Monthly Archives: February 2010

No posts for a few days

Right, I’ll be off in Paris from tomorrow until Monday, so unfortunately I won’t be able to update G-Force while I’m there.

Once I get back, I will try and catch up on the news I’ve missed. The good thing is, there aren’t any launches or tests while I’m in Paris, so hopefully I won’t miss much.

Anyways, should be some laugh :D

3rd February: Testing results

Yet another day with Ferrari on top of the timesheets today in Valencia, but this time it was Fernando Alonso who led the way.

A massive crowd of over 35,000 (compared to 7,000 for the last 2 days) greeted Alonso at the track. His fastest lap was a 1m11.470s. This was not only a great lap, but it was at the start of a long stint, so it wasn’t just a loght fuel load that was pushing him on. However, Alonso has remained cautious, saying:

“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix. We are at that period of winter testing.”

“We need to make the car very, very strong and until Barcelona or the last test at Jerez I think we will not look for the performance.”

He added: “The first impression is always good. It was very good last year, and I was not in Q3 very often. For that I’m very, very cautious.”

Pedro de la Rosa continued to set fast laps, coming in 2nd with a best lap of 1m12.094s. It is understood that the Mercedes car does not have its full diffuser integrated yet, but Michael Schumacher still came third with 1m12.438s.

Behind them, Jaime Alguersuari was fourth, followed by Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg. Nico was involved in an incident with de la Rosa earlier in the day, where the two clashed. Hulkenberg’s car was believed to be marginally damaged. He still managed to get 126 laps out of the car across the day.

Times from the day:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)   1:11.470  127
 2.  de la Rosa    BMW Sauber-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.094   80
 3.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)   1:12.438   82
 4.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.576   97
 5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:12.951   82
 6.  Petrov        Renault              (B)   1:13.097   75
 7.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)   1:13.669  126

Pictures from today's testing:

Fisichella joins Ferrari Le Mans team

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella

It has been announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will join former F1 driver Jean Alesi at the AF Corse in a GT2-class Ferrari 430.

He will share the car with regukar AF Corse driver Toni Vilander. This will be Ferrari’s first season in the full Le Mans Series, having only contested the 24-hour race for the last 3 years.

I’d prefer to see Fisi in Formula 1, but if there’s no seat available for him, there’s no reason for him to stay.

Virgin launch VR-01 online

The new Virgin VR-01

The new Virgin VR-01

The Virgin Racing VR-01 has been launched online, which makes them the first of the new teams to launch their cars.

The car was released entirely online, which gives the Virgin the tag of an “all-digital” car. This is because this car was entirely designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is using computers to simulate the aerodynamics of the car. The designer of the car, Nick Wirth, was behind the CFD project, and said:

“Today is a very proud day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing, however on this occasion, where the car is the star, I want to pay tribute to all the amazing people at Wirth Research who deserve so much of the credit for the VR-01. Putting together an F1 team, assembling an engineering group and designing a new car from scratch is an epic task in the timeframe we have been working to.”

“I have been fortunate to have worked with the very best designers in F1 and I am well aware of exactly what it takes to be successful in this sport. When you see what the existing teams have achieved using the conventional but proven design approach, it is unsurprising that there is a great deal of scepticism about our all-CFD approach. But we are competing in a sport that is undergoing significant change having come face to face with today’s harsh economic realities. Under resource restriction, convention will become too costly and necessity really will be the mother of invention. I have absolute belief in the digital design process and the opportunity to put the all-CFD approach to the test at the highest level – to demonstrate that this could be the way for the future of F1 – is very, very exciting.”

I’m only taking a guess here, having never seen the performance of a CFD car, but this seriously looks like the future of technology in F1. The most affected team by this would be Williams, who recently invested tens of millions of pounds into 2 new wind tunnels.

