Archive for March, 2011

BBC’s commentary

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by philcurryf1

I really was unsure when Martin Brundle was promoted to lead commentator. I loved his analysis of various events during a race, and felt that as he took over the lead role, this would be lost. No disrespect to David Coulthard, but I wasn’t sure he would be as insightful.

Martin is an expert analyst, he has won awards for his time in the comms box at various races. Upon taking the lead role, this is clearly something he has not broken out of. And I thought it was great.

Martin’s occasional analysis coupled with the fact that he knew what was going on made it much more engaging. But he didn’t go in too heavy, leaving that to DC, so as not to alienate new fans. The atmosphere between the two seemed warm as well. I had never noticed any strain between Legard and Brundle, until yesterday.

Yes there were a few niggles, like repeating himself once or twice, but these will easily go with experience. I found myself listening to every piece of information that was offered, and really felt drawn in to the race.

DC did well, he carried on his role of analyst alongside Jake Humphrey in the pits, and he worked well, never having to cut over Martin, the way he had to cut over Legard.

One other thing – I have never heard the lead commentator correct the analyst! In qualifying, DC questioned why Vettel was using softs, to which Martin replied – “well they only have 11 minutes to set a time, so they need to get a good lap in…” i could somehow never see Murray doing that to him!

Good call BBC, and well done to Martin and David. Long may this partnership continue.

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Deconstructing Kolles statement…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by philcurryf1

This is why I am not a fan of Hispania Racing. They constantly paint themselves in a favourable light even when impossible to do so. Martin Brundle, on the BBC commentary, described them as a “waste of petrol” and to be honest, I agree.

This is a statement made by Colin Kolles, Hispania Racing Team Principal, after the team failed to qualify for the Australian GP. I have added my own thoughts to each line:

“In the end it just couldn’t be, still I’m incredibly proud of my whole team. Our drivers produced the maximum in the least amount of time possible.”

Why was it the least amount of time possible? If that is the maximum they could do, it doesn’t bode well for the season.

“We managed to get both cars ready in time for qualifying and proved that the car is capable of running a lot quicker than today.”

Other teams got their cars ready for FP1 and FP2, so this isn’t a big achievement really. Proved the car was faster? How exactly, it was as slow in the morning as it was in qualifying.

The circumstances in which we arrived were not as desired. We created a miracle again, but it wasn’t enough.”

Why were the circumstances not ideal? Again, the car was launched at the last test, but couldn’t be run due to ‘parts being held up at customs.’ Yet the team turn up in Melbourne with two incomplete and unbuilt cars. Were they ever likely to run in testing? Were parts really held up? I am now not so sure.

We’ll be back stronger than ever in Malaysia. There we will have more time to test the car and show where the F111 really belongs”.

In the skip to be honest. With no testing, I fail to see how they are going to improve the car to make it three seconds faster, and make the cut in qualifying, and then get close to everyone else on the grid.

Virgin Racing came out last year and admitted they hadn’t built a big enough fuel tank. You would imagine, had that fate befallen HRT, they’d have blamed their fuel supplier for making it from a thicker liquid, or the FIA for not regulating fuel density…

Vettel wins as unknowns become clearer

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by philcurryf1

The Australian Grand Prix is back as the first race of the season – which somehow feels right. It is nice to get up early to watch the start of the season, even if it does mean that, for some reason i am struggling today!

It was also a more exciting race than Bahrain last year. Yes, one car led from lights to flag, and dominated proceedings, but there was an air of the unknown.

At the start, Hamilton got away poorly from second, losing out to Webber before regaining the position at turn one. A fast starting Petrov (more on him later) baulked Button, which in turn caused Alonso to run wide, and drop from 5th to 10th. Massa meanwhile, took advantage to climb from 8th to 4th. This was a key point for a couple of reasons.

The ‘air of the unknown’ I mentioned came about in a few ways. Firstly, we were never sure about those tyres. It was not just how well they would last, but how well they could last on each car. In FP1 we had seen that Red Bull seemed heavy on its Pirelli rubber, so would Vettel and Webber be required to make extra stops?

Another unknown was the McLaren. Written off after winter testing, no one knew what to expect. It flew. Yet it had never covered a full race distance in one long run before this weekend. However, Hamilton was able to peg Vettel, until his floor dropped, and Button was visibly faster than the Ferraris. The team could have had a double podium…

That brings me to point three – DRS. We didn’t know what the system would do, how easy it would make it to overtake. But we got a first hand demonstration in the Massa / Button battle. As I have said before, DRS will aid overtaking, not cause it. All the driver in front has to do is choose a defensive line into a corner, and the pass will not happen. That is exactly what occurred, with Button using the DRS, and Massa defending.

Button’s drive through was fair and just, but was a shame. McLaren asked Race Control what they should do, but I do believe they should have known. Martin Whitmarsh states that they didn’t see the move, but I swear they have screens on the pit wall. What did surprise me though, was Alonso passing Massa directly afterward. Were Ferrari playing a team game there? They believed button would have to let Massa through, which meant Alonso would also have to be let past. Alonso was about to pit anyway, so he didn’t really gain a huge advantage by passing his team-mate. Clever move.

In the end, it was Vettel, from Hamilton, with a very impressive Petrov taking the final podium step. Well done to him. After last season, being openly questioned as to whether he was any good, he raced comfortably, and never looked like losing third to Alonso, who must be sick of the sight of the Renault rear wing. Petrov outpaced his team-mate all weekend, and while Heidfeld claims damage caused him to finish 14th, one only needs to look at qualifying.

