Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Next race: Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona

Worried about the wet weather // Drivers air concerns about safety in damp conditions

Published by Christine Blachford

Testing in Spain has been a damp affair so far this week. On Monday, the BMW boys, in Valencia, suffered with Kubica running very few laps and Heidfeld relegated to dashing in and out of the pits. Today, things cleared up slightly in Valencia, but Barcelona got the full force of the weather. McLaren decided not to even bother attempting any runs, preferring to save their mileage for another day.

I find it slightly odd that the teams don't want to make the most of the adverse weather conditions. The one thing that always catches teams out is when a race weekend has less sunshine and more raindrops. Why wouldn't they want to use the opportunity to get some really good wet weather data?

Massa at Barcelona Test on Wednesday

So far as I can tell, there are only two reasons not to run on a damp track. Either you're worried about mechanical failure / driver error setting you back or, like McLaren, you don't want to waste your mileage.

If it's the former, then that's a bad, bad state for Formula 1 to be in. Surely drivers/teams can't afford to be afraid of the unexpected?

Therefore I'm hoping it's the mileage thing. That perhaps because it's raining, you're not going to be able to get consistent and measurable data. Trulli said on Tuesday, it was impossible to get comparable information:

The track was changing throughout the day so direct comparisons were hard. In conditions like we had today we didn't do much mileage because we wanted to save some more miles and tyres for the next few days.

- Jarno Trulli

If I ran an F1 team (and everyone knows that I would do it properly), I'd want to see how the tyres worked over a wet race distance. I'd want to see how to improve keeping the water out of the car, or getting the slippery corners right under the new regulations.

One of the most well voiced concerns about the loss of traction control has been how the cars will fare in less than perfect conditions. David Coulthard (voice of safety) said:

There is clearly pressure for us all to race in Fuji and if we go there now without TC, there won't be as many cars finish. I can guarantee that.

- David Coulthard

I have even less sympathy now than I ever did for this cause, because if you don't put the effort into practice, how can you ever expect to improve? There is an old cliché along these lines, but I won't put you through that. Instead, I will head straight to my conclusions - I would rather see the teams not bothered about the weather, and using it to their advantage instead. What do you think?




  • "Why wouldn’t they want to use the opportunity to get some really good wet weather data?"

    Me,

    What proportion of races are ever held in the wet?

    Bearing in mind the massive number of variables which teams seem to obsess about in the dry: I'd guess that its spending the max on stuff that's worth having....

    brendan

  • Good point.

  • Me,

    What proportion of races are ever held in the wet?

    umm, pass. i've just read this post myself.

    we should probably do more to indicate who the author is. we were going to add a piccy for each of us, but have yet to get around to it.

    :)

    i imagine aero testing is impossible in the wet, and seeing is that what the majority of people are obsessed about right now, maybe they thought better of it.

    if i was massa, i'd be out there.

  • "we should probably do more to indicate who the author is"

    Me,

    I should have spotted the style, I just figured as it was on a technical issue..... I should not assume......

    brendan

  • It is one of the things that has always struck me as strange about F1. Even in the days of unlimted testing teams would not run in the wet. Personally I would want to try a new car in the wet but that's just me.

    Having read a couple of items recently I have more sympathy for DC's fears of racing without traction control than I initially had. I hadn't thought about the fact that the engines were homologated with all the electronic toys in place. So that when they were designed there was no need for them to have a fat torque curve or smooth response as the toys took care of that. Now the toys are taken of and the teams are left with engines that were never designed to be run without them. Another example of Max's knee-jerk management style falling down because of his own actions. There is a complete lack of joined up thinking at the FIA.

    I suppose the best comparison to the lack of toys on this years cars is to take something like the Eurofighter Typhoon. This is a fabulousy manoeuvrable fighter aricraft that can only stay in the air because it has a stack of computers constantly tweaking its aero profile. Take the computers off and it would be impossible to fly. If the pilots complained about having to fly it without the computers it would not mean they couldn't hack it any more or that they had lost there bottle. It would simply mean that they understood the problem better than people like me who are prepared to speak before we think.

  • we were going to add a piccy for each of us...

    You mean we will finally get to see what you look like or you'll just use an fancy avatar instead!? :)

    if i was massa, i’d be out there.

    Nice line.

    Perhaps part of the reluctance to test in the wet, aside from me's point about aero development, is that wet weather will always throw the teams into disarray, regardless of how prepared you might be.

    Besides, the teams will know to add some more wing and do other stuff to the car, the rest I guess is up to the driver. And as rain doesn't normally last for an entire race, the issues surrounding wet weather racing focus more on strategy; knowing when to change the tyres.

  • Massa was out there :-)

    True, the proportion of wet races is not that big, but how about asking a question "How many wet test days there are ? "

    Especially the teams struggling to get into the points should be running around the wet test tracks like mad ... wet days may be their only chances to score some points and get cash from Bernie :-)

    And as was said above, this is the opportunity to combat the wet track without traction control fears

    comparing the F1 to Eurofighter may not be the best example. The fighter jet may not even be able to hang in the air without the computers and all that stuff. Car however can be kept on the road without electronics, if the driver knows how to do that ...

  • The fighter jet may not even be able to hang in the air without the computers and all that stuff.

    also, the pilots aren't normally in competition will each other. flying is not meant to be a test of their skills.

    f1 shouldn't make it easy for the driver. if the engine isn't ideal, so be it. if they haven't got the bottle... get a desk job.

  • Fighter pilots are not competing with each other?? They are trying to kill each other.

