March 9, 2012

Formula One Still Blows.

Andrew Ferraro/LAT 
I have avoided commenting much about Formula 1 pre season testing, in my experience it's mostly pointless but racing starts next week and it's time to get back into it for Axis.

This year, while most commentary was centered on possibly the most inconsequential piece on the whole car, the step nose, a solution adopted by every team save for Mclaren (and Marussia which gets Mclaren leftover parts and ideas technical assistance) the real action has been at the back.

Diffusers directly energized by exhaust gasses on the off throttle via clever engine mapping are gone (or at least forbidden),  engine gasses now have to be discharged within a narrowly defined angle designed to do away with precisely what designers are in fact doing again, cheating the air and thumbing their noses at rule makers.

Want to limit us to an exhaust pipe that has to be visible from the top and round in section?  Fine, we'll build a fairing around the pipe with a viewing slot on the top.
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Want to impose an angle meant to minimize the influence of the 400km/h exhaust stream on the aero performance? Fine, we'll use the rest of the car to produce airflow to bend that exhaust plume and redirect it to where we want it.

You want us not to have a double diffuser? Fine, we'll figure out a way to use the starter hole in the back for aero.

The question for many is, are you excited about a formula where aero is taken to such admittedly geekily exciting heights? Maybe.

Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

Towards the end of testing, it looked like the "way to go" was to have the exhaust plume run between the inside of the wheel and the outside of the wing endplate. This to create and "air curtain" (hello BMW!) on the sides of the diffuser.

Ferrari had gone with that idea first but somehow could not make it work, perhaps because the exhaust was placed too far back. Sauber had the exhaust much further up and were copied by none other than Red Bull who then have added a further air channels in their sidepods to further divert the exhaust flow where Adrian Newey wants it.

When Ferrari changed their exhaust location further inboard the consequence was that the shape of the side pods, designed for the original placement, is not optimal for the new location. Ferrari is rumored to have requested a new side crash test from the FIA indicating a completely new side pod design involving the crash structure to be debuted after the fist Asian leg go the championship.  This year there is no "gentlemen's agreement" on spending so expect some radical moves by the top teams if they fall behind.
Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic

There has been much talk about this Ferrari crisis, I'm not so sure how much is real and how much is outlets who waste no opportunity, real or imagined, to dump on Ferrari.

The F2012 is the most "different" car, the Scuderia probably had to throw out all their setup books, they had to recalibrate the power steering, they have to figure out all the angles, takes time, something all teams are desperately short of.

Red Bull changed the aero but their suspension is essentially the same they have been running for the past two seasons, why change something that works so well?
Ker Robertson/Getty Images

The F2012 is said to be harder than others on tires, on the plus side that means it gets the Pirelli into temperature better than last year and that should help it on single laps in qualifying. We'll see next week.

But enough about Ferrari, How's that Red Bull going to hold up, steamroller or fast but fragile?
Lotus was fast, who knows if it was running at regulation weight but for sure Raikkonen looks to be better at comebacks than Schumacher was.

Mercedes might be at least on par with Ferrari, maybe faster. Rumors of more Brawn cleverness with blown wings are all about. Maybe schumi can finally win a race this season after which he can retire in peace. (leaving the way for Hamilton of course!.

Mclaren top team with Red Bull and Lotus? Bring it, I can't say it's been a long winter but I'm ready!

Check out our Flickr page for enormously sized desktops of F1 testing


  1. As Luca Di Montezemolo stated the other day,I feel F1 has lost it's plot completely with this obsession for aerodynamics.I'm only 20 but when ever I see a race of the 80's I get goosebumps with drivers taming, one-handed ,1200hp+ turbo beasts with very little downforce while changing gears and looking through the side mirrors.
    Things get even worse these days since no mid-season tests are allowed,therefore,rendering drivers as people only neeeded to carry a huge load of advertisement at silly speeds to the finish line.Unfortunately F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsport or engineering,but a more illustrious richboys playground than GP2.
    Ohh great blog BTW.

  2. Of course as with many things F1 you need to take Montezemolo's words with a pinch of salt, he might not be so against aero if The Scuderia happened to be enjoying and advantage at the moment.

    The discussion has been going on since the aero genie was let out the bottle in the late 60

  3. Thanks for reporting on F1 guys, I've been waiting for this! As for the season - my main hope is to see all 6 champions to fight against each other. I don't want to see Raikkonen & Schumacher outside of the top-6. Otherwise the championship can become the worst I've ever seen...


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