Monthly Archives: March 2011

Sauber drop appeal against disqualification

Sauber's disqualification will stand

Sauber's disqualification will stand

Sauber have announced that they are not to appeal their team’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix.

Both their drivers had done well to get into points-scoring positions, but the stewards have since ruled that the C30′s rear wing contained illegal sections. It has been confirmed that a radius on the upper rear wing element was several millimetres outside of the regulations.

Despite claiming that Kobayashi and Perez gained no advantage from the rear wing, Sauber have decided to go with the stewards’ decision. Technical director James Key stated:

"It did not bring us any performance advantage, but the fact is that it was a 
deviation from the regulations. We take note of the stewards' decision.

We have since found that there was an error in the checking process for the 
relevant dimension on this component. We have already put measures in place to 
ensure that nothing of this kind occurs again in the future."

 

Australian Grand Prix stats and facts

The 2011 Formula 1 season got underway yesterday, which brought the inaugral podium for a Russian driver. More stats and facts from last weekend:

  • Sebastian Vettel took his 3rd Grand Prix victory in a row, taking into account last year’s Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix. If he had won the 2010 Korean race, he would have had 5 wins in a row, which would have earned him joint 4th place in the record books.
  • Red Bull’s 16th race win means they have as many as Cooper, and one less than BRM. This also means that the team have won 14% of all races they have entered since 2005.
  • This is the 94th time Jenson Button has finished in the points – exactly as many as Kimi Raikkonen.
  • This is the 19th Formula 1 season that Rubens Barrichello has started. Graham Hill, the previous record holder, had started 18.
  • Vettel’s pole position lap of 1.23.529 was the fastest lap ever around the Albert Park circuit.
  • Felipe Massa’s 13th fastest lap – his first since Monaco 2009 – has given him as many as Jacky Ickx, Alan Jones and Ricardo Patrese.
  • Sergio Perez would have been the 70th driver in history to score a point in his first race, but that record has been transferred to Paul di Resta after both Saubers were disqualified.
  • Mark Webber’s torrid form in Australia continues. His highest finish continues to be the 5th place he attained in 2002, when he was driving a Minardi.
  • Hispania’s drivers have been the first drivers to not qualify for the race since Alex Yoong (Minardi) in Germany 2002.
  • Lewis Hamilton’s 72nd race means he now holds joint 1st place for “Longest F1 career driving for a single team” with Jim Clark.
  • Vettel’s 11th win puts him equal with Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve. His 16th pole position is as many as Kimi Raikkonen and Stirling Moss.
  • This race had 5 world champions competing together, which is as many as back in 1970. Back then, Jac Brabham, Denny Hulme, John Surtees, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart all raced with world titles.
  • Australia hosts the F1 season opener for the 14th time in 2011.
  • Pirelli’s last win in F1 was back in 1991 in Canada, when Nelson Piquet won with a Benetton.

Points standings after Australian Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 25
2 Lewis Hamilton 18
3 Vitaly Petrov 15
4 Fernando Alonso 12
5 Mark Webber 10
6 Jenson Button 8
7 Felipe Massa 6
8 Sebastien Buemi 4
9 Adrian Sutil 2
10 Paul di Resta 1
11 Jaime Alguersuari 0
12 Nick Heidfeld 0
13 Jarno Trulli 0
14 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
15 Timo Glock 0
16 Sergio Perez 0
17 Kamui Kobayashu 0
18 Rubens Barrichello 0
19 Nico Rosberg 0
20 Heikki Kovalainen 0
21 Michael Schumacher 0
22 Pastor Maldonado 0
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi N/A
24 Narain Karthikeyan N/A

Constructor Standings:

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 35
2 McLaren-Mercedes 26
3 Ferrari 18
4 Renault 15
5 STR-Ferrari 4
6 Force India-Mercedes 3
7 Team Lotus 0
8 Virgin-Cosworth 0
9 Sauber-Ferrari 0
10 Williams-Cosworth 0
11 Mercedes GP 0
12 HRT-Cosworth N/A

Kobayashi and Perez disqualified from Australian GP results

Both Kobayashi and Perez have lost their points-scoring finishes

Both Kobayashi and Perez have lost their points-scoring finishes

Both Sauber drivers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez have been disqualified from the results of the Australian Grand Prix.

Their Sauber C30′s upper rear wing element was found by the stewards to not be within the regulations. The FIA have disqualified the team on the basis of them breaking Sections 3.10.1 and 3.10.2 of the technical regulations.

