Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 16th August 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

Voice of the #F1 fans: Lewis Hamilton – The Pioneer – Part I


OTD Lite: 1998 Hungarian GP, Schumacher’s greatest victory

Red Bull to wait?

Gone, but not forgotten

Nasr to Sauber?


OTD Lite: 1998 Hungarian GP – Schumacher’s greatest victory

Is sixteen years too recent to call an event historic? Or is it the fact that MIchael Schumacher retired just two years ago the defining factor behind what constitutes a historic event? To the Jackal’s mind, this is unquestionably THE greatest victory in Schumacher’s career. There was no need for the lottery of rain which amplifies certains drivers abilities whilst punishing others – there was no fuel or tyre conservation being applied – just a driver taking his car to the absolute limit to beat a formidable foe.

1998 was a Mclaren dominated season, and after qualifying third behind them in Hungary, it looked like another 1-2 would follow except Ross Brawn had different ideas. He called Schumacher in early for his second stop, and told him to fly. By the time Mclaren’s rigid pit-stop plan was put in to action the Ferrari had emerged in front but with another stop still to complete.

19 seconds in 19 laps” was the instruction from the pit wall and Schumacher’s speed was staggering, even running off the road in the last corner on one occasion didn’t affect him. “It didn’t work at the start and I had to push like hell when Ross decided to go for the three stops. When he told me what I had to do, I said ‘thanks very much.”

Thanks to them for helping me and making this one of my most special wins.”

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Red Bull to wait?

With 2 wins from the 11 races we have seen so far this season, one would be forgiven for thinking that Christian Horner would be happy with what his team has achieved so far – especially considering they could barely complete a lap at Jerez and the first Bahrain test.

With a Renault engine that is still lacking in power – something in the region of 65 horsepower depending on who you listen to – the team are not overly optimistic for the next two races in Belgium and Italy. Horner said, “You never know, it might be wet in Spa and for Monza they might put a load of corners in – but Singapore has to be the next golden opportunity for us in reality.

So all at Milton Keynes will be doing their collective rain dances over the next 2 weeks in the hope they can salvage something from the high speed circuits we have coming up. He continued, “It will be damage limitation in the next two races, because Force India will suddenly reappear, Williams will be quick, McLaren will be quick and obviously Mercedes will be quick. We have to take what we can out of the next two races, and then for the flyaways really try to turn things up.

According to that statement, Force India will pull a rabbit out of the hat with summer development to bring them back to fighting for podiums, McLaren’s car which lacks downforce will be strong and the Red Bulls will be seemingly nowhere. However, if we cast our minds back 12 months this was not the case.

Red Bull turned up at Spa and Monza with a specially designed skinny rear wing for those races which, presuming they do the same this year, will compensate for their high downforce design. Furthermore, the altitude of the Spa circuit means the engine powertrain output is reduced, which makes the Renault disadvantage less here than at other circuits. Of course, the long Kemmel straight will hand an advantage to Mercedes powered cars, but there will be the opportunity to balance this out somewhat.

So it may not be all doom and gloom for the Milton Keynes team as they look to build on the success from Hungary. Instead though, Horner is continuing to bang on the ‘blame Renault drum’ even as the teams relax before the flyaway events from the end of September. The politicking attempt from the RB frontman mounts the pressure from the team who showed they clearly have the chassis to be a front running team in Hungary.

The message is clear here to Remi Taffin and the whole of Renault F1 – spend big on the development for next year or the public shame will be big. With 48% of the powertrain able to be redesigned, 2015 cannot come soon enough for Renault as they once again take a hosing down from their headline squad.

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Gone, but not forgotten

One Grand Prix that will most probably not be missed in the back end of the season this year is the Indian GP after being cut in favour of a proposed change of time for the race. Of course, beneath this mirage of saying the correct thing and diverting the attention of the media, the debate over whether the series is a sport or entertainment rumbles on in India. This has high importance as to how the entourage is taxed upon entry into the country.

So while the race is absent from the roster but does at least, for the moment have an absence sick note for this year, how is the circuit being used and paying for itself? It did after all only feature 3 races from 2011-2013 which will hardly come close to paying for the race track complex.

Once a week there is a club which meets to drive around the circuit to test their luxurious cars around the state of the art Buddh International Circuit. Described by Indian newspaper The Hindu as “the niche world of Chennai’s hyper-car owners the circuit plays host to the group which features 30 different cars. ‘The Madras Exotic Car Club’ was founded by Manoj Lulla in 2012, as he sought after a solution to the ‘problem’ that many supercar owners face in the region of not being able to fully experience the true potential of these machines.

