Monthly Archives: January 2010

McLaren MP4-25 launched (pictures)

The new McLaren MP4-25

The new McLaren MP4-25

McLaren’s new MP4-25 was released today, though some picture were leaked early online.

At the launch in Newbury, Lewis Hamilton was joined by new team-mate Jenson Button.

The most striking part of the new car is the shark fin engine cover. The red stripe on it looks brilliant! Otherwise, the wheelbase has been largely lengthened, with the driver area moved forward to accomodate this. The bargeboards are now shorter, with a higher angle of attack.

The front wing has many new sections, including a completely revised bridge wing. The endplates are also heavily changes, with two main vertical sections. Also, the front wing is higher, wider and more flat.

To be honest, I think it’s much vetter looking than last year’s car. I’m dissapointed that the paint scheme is nearly exactly the same, as I would have loved them to revert to their traditional black, or even orange!

F1 Fanatic have done some great pictures comparing the McLaren and the Ferrari, and the McLaren against last year’s car.

Here is a part of the launch (I didn’t include the full launch, it was just talk!):

More pictures from the launch:

Singapore considering track layout revisions

The Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix

The organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix have said that they are considering revisons to the circuit, to make it faster.

Both of the Singapore Grands Prix have run nearly two hours long, which is the FIA’s mandatory limit. Significant changes are being considered, to speed up the 3.152 mile track’s laps.

The current lap record was set by Fernando Alonso, a 1m48.240s. It is too late to make revisions to the 2010 circuit in time, but the Singapore Tourism Board are looking at making the changes by the 2011 race.

Justin Chew, the Singapore Tourism Board’s executive director, said:

“We are always looking to see how we can improve the Singapore Grand Prix. If it is for the good of the race and makes it more exciting for fans and drivers, we will consider it.”

The two modifications being considered are cutting Turns 7 to 9 into one 90 degree left-hander around the War Memorial, instead of through it. Also, the bus stop chicane that runs underneath the grandstands may be completely removed. Interestingly enough, this would get rid of the infamous Turn 17, where Nelson Piquet Jr intentionally crashed in 2008.

First picture of Williams FW32

Autosport has revealed the first picture of the new Williams FW32. For copyright resaons, I can’t reproduce the photo on this site, but you can view the photo here.

Nico Hulkenberg gave the car a shakedown today, before the F1 tests begin in Valencia on 1st February.

Sam Michael, the Williams technical director, said of the FW32:

“The FW32 is a clean-sheet design from front to back. It’s pretty much brand new from an aerodynamic point of view.”

“The fact that we had a consistent car across all of the tracks in 2009, and wiped out a lot of the vices that we had in the previous car, gives us confidence.”

Rubbish, as far as I can see. The nosecone looks to be higher, and the bargeboards have been hightened. Apart from a revised engine intake vent, it looks exactly the same to me.

Also, this is not the livery that Williams will be using. I’m not sure about the colour scheme, but there will be more sponsor logos on it when the Valencia tests begin.

Ferrari F10 unveiled (pictures)

The new Ferrari F10

The new Ferrari F10

Today Ferrari has unveiled their 2010 challenger, dubbed the F10.

However, the internet streaming did not go as planned, as a record 3 million people went onto the Ferrari site, and crashed the servers for anyone else trying to get on.

Regardless, the event went ahead, except without the promotional video. This is because the Fiorano track had practically frozen over, with temperatures barely getting over the freezing mark. Just a thought, we would have preferred it if they had filmed it on ice!

Felipe Massa will test the car first, on Monday in Valencia. He will then hand the car over to Fernando Alonso, who will drive it for the other 2 days.

Lets have a look at the car. First of all, it sports the nose arch hornlet featured by Red Bull last year. The rear wing has a new support structure, and a slightly revised engine cover. The bargeboards are different, and the wing mirror/turning vane now reaches much lower down. The front wing also has new endplates and other downforce-generating sections.

As expected, the car has a longer wheelbase, to deal with the enlarged fuel tank. Ferrari have kindly released specifications for the car:

Chassis

Carbon-fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Ferrari longitudinal gearbox
Limited-slip differential
Semi-automatic sequential electronically controlled gearbox – quick shift
Number of gears: Seven, plus reverse
Brembo ventilated carbon-fibre disc brakes
Independent suspension, push-rod activated torsion springs front and rear
Weight with water, lubricant and driver: 620 kg
BBS Wheels (front and rear: 13 inch)

Engine

Type: 056
Number of cylinders: Eight
Cylinder block in sand cast aluminium: 90-degree V
Number of valves: 32
Pneumatic distribution
Total displacement: .2398 cm3
Piston bore: 98 mm
Weight: > 95 kg
Electronic injection and ignition
Fuel: Shell V-Power
Lubricant: Shell Helix Ultra

F1 Fanatic have done some great comparison pictures with this year’s car and the old F60. You can view them here.

