting ahead of the rear diffuser giving additional down force for the corner where there would normally be a minimal amount due to the reduced speed of the car.

      The FIA has in its rules for 2012 outlawed the use of blown diffusers and also has placed restrictions on the positioning of the exhaust with the last 100mm being straight and round in section and at an angle to the vertical between 10 and 30 degrees. This is to stop the spaghetti like exhausts of last year as well as some flattening the pipe to affect a wide discharge of the exhaust gases to create the down force over the diffuser. The rule also states that there should be only one exit on either side of the car and that it shall fall between certain points.

      It is interesting to see the designs that the different teams have made to minimise the loss of the down force and the results that will be seen in the first race. No matter how many hours of trials and tests in the simulator that the engineers and drivers have, as there is restricted testing on the track, there is nothing like the results from the physical battle of a race.

      The general consensus of the teams is to use the bodywork in such a way that the exhaust gases attaches to airflow and sticks to the body creating down force. This is known as the Coanda effect. As the surfaces curve away from the flow of air, low pressure builds, which in turn forces the air to stay attached and in contact with the surfaces, creating the desired down force. Some teams, Red Bull and McLaren have the airflow passing between the wheels and the diffuser whereas others, Ferrari, Lotus and Williams, direct the air towards the centre of the car and over the suspension to boost the rear down force.

      In addition to utilising the Coanda effect some teams have also modified their suspension components to be aerodynamically influenced by the airflow from the newly positioned exhausts. This system was utilised by Williams in the 1994 season but was subsequently banned. However, Red Bull has used the rules to best affect requiring no more than 3:5 section profiles of thickness to width. It will be interesting to see who has the best solution and who copies whom.

      Rule changes – lower nose

      The other major change to the cars in 2012 is the FIA requirement to reduce the height of the nose. This has been put in place primarily to lessen the chance of a car’s nose intruding into the cockpit of another in the event of a side-on collision.

      The height immediately ahead of the cockpit remains the same at 625mm above the plain but within 150mm it has to drop to 550mm. This means that several of the cars have used a step making them look a little like duck bills. McLaren seem to be the only manufacturer that has resorted to a smooth transition making their cars look more like the traditional racing car from other classes.

      Some of the cars have in their new design introduced ducts ostensibly to cool the driver, as per Red Bull and Sauber but others have chosen to question this as there could be an aerodynamic advantage. Perhaps there will be some challenges in the time to come, particularly if they seem to have a speed advantage. Mercedes has developed frontal intakes whereas Red Bull has it in the step perhaps to disguise the reason that directs air through channels to the front wing to speed up airflow beneath it, this creating an F duct-style down force generator. There have already been challenges made and complaints to the FIA with regards to Mercedes with no outcome at the moment.

      Other items

      The use of helium in wheel guns has been banned. This is for safety reasons as well as a cost cutting. The result is that the time taken with changing a wheel is slightly longer than previously.

      Tyre compounds have been changed by Pirelli to introduce a softer than soft compound in order to make it more difficult for the driver to keep the tyres operating efficiently and not losing grip. Pirelli believes that the result will be more pit stops. Pirelli has also increased the signage and density of the colours on the tyre to allow spectators to identify more easily which compound the driver is using. There had been some confusion with the colour white and colour silver on last year’s tyres.

      Drivers will now be only allowed to move once whilst defending their line into a corner and must also allow one car width on the inside of the corner. They also will be able to un-lap themselves whilst under a Safety Car. This allows the leaders to commence racing when the Safety Car goes in without any interference from back markers.

      We can look forwards to an interesting season and with the pre-season test results it may be closer than last year with Red Bull running away and everybody trying to catch up.

    • March 19, 2012 1:34 am

      Australian Qantas Melbourne F1 Grand Prix


      The beginning of a new season is always interesting and in particular for the past three years due to the ban on testing except for specific times, if the cars were not good, like McLaren last year, they are always in catch up mode.  The contenders had all redesigned cars due to the major changes in the height to the nose of the car and also the banning of the blown diffuser using exhaust gasses.

      With the first practice the new cars showed that there would be strong challenges to the Red Bull supremacy of last year, in particular the McLarens and Mercedes being strong. The first major casualty in Q1 was the 6th world champion in the event, Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus. He had been caught out on the harder tyres and did not provide a quick enough time to get into Q2 or Q3 and ended in 17th place on the grid. Both the HRT’s were not allowed to start as they were not within 107 per cent of the pole.

