Sunday, January 31, 2010

Them Other Fellers

Launch type pictures for some of them other fellers:
  • McLaren MP4-25: holy shark fin, batman! McLaren's ride this year also features sidepods which drop away from the upper lines much more significantly than we've seen before; the visual difference probably accounts for much of the reason why I can't see more bulk. There's also a pronounced barge-boarding in front of the inlets. But all the weird lines aside, you know that since it is a McLaren, it will either be quick, or they'll make it quick. F1.Fanatic's side-by-side photos show that this car is longer than last year's.
  • Renault R30: What's with the black on black colour scheme? The entire rear of the car is practically invisible as the detail just gets washed away. The car does have strong resemblances to last year's (see F1.Fanatic for the usual side-by-side pictures). Thank whomever that the nose is much less ugly this year. There is more bulk in the sidepods, and like the Ferrari the bodywork seems pulled in tighter towards the rear. There are also the predictable not-turning-vane turning-vanes just outboard of the sidepod inlets, although they are more discreet than other teams have been, and there are no barge-boards.
  • BMW-Sauber C29: This car is the first car that I can see some of the new bulk in the mid section. The front is "classic" BMW, although the wing/nose arrangement is a little unconventional. Visually the car doesn't have the proportions that we are used to, from the fat front wing through skinny nose through fat mid-section through tiny rear wing. Again, what's with the black colour schemes this year? It sure makes it hard to see what is going on. F1.Fanatic's side-by-side pictures show the extra length in the car.
So far this year shark-fins seem to be a fashion requirement; however recall last year that Toyota launched without one, but the first testing sessions showed that one had been attached. So the lengths and geometries of the fins will likely be variable through the year. The cars are longer, which will probably make them more stable but correspondingly less nimble, which may be why the fins are being played with.

Testing at Valencia starts tomorrow, and there will be more teams (Williams, Mercedes, and Toro Rosso who are somehow launching ahead of their Red Bull parent team) revealed then.

Perhaps also of note: Virgin claims to have fired up their first Cosworth engine, although the car itself is not due to be launched until later this week.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

F10 Launch: The 2010 Season Starts Now

Behold, the Ferrari F10:

The car overall looks like an evolution of last year's F60. I see that the upper surface of the sidepods has been changed, and the car has a nose more inspired by the successful Red Bull from last year, both in extra length and upper kink shape. The underside of the sidepod is lifted away from the floor a little more deeply than last year, which is also interesting. And there is the predictable evolution of the front wing, which shows the understanding that the team has after last year's experiences.

But really, for all the hand-wringing over aerodynamic mistakes that the team went through last year, this car isn't a significant departure from 2009.

The impact of this year's visual differences can be seen on this page at F1Fanatic, which compares the F10 to last year's F60. Click through, then click on the comparison images -- then maximize your browser for high-resolution Ferrari goodness.

Look at the side profile of the F10, on the rear wing. The car now sports the name Ferrari for the first time in a long time, instead of only the crest. The car also features the red white and green of the Italian flag. A little nationalistic boosterism never hurt anyone, heh?

Maybe it is the fact that we've been watching these cars for a year already, but I feel better about the way this car looks than I did about the F60 at launch time. The rear wings still look ridiculously small, but such is life in F1 these days. Certainly the fact that the F60 won last year helps.

Launches will come fast and furious over the next little while as the teams gear up for the winter testing season.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tire Rules: Handicapping The Successful

The Formula 1 Commission is expected to rubber stamp the proposed new tire rules for 2010:

Teams agree new tyre rule for 2010
[...] 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 means that there are now tactical considerations for Q3. Do you charge hard for grid position? Or do you try to conserve the tires so you can go deeper before having to make a stop to change them? Or do you run the harder compound, compromising your potential Q3 time, so that you can go deeper in the race?

And what happens if someone sets a fast time, then has an off and ends up with a puncture? Knowing of course that the line between "oops, I have a flat tire" and "oops, I've broken two corners off the car" is very fine. But mark my words, the situation will come up. And then the team will use the Sporting Regulations which require the teams to not field dangerous cars as a get-out-of-stupid-tire-regulations-free card.

The whole point of getting rid of fuel strategy was to make Q3 the go-fastest, no-excuses, one-lap-here-I-come-momma session of the weekend.

And now that's been compromised in the interest of the 'show'.

Deadpool Update: Campos Meta

Campos Meta has acknowledged that they won't have enough money to go testing before the season starts.

Campos likely to sit out all winter tests
Campos is likely to miss all four official group tests prior to Bahrain's 2010 season opener, according to the new Spanish team's head of strategy.

"Bahrain is a test, it's not a first race for us," Daniel Eisen is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
This handicaps the team from a development perspective -- all the other teams who do testing will be that much further ahead when the season starts. Of course this pre-supposes that there will be money to do development as the year progresses. This now starts to sound highly unlikely.

Whatever other consequences this has, it certainly won't help Bruno Senna, who now won't drive the car until the first session at Bahrain. If I were Senna, I'd start to wonder about who I'd signed with for 2010.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cleaning Up Aero For 2011

F1 teams agree to ban double diffusers
The double diffuser concept was pioneered by Brawn, Williams and Toyota in 2009, and subsequently adopted by all the other teams after the FIA declared it was legal.
Inevitable, perhaps. Fits in with the original car concept of having a rear end that didn't disturb the air behind it so much while being paired with a front end that didn't mind being in disturbed air so much.