The club includes, “the finest examples of Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz AMG, Audi and BMW M-series. He continued, “It often starts around 5.30 a.m., when we hit ECR or GST Road. We conscientiously follow rules. These cars can be enjoyed without driving them fast. We cruise. While enjoying driving our own, we enjoy looking at others.

So this is what the dream of Formula One can be reduced to after just 4 years – a rich man’s playground – as the race promoters still continue to work with the Indian government on a new deal on tax, and FOM on a new place on the calendar. Still, it could be worse; you could have been left with a white elephant in the middle of nowhere like Mokpo, South Korea. At just 30 minutes drive from Delhi there is hope yet for the complex and a revival at some point of the Indian GP – unlike S. Korea.

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Nasr to Sauber?

As the silver team who improved so drastically last year continue to occupy 10th place in the Contructors’ Championship, the linking of drivers to their race seats next year continues. This time it is the turn of GP2 driver Felipa Nasr to be thrown into the mix for a race seat next year.

The Brazilian is enjoying a successful season so far in the Formula One support series as he hunts down Jolyon Palmer, who currently leads the standings. With a significant budget packet coming with the Brazilian, he would come as a welcome relief to the team who would lose over $10 million should they fail to reclaim 9th place ahead of Marussia.

Having tested with Williams earlier in the season, Nasr impressed there, but is left with no race seat in 2015 available as Massa and Bottas look to have those locked out. “It’s hard to get a place at Williams because the two drivers have done a good job and the team will not want to change that. I will keep up with all of the teams and see what happens. Williams has given me a very good background on what to expect in F1. I participate in all of the meetings and I’m always on the team radio,” he said in an interview with the Brazilian SporTV.

With the Mexican GP set to return in 2015, it would seem that Gutierrez will retain his seat for next year as Sauber will also be keen to keep the money coming into them from Carlos Slim’s back pocket. This then would leave Adrian Sutil battling to keep his place on the grid facing competition from Nasr, Simona de Silvestro, Giedo van der Garde, Sergey Sirotkin, Jules Bianchi (if Ferrari flex their control muscles) and any other grid hopefuls. In the end, the sad truth could see it come down to who has the biggest bank account as Sauber are severely lacking funds. Silly season is well and truly underway…

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34 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 16th August 2014

  1. RE: OTD Lite: 1998 Hungarian GP – Schumacher’s greatest victory:

    To answer the question, yes, I do think that race has the right to be called ‘historic’. It was a mega performance in a pure sprint racing formula. It’s up there with Spain 1996 and Suzuka 2000. Totally crushing strategy/driver combo defeating a then superior Newey designed and dominant McLaren Mercedes.

    And it’s a big call (Schumachers greatest victory) to make as well considering the man won a record 91 victories. If you haven’t watched Hungary 98, do so… Just the driving performance alone is jaw dropping.

    • To me, that was a race you can’t tear apart, strip down to any part of it, and say, “oh, but that was the trick that made the gift”, I am still without words for it. What I mean is you can’t pick it apart, it’s like a magic trick of the highest order, somehow everything was working, still works to this day, and one man was in control of it all. I thought it was a classic from the moment I realized so much time had passed I’d ceased to be a Schumi fan, for I was spellbound that long. I’ve tried very way to justify my feeling; being younger, maybe I was less politically or technically acute in my observations of the sport (I don’t think so, the opposite is possibly true)… any excuse to temper the fact I was enthralled by the man’s racing to my delighted embarrassment.

      My little dream is that a certain Spaniard is attaining the comparable levels of concentration and affinity to his racecraft, and will be given a adequate steed, and comparable races will unfold before my eyes. But most of all, we need TPTB to stop fiddling with the races, so that such displays are even possible. Taking away refueling but letting for tire undercuts and so on.. akh, I digress, but not before choking on the restart ideas prematurely… as Still I Surpise says… pure sprint racing. Beautiful. I used to watch John McEnroe serve time and time over, because each of his serves was a study. Watching Shumi lap at speed in those days was a lesson, also. Unadulterated sprint racing needs to be allowed again. The fiddle of everything now makes me fundamentally frustrated, co sympathetically, like training for a marathon but restrained to jogging around supermarket aisles.