      The McLarens were supreme in their strategy and took the front row with Hamilton first and Button in second spot. Third place was a surprise with Romain Grosjean in his Lotus which made it even more disappointing for Raikkonen’s mistake with tyres. The other major disappointment was the Ferrari team whose cars did not perform particularly well. Alonso managed only 12th and Massa 16th.

      With the rush to the first bend Button in 2nd place managed to outsprint his team mate and pulled away into the lead with Schumacher in his Mercedes in 3rd and Alonso having one of his demon starts and up into 8th place on the first lap. The concertina effect at the first corner caused contact with several cars and Hulkenberg in the Force India retiring. On the next lap Maldonado, who doing well from his 8th place at the start, came into contact with Grosjean finishing his race with broken suspension, a disappointment after such a great qualifying position.

      On lap 10 Vettel pushing hard on Schumacher made a mistake on the first bend running wide with Alonso catching. However he managed catch up and the very same bend on the next lap Schumacher had a gearbox problem causing him to go straight on allowing Vettel to pass. Returning to the pits he retired with gearbox problems. One of the other big gains was Raikkonen who was up into 6th place showing all his skills that made him world champion and getting fastest lap up to that point. If only he had started in a better qualifying position we could have had all 6 champions battling with each other.

      Pit stops started at the 12 lap stage with the Ferraris but the other main contenders pitted on lap 17. Webber on new rubber produced fastest lap passing back markers. The Caterhams and Marussias were keeping out of the way most of the time but the Saubers, Force Indias and Toro Rossos were mixing it and making things difficult whilst racing each other. Maldonado in the Williams was doing particularly well.


      On lap 35 Petrov had a steering problem bringing out the safety car to allow the Caterham to be cleared from the start finish line. The McLarens had pitted for new rubber but Vettel had not but was able to push and then to pit before the safety car was in position and thereby able to gain a place ahead of Hamilton. Button remained in first but had lost his buffer of 10sec. On recommencement he was able to pull away and everybody was jousting for their finishing places.

      Unfortunately Massa’s terrible weekend did not improve and he had to retire with accident damage on lap 46 after hitting Bruno Senna. He went wide on a corner and the two cars appeared to be locked together as the Ferrari pushed the Williams off the track. Massa retired and Senna was able to continue for a further six laps before retiring.

      The first Grand Prix of the year ended with Button in 1st followed by Vettel and Hamilton. Webber was able to finish a good 4th and Alonso was excellent in 5th as was Raikkonen in 7th after Kobayashi did one of his banzai moves to take 6th. Unfortunately Rosberg had to slow at the end with a loss of tyre pressure and finished 12th after being as high as 6th. Perez and Ricciardo both had outstanding drives for 8th and 9th but di Resta was disappointing in the Force India for the last point place, 10th. The last four were fighting hard crossing the line abreast. Unfortunately Maldonado had an accident on the last lap whilst running in 6th place after a great race.

      The season just begun is looking good and we shall see how they fair with the fast circuit in Malaysia next weekend.



    • November 28, 2011 2:52 pm

      Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobas Do Brasil 2011 – Race Review

      The Interlagos Circuit at Sao Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere, is the last race of an eventful season. Practice and qualifying was dry but the forecast for race day was wet, so the teams had a tricky time to get set up right for the race.

      Qualifying was quite special with Vettel maintaining his supremacy with his 15th pole of the season and beating the previous record held by Nigel Mansell. Webber was consistent with getting second followed by Button, outperforming his teammate Hamilton. Rosberg did well in 6th place just behind Alonso and outperforming his teammate, Michael Schumacher, yet again.

    F1 News — Page created on November 28, 2011 2:52 pm

    Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobas Do Brasil 2011 – Race Review

    The Interlagos Circuit at Sao Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere, is the last race of an eventful season. Practice and qualifying was dry but the forecast for race day was wet, so the teams had a tricky time to get set up right for the race.

    Qualifying was quite special with Vettel maintaining his supremacy with his 15th pole of the season and beating the previous record held by Nigel Mansell. Webber was consistent with getting second followed by Button, outperforming his teammate Hamilton. Rosberg did well in 6th place just behind Alonso and outperforming his teammate, Michael Schumacher, yet again.

