A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
The Problem of Computer Simulations
The biggest problem Mercedes have this year is not Ferrari per sé. The Germans are completely confused by the fact that they have to consider being vulnerable at all. With the huge performance advantage last year, the race weekends were relatively easy. They had to hope for reliability and in the race they would stage manage the strategy based on themselves only as everyone else would be way too far back by lap 10 to be a factor.
This year however there is another team that usually by lap 10 is still within reach and if they manage to do so by half-time still, the men in silver start to fall apart. In Malaysia they were beaten by an alternate strategy, in China they were nearly beaten by their own lead driver playing games with his team mate and in Monaco they just spectacularly mucked it up. And the main culprit is their slavish reliance on computers.
As any computer expert will tell you, believing a computer is about the stupidest thing you can do. Murphy’s law exists for a reason. As Toto Wolff verbosely acknowledged after the race, there had been an inaccuracy in the algorithm or the data somewhere that caused the miscalculation which made them believe they could pit Lewis safely. Just using the good ol’ human brain to question and verify the simulation results did obviously not feature in Mercedes’ plans.
Ignoring other contributing factors like Lewis’ radio-message about the state of his tyres or the fact that he unexpectedly got held up behind the safety car in Rascasse, the main reason boiled down to the fact that Mercedes were worried, Vettel would come in and get fresh supersoft tyres. Now let’s forget for a moment that they gave Mr. V’s overtaking abilities more credit than his recent history suggests is deserved, they could have worked out without a computer that Vettel would never come in. Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull was just 17 seconds behind the Ferrari. So, unless the Gestione Sportiva uses the same ‘pitstop simulator’, there was no reason for the #5 car to come in and it didn’t take a quad core processor to work out.
Perhaps, however, Mercedes just didn’t simulate past the Ferrari car.
Germany stable, Britain disappointing
TV viewership numbers in Germany have plummeted in recent years, but stabilized in 2015. The Monaco Grandprix is no exception. 4.19 million viewers saw the free-to-air broadcast by RTL, a slight reduction over the 4.21 million people last year. Sky Germany however registered a rise in viewership – 370.000 people over 320.000 last year.
On her Majesty’s Island the numbers looked a bit worse. Sky UK suffered a 30% loss of eyeballs. Only 797.000 people saw the race as opposed to 1.1 million last year. BBC’s highlight program saw a moderate improvement: 3.44 million viewers, approximately 100.000 more than in 2014.
It’s too chilly, even for the Iceman
Ferrari’s SF15-T is still not getting the most out of the large Barcelona update, which was meant to eradicate Ferrari’s big weakness – getting heat into the tyres. Problems to heat up the tyres are the downside of being gentle on them in terms of degradation, Ferrari’s weapon of choice in the fight against the dominant force Mercedes.
The biggest problems occur during qualifying. The Saturday in Monaco proved again, just how sensitive the Italian cars are to temperature changes. Between Q1 and Q3 the temperature fell by 5°C and suddenly the red cars were almost a second back, and Kimi Räikkönen complained that he couldn’t even get the supersofts up to operating temperatures.
“It was a little better in the race,” says Ferrari’s Maurizio Arrivabene. “But that’s not the solution. If you think everything is fine, you’re thinking wrong. Barcelona is still present in our memory and we are working on solutions.”
Mercedes: Second engine will have more power
Except for Force India’s VJM-whatever of Nico Hülkenberg all Mercedes powered cars were still using the first power unit in Monaco. During the Monaco weekend Mercedes’ Niki Lauda told RTL that Mercedes wants to rebuild an advantage that allows them to run qualifying and race without having to keep an eye on Vettel’s Ferrari.
Part of that endeavour is the introduction of the second power unit for the Canada GP. “We have the second engine now, while others are already on the fourth,” said the Austrian – rather stating the obvious. “We ran six races with the first unit and both cars finished every time. That’s a great achievement. Now it starts all over again in Canada.”
In contrast to Monaco, where engine power is secondary, the track in Montreal will favour the Mercedes unit with its sequence of long straights, hard braking and slow corners. Lauda refused to tell how many tokens have been used for the second unit, but left no doubt that the R&D department at Brixworth has not been asleep and that reliability and power improvement have been the focus for the first evolution.
Vettel drops F-bomb on George and Dave
The PC brigade was deliriously happy when WEC dropped the tradition of grid girls recently. Monaco went one further and introduced grid boys last weekend, a move that was not universally appreciated. At the end of the post-race presser – Lewis and Nico were already preparing to leave – Mr. V had an opinion to offer:
In an interview with Sky Germany, he elaborated on the matter.
“I’m gutted. If I was into guys, okay, that’d be different, but really, you park your car and stare at the arse of George and Dave. I’m not happy about that. This is Monaco. Grid girls are a tradition and we shouldn’t break with it. Ridiculous.”