To bridge the gap between races I think we are in need of a dose of Friday Fun. I think everyone will admit that this season so far has been better than the last few (combined even?). Despite being only 4 races in it’s been great for so many different reasons, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
We all already know that Red Bull used their own fuel sensors (which contrary to their opinion is against the regulations), exceeded the maximum fuel mass flow rate, used their own interpretation of flow rate and deliberately ignored the FIA stewards’ mid-race requests to turn the rate down.
In order to produce my drivers' rankings (that combine ratings from across the board) it was necessary to analyse a lot of data, and rather than hiding behind my final rankings, this is going to be an explanation of where they came from and what the raw results are (before the rankings were generated). Some categories are relatively simple, whereas others are far less transparent, and I hope to be able to demonstrate where everything came from.
It is one thing to conduct an evaluation of drivers' performances over the season based on what we’ve seen, but what could be better than coming to conclusions based on analysis of the numbers? I looked at a set of seven different parameters that I feel I can objectively generate a rating for, with the aim to use these to rank the drivers from worst to first, on more than just World Driver Championship point totals.
After previously checking over external configurations, the wait is over, and we can now get down to the business of focussing on the internal workings of Formula 1 suspensions. We’ve seen how the positioning of the trackrods and wishbones affects the motion of the suspension; all that is left is to explore how the internals oppose that movement and therefore keep the car at the ideal attitude and altitude for the driver, the mechanics and for optimum car performance.
For anyone who has not come across egg drop before, let me eggsplain; the idea is to use recycled materials to protect your be-shelled cargo as you drop it from a high height. Your challenge for today’s session of camp is to build a capsule/delivery mechanism to safely transport an egg back to earth from the altitude close to 4m, otherwise known as ‘the first floor window’.
It once was a chance for young drivers to be tested in Formula 1 cars around a proper F1 circuit. It quickly transitioned to testing cars and developments, so non-race-driving old-boys got involved – Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey both know their way around an F1 car, having driven in YDTs for the past few seasons. Without anything dramatic happening to either one of McLaren’s two race drivers, Paffett’s F1 career will have him always as the bridesmaid but with no chance of becoming a bride. Now this season, after the Pirelli tyre fiasco, race drivers too have been allowed to attend, so long as they only work on the tyres.
Suspension of disbelief
Absorbing F1's forces
It may come as a surprise to some that one of the most important pieces of the car is the suspension. But saying that something is important doesn’t necessarily mean much in F1 – if it wasn’t important, it’d be markedly different or not on the car at all, as is the way. The suspension’s role is to connect the chassis to the wheels; allowing them to rotate, steer, deliver power to the track, and absorb the forces sent up from the road, as well as to hold the brakes etc.
During recent times F1 has seen the introduction of various overtaking aids for drivers to compliment their driving and perhaps enhance the racing in the process. First we had the KERS button which, like previous (and now future) turbo engines, could deliver a boost. Then was added the DRS system, which was a different method of improving a cars’ straight line speed, and now that has morphed somewhat and spawned the DRD.
So, what with everything going on around Bernie Ecclestone and his (alleged or otherwise) antics in Germany, his days as Formula 1 supremo are looking rather numbered. It’s looking more and more likely that control of F1 will pass to a board of contributors or handed to a group of interested parties; rather than installing another dictator. I’d like to imagine what F1 might look like if those who frequent the Sidepodcast comments were instead the ones to sit around the boardroom table to run the sport.
Ever since teams realised the importance of generating downforce, cars have been designed so that they trade off maximum speed and create these forces that help hold the car on the track and improve cornering speeds, therefore ultimately improving lap times. The wings are the parts of the car that first come to mind, but they are not the full story – it is often forgotten that the car itself can be used for producing downforce.
In the late 1960s Formula 1 cars first experimented with the addition of wings and they were found so vital that we’ve not looked back. As we know their purpose is to produce extra downforce (additional to that created by the car chassis alone) so as to increase the amount of grip that the tyres can generate while the car is on track, therefore improving the speed at which a car can take the corners. In this Tech Spec we break down some of the reasons F1 wings are designed the way they are – in particular reasons for the elements and endplates being shaped as they currently are.
There are not many differences to the aero-regulations between last season and this so there are only minor changes that teams have made to the looks of their cars. It seems that most cars are moving towards one or other configuration of a Coandă exhaust (but that is a topic for another time). The main aesthetic difference between the 2012 and 2013 cars is the introduction of the modesty panel (referred to by some as a vanity panel).
Hot on the heels of last year’s big internet craze, Gangnam Style, has come a new video-meme worth parodying, all to the tune of Harlem Shake by Baauer (no idea either), hence the name. You have to hand it Sauber for becoming the first team to draw on their reserves of tongue-in-cheek-ness and pluck up the courage to produce a video of their own, reaffirming their position as the party-team on the grid!
In the current F1 landscape, as there is a great focus on testing and time in the car, it is worthwhile considering whether the date a car is launched affects the final performance of the team. Is it vital to a team’s final results for them to launch their cars promptly? And does a late launch leave a team behind, even before the season kicks off for real? Does it work the other way round, or does it not even matter?
With the Championship decider having come and gone, and Sebastian Vettel having been crowned World Champion, I feel it is the right time to revisit the idea of redress – with the view of seeing how the season would’ve shaped up if drivers were compensated for aggrieving eliminations from races. Since the first round of calculations, we’ve had high profile incidents affecting Jenson Button in Korea and most recently Lewis Hamilton from the lead in Brazil.
The stewards in Formula 1 are very keen on keeping (or at least try the hardest to keep) the sport fair – the level of precision used when scrutineering the cars, the unbending application of the rules, and the number penalties that are handed out; all to ensure that drivers do not gain the tiniest fraction of advantage. However nothing is done is done to ‘compensate’ drivers who are the ‘victims’ of ‘accidents’.
Ever since the Chinese Grand Prix, where Mercedes got the official ruling that their Double-DRS was legal, teams have been contemplating whether they could copy it, develop their own versions, or use similar loopholes to come up with unrelated and possibly more advantageous contraptions; or whether it was even worth spending the time / money / resources attempting it.
Lewis Hamilton’s Twitter-sode over the Spa weekend left us with a lot to think about. Not just his openness and insight, but also his frustration, and some less-than family-friendly language – all in an attempt at justification for his ‘poor’ qualifying.
A current theme in F1 circles is all about giving fans value for money (especially as they spend so much following the sport). The current racing is action packed, and the restriction on testing means that the Free Practice sessions are often well used – although the issue of extra sets of wets / inters for wet sessions is a discussion for another day. The only part of the weekend left is Qualifying, and it is this that I feel needs looking at, because to have the final part (that is supposed to be the most exciting bit) with only a handful of drivers setting times is somewhat ridiculous.