The ‘lift and coast’ apologetic is spreading like wildfire

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Following a remarkable FIA drivers’ press conference in Austria where almost to a man, the drivers’ defended the much criticised ‘lift and coast’ driving style used in every F1 race this year – Lewis Hamilton who was not in attendance was surprisingly on message too.

According to Nico Rosberg, driving an F1 car in ‘lift and coast’ mode in 2015 is still ‘on the limit’; and Lewis kind of agrees.

“It’s different definitely from the years where you had fuel pitstop and you had tyres which you could perhaps push further,” Lewis told the gathered media in Austria.

“But it’s the new way of F1, apparently. It’s not easy to be accurate with the different driving techniques we have to use nowadays.

“Naturally when you’re behind people you want to be pushing to get past, but you’ve also got to watch your fuel, and watch your tyres, because otherwise you won’t make your stop.

“There’s so many things which you have to have in the back of your mind when you make those decisions.”

So what of the much-disliked car to pit radio mega information the drivers receive during each race?

“For us drivers with the way these tyres are, [for] the optimum way to get to the end of the race, we don’t have all the information in front of us.

“You can’t feel how much fuel you are using. You are driving as fast as you can the majority of the time, so you need some guidance with that.

“What do you think’s going to happen if they don’t tell me about tyres? I’m still going to drive the same. And if they don’t tell me about fuel, then maybe more cars won’t finish. If that’s more exciting, we can do that!”

F1 claims to be the pinnacle of motorsport, yet the cars’ instruments appear unable to give the driver the accurate information he requires.

“You have no guidance to know how much fuel you’re using. There is an indicator that you can have, but it’s not very accurate. You’re just driving your race, and you know you have 100kgs to use.

“It’s not like you have a figure that shows you how much money you are using in your bank account and you can see it going down as you make your payments.

“A lap is payment and you don’t know how much fuel you used than any other lap.

“You could just use one lower gear and you lose than than the one before, or you can be a little bit more aggressive on power and you use a little bit more fuel than on the previous lap, but you can’t see that. So that’s where you get the guidance.

“A couple of years ago there was more information, so I’m not really sure, I think people are looking to blame something because they’re unhappy about something.”

Aha. So there’s nothing wrong with F1, its all just a blame game.

That said, Lewis appears confused and unsure what the blame is for and/or who is blaming whom.

Curioser and curioser.

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26 responses to “The ‘lift and coast’ apologetic is spreading like wildfire

  1. It’s just Dwarf Shite. A storm in a tea cup. The race engineers will be using another phrase from this race and the tin foil hat brigade will have to latch onto something else. Drivers in all forms of racing save fuel, tyres, gearboxes & engines. If something can break or run out, it needs looking after. The drivers/teams are being forced by dickheads to answer a question about part of racing that those who have a clue should know about.
    Twitter has a lot to answer for.

  2. For pete’s sake, can they really not fit a sodding fuel gauge in these things and let the driver sort it out?

  3. goodness me! twenty five years ago i had the first 328 6cyl BMW with the new body shape and it had an onboard computer that told me exactly how far i could go on what fuel was in the tank based on my current speed and my average speed. as i increased/decreased speed then the distance i could travel was displayed. if todays tech cannot provide an accurate feedback to the driver telling him his fuel position then i would be greatly surprised.

    • I too had a motor with a computer over 25 yrs ago, it was on a meastro and the computers name was margery..however she had a few faults, the window leaked and every morning when I started her(if she started) I had a barrage of messages thrown at me in a very stern female prison warden voice. Oil pressure low,water temp high and fasten seatbelt followed by the dreaded boing..if she is on the modern F1 systems its lucky they even make the start,hell that’s it!!! Honda joined forces and stole the code,its was like kitt from knight rider but with several circuits short of a mainframe. ‘Sure you will make that jump Michael,I have calculated the distance and its sa.’…….BANG!!

  4. The director Has a big influence on how we view the race and the sport by choosing what we see and hear. I mainly get tired from Bernard’s politicing but I guess I have to live with it for some more decades.

  5. In regard to the comments about the driver knowing how much fuel he is using I have had quite an interesting week in terms of absorbing information and being able to correlate that with the topics at hand.

    Firstly I visited Ansible Motion, a high end simulator supplier in Norfolk, now I would consider myself to be a decent road driver and have a chequered history doing track driving too (but in road based machinery) but having now used an F1 grade simulator running a fairly representative model I can tell you that F1 drivers (come to think of it Motorsport drivers of any kind) are a league beyond us mere mortals. I just had to drive the thing, let alone worry about the inumerous level of systems that an F1 driver would have to during a session. The bold statements like “anyone could drive one of these” simply aren’t true, it’s easy to sit in front of a PC/game console and say yea this is pretty easy but it’s all about scalabilty and that experience simply isn’t offering anywhere near the level of entanglement that the simulator/real world does. Don’t get me wrong, the longer I was in there the easier life became BUT the jeopardy to us mortals is huge, taking metronomic precision to make the braking points and apexes, all whilst the car is changing behaviour (fuel weight, tyre degradation, temps etc) Throw into the mix, at an average speed of 150mph, a change on this dial, scrolling through 20 menus on the PCU6 or 8D all the time thinking about the guy behind or infront and you suddenly have to have immense mental dexterity.