A Youtube video of the launch is also available here:

More pictures are also included here:

Why don’t they just leave the rules alone?

This time in 2009, Bernie Ecclestone unveiled his new idea for F1: the medal system. Cue outrage around the world. The idea was dropped two weeks before the season opener in Melbourne, but the controversy over it never really left. This stupid idea from Ecclestone was eventually left alone, but still revealed the Achilles heel of Formula 1: inconcistency.

At no point over the last decade have the rules and regulations been left alone for a long period of time. So many pointless changes, like the horrificly awful qualifying format for 2005 and the difference in tyre compunds in 2009 show how Formula 1 never learns.

At the moment, we are inundated with F1 leaders talking about “improving the show”. What’s this all about? Formula 1 isn’t a show, it’s a sport. In 2009, we saw one of the biggest overhaul of the technical regulations in recent history, to improve overtaking, which, after all the mad changes we saw, failed. This year, the F1 teams want to force the top ten qualifyers to keep their tyres into the race. They say that this will create a mix-up in the field. The crucial word in that last sentence was “create”.

Great racing isn’t created by constantly fiddling with the rules until it happens. Unfortunately,  everyone in FOTA, the FIA, Overtaking Working Group, and Technical Working Group seems to think it works. This means that, for years, we will be seeing more and more rule changes, to try and create artificial racing.

Just look at the tyre compounds at the start of 2009 for example. Here, Bridgestone decided to have one compound in between the ones they would be using each weekend (eg super-soft and medium, soft and hard). Since both compounds had to be used in a race, it would mean a huge difference in performance over stints. In Australia, we saw the super-softs disintegrate after 8 laps, and the medium tyres struggle to get heat into the rubber. What we ended up with was lots of action, as the field was constantly struggling with the tyres. Then, near the end, the inevitable happened: Vettel, who was struggling for grip, crashed into Kubica, and took them both out.

This is not only unpure racing, it’s just dangerous. It took Bridgestone nearly half the season to get the message, and finally reverted to the old tyre compound procedure. But, even though its gone, it simply guarantees my thoughts that these sort of rule changes are terrible for the sport.

Of course, the leaders of our sport never learn. So, for 2010, let’s go back to the Q3 “same tyre for race” rule. It hasn’t been approved yet, but almost certainly will be. This means that we will see a mix up in the grid, between drivers who go slower on more consistent tyres, or drivers who go quicker on fast-wearing tyres.

Isn’t this what we just banned with the refuelling ban? We wanted an end to seeing light-fuelled cars on pole, and the faster cars penned back because of a heavy fuel load. So what the hell is the point of ditching that, and introducing something which will end up exactly the same?

At the end of it all, it simply makes no sense. Maybe it’s too early to complain about the tyre rule changes, but seeing how other changes have gone down, I’m not confident. However, at some point, the Overtaking Working Group will get their wish. We will see a season filled with overtaking, action and incidents. The tv audience will be glued to their seats. And it will be hollow, because we will have artificially ruined Formula 1.

New pictures of Silverstone redevelopment

Yesterday I talked about the redevelopment that was going on at Silverstone, to coincide with the new Arena circuit that will probably be used from this year onwards. You can view that post here.

New pictures have been released showing the scale of the project. The grandstand on the start-finish straight has been torn down and is being moved back. Brooklands is getting an enlarged run-off area, and the footbridge at the pits is being redone. New kerbing at Copses is also being introduced.

Pictures are available here:

Ferrari to stream launch live

Last year's launch of the Ferrari F60

Last year's launch of the Ferrari F60

Ferrari have ann0unced that the unveiling of their 2010 car will also be broadcast live on the internet.

The car is being launched in Maranello, on Thursday. The presentation will begin at 10:30 local time (9:30 GMT) . Drivers Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella will also be present. The name of the 2010 car will also be revealed at this time.

Weather permitting, the car will take part in a promotional video at the Fiorano track. You can follow the launch at the team’s website.

Teams agree on new tyre rule for 2010 qualifying

Formula 1 teams have agreed to a new rule that will see all the qualifyers in Q3 (top ten) be forced to start the race on the tyres they set their fastest lap in Q3 with.

It is understood that the majority of teams present voted in favour of a rule that will require the top 10 cars that make it through to the final session of qualifying to start the race on the same tyres that they set their fastest Q3 time on.