The removal of these two drivers from 7th and 8th means that Felipe Massa and Sebastien Buemi take their places, and Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta move up to 9th and 10th respectively.

Sauber have stated their intention to appeal. Technical director James Key has said:

"This is a very surprising and disappointing result.

It appears that there is a question over the top surface of the uppermost rear wing 
element, this area is not the working surface of the component and therefore 
relatively unimportant to its function.

Certainly this has not lead to any performance advantage. We are checking the design 
of the parts now to better understand the situation and we intend to appeal the 
decision made by the stewards."

Sections 3.10.1 and 3.10.2 read as follows:

Article 3.10.1
"Any bodywork more than 150mm behind the rear wheel centre line which is between 
150mm and 730mm above the reference plane, and between 75mm and 355mm from the car 
centre line, must lie in an area when viewed from the side of the car that is 
situated between 150mm and 350mm behind the rear wheel centre line and between 
300mm and 400mm above the reference plane. When viewed from the side of the car 
no longitudinal cross section may have more than one section in this area.
 

"Furthermore, no part of this section in contact with the external air stream may 

have a local concave radius of curvature smaller than 100mm.

"Once this section is defined, 'gurney' type trim tabs may be fitted to the trailing 

edge. When measured in any longitudinal cross section no dimension of any such trim 

tab may exceed 20mm."

Article 3.10.2
"Other than the bodywork defined in Article 3.10.9, any bodywork behind a point lying 

50mm forward of the rear wheel centre line which is more than 730mm above the 

reference plane, and less than 355mm from the car centre line, must lie in an area 

when viewed  from the side of the car that is situated between the rear wheel 

centre line and a point 

350mm behind it."

Vettel untouchable in Australian GP

Vettel carves out a lead at the start

Vettel carves out a lead at the start

Sebastian Vettel took a completely dominant victory in the Australian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton made it to the flag in 2nd, after struggling with a damaged car, while Vitaly Petrov shocked the paddock by taking his first ever podium. Here is the report from the first race of 2011:

Vettel retained his lead at the first corner, while Hamilton came under huge pressure from Mark Webber. Vitaly Petrov and Felipe Massa made stunning starts to progress to 4th and 5th. Michael Schumacher and Jaime Alguersuari pitted for repairs at the end of Lap 1, while Sebastian began to carve out a huge gap to Hamilton behind.

Massa soon came under huge pressure from Button behind. Lap 3 saw the first attempt at a DRS overtaking move, but Felipe’s plentiful supply of KERS kept him ahead.

Paul di Resta, who leapt up to 10th at the start, was soon taken by Sebastien Buemi, and then pressurised by his team-mate Sutil. Button and Massa continued to tussle lap after lap, which allowed Fernando Alonso to catch up to the duo, after losing several places at the start. Pastor Maldonado became the first retirement on Lap 12, pulling over to the side of the track.

Button made a move on Massa, but cut a chicane and illegaly got past. However, before he was able to give the position back, Alonso overtook Massa as well, meaning the McLaren had to cede position to both Ferraris. However, he initially refused to give way, stating that he had track position.

Webber pitted for hard tyres, while Alonso stopped for softs. Up front, Lewis began catching Sebastian, as the Red Bulls tyres began to fade. Vettel pitted on Lap 14 in response, for the softer compound.

His actions soon caught up to Button, as he was awarded a drive-through penalty for failing to give way to Alonso and Massa. He took the lead during the pit stop battles, but was overtaken beautifully by Vettel, showing that his racing prowess has certainly improved over the winter. Hamilton pitted one lap later, but failed to jump the Red Bull.

Button eventually pitted on Lap 20, and soon came under pressure by the still-duelling Force Indias. Heikki Kovalainen,Timo Glock and Michael Schumacher all soon fell prey to reliability problems.

Rubens Barrichello, charging throught he field after his disastrous qualifying, soon caught up to Nico Rosberg in 8th. He failed to activate his DRS quickly enough, so he tried a KERS-assisted move at Turn 3. However, he braked way too late and hit the side of the Mercedes. Nico retired with sidepod damage, while the Williams pitted for a new front wing.

Onboard with Barrichello as he takes out Rosberg

Onboard with Barrichello as he takes out Rosberg

Button gained hugely from this incident, and progressed back into the points. He quickly made the first DRS-assisted pass of 2011, muscling past Kamui Kobayashi.