The team principal of Virgin, John Booth, explained why the car wasn’t ready for the Valencia tests:

The first stage in our on-track evaluation programme is our two-day shakedown at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday this week, where we will conduct systematic testing and confidence-building of all car parts and on-car systems. It was always intended that we would miss the first all-team test in Valencia this week and very early on we targeted the second Jerez test in two weeks’ time for our public testing debut. It is a testament to our methodical approach and the sheer hard work of the team that we are heading to Spain a week earlier than planned to take part in the first Jerez test next week.”

Richard Branson added to this, saying:

I’m sure we will be measured by how fast the car is on the track in Jerez next week, but I hope that doesn’t overshadow the far bigger achievement of pulling an entire racing team together and taking a brave step that defies convention. In many ways this is an exploration, but given the absolute self-belief we have seen, I can’t help but feel very excited about what we can go on to achieve in the years ahead.”

“For now though I’m looking forward to seeing the VR-01 on –track in testing in the coming weeks as we prepare for Virgin Racing’s very first grand prix.”

VR-01 dimensions

Length: 5,500mm
Height: 950mm
Width: 1,800mm
Wheelbase: 3,200mm

Having never seent the car on track, it would be a bad idea to make judgements on the Virgin car already. However, we can definitely say that the livery looks great. I was pretty close when I showed the picture of the possible livery last week.

The car itself is a bit odd in places. First of all, the front wing looks heavily underdeveloped, in all sections. The Red Bull nose has been adopted, but only slightly. The nose cone itself is very different to the other teams, being much narrower. Also, the side engine intake area doesn’t look very aerodynamic at all.

Does it remind anyone else of the MF1 car from 2006?

Video of the car launch:

Pictures of the launch:

Stefan GP to launch on 25th, and test 2 drivers

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Despite still having no entry for the 2010 world championship, Stefan GP have now announced that they are to test their new car at Portimao, Portugal, on the 25th February.

The car will be launched a few days before this test. I talked earlier today about them sending equipment to Bahrain, now they have moved forward with the news that they will spend 3 days testing in Portimao.

Stefan GP have also said that they are to test two drivers at this 3-day test. If they get a place on the 2010 grid, these two will probably become the team’s drivers. It is understood that Kazuki Nakajima will be one of the drivers.

The car, called the Stefan S01, has been developed by the team, but with technical support from Toyota, ever since Stefan GP bought their data, parts, and chassis. The engine, to be called the Stefan RG-01, has also been serviced by Toyota.

Clearly, the team are very confident, but will it pay off? It is understood that Zoran Stefanovich, the team owner, believes that two teams (probably Campos and USF1) are in trouble financially. He and the team believe that at least one of these teams will not make it to Bahrain, so Stefan will be ready to take their place. That is, if the FIA give them the place.

After all this effort, Stefan should be given a chance, but not while there’s 13 other teams on the grid. I’m getting a bit tired of all the rumours of the new teams struggling, so a stable new team would be a welcome sight.

February 2nd: Testing results

Felipe Massa has finished top of the timesheets again in Valencia, as the second day of F1 testing concluded.

His best lap of 1m11.722 was faster than Kamui Kobayashi (1m12.056) and Lewis Hamilton (1m12.256). Kubica was much faster today than yesterday, his fastest lap being 2.5 seconds quicker than yesterday’s best. Nico Rosberg was 5th, followed by Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Buemi. There is no news yet as to if Toro Rosso are still having downforce problems.

Robert Kubica stopped out on track, after just setting his two fastest laps. The red flag was out, and the session did not restart after that. This happened at around 16:00.

Robert Kubica after stopping out on track

Robert Kubica after stopping out on track

Another interesting thing to note is that both Kubica and Buemi put on different helmets today, to test aerodynamic efficiency.

We also saw McLaren’s secret new diffuser, without the use of spy cameras. This picture is included in the photo section.

