Daily Archives: March 9, 2010

Bahrain FIA press conference schedule

The Thursday and Friday press conferences have been announced. The Thursday conference features an all-star line-up, while Friday focuses on the up-and-coming youngsters.

Here is the line-up:

Thursday March 11, 1500 hours local time (1200 GMT):
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).

Friday March 12, 1600 hours local time (1300 GMT):
Lucas Di Grassi (Virgin), Nico Hulkenberg (Williams), Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), Robert Kubica (Renault) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).

Interestingly enough, the drivers in the Thursday conference share 11 drivers world championships between them. As usual, the qualifying and race conferences willbe compiled of the top three finishers in their respective sessions.

Full transcripts are available on Formula1.com. Anything interesting that they say will be available here.

Large advantage to Sauber because of tyre managment

Sauber's biggest advantage could well be in their tyre managment

Sauber's biggest advantage could well be in their tyre managment

Only an hour ago, I was talking about how tyre managment was going to be a serious issue in Bahrain. Now, Bridgestone claim that Sauber could well be a thorn in the side of the “big four” teams, because they are so good at managing their tyres.

Sauber were already showing great pace in pre-season testing, and now news has been released saying that the team suffers less tyre degradation than Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development, says that Sauber is different to the other teams:

"We have compared many teams' data and looking at the quick [four]
teams – their degradation tendency is very, very similar. Once they
have the 150kg start weight, with both the medium and soft compound,
then there is little difference – so we could expect a very close
pace. However, Sauber is more consistent."

There are two tactical advantages that Sauber can take from this. The first is more obvious, in that they can use the softer compund of tyres for longer distances than anyone else, and get a huge boost from this. In Bahrain, it is well known that the medium tyre is much worse than the super-soft, so Sauber can now benefit by being on the super-softs for longer without having to pit early.

The second is made in qualifying. In 2010, there is a new rule stating that the top 10 cars have to start the race with the tyres they set their fastest Q3 lap on. This will mean a mix of teams running the medium, who will be slower but will last longer into the race, or teams who run the super-soft, qualify well, andn then are forced to pit early. Now though, Sauber can confidently qualify with the super-soft tyre, and still be able to run a long distance with them. By my figuring, the optimum strategy for them would be to run the super-soft tyres for the first two stints, then the medium for the last stint. This would mean that they can keep up in terms of performance, and still run longer on better managed tyres.

BMW Sauber's technical chief Willy Rampf has acknowledged that their tyre managment is one of their strong points:

"The car doesn't have any stability problems, and its performance 
and balance on high fuel loads is a strong point. We will build on 
this – it's a very good thing. Our car is not too heavy on its tyres, 
so we can do reasonable long stints without killing them.

That will help keep the strategies more flexible, if you're not 
forced to stop by tyre wear."

Last year, if you remember, Jenson Button won in Monaco, primarily because he was so good at managing the softer tyre, which degraded too quickly for the other teams and drivers, most notably Sebastian Vettel. This same scenario may well happen again in 2010.

Hot and dry conditions for Bahrain, which will affect tyre choices

The Bahrain International Circuit

The Bahrain International Circuit

As the Formula 1 teams make their annual pilgrimage to Bahrain, it is no surprise to see that dry and hot conditions are being forecast for the weekend.

Since Bahrain first hosted a Grand Prix in 2004, conditions have always been perfectly dry, but often too hot. This year, temperatures are forecast at around 35°C, with a southerly wind speed of 8-9kph. This wind speed will help speed the cars up slightly on the straight.

As we all know from last year, temperatures play a critical role in tyre managment. This year, it is even more important, as tyres will wear more heavily at the first stints compared to the last, due to the heavier fuel loads. Therefore, very hot temperatures mean that the teams may use the harder compound more.

As the same as last year, Bridgestone are supplying super-soft and medium compund tyres. Last year, we saw the Toyotas completely fall apart when they took on the medium tyres in the middle stint, so the super-softs will still probably be the optimum tyres. You may be right to say that the teams would want to put on the super-softs for the first 1 or 2 stints, then change to the mediums. But, the high temperatures combined with an extremely heavy fuel load will result in massive amounts of tyre wear, which is most noticable in the super-soft tyres.

Since there are large problems with both sets of tyres, and not much time to test them, get ready for some seriously strange strategies in Bahrain.

Rome Grand Prix confirmed for 2013

Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that there will be a Rome GP from 2013 onwards. This will see the F1 calendar expanding to 20 races, the highest ever.

Last year, it seemed that Ecclestone was drifting away from the idea of having a street race in Rome, but a deal seems to have been made, according to Ecclestone:

"Rome will come into the programme for 2013. We will have 20 races 
and the teams will be happy with it."

Another street circuit, oh goody. That was Monaco's idea, now we already have 4 imitations (Canada and Australia technically count), and there's another one on the horizon. Only 2 of these races are any good, and Ecclestone doesn't seem to like either of them. I'm sure you're wondering will this circuit be able to match Canada and Australia, and here's your answer: It's being designed by Herman Tilke. You know what that means.

Even if the tifosi come out in force (almost definitely), I can't see this circuit having any heart in it, and I'm saying this a year before we will even see drafts of the track design.

But, there's a much more serious problem. The organisers of this race, and many others, seem to be implying that this is an attack on the Monza race. I can't find a link for this, but I will add it as a separate post in due course. In summary, the organisers want only 1 Italian Grand Prix,and of course it's the Roman one. I'm telling you now, if Monza if thrown off, Ecclestone is a dead man. Not by me, of course, by the thousands - millions, even- of livid Italians living in the north. This will hardly end well.

Silverstone Arena circuit nearly completed

The Silverstone Arena circuit’s tarmac has been laid, as well as the other improvements to the circuit, which have nearly been completed.

The Silverstone track, which recently got a new 17-year contract as part of the renovations, is well on course to have all of this done before the British Grand Prix in July. As well as the new tarmac for the Arena section, there are now revised run-off areas on the Brooklands and Woodcote corners.

Also, there are new spectator areas opposite the pits, and raised grandstands at the Becketts complex. Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Richard Phillips said work was progressing according to schedule:

"Work on the circuit and venue is on schedule. The team has been working 
around the clock, through some pretty terrible weather conditions, 
to make sure the circuit is ready on time. The track works at Brooklands 
and Woodcote are now complete, including the new run-off area for the fast 
entry into Pits Straight, while the major new development – the new section 
of circuit from Abbey, up to the Arena Complex and round to the National 
Straight – is also coming along nicely.
There is still a considerable amount of work going on at Silverstone, 
including the new elevated banks and spectator viewing areas, which will 
continue beyond March. Conference and hospitality buildings are also 
being built on the new Stowe."

Having seen these pictures and how well they're going, I'm getting more skeptical about the Korean Grand Prix photos I reported on yesterday. Yes, there are 3 months between these races, but the track will still have to be homolgamated before F1 cars can race on it. Hopefully we can escape this imminently boring race for another year.

Photos of the development:

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