Webber surprised many by pitting early for the soft tyre again on Lap 27. Alonso followed him in on the next lap. Barrichello’s race was well and truly ruined when he received a drive-through for his accident with Rosberg. Hamilton’s pace in 2nd began to struggle, after his undertray became damage, and the McLaren started to lose downforce.

The race leader soon began to lose pace, and pitted for his final set of tyres, the harder compound. Petrov pitted also, but failed to pass Webber for 3rd.

Alonso soon got close to Webber, but wasn’t close enough to utilise his DRS. Mark soon pitted, confirming his use of the 3-stop strategy, and releasing the Ferrari into 3rd. Fernando soon pitted, and emerged ahead of the Red Bull.

Mark tried to fight back, but with the Red Bull not seeming to have a useable KERS system, he was unable to pass the Ferrari. His DRS kept him within range, but Fernando’s liberal use of KERS on the main straight kept him ahead.

Doubt over the DRS system was slightly allayed by Jenson Button passing Massa for 5th place using the device a few laps later. Sergio Perez, having only made one stop, soon began harassing the Ferrari for position.

Petrov fully deserved his first ever podium

Petrov fully deserved his first ever podium

Sebastian Vettel was left unchallenged all race to take the race win, 12 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who carried his broken undertray all the way to the finish. Vitaly Petrov held off Alonso to take his first ever podium, while Mark Webber pulled over after crossing the line, suggesting a problem with the car.

Button was 6th, while Sergio Perez had a wonderful drive to take points in his first ever F1 race. Felipe Massa took 9th ahead of Sebastien Buemi. Sutil and Di Resta just missed out on points for Force India.

While the DRS system didn’t have as big an impact as expected, it still allowed for several passes, and should be more effective in later races with longer straights. Vettel was in dominant form every lap of the race, and Petrov proved himself to be a huge talent with his podium finish.

Vettel dominates Melbourne qualifying

Sebastian Vettel was completely unrivalled to take the first pole position of the 2011 season in Melbourne, Australia. He will be joined on the front row by Lewis Hamilton, while Mark Webber was 3rd. Ferrari struggled, Sutil and Barrichello spun out, while neither HRT even qualified. Read the full story here…

Q1

Heidfeld was the high-profile casualty of Q1

Heidfeld was the high-profile casualty of Q1

Vitaly Petrov was the first driver out of the garage. Use of the hard tyre meant he was limited to a 1.29 lap. D’Ambrosio, Trulli and Kovalainen all were off the pace, setting 1.32 and 1.33s. Timo Glock went faster, but was held up by one of the HRT drivers.

Narain Karthikeyan got the first flying lap in with the new HRT car, was 11 seconds off the pace. The first frontrunner to go out, Sebastian Vettel, set a 1.26.657, while Webber was 0.05 seconds off his team-mate. His next lap slashed three quarters of a second off that time on the harder tyre.

Vettel soon improved, but was beaten by Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian went faster again, but with both McLarens 2nd and 3rd, serious improvements had been made from testing.

Onboard cameras revealed that Michael Schumacher didn’t seem confident using the DRS and KERS system exiting the corners. Nevertheless he went 5th, behind the Red Bulls and McLarens. His team-mate Rosberg promptly beat Schumacher by one tenth.

Kamui Kobayashi sprung a surprise by leaping up to 3rd place, sliding around the track in his typical fashion. Sergio Perez soon joined him in 4th.

Both Ferraris surprised everyone by being forced to switch to the soft tyres early. 11th and 12th positions for Alonso and Massa showed the team were badly off the pace.

Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld tussled to survive Q1, with the German losing out. However, Massa was only able to improve to 11th on the softer tyre, indicating the Brazilian is still badly struggling.

Both HRT drivers were well outside the 107% rule, and it is doubtful as to whether they will even start the race.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Nick Heidfeld – Renault

19) Heikki Kovalainen – Lotus

20) Jarno Trulli – Lotus

21) Timo Glock – Virgin

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio – Virgin

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – HRT (Outside 107%)

24) Narain Karthikeyan – HRT (Outside 107%)

Q2

Buemi got sideways several times on his way to Q3

Buemi got sideways several times on his way to Q3

Q2 saw Jaime Alguersuari be the only driver leaving the pits at the start. However, before he even set a lap, the double yellow flags were out. Rubens Barrichello spun after hitting the grass at Turn 3, and was beached in the gravel.

Most cars returned to the pits and wait for green flags. Both Red Bulls had damaged their sets of soft tyres, and would have to conserve them on their next flying laps.