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.11.722
2. K. Kobayashi BMW Sauber C29 1.12.056 +0.334
3. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1.12.256 +0.534
4. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.12.426 +0.704
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.12.899 +1.177
6. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.13.377 +1.655
7. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.13.823 +2.101

Photos from today’s test:

New rule changes approved by F1 commission

The new rule changes to F1, such as the new points system, the top ten finishers keeping their tyres into the race, less tyres per weekend, and a ban on double-decker diffusers, have been accepted by the F1 commission.

The most important rule change is that to the points system. The new layout is as follows:

1st – 25 points
2nd – 18 points
3rd – 15 points
4th – 12 points
5th – 10 points
6th – 8 points
7th – 6 points
8th – 4 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point

The main change is that to the difference between 1st and 2nd. There is now 7 points between them, instead of 5. This is to encourage drivers to try to go for the lead more. It seems to be a good change, compared to the old one.

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Another change is that to the Q3 qualifyers’ tyres. Now, the top ten qualifyers will be forced to keep their tyres into the race. This means that there will be a mix of drivers on the hard and soft tyres in the top ten.

I have said already that this is a bad decicion. We were about to see pure qualifying, for the first time in a long while, but that’s out the window now. You can read more about this on my older post.

Next up is the reduction in the use of tyres over a weekend. Last year, each car was allocated 14 sets of slick tyres to use over the entire weekend. This year, there will only be 11 sets of tyres per driver.

Not only that, but 1 set will have to be returned to the FIA on first Friday practice, and 2 sets on second Friday practice. This will leave 8 sets for Saturday practice, qualifying, and the race. This rule is intended to encourage more running in the Friday practice sessions.

Not a bad idea this one, as it will bring more racing on Fridays. Not only this, but Bridgestone will have their costs hugely reduced. Maybe this is an idea to keep them in F1 after 2010.

Overall, apart from the Q3 tyre rule, these seem to be good changes. Hopefully it can bring better racing without ruining the sport itself.

The full statement from the FIA is available here.

The “most exhaustive” F1 survey ever

FOTA, who are organising the survey

FOTA, who are organising the survey

FOTA have launched what they have called the “most exhaustive” F1 survey ever.

The survey is to find out what every type of person feels about Formula 1, even if they rarely watch it. The survey definitely deserves it title, it covers everything. There are questions about how they feel about racing technology, overtaking, changing race structure, the drivers and teams, safety, and broadcasting.

Even if you aren’t interested in Formula 1, I’d encourage you to take the survey anyway. These results will probably be used by FOTA to push for a new F1 in the future.

Have your voice heard – take the survey here.

Oh, and make sure you say you’re over 18 ;) They won’t let you take the survey if you say you aren’t!

Di Resta is Force India test driver

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

As I had earlier predicted, Paul di Resta has been announced as the third driver for Force India in 2010. As part of this, it has been announced that he will take part in Friday practice sessions with the team.

This raises the predictions that he will drive for the team in 2011. Di Resta was said to be “ecstatic”, saying:

“I think this programme is a perfect way to prepare fully and be ready to go if and when the chance of a race seat comes. I hope this will be the start of a long-term future with Force India.”

Paul di Resta is sponsored by Whyte & Mackey, who also happen to sponsor Force India this year. He also drove for the team at the December young driver test last year. He has been racing in DTM for the last 3 years. Before that, he won the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2006.

Stefan GP heading to Bahrain

Despite not being on the entry list for the 2010 championship, Stefan GP will still turn up at the Bahrain GP in expextation of racing.

A statement on their site read:

“SGP becomes the first team in F1 history who [sent] a 40 foot container full of equipment to the race in Bahrain without having entry for 2010 season!”

Just a few days ago, we found out that Stefan GP had acquired Toyota’s technical data and parts. With their chassis, they certainly have potential.

Still though, it’s very risky (and quite arrogant) to announce this so early. I’m not sure the FIA would approve these actions. Anyway, the only way Stefan GP would get on the entry list is if one of the current teams drops out. Clearly, Zoran Stefanovich believes that either Campos or USF1 doesn’t have the drive to get to the grid.

Or, even if they aren’t allowed to race, they could always do a Hans Heyer

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