    In terms of the fuel readout the driver could have the information to hand, however, it is limited, again by his/her mental ability to make calculations on the fly whilst driving a car at 200+mph. The reason I say calculations is that there are several models at play, the fuel flow sensor is by no means wholly 100% accurate, it can be affected by variables such as vibrations, temperature fluctuations etc so the team also have their own fuel model calculation as a reference to work, from which if necessary they’ll have to utilise if the sensor starts to give erroneous readings. This is all closely monitored by the FIA so lets say you were running at the full 100kg/h, no settings are changed by the driver but you suddenly spike to 102kg/h the pitwall would get a notification from the FIA and they’d then have to justify either using their own fuel flow model or ask the driver to change their settings. In other words, the information provided by the car to the driver isn’t 100% fool proof so there needs to be a line of communication between the driver/engineer.

    • I have a slightly different take on this, firstly you have to remember these guys have being doing this since they could walk, this is there is their job, a lot muscle memory is involved.

      I used to play the F1 racing games a lot (big kid), got the steering wheel, with all the knobs, so you can adjust everything on the fly and it took a long while to build up to it, but eventually it all becomes a subconcious action. It got to the point where i wasn’t thinking about the driving at all, just concentrating on the track.

      Then my other half bought me a track day in single seater, and it felt just like my setup with the wheel at home, so much so that as i shot into the first corner, i hit the clutch with my left foot expecting it to be the brake. The point i’m trying to make is, if you do something often enough, you can train the brain not to think about most of it. So if after me playng sim a bit has trained me to behave in a certain way, these guys have been doing this forever and have access to a simulator, my guess is they concentrate on the track and don’t notice to much the other bits, and giving them a fuel gauge to worry about, well i think they’d just take in their stride.

      • Good points. When I was racing FF I could get into a state where I could step back and watch myself drive, without, it seemed, any input from my brain. The hand going for the gear lever seemed to be controlling itself, shifting at the right time, flick flick then back to the wheel, without input from me. Braking points and throttle were the same deal. It was pretty weird, sort of like watching a movie and it was, as you say, muscle memory and allowed me to concentrate on the actual racing part. To this day I can remember almost every lap I drove.

  6. ““A couple of years ago there was more information, so I’m not really sure, I think people are looking to blame something because they’re unhappy about something.”

    Aha. So there’s nothing wrong with F1, its all just a blame game.

    That said, Lewis appears confused and unsure what the blame is for and/or who is blaming whom.

    Curioser and curioser.”

    The thing is, he’s correct. Him saying that people are “looking to blame something” doesn’t mean he thinks that there’s “nothing wrong with F1”. Even looking at this website it’s clear to see that what he’s said is true. Journalists, bloggers, former drivers, etc. are all looking to pin the blame for a perceived lull in F1 on something, and it just so happens that this week it’s lift and coast.

    Hamilton and many others have stated in the past that they find that the biggest issue with overtaking (which is the crux of the issue) at the moment is the inability to follow cars ahead closely due to the changes in the nose and consequently the aero of the cars. If drivers are struggling to stay in the wake of other cars due to these changes then lifting and coasting is going to be pretty much irrelevant, isn’t it?

    To put it into context, the Mercedes is the best car out there at the moment yet they’re struggling to get past slower cars. Even with a pace advantage they’re still struggling, so how would being able to carry slightly more speed into a braking zone change any of that?

    I’m not a fan of lift and coast and would much prefer to see the drivers in a position where they can gun it for the full race, but with the main issues facing the cars being aero/tyre related I don’t really get why calling Hamilton out for downplaying the “problem” of lift and coast makes sense…

  7. I think the only way to ease the emphasis on lift and coast (L&C), is to make the teams put the whole 100kg of fuel allowance in the car for the start of every race. This would certainly help eliminate having to L&C due to the team under-fueling the car, but it would also mean, if the front runners were also under-fueling, they could go even quicker if the had to burn off all that extra fuel and make up for any additional weight they are carrying. Right now with the restrictions on the number of engines and gearboxes a driver can use in a season, every race is run to go as fast as possible while putting as little strain on the equipment as possible, so the simulations which are carried out pre-race to decide strategy, are not always run to find the quickest flat out way to the flag, but to find the slowest way they can, while still beating their nearest rivals. The issue may also be eased further, if and when the cars become much more similar in performance to each other, then the teams are forced to take the strategy that allows the driver to go as fast as they can because if they don’t, they won’t win. Then it all becomes more exciting automatically.

    • I like that idea very much Clear View, good one. They all start with the same fuel load; If you can’t meet minimum weight then too bad.

    • That wouldn’t work either. Are you forgetting the sighting laps before the race starts? Fuelling of the car is done in the pits, so all they’d do is the moment the pitlane is open, do at least 2-3 sighting laps at relative pace through the pits burning as much fuel as possible, so by the time they get to the grid, they probably would’ve burnt off a few kilos.

  8. I really can’t see what the big deal is about this lift n coast. If the commentators don’t mention or heard a pit radio conversation, we would be none the wiser that it’s happening. The drivers all says this has been happening for years now, not recently and it only happens at the end of the straights.

  9. Lift and coast, or what you call driver coaching are pretty understandable things. At least for an engineer. Do you want them to automate everything so drivers have more aids for these things, or something? Also lift and coast makes a lot of sense. You are balancing weight and fuel.

  10. if the car is sending accurate fuel data to the pitwall why can’t it just display that data in the wheel LCD? also any software guy can create a simple display with two vertical or horizontal meters- one indicating race distance remaining in percent and the other indicating fuel level remaining also in percent. heck, they could even make the file meter change from green to yellow to red if the driver is either using too little or too much fuel.

    • I actually have an app+odbII dongle that will do this on my phone in my BMW road car.

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