Once the green flags were out, Lewis Hamilton had a huge lock-up on his way to a 1.25.5 lap time. Team-mate Button quickly went half a second faster, before Vettel took P1 by another 8 tenths.

The Ferraris were still well off the pace, with Alonso and Massa 4th and 6th, and up to 1.5 seconds off the Red Bull’s time.

Kamui Kobayashi went 7th with 3 minutes to go, while rookie Maldonado failed to get into the top 10. Petrov leapt up to 6th, while Adrian Sutil had a spectacular spin at the final corner. He activated his DRS too early, and spun and lost his only chance at a flying lap.

Michael Schumacher pushed hard, but fell by several hundreths of a second, and only went 11th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Michael Schumacher – Mercedes

12) Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso

13) Sergio Perez – Sauber

14) Paul di Resta – Force India

15) Pastor Maldonado – Williams

16) Adrian Sutil – Force India

17) Rubens Barrichello – Williams

Q3

Vettel took pole ahead of Hamilton and Webber

Vettel took pole ahead of Hamilton and Webber

Oddly enough, no driver went out at the start of the session. Hamilton again made a huge lock-up at Turn 3, but set a 1.24.5, as Button went 3 tenths away from Lewis. Vettel amazingly smashed the McLaren’s time by nearly an entire second, and Webber struggled hugely, 8 tenths off his team-mate.

Sebastien Buemi did well to progress to Q1, but never matched the frontrunners. With 3 minutes to go, only Ferrari were out on track. Massa spun as he exited the pits, due to a loss of tyre temperature, while Alonso was forced to abandon his first flying lap run.

When he got up to speed, a lacklustre final sector left him 5th. Sebastian Vettel, despite being miles ahead, went out again but failed to improve his lap. Hamilton displaced Webber for 2nd, while Button was 4th.

Vitaly Petrov surprised many with 6th ahead of Rosberg, while Felipe Massa had a disastrous session in 8th. Kobayashi was 9th, while Buemi was 10th.

Vettel will start the race tomorrow with an extra set of soft tyres over his rivals. Lewis will be pleased to split the Red Bulls, while Schumacher, Massa, Sutil, Barrichello, Liuzzi and Karthikeyan all had a qualifying session to forget.

Update: Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have all received reprimands for holding up other drivers in qualifying.

McLaren on top in Australia FP2

McLaren overthrew Red Bull off the top of the leaderboards in Friday Practice 2 in Melbourne, as Jenson Button led Lewis Hamilton by one tenth of a second.

Fernando Alonso was one hundreth of a second behind Hamilton. The Red Bulls lay 4th and 5th, with Vettel leading Webber.

Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa both had off-track moments, but they both survived to finish 6th and 7th respectively. Sergio Perez beat his team-mate Kobayashi by an entire second on his way to 8th.

Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld were 12th and 13th for Renault, with Petrov making a mistake and running into the gravel during the day. The Force Indias were 16th and 17th, with Paul di Resta leading Adrian Sutil.

Pastor Maldonado struggled in 18th, 3.5 seconds off the pace. Both Lotus cars got out of the garage in FP2, albeit 5 seconds off the pace. The Virgin cars were equally matched, with Jerome D’Ambrosio beating Timo Glock by 0.029 seconds.

Hispania just got Vitantonio Liuzzi out of the garage with 3 minutes to go. The Italian made one installation lap before entering the pits again as the session ended. F1 fans with good memory will remember the exact same situation with the team in Bahrain last year.

Despite defying the odds with an underpowered car in testing, Button has said that he and the team will not get carried away with this result:

"Today showed that, first of all, we’ve got reliability – which is great. That’s
something we’ve not had all winter, so to have a car that runs for as many laps
as we want it to is very satisfying. It also means we can get stuck into our set-
up work and improve the car.

I don’t think there’s much to be gained from looking at today’s times though, so
I’m not going to get too carried away.

Still, it’s been a positive day because we’ve been able to do so much running and
get a good feeling for the car on different fuel loads.

The new exhaust has definitely brought performance to the car – it feels much
better, makes the handling more complete."