  2. Redbull aren’t the only ones who go for a high downforce setup, Button has gone that route for a quite a few years with a reasonable amount of success. You look back and you’ll see he always has quite a thick rear wing. I remember when he out qualified Hamilton their, but a few spots using this setup, I said to my other half “Lewis won’t like that and probably do something stupid in the first corner trying to get it back”. And what did Lewis do, promptly out braked himself at the start and fell off the track.

    • RB didn’t go for high DF setup last year. Not by their standards anyway. They still had the most of anyone, but certainly not what you would call “high DF”. RB9 was a different kind of animal after the summer break. It had the most DF, but was also the fastest accelerating car.
      Regarding button: if you mean 2012 when he took his only pole with mclaren, then i’m afraid you are wrong. Button went with lower DF setup than hamilton, but had much better straight line speed which compensated for it.

        • True, at least as far as the official version is concerned, but the Judge several times pointed out that one factor in that start crash mess was Hamilton “freezing out” and not doing anything while Grosjean kept advancing towards him. This lack of awareness could be attributed to his infamous twitter incident wrt to the McLaren telemetry.

          Opinion is of course mixed on this, but at least by some accounts Hamilton has a degree of responsibility for that 1st corner mess..

          • When you watch the accident in slow motion, Hamilton had about 2days to avoid the accident, buit when you play it real time you’ll see there was nothing for him to do but go on the grass and plow into other drivers himself. What action do you suggest Hamilton should have taken because braking wasnt an option.

          • ” there was nothing for him to do but go on the grass”

            But that, I understand, is the exact point that the Judge was making: Hamilton could and should have gone on the grass. Apparently these whiz-kids can easily handle themselves in such conditions, and given his Hamiltonian talents, this should have been a real option for him.. Which ultimately, of course, he didn’t take.

            As an example, if Vettel can overtake Alonso on the grass in the middle of Curva Grande at Monza, Hamilton can easily suck up a bit of grass on the start/finish straight in Spa..

            [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73HG73bHE3c&w=560&h=315%5D

          • You couldn’t have expressed my opinion much better…

            It was as though Lewis either wasn’t aware of the course of Geosjean’s car, or felt he had the divine right to hold his line… The result is history….

          • Bet if he had a wall no more than about 2 feet from his car, he wouldn’t have tried to overtake Alonso on the grass?

          • “or felt he had the divine right to hold his line…”

            Hmm, but doesn’t a driver in such a position actually have the right to hold his line?

            [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=501o1YdtmPU&w=560&h=315%5D

            [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLwR7F9EX14&w=420&h=315%5D

            The above is Schumacher on Barrichello in Hungary 2010. I also have a good recollection of Vettel squeezing Grosjean at the start in Nuerburgring (not sure which year) and putting him off-line, and squeezing Button in another GP start (can’t find the video, either). There are countless others.

            In each of these cases I had a feeling that the squeezee had a right to hold his line and avoid putting themselves on the grass (i.e. in a way what Hamilton did in Spa 2012). What is the sporting code in these matters?

  3. There’s simply no way RB will be able to compensate for that renault lump with a skinny rear wing this year. Power deficit is too high and RB are not able to exploit skinny wings this year as good as last year because EBD is no more.

    • EBD finished at the end of 2011. The way they channeled air flow at the base of the car was what gave them downforce in 2013. Look up the F1 Forensics on here for pictures of how warm the splitter was getting.

      • Only Off throttle EBD was finished at the end of 2011. On throttle EBD remained until this year. Yeah, I know about that splitter thing, but didn’t feel like writing all of it. They also had impressive vortices coming of the front wing and guided to the back of the car to seal diffuser edges.

      • That’s not entirely true. Off-throttle EBD was still available in ’13 in a fashion by Vettel never going off-throttle completely in conjunction with Renault’s 4-cylinder mode. Something he’s paying a bad price for this year as he seems to struggle to get that out of his system.

        • That’s not an actual OT EBD with cold or hot blowing and it’s effectiveness would be a fraction of what it used to be.

  4. “Furthermore, the altitude of the Spa circuit means the engine powertrain output is reduced, which makes the Renault disadvantage less here than at other circuits.”

    Gee Judge, the altitude of Spa is 420 m, the altitude of the Red Bull Ring is 660 m, and Hungary is 237 m. The difference in air pressure at Spa vs sea level is 3.5% (720 mm Hg / 746 mm Hg). For an atmosphere engine we would expect a power drop of 3.5%; for a turbo the teams can simply turn up the boost a bit. Also, all the teams would be affected equally so the altitude wouldn’t ‘equalize’ the engines. These engines are fuel limited, not air limited.

    So not so much.