    I was simply using this as an example of something being designed with one set of parameters and being expected to operate properly when some prameters are randomly changed.

  • Fighter pilots are not competing with each other?? They are trying to kill each other.

    Formula 1 can be aggressive, but let's hope it doesn't go that far!

  • I was simply using this as an example of something being designed with one set of parameters and being expected to operate properly when some prameters are randomly changed.

    apologies for siding with Max on this one, but i don't think he's at fault here. a perfectly tuned engine will just make it easier for drivers and give them less chance to shine.

    DC is old and he doesn't like change.

  • Hmmm. Take a one of F1's best ever cars, the '93 active suspension Willams Renault, join it one of F1's best ever drivers in Aryton Senna, and then demodify the same car into the '94 Williams Renault by banning the Active compmonets like Traction Control.

    Three races into the season, on a dry track and a sunny day, we lost Senna.... On the other side, Coulthard was promoted from test driver to the second Williams.

    So we have to wonder, did the loss of all these active parts contribute to Senna's death? (he DNF'ed in the other two races...) And when it comes to some safety issues, you could say that David Coulthard can seen as the resident expert on the subject with regards to the consequences ... Finally, if to much dependence on active compoments can lead to an ace of Senna's standing crashing, what hope to these current "bums" on the grid have, on a wet track?

    Jordan Allen.

  • I thought the point of F1 was to optimise the car so that the driver could get the best performance from it. If you look at the look term direction Max is taking it in, it is starting to look like an arrive and drive karting championship.

    Mansell used to slag Prost off when they were at Ferrari because Prost would spend hour after hour tweaking the car so that it was absolutely perfect. Mansell called him a taxi driver because while Mansell was working like a navvy trying to cope with a far from optimal set up Prost always looked like he wasn't trying until you saw the lap times.

    When Prost went to Williams they used to ask him at the end of each day of pre-season testing if he wanted to put qualifying tyres on and set a fast time as Mansell had always done. He would always say 'no, I am happy with the car' although the lap times were never that special. You got the impression reading a lot of the specialist press in those weeks that people thought that after his year out he either couldn't drive any more or had adopted the famed Piquet cruise and collect mentality. When he was testing he drove at 90% because he could feel what the car was doing. When he was eventually was persuaded that it would be good if he would do a qualifying run after a few weeks Patrick Head was quoted saying something like 'Prost is really quick you know'. He was so smooth and always had the car optimised that despite winning more races than anyone else at that time and having won three world championships some people thought he wasn't that quick. Imagine that. He was the most successful driver in history but people didn't think he was very quick.

    F1 should be about optimising the car within the regulations and the regulations must allow some leeway for tuning the cars to the driver and the conditions. If engines were not artifically restricted teams could change the camshafts etc and none of us would be any the wiser it would simply mean that the engine characteristic could be tuned to suit the lack of toys.

    Effectively what we have now is that the teams who did the worst jobs with the toys and therefore couldn't be as aggresive with their engines will have an advantage in driveability against those who did a better job. That is not F1. It is simply a reflection of Max's knee-jerk decision making.

  • F1 should be about optimising the car within the regulations and the regulations must allow some leeway for tuning the cars to the driver and the conditions.

    see i think it went too far, by allowing teams to tune their cars to every corner on every track (using in-car gps). in the end the car runs like it's on rails and the driver just plants his foot.

    i don't think this is a knee-jerk reaction, maybe Max didn't look that far ahead, or maybe he did? either way i don't think it's the end of the world that the engine isn't perfect this year.

    Effectively what we have now is that the teams who did the worst jobs...will have an advantage in driveability against those who did a better job

    i disagree. the engineers who did the best jobs will always be ahead, they'll just find another way of eeking out an advantage.

  • I've had a word with Max and he has agreed that the practice of not using capital letters will be banned from the Australian GP onwards. Not having to think about punctuation is a patently unfair advantage that "me" has been allowed to get away with for far too long. Christine, I expect you to be our spy in the team on this one, letting us know of any clever tricks employed to get around the ban.

  • Not having to think about punctuation is a patently unfair advantage

    damnit you figured it out. i can shave a good 0.03 seconds of a comment by omitting use of the shift key.

  • Oh Clive, if only you knew the conversations about punctuation that go on at Sidepodcast Towers.

    I decided to let it go, because at least it's not ALL IN CAPS AS THOUGH HE WAS SHOUTING.

    The lesser of two evils, I believe.

  • oH bUt, i CouLd HAve sOMuch f.un if u LET meeee

  • Hmmm, shouting, hey? On second thoughts, I think we'd better leave well enough alone...

  • Clive, look what you did.

  • Mea culpa. Oh, woe is me!

  • if i don't use caps do i need to give max a truckload of tenners for copying?

  • if i don’t use caps do i need to give max a truckload of tenners for copying?

    it'll be in the small print somewhere

    :)

  • Yes it's very frustrating, them not testing in the wet, after all the worry about 'the whole field spinning off in a wet race without TC.'

    Maybe the teams think a wet race might be canceled (hope not) and it's not worth even trying to get the set up right...

    Senna would turn in his grave if this happened [wet race canceled]and without sounding to much like an old fart : Ayrton Senna would practice for hours in the rain when he drove his go-cart because he once lost a race through lack of experience at a young age before F1.In F1, he was the rain master.

    If it were up to the drivers i can't imagine them not wanting to go out in the rain?.Maybe Schumacher will show them how a real racer can drive in the rain (if it does rain next week) in Barcelona?.There again maybe not.I'm concerned that we are going to be denied our rainy GP's unless they bring back the dreaded TC...barr, no way to that!.

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