Even if there are opinions out there that such a change won't do much to improve the racing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Testing, Testing

Domenicali calls for more testing
Ferrari F1 boss Stefano Domenicali says that he believes that the Formula 1 teams must reconsider the amount of testing that is currently allowed. Testing was reduced to just 15 days this winter in order to reduce costs but Ferrari clearly believes that more time is necessary.

"We need to consider the money we are saving compared to the additional money that we are spending at races as a result," said Domenicali. "If you take money away from one place, you spend it in another. We need to think about safety, young drivers and allowing drivers to test if there is the need for a replacement in the middle of the season, as happened last year."
The money argument I think is silly. The problem has never been that (say) Williams spends (say) $100 million per year -- the problem is that Williams has $100 million to spend, and as long as spending that money sees a return in either profits or better performance on the track, Williams will undertake to spend that money.

So arguing that teams now spend more at events because they can't go testing is silly. If they have the money, especially money released by eliminating testing, of course they are going to spend it.

The driver replacement argument is, I think, more compelling. Teams should be able to have a session to bring a mid-term driver up to speed. Dropping a replacement into the hotseat is not only a waste of a car (since the new drivers can't get up to speed due to no miles in the car) but is also potentially dangerous. Slow cars and fast cars sometimes mix violently.

Personally, I'd like to see two or three official tests through the season. The best way to do it would be to open a track that has hosted an event for the first half of the following week. That way teams could test on site with equipment already there (for the most part). There would have to be a limit on the number of engines used for testing, and probably a limit on the total number of kilometers turned in such tests. And just to make things interesting you could exclude any drivers who had started more than some number of events in some number of previous months with that team.

Such a scheme would permit more development and permit test drivers to be up to speed with the cars should they need to jump into a race seat, while excluding race drivers from monopolizing all the testing.

One interesting observation from the article:
[...] but the sporting authorities know that the less testing there is, the less reliable the cars will be and thus there is more potential for breakdowns, which have become very rare in F1 in recent years due to the attention to detail that teams have managed to achieve.
Mechanical fragility as a mechanism for juicing the event results. Interesting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Former Technical Designer Says 2010 Rules Bad For Passing

Anderson: 2010 rules bad for overtaking
Although [former Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar technical director Gary] Anderson [...] reckons the full effect of the change will only be seen when testing starts, he suspects that the greater reliance on aerodynamic grip will hamper passing attempts.
Basically his argument is that since the front tire size is being reduced, mechanical contact-patch traction will be diminished; and the natural development of aerodynamics will increase aerodynamic grip. Aerodynamic grip will fall off as the cars close with those they are pursuing, which means the cars will be correspondingly more sensitive when following closely, which is not what you want to encourage passing.

I have said before my concern was that the 2010 rules did not promote passing, and with refueling illegal now there is less opportunity for "strategy" to play a part in who finishes first. Reducing the cars' capability to make passes even further won't help.

2010 could be a dry year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Deadpool Update: Virgin Racing

...I'm beginning to thing I need a deadpool icon.

Anyways, there are doin's a-happening at Virgin.

The interesting thing to take away here is that Virgin Racing is having problems finding a title sponsor. This is because many of the potential sponsors are worried about getting drowned out by publicity-hungry Virgin.

This is interesting because it means Virgin is not a "title sponsor", their arrangements are different. See also my comments about Richard Branson not spending any money he didn't have to.

So unless this gets sorted before the beginning of the year, I think we'd have to promote Virgin to the list of potential failures in 2010.

Meta: Sorry about the RSS flood

My apologies to anyone reading the RSS feed.

I decided that since the hockey stuff had been split out into its own blog, I could/should go through the labels here on Red Glory and remove the 'F1' prefix from most of them. This had the unfortunate side-effect of re-posting them into the RSS feed.

Which meant that the planet picked them all up again, and I presume flooded the RSS feed with them.

Sorry -- it shouldn't happen again*.

(*) = until it does, of course...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Deadpool Update: Campos Meta

Campos could sell team before 2010 debut
[...] The report said Campos is looking at either partly or completely selling the team before the Bahrain season opener, and possibly as soon as next week.

"It is not a secret that we do not have the budget. And time is scarce," a source confirmed. [...]
My, that was low hanging fruit, wasn't it?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Last Year For Double Diffusers

Autosport reports that the FIA is planning to eliminate the "double-diffuser" loophole for 2011:
It is understood that efforts are now being made to sort out the wording of the regulations to ensure that there are no loopholes that will allow anyone to continue using a double diffuser.

Once the wording of the rules has been sorted, it will then be put to the FIA's official Technical Working Group for ratification prior to going through the channels required for it to get put into the 2011 regulations.
The article speculates such a change will reduce the cars' lapping capabilities by around one second per lap.

The main advantage to "the show" should be that by eliminating the double-diffuser, it should clean up the airflow behind the cars, permitting other cars to follow more closely. This, theoretically, should improve passing.

It is good that this rules change is being brought about for 2011, and not a knee-jerk implementation for 2010. At this point, the 2010 cars have been designed and are being built; major changes in the regulations are to be avoided.

This does nothing to improve the show for 2010. As I have written before, my concern is that eliminating the fuel stops will mean that there will be even fewer changes of position in 2010 since the cars are not going to be any more capable of getting close to each other than they were in 2009.