Times from Australia FP2:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Time      Gap     Laps
 1.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1.25.854           32
 2.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes      1.25.986   0.132   31
 3.  Alonso         Ferrari               1.26.001   0.147   28
 4.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault      1.26.014   0.160   35
 5.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1.26.283   0.429   33
 6.  Schumacher     Mercedes              1.26.590   0.736   31
 7.  Massa          Ferrari               1.26.789   0.935   34
 8.  Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1.27.101   1.247   39
 9.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1.27.280   1.426   34
10.  Rosberg        Mercedes              1.27.448   1.594   23
11.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.27.525   1.671   31
12.  Petrov         Renault               1.27.528   1.674   29
13.  Heidfeld       Renault               1.27.536   1.682   22
14.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.27.697   1.843   30
15.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari        1.28.095   2.241   35
16.  di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1.28.376   2.522   33
17.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1.28.583   2.729   31
18.  Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1.29.386   3.532   29
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1.30.829   4.975   22
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Renault         1.30.912   5.058   23
21.  D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1.32.106   6.252   36
22.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1.32.135   6.281   30
23.  Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth          N/A                1

Webber leads Vettel in Australia first practice

Webber led for the first practice session of 2011

Webber led for the first practice session of 2011

The 2011 Formula 1 season started today, with a Red Bull 1-2 in Friday Practice 1 in Melbourne.

Sebastian Vettel had taken the lead early on in the session, before his team-mate Mark Webber took back the top spot with minutes to go. Despite splitting the Red Bulls earlier on, Fernando Alonso failed to get near to Vettel and Webber by the end, losing out by 0.9 seconds.

Nico Rosberg and Rubens Barrichello out-performed their team-mates to finish 4th and 5th. The McLarens of Button and Hamilton were 6th and 7th, 1.6 seconds off Webber. Michael Schumacher led Kamui Kobayashi, whose Sauber lost a section of its engine cover late in FP1.

Felipe Massa was one of many drivers having off-track moments, struggled for raw pace and ended up 11th. Pastor Maldonado finished his first official session 15th, ahead of Toro Rosso’s test driver Daniel Ricciardo. Nico Hulkenberg also drove for Force India, but languished in 18th.

Karun Chandhok suffered a disastrous return to the F1 track, as he crashed his Lotus 3 corners in to his first installation lap. The car snapped right on cold tyres, and hit the wall. Karun has since admitted the crash was his fault:

"I’m obviously disappointed to have had such a short run for my first time in the
Team Lotus car, but I put my hands up to it and totally accept it was a combination
of a slippery track and less grip than I expected from the tyres that combined to
put me out so early.

I’m just pleased the guys could get Jarno out in the afternoon session and it shows
what a great team this is that they could get the car fixed that quickly to ensure
Jarno could get a decent number of laps under his belt in FP2."

Virgin Racing were another team to have a horrible first outing for 2011. Both Glock and D’Ambrosio were miles off the pace, and 2.3 seconds off the 107% rule, meaning that both drivers are at huge risk of not qualifying tomorrow.

At least they got 32 laps under their belt. Less can be said for HRT, who spent the entire session in the garage, with both F111 cars still being assembled.

Despite much speculation over the winter, Sebastian Vettel has downplayed the impact of the Pirelli tyres, stating that they are wearing less than they expected:

"I think we expected worse conditions here in terms of how long the tyres last.
I think this morning and this afternoon was quite useful and helped us understand
what to do in the race on Sunday. So far I think it is positive.

Still we cannot race with one stop only. I think we have to come in a couple of
times so ultimately we will find out on Sunday if the track improves or not as
it is also something we have seen in the test."

Times from Australia FP1:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Time       Gap    Laps
 1.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1.26.831          20
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1.27.158   0.327  19
 3.  Alonso         Ferrari                1.27.749   0.918  20
 4.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1.28.152   1.321  16
 5.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.28.430   1.599  24
 6.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.28.440   1.609  29
 7.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1.28.483   1.652  26
 8.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1.28.690   1.859  14
 9.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1.28.725   1.894  13
10.  Petrov         Renault                1.28.765   1.930  15
11.  Massa          Ferrari                1.28.842   2.011  20
12.  Heidfeld       Renault                1.28.928   2.097  14
13.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1.29.314   2.483  19
14.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.29.328   2.497  21
15.  Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.29.403   2.572  24
16.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.29.468   2.637  23
17.  Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.29.643   2.812  18
18.  Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes   1.31.002   4.171  20
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.32.428   5.597  13
20.  D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.35.282   8.451  17
21.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1.35.289   8.458  15
22.  Chandhok       Lotus-Renault          N/A               1
23.  Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth           N/A
24.  Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           N/A

Australian Grand Prix preview

After a long winter of waiting, Formula 1 is back for 2011! The cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix has delayed the season start, but it has only served to up the expectations of the sport’s avid fans.