    The start was dry and sunny although showers were in the area. Vettel as usual sped away from pole followed by Webber who was under pressure from Button who was being attacked by Alonso who had made another of his demon starts and passed Hamilton. Rubens Barrichello, who lives near the circuit, had a terrible start from 12th position. He bogged down and was overtaken by many from the lower levels and ended up in 19th position. A shame for such an experienced driver in his 19th year in Formula 1 and may not have a seat for next year.

    At the start of lap 3 Vettel was powering away and over 2secs in the lead from Webber with Button a further 3 secs behind with Alonso pushing hard using his DRS to attempt an unsuccessful overtake on Button. It was expected to be a 2 stop race, depending upon the weather, with first pit stops around lap 20 or 22. However the tyres seemed to be going off quicker than expected and first stops were made by mid runners on lap 15.

    Interesting fights were going on all the way down the field and on lap 10 Schumacher slip streaming Senna along the pit straight overtakes but they both touch and then as they go into the first bend Senna doesn’t leave space and they contact again with his front wing being damaged and Schumacher having to pit with a puncture – not happy. The Stewards review the action and penalise Senna with a drive through for causing an avoidable accident.

    On lap 15 Vettel was told to short shift on 2nd and 3rd gears as there was a problem and avoid using all the torque and revs to 18,000. Button pitted for tyres on lap 16 followed by Alonso the next lap with Vettel leaving it to lap 18.  By lap 21 Vettel had caught Massa, who was in the lead on a two stop strategy, and using his DRS he passed Massa, who decided to pit at the end of the lap, coming out into 6th place. Mark Webber was catching Vettel and clocked fastest lap on lap 23. The first retirement was Timo Glock who left his pit without the left rear fully attached and consequently the wheel came off and his Virgin car was out. The Stewards made it known that they would review the problem after the race which means that the team may be fined for unsafe release.

    On lap 26 there was another radio message to Vettel that there is a serious problem and to short shift his gears on all corners. This was allowing Webber to catch and on lap 28 another message was sent telling him in code to allow Webber past. Maldonado spun into the tyre wall on turn 7 ending his race and Vettel managed to produce the fastest lap even whilst nursing his gearbox.  On lap 30 he allowed Webber to pass into the first bend. The team radioed him to care for his tyres and go as far as he could on them as rain was forecast within the next few laps.

    On lap 38 a message for Hamilton informed him of a gearbox problem whilst Alonso was putting in the fastest lap of the race. Webber pitted for another set of soft tyres and came out in 2nd place whilst Button was able to pass Massa into 3rd using his DRS. Massa, who was trying to only do 2 stops, was also being caught by Hamilton, but after trying for over 3 laps to pass Hamilton pitted. He came out on hard tyres behind Sutil who was having a storming race in the Force India – he still has not got a contract for 2012, which may be adding a little extra effort! On lap 48 Hamilton pushing Sutil suddenly slows and pulls off the track without gears, so ending a bad year for him as well as being beaten by his teammate for the first time in any formula.

    Sutil was still progressing forwards and on lap 49 attempted to pass Rosberg along the pit straight. He thought he had done the job but Rosberg braked later for the first bend on the inside and forced Sutil out. However the next lap Sutil was ready for the counter move and completed the pass successfully into 6th place.

    Webber pitted for his last se of tyres on lap 59, coming back out in the lead with Vettel coaxing his gearbox in second place. Button had second wind and was catching Alonso and for three laps they were fighting tooth and nail, side by side with Alonso making his Ferrari the biggest car on the track. They passed and re-passed several tries until finally Button got the better and passed along the back straight into turn 4 and managed to make a gap finishing in 3rd place with Alonso 4th.

    Webber finished 1st for the first time this season and jumped Alonso into 3rd place in the championship with Button 2nd. Webber was also able to set fastest lap for each of the last three laps and had to be cautioned by his team to slow down. He was enjoying his moment and ‘Brilliance in Brazil’.

    A great season this year with plenty of action even with the dominance of the Red Bull Team and with new regulations next year we look forwards to the teams having cars ready from the beginning of the season unlike this year when the McLarens and Ferraris only improved from half way.  The second tier teams are looking to do better next year, Mercedes, Force India, Renault, Sauber and Williams as is Team Lotus who will be renamed Caterham. They managed to finish 10th in the Constructors Championship which means $30m to them from the FIA that will be well spent on design and aerodynamics. Money is just as important at the back of the grid as well as the front.

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