March 17, 2014

2014 Australian GP

Formula One is supposed to be hard, hard to engineer and hard to drive. By that measure the new rules have succeed: the engineering is hard, only 15 cars crossed the finish line and drivers certainly had their hands full.

However, watching the Australian GP, you did not get the feeling these latest generation cars are hard to drive simply because of more torque and less downforce.  The complications of the drivetrain, the energy harvesting needs and particularly the brake-by-wire system make the cars look random and non-linear. That these cars are somewhat alien to drive may very well explain why rookies did so well this past week end: they are, in a sense, empty vessels for engineers to fill.

The "old" guard will certainly sit up and take notice, Alonso, Raikkonen, Button and to some extent Vettel, Hamilton and even Rosberg, will all be keeping and eye on Bottas, Kvyat and Magnussen. The two rookies had spectacular races, Bottas would would certainly have been on the podium had he not kissed the wall hunting Alonso in the open in laps. He came back to score more points than Willams scored in the whole of last season.

Mercedes confirmed expectations with Rosberg, who led flag to flag with ease, but also showed how fragile these cars can be with Hamilton only completing 2 race laps.

Ferrari was a disappointment, Alonso simply did not have the power to pass and Raikkonen looked like he was fighting the rear brakes the whole race. Small consolation having both cars finish.

But the most intriguing part of the race has to be "Flowgate". Ricciardo and Renault got screwed by Red Bull who, in turn, screwed themselves and made F1 look bad.

Boiling down a very technical issue, the FIA homologated fuel flow meters, manufactured in the UK by Gill Sensors, have been very inconsistent in pre-season development and testing, with variations of +/- 5% and more, to the point where there was talk of the season starting with teams running without them. This would clearly have led to chaos.
The FIA, aware of the issue calibrates each sensor and teams are given an "offset" tied to that specific piece. Applied, this calculation should insure the team falls within the legal limits.

Red Bull was not happy with the sensor readings on Ricciardo's car in qualifying and wanted to go back to one used in practice. The FIA agreed and gave Red Bull its matching "offset".
Red Bull could have gone with it but Newey refused to apply the calculation, which would have resulted in a loss of power, insisting his calculation model (via the injectors) was more precise.

Now you can argue Newey is a genius and his method is better all you want but,  but you cannot have each team run their own scales and police themselves. You certainly cannot tell a governing body you know better than them and think you'll get away with it.

 The FIA Stewards added unprecedented emphasis to their decision:

b. The Technical Directive goes on to state: “If at any time WE consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system WE will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a backup system” (emphasis added.)
Red Bull say they will appeal, they are wasting time.  They got away with getting the tires changed to their advantage last season, it's doubtful they will get away with changing another technical regulation to their advantage this year, can they?  Ricciardo. engine will be dynode by the FIA this week, stay tuned.

It is interesting to note that Red Bull had also written software to override Renault's  own on Vettel's car.  Clearly that did not work out so well either.

Both these events speak to a mix of desperation and arrogance, usually not the best tasting cocktail.

Pos  Driver             Team/Car                  Time/Gap
 1.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1h32m58.710s
DQ 2.Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault        +24.525s
 3.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes          +26.777s
 4.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes          +30.027s
 5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari                   +35.284s
 6.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes         +47.639s
 7.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes      +50.718s
 8.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari                   +57.675s
 9.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault      +1m00.441s
10.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault      +1m03.585s
11.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes    +1m25.916s
12.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari              +1 lap
13.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari              +1 lap
14.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari           +2 laps
15.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari           +8 laps*

* Not classified


     Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault              43 laps
     Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault              29 laps
     Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault           27 laps
     Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault            3 laps
     Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes                    2 laps
     Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault            0 laps
     Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes           0 laps


  1. I really see this site and get more informative data in here. So everyone need to read this article...Voila TV La FrenchTv box vous propose les chaînes de la TNT française en décalées sur le continent Américain et Amérique latine.

  2. Even you have to admit though AC, that has to be one of the most exciting first (second?) laps of F1 racing in at least the last 4 years.

  3. Oh yeah, those first couple of laps were great. Helped that Lewis' and Vettel's cars had a top speed 90 km/h slower than the rest :) Does not mean the cars are not weird.

  4. That was the quietest F1 start I have ever seen and the cars look worse going around a track playing follow the leader. Bring back fuel stops and let them rev the engine and we might have some noise back. I certainly hope the season gets better then this.