    • “the altitude of Spa is 420 m, the altitude of the Red Bull Ring is 660 m”

      Hmm, can the Osterreichring altitude explain the horrendous RB showing in Austria? Maybe less air punishes the Renault PU more..

      • Turbo’s are not so much affected by altitude as naturally aspirated ones. The poor RB showing was down to the fact that the A1 Ring has too few corners in which the RB chassis can make up for the power deficit of the engine. That’s why they hope for the Tilkedromes in APAC, that’s where their aero will make up some of the power disadvantage.

    • Weren’t turbos supposed to mitigate altitude air density drop off by spinning faster and thus compressing more air? I don’t see why renault would suffer more from this than merc. there’s no evidence to support such theory at the moment. Max turbo pressure is around 2.5b and that’s not difficult to achieve at all.

    • Turn up the engines and you will go through fuel much more quickly….
      Also, the thinner air will not cool the cars as well, which would lend itself to what @ladroni mentions about the RBs struggling in Austria

      • Turn up the engines and you will go through fuel much more quickly

        But the point of turning up the boost at higher altitudes is to go through the same amount of fuel – ie produce the same amount of power.
        I don’t think minor changes in altitude make any effective difference with the current power trains.
        Cooling can be addressed by bodywork modifications – and local temperatures are of far greater significance.
        Spa is pretty cool.

        • Yep, exactly. That’s why I commented above that the turbo engines are fuel limited. As you say, the boost can be increased to flow the same amount of air and fuel as at sea level and hence generate the same power.

          • That’s how I understand it, also. Dumb Q, but I assume the air – fuel mix remains a constant target and the boost is added to ensure the same proportional balance?

            (sub Q, is that “constant target” of air – fuel, against throttle input? I mean, is the aim to maintain power output according to pedal input, or is that allowed to be a variable? )

            Hence the only restriction is if the turbo is running at maximum revolutions and can’t literally compress any more air to ensure the same air – fuel mix flow that’s required?

            Presumably, though, there will be some small additional drain on the battery. Is this negligible?

            Apols if asking banal questions, but just wanting to eliminate the overall thought from my mental inquiries.

          • @John. Actually, this is a complex question, as fuel flow is constant above 10,500 revs. The engines are limited to 15,000 revs, so that means that the mixture would be leaner at the higher revs. The engines are direct injection this year, so the fuel is not injected into the intake stream but is, rather, injected into the cylinders; there are opportunities for the engine people to run some sort of lean burn situation. The maximum fuel flow is 100L/hour, so you can do some calculations as to stochiometric fuel ratios. Bottom line – they can increase the boost level by using the wastegate to control pressure and do things with the mixture, ignition timing, and fuel to keep the pre-detonation in control, but we just don’t know what they are really doing. a very complex situation indeed! The difference in altitude of the tracks is not an issue for the above reasons.

  5. “So this is what the dream of Formula One can be reduced to after just 4 years – a rich man’s playground”

    Judge, and what is F1 if not a “(white) rich man’s playground”?

    “At just 30 minutes drive from Delhi there is hope yet for the complex and a revival at some point of the Indian GP – unlike S. Korea.”

    Good riddance wrt South Korea: one of the blandest, most average Tilkedromes. But the Indian track layout is quite fast and interesting, and I hope for a return there. If only they added gravel traps and grass wherever necessary, to avoid the ridicule of last year’s track limits “enforcement” by Charlie Brown..

  6. wait a second — at Monza “put a load of corners in”??? is this something that is being considered behind the scenes that slipped out?

    • I’m pretty sure that’s just a fan’s cynicism speaking, there. If only it were inconceivable. I think these little quips are something of a house style, along with self reference to assorted driver bias // criticism 😉

  7. @ Jamie Norman
    2005 JB was a cagalogue of high downforce, qualifies fourth for Monza a tenth ahead of his team mate and around .05 behind alonso, but was 17th through the speed trap (sato 11th), jb finished the race over a minute down in 8th. he also qualified well for brazil (same year) but was 18th out of nineteen through the traps. brundle asked the the christian horners dad, nick fry if he was worried about being so slow at the end of the straights to which nick replied ‘ he was only slow because a gust of wind caught the car’, the changeable conditions (and possibly wind blew jb to 7th and a lap down.
    the brawn and particularly the 2011 mclaren both had good downforce/diffusers and he and vettel were top dogs

  8. I wonder if I’m the only one thinking Nasr would be a better bet than Massa.. give him FP1s next year before a debut in 2016, to replace the older Felipe.

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