With yet another reshaking-up of the rulebook, the season opener looks to be incredibly unpredictable. Here’s a look at the important factors this weekend:

DRS (Drag Reduction System)

DRS, or the adjustable rear wing, is without a doubt the most talked-about innovation in years. It was designed by the FIA to aid overtaking manouvers, by increasing the speed advantage of the car behind.

DRS may be deployed at any time during practice and qualifying, but we’ll get back to that later. In the race, this can only be used on the main straight of a circuit, when a car is less than 1 second behind the car ahead, the corner before the straight.

The rear wing flap adjusts itself to create much less drag for 600 metres, which aids the car behind with an approx. 10-12 km/hr speed advantage. However, if the system makes overtaking too easy, then the 600 metre use of the device will be lowered, and vice-versa.

Also, the rear wing innovation cannot be used within the first 2 laps of the race, or within the first 2 laps after a Safety Car restart.

In Melbourne, DRS may not have a particularly big role to play, as the main straight rarely poses as an overtaking spot anyways. However, use of the device in qualifying will be very interesting. Like the F-duct last year, it will be interesting to see who can deploy their DRS quickest out of the corners, and gain a speed advantage. Those with the best rear grip will benefit most from this type of situation.

107% Rule

This rule re-introduction will have a more profound effect at the start of 2011. In Q1, any driver who sets a time more than 7% slower than the driver in 1st place will not be allowed to start the race. Exceptions are allowed by the stewards, such as if the car was unusually slow, but teams are not allowed to appeal these decisions.

This will be particularly bothersome to HRT this weekend. As they have not turned a wheel in their F111, there is a chance that they may not be able to qualify.

Most other teams should not be fazed by this rule.

KERS

Having been mutually dropped by all teams in 2010, Kinetic Energy Restoration Systems return for 2011.

At the time of writing, some teams have not yet confirmed or denied whether they are using KERS in Australia. Therefore, the start will be absolutely crucial for all drivers. Those without the unit (Hispania and Virgin confirmed so far) will be hugely disadvantaged by the loss of 80.5 horsepower at the start.

KERS has also been touted, along with DRS, as the solution to increasing overtaking in F1. A 60kW power boost combined with 10-12 km/h speed gain will be massively beneficial to those who can utilise it. Bear in mind though that the car in front could use more of his KERS supply at the overtaking spot, if he conserves it over the rest of the lap.

KERS may be used anywhere the driver likes, so it is better in some ways to DRS. As well as the main straight, between Turns 2 and 3, 8 and 9, and 12 and 13 will be the main spots for KERS to be deployed.

Tyres

The rebirth of Pirelli in Formula 1 has turned the formbook on its head in terms of tyre degradation. Bridgestone tyres were too consistent and durable, resulting in certain 1-stop races in 2010. Not any more.

Pirelli are bringing the soft and hard compounds to Melbourne. The general consensus is that a 3-stop strategy is the maximum required this weekend. Drivers have previously complained of up to 4 stops, but Pirelli have disregarded their claims.

Wear on the rear tyres is the main concern at the moment. Drivers with progressive throttle and steering input, like Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, may benefit by prolonging the use of their tyres by up to a handful of laps, which could be crucial in terms of race strategy.

Continuing from last year, drivers must still use both compounds of dry tyres in the race, and Q3 drivers must use the same set of tyres they qualified on to start the race. The latter of these rules seems like a poor decision by the FIA to keep, as it discourages diversity in tyre compound choices at the start of the race.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the tyre reshuffle works out this weekend.

But, with the unpredictable nature in recent years of F1, we will never know for certain until race day. Roll on 2011!

Pirelli announce official tyre compound colour coding

Colour markings for Pirelli's 2011 tyres

Colour markings for Pirelli's 2011 tyres

Contrary to earlier reports in the year, Pirelli have announced a different colour coding system for their tyres this year.

As expected, the “Pirelli P Zero” markings will carry the colour coding, to inform the TV audience which driver is using what compound. The colour markings are as follows:

Dry tyres

Super soft =Red

Soft = Yellow

Medium = White

Hard = Silver

Wet tyres

Intermediates = Light blue

Extreme wets = Orange

To avoid confusion, I’ve deleted the article from a few months back, which claimed different colours were being used.

Overall it looks like a good system, but there may eventually be a problem distinguishing between the medium (white) and hard (silver) compounds. As the photo shows, there isn’t too much between them, and at 200mph it could be very difficult for the viewers as well.

However, it is unlikely that both the medium and hard tyres will be brought to the same race. Pirelli are bringing the soft and hard tyres (as they can only bring 2 dry coumpounds per race weekend) to the first three races.

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