  5. I also wonder how Kimi is going to deal with the lower levels of front end grip. He never looked comfortable at all.

  6. They defend with max power on the engine but mostly with ion power. They save it around, do a slower lap in the end, but remain in front of they guy chasing. Nothing new there. Daniel however seamed to have quite a lot of that, not just holding Kevin behind, but bursting away. Either that ion power is much better this year and we (I) only noticed it on this on his car, or he made better use of it, or... there was also something extra from the ICE #flowgate ;)

  7. You'd think that this one would be relatively easy to sort out. They know how much fuel was in the car at the start, just measure the fuel at the end and see which of the fuel flow calculations matches up to the remaining fuel. Parc ferme after the race already involves draining a fuel sample as well.

  8. You are sounding like a RBR hater in your writing. Might need some countersteer in your technique. It was only after tires were ripping themselves to shreds on track last year that tires got changed, RB may have wanted the change but failure from Pirelli was the motivation. And this "It is interesting to note that Red Bull had also written software to override Renault's own on Vettel's car. Clearly that did not work out so well either." Renault optioned Red Bull's programming code because it worked better than their own after they asked RB for the help.

  9. Interesting, I was thinking the same thing. The start was great but after 20 laps it became last years racing, just with a different German in front.

  10. except there is a regulation for max rule flow, not just total fuel used.

  11. Renault did not ask Red Bull for help writing software for their engines.

  12. I got the impression Kimi was uncomfortable with everything in the car, certainly brakes.

  13. Two Observations:
    The new engine package sounds terrible. For me, I never realized how much the engine sound adds to the racing excitement.
    Kamui is a good guy but his driving is sloppy. Iceman from Top Gun says it best, in that Kamui is everyone's problem. Every time Kamui is on the track, he is unsafe.

  14. Before you slam Kamui, keep in mind that his lockup at the start was due to a mechanical issue, not driver error. Here is the stewards finding

  15. I never saw Kimi's DRS pop open, even when he was within a second of the car ahead of him on the front straight. I should re-watch the race to 100% sure, though.

  16. well the FIA do supply an offset, Red Bull just refused to recognize it, essentially saying they know better. Now that may be true but you can't be your own ref.

  17. Thanks for that. They played the clip of him apologizing and there was this tweet, "Sorry for messed up it's just my mistake sorry to Felipe and @CaterhamF1 all member!" hence my comment.

  18. The noise is disappointing but the difficulty driving the cars really made for a good show. I saw more 'around the outside' passes in 5 laps than i saw in the previous 5 years.

    The noise, though, is an issue. If they aren't even revving out to the 15k limit what can be done? If its a question of reliability then inext year it will be resolved. The teams will get the reliability they need for sure by then. If it is about the torque and driveability, they'll need more grip via better aero, better tires etc. Unfortunately, that will take away from the sliding and make passing that much more difficult again. If they can keep the spectacle of cars sliding a bit and just improve the sound a little bit, without being fake, it will be perfect IMO.

  19. I have to pile on here to add that the engine volume suks. Been watching for over 15 years and this was the first time Ive heard tire squeal during the race.

  20. I have one huge complaint: where is the graphics suite for on boards showing me battery levels, charge/discharge rates, boost pressure etc?? How am I supposed to be remotely excited about the new powertrains when I have no clue how they're being deployed? Huge fail imo

  21. I'd love to see a graphic on the turbo's boost levels mixed with the MGU-K/MGU-H settings.

  22. Absolutely agree. Would be great to see some sort of boost guage + (K)ERS deployment bars. Hopefully that is something they realize shouold be added, so fans can get excited for the new tech. Could really help make up for the lack of sensory experience with the low noise level, too.

  23. The first few laps were insane. The amount of weaving that was happening belongs on a karting track. I'm shocked that the new nose didn't cause Leroy Jenkins to drive totally underneath Massa.

  24. a big point of having the fuel flow meter and not just an average fuel flow is that it basically limits peak power. being able to run higher power on demand would be a big advantage, even if the average power (average fuel flow) is the same. on a passing part of the track and someone is close? more power! un-passable part of the track? less power! you could get even more nuanced and use the power in parts of the track it will make a bigger difference.

    FIA doesn't want this, even if you used the same amount of fuel at the end of the day.


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