Special mention to a couple of rookies. Sergio Perez drove a one stop race, something even Pirelli couldn’t believe, to finish an impressive seventh. However, Sauber were later disqualified from the results, due to a technical infringement with their rear wing. They are set to appeal. This lifted British rookie Paul Di Resta into the points in 10th. He drove a solid race in a Force India which really should be doing better.

Mercedes and Williams both recorded DNFs, Mercedes cars were both involved in accidents. One note, the track was much less cluttered without the HRTs racing. We wait to see if they can make the 107% cut in Malaysia.

Those tyre markings

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 by philcurryf1

having watched FP1 and FP2 today, and going through the highlights, I can say honestly that I cannot see which tyres the cars are on at speed.

From the onboard shots, on the T-Bar camera, you can see the yellow markings, but not the silver. From any other camera, you can’t see anything.

On track, the car is more often driving toward the cameras. By the time it reaches them, the camera tracks so quickly to follow it, you don’t have time to focus on the wheels. The yellow was very blurred, the silver merged perfectly with the black.

At least with the lines on the sidewall, there was a constant colour going around the wheel, so it didn’t blur in. Plus, the car coming toward you, there was still the chance to see if the option, or prime tyres were bolted on. I find I am having to do too much work to see who is running what.

We won’t see the red and white combo for a few races yet, but I don’t hold much hope. I remember Bridgestone played with the idea of big coloured dots on the tyres at one point, and they decided on the stripe solution instead.

Sorry Pirelli, nice try, nice idea, but it isn’t working.

Although I welcome your comments!

Mclaren surprise in FP2

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 by philcurryf1

After lagging behind during winter testing, McLaren came to Albert Park with renewed vigour, claiming a second-a-lap improvement thanks to a few design tweaks. They certainly didn’t disappoint, claiming a 1-2 in FP2, while getting in 55 laps during FP1. The wear rate on the tyres did not seem that extreme either.

McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh explained that the team’s octopus style exhaust just wasn’t working as they hoped, and going back to a conventional exit, together with a new floor, made sense. There was also a new front wing, to improve the airflow. Button commented that the handling of the car felt more “complete”.

Elsewhere, Red Bull and Ferrari stayed at the sharp end of the times, Webber topping the FP1 timesheets, and Alonso taking third in both sessions. Massa remained slightly anonymous however, in 11th and 7th respectively. Mercedes too looked promising, although not quite as quick as the expected title favourites.

Renault were disappointing. Both Petrov and Heidfeld struggled to make an impact on the times, Petrov outpacing Heidfeld in both sessions. For a team that looked promising in testing, it was quite a difference. One wonders what they would have done with a fired up Kubica behind the wheel.

At the other end, Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok took the honours for the first crash of the season, ripping apart the front of his Lotus on his first corner out. Force India and Williams held fort in midfield, although Paul Di Resta did outpace Sutil in his only practice run out.

At the back were Virgin, who struggled to achieve a time within 107% of the fastest. Their hopes are that hard tyres are used by the front-runners, while they will set their times on the medium compounds (an update on tyre markings to follow!). HRT are probably wishing that tyre choice was their only problem too. Neither car made it out in FP1, while Luizzi only completed an installation lap in the final two minutes of the second session.

So, where are we for quali and the race tomorrow? Who knows!

HRT in trouble again

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 by philcurryf1

It seems to be a case of Deja Vu at Hispania. First, they arrive at a grand prix with no testing, and then they get one car out in FP2 for an installation lap, but no more.

I want to like this team, the way I used to like Minardi – back of the grid strugglers who do their best. But unlike Minardi, they don’t own up to their problems. Take the whole FOTA argument. Then the extraordinary statement that if they didn’t have rookie drivers, they’d have beaten Lotus to 10th last season.

You also have to ask – how much did they pay for a top Hollywood designer to create their livery? Then who decided to go public with the lack of sponsors, by paining the car in ‘you could go here’ slogans – usually reserved as fillers in magazines.

The situation they find themselves in in so absurd, that one Twitter feed this morning wrote: “Luizzi is seated in the car – so the seats are not stuck in customs!”

The team now say they will get both cars out and running in FP3. Still however much they do, indeed if they do anything, they will need to find a set-up and hone it, ready for qualifying. Once there, they need to beat the 107% target. I can’t see them doing it.

The Pirelli colour system

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 by philcurryf1

Ok, hopefully we have all seen it now. Pirelli have decided not to follow Bridgestone, with a stripe around the softer compound at races. Instead, they will colour their logos, using different colours for each individual compound

Super soft = red / Soft = yellow / Medium = white / Hard = silver / Intermediate = blue / Wet = orange

A lot of comments have been made regarding the closeness in colour of the medium and the hard, with people stating that the two compounds will be indistinguishable at speed. Pirelli have said that they will continue to enforce the ‘one compound gap’ principle that Bridgestone started. However, they have also mentioned in the past that this will be evaluated. It could be the case, that on some harder wearing tracks, they will need to bring medium and hard – if this occurs, I am sure they will evaluate the markings.

I like the idea of marking the inters and wets. Again, many have been asking why, as the tread pattern should tell the difference. I have never been able to make out the tread of a tyre at 180mph! By marking them, we will see who is on the wets, and who is chancing it on a drying track. If a car is faster, we can tell which tyre is best to be on.

My concern is the view of the tyres from the overhead camera. I’ll admit, I was unsure how they would look in general, but that is a wait and see moment. From overhead though, you will only be able to see the marking on the inside, and with the suspension in the way, this could make it difficult to spot who is on what.

Another point. I hate the Pirelli logo! It looks so un-natural being straight, on a curved tyre. I’ve always thought it wrong. Why can they not do what they did with the promotional tyres, shown when the company got the supply contract – see below