This has not yet been introduced to the 2010 rules and regulations, but it has been understood that the Sporting Working Group have agreed already. The Formula 1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council will now vote on this change, before it is added as a regulation.

The Overtaking Working Group says that this is being done to “improve the show”. If it is introduced, teams will have to decide between a tyre that is slower but more consistent, and a quicker but faster-wearing tyre. The idea is that there will be a mix of tactics, and lead to more exciting races.

When asked about the new proposals, Martin Whitmarsh, chairman of FOTA, said:

“Inevitably, when you make a change, there are pros and cons,” he said. “Regarding the pros, it arguably makes qualifying purer because the fastest car/driver combination will be setting the fastest times, and the public can understand that.”

“Secondly, in the race itself, overtaking was often being planned and implemented to occur as a consequence of strategy, and therefore happening in the pit lane and not the circuit.”

“In the absence of that effect, drivers will have a greater incentive to overtake. There have been occasions in the past where a driver hasn’t had that incentive because he knows he will be running longer and can get past the car ahead strategically through the pit stops.”

“Additionally, the fact that drivers will qualify on low-fuel, and then the next time they drive the car in anger into the first corner will be after a standing start with cold tyres and cold brakes and 160kg of fuel.”

“That will be very challenging for them, not just in terms of getting round that first corner, but in terms of how they look after their tyres and how the balance of the car will alter as a consequence of that. And there will be drivers who are able to deal with those changes better than others.”

“Those are all the positives. On the negative side, it’s possible that if all of the above is managed equally well by every driver, then we’ll have lost one of the strategic campaign interests that the more avid fans enjoyed in the sport. Hopefully the former points will outweigh the latter.”

How stupid can they get? There is a distinctive line between “improving the show” and “racing”. These constant rule changes are confusing the fans that this sport is trying to attract. Even if we end up with an overtake-fest, it’s not real racing, because we artificially created it.

Real racing is allowing the teams to use whatever technology and methods they want, with only a few regulations involved for safety reasons, and throw them on track with the best drivers in the world.

But, of course, this is never going to happen. At some point, we will see Formula 1 become filled with overtaking and exciting incidents, and the sport will be empty inside.

Silverstone close to using “Arena” circuit

Silverstone's proposed layout for 2010

Silverstone's proposed layout for 2010

Silverstone is getting closer to a decicion that will see them decide on whether they will use the Arena circuit for their F1 race or not.

The managing director Richard Phillips said that, while he is hopeful that the circuit would be used, the final decicion rests with Bernie Ecclestone.

“It’s yet to be decided,” he told AUTOSPORT during a site visit to the Silverstone works. “We need approval from three sides. So far two have said yes and one [Ecclestone] says maybe, so we’ll work on that.”

“Allsport [F1's corporate hospitality company] has said yes. And while the FIA needs to homologate the new track of course, it is happy with the plan in principle.”

As long as the FIA stays happy, which they probably will, there is little to stop the circuit from being approved as an F1-suitable event. However, Ecclestone makes the final decicion, as his Formula One Managment (FOM) company has the authority to decide on the layout of the F1 calendar.

At the moment, the circuit is undergoing construction work. A new infield circuit is being constructed (not related to the Arena circuit), and mojor changes to grandstands and spectator facilities.

The Woodcote to Copse grandstand (to the left of the start-finish straigh) has been torn down, and will be moved further back, so as to allow the start-finish straight to be widened. The new grandstand will still be nearly as close to the track as the last one. As part of this upgrade, 180,000 tonnes of earth have alrady been moved, and 8,000 tonnes of asphalt have already been laid.

The only loss of the Arena circuit will be the the exclusion of the corners Bridge to Abbey (known as the Complex). Since this is a very tight series of corners with no chance of overtaking, I’m not sad to see it go. Not that it was bad, but it was slow and boring, a complete contast to the rest of the circuit.

The road replacing the Complex will consist of a right, instead of a left, before Bridge, then a straight, followed by a right jink, wide hairpin, and another straight to rejoin at the Woodcote corner.

The 2010 British Grand Prix is scheduled for the 11th July.

Renault R30 fired up for first time

The Renault R30 has been fired up for the first time, as the team looks forward to their launch on Sunday 31st January.

Pictures have been supplied by Renault, but they do not show the new car, as it will be under wraps until the Valencia test.

On its official site, the Renault team said:

“The fire-up of a new car is always a symbolic moment. Not only does it reassure the engineers that the car’s systems are in good working order, it also gives everybody a big morale boost. The sound of that V8 engine revving away was pretty sweet for everyone who played a part in getting it ready on time.”

Pictures from the engine fire-up:

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