Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Ferrari Summary

Well, that's done. Ferrari comes away from 2011 with 3rd in the Manufacturers' title, and drivers Alonso and Massa end up 4th and 6th in the Driver's title. This was somewhat less than was desired, let alone expected -- Ferrari was very big on the goal of winning this year.

Based on the way the car performed, this result is more or less what could have been expected. Alonso has been extremely rapid, and downright brilliant at times, yet could only win once, in Britain when Vettel got held up and McLaren for some reason had lost the plot -- possibly due to the on-again, off-again rules about exhaust handling which for that race were on-again.

Overall the story has been of repeated, constant, machine-like consistency from the Red Bulls in general, and Vettel in particular. This is the season that 2010 should have been like for Red Bull.

One can also point fingers at the car. The F150* demonstrated excellent race pace on option tires, but never got the best out of the primes. This is possibly related, as the car was very gentle on the option tires, meaning there was more performance for longer than other cars were capable of delivering -- the flip side of this was that both drivers --especially Massa -- constantly had trouble putting heat into the primes because the car was just too gentle on them. This meant during the prime stints, the car just couldn't live with its competition. Giving up on development in September didn't help either, as the other teams continued to bring improvements.

Nevertheless, in order to profit from others misfortunes you have to be there or there abouts, and when McLaren stumbled Ferrari was usually there to take the advantage.

Alonso has continued in appearing to get the best available out of his car at all opportunities. Being able to run with, and occasionally ahead of, healthy Red Bulls (albeit those driven by Mark Webber) and McLarens showed that he hasn't lost any skill or drive. He seemed to have more visible mechanical issues over the year (several DRS and KERS failures) than his team mate, yet somehow managed to stay well ahead of him most of the time. Alonso is one of those drivers who can win the championship without having the benefit of the best car on the grid.

Massa, on the other hand... I somehow feel that he's never really come back from his accident in 2009. Although I wonder how much of his poor performances has been the car (vs his just not being an Alonso-caliber driver), I somehow feel that a younger, hungrier driver might stay closer to Alonso than Massa has. I never doubt the sincerity and commitment of Massa's effort... I just think perhaps it isn't enough any more.

Overall this year was what I expected -- a Red Bull technical demonstration. McLaren comes and goes, and this year they were on more than I expected. But I never expected anything better than 3rd in the manufacturer's, and possibly 3rd in the driver's.

So now we pack everything away and await the new car introductions in January.

*= th Italia blah blah blah

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pack Away 2011

Even before Monza, the word was out: Ferrari had effectively given up on 2011. While a Monza-specific package would undoubtedly be used for the Itallian Grand Prix, the word on the strip was that there would not be any further updates to the car, which would probably race on the rest of the season in a mostly Spa-spec package. Any further development parts will be field trials of the 2012 car.

We've been here before, although the situation isn't perhaps as pointless as it was back in 2009: Alonso, at least, will be back next year. And hopefully there will be a similar 2010-style payoff in 2012, as Alonso was very much alive in the championship chase right to the last event in 2010.

(I've said before that 2010 was a strange year where Red Bull and McLaren both seemed determined to not win the titles, and Ferrari's competitiveness was more due to steady reliability in high points paying positions rather than outright pace. But still, you have to be in it to win it, and the 2010 edition of Ferrari almost got there.)

We've also had the requisite round of scapegoating and otherwise musical chairs happening, none of which I expect to lead to a runaway Ferrari championship any time soon.

Ferrari as an organization is still going backwards from the Micheal Schumacher era. Look how long it took Schumacher to win his first title with Ferrari: '96 through '99 each showed promise, but the rebuilding didn't really come together until 2000.

That Raikkonen was able to sweep in in '07 and scoop the title out from under Hamilton and Alonso's nose says more about the team's competitive inertia and the quality of the team assembled before and during Schumacher's reign; the same with Massa's just-shy effort to grasp the title for himself the following year.

Since then, we've been sliding backwards. The people who built and composed that super team of the early '00s have been replaced by people who have joined a successful team, not built one. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.

These people are very capable and very competant -- keeping Ferrari in the top tier is no easy feat. But there is clearly something missing, some magic that is needed for that extra little push.

I don't like Alonso as a person, but as a driver he's won me over. I think that he is excelling at making a good car go very well. Massa only looks ordinary because the F150 is, frankly, ordinary. It belongs behind the McLaren and Red Bull cars, fighting with the Mercedes. And unless someone exceptional like Vettel* can be persuaded to take Massa's place, whomever ends up in the second Ferrari will continue to look ordinary next year.

The problem is that the other major teams will be turning their attentions to 2012 at the same time. Red Bull is your winner for 2011, so there's no point in either them or McLaren to keep developing. So Ferrari is not going to have a real head start on the rest of the field by abandoning 2011 now.

I'm sure the boys at the track will continue to give it all they've got for the rest of the year.

I just don't see any results changing substantially, either now or in 2012.


* = which will never happen, but what a championship season it would be!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Your 2014 F1 Engines

Autosport reports on the current vision of a 2014 F1 engine:
  • 1.6L V6 turbo
  • 15,000 RPM rev limit
  • no external starter
  • runs under electric power in the pit lane:
    Rule 5.19: The car must be run in electric mode (no ignition and no fuel supply to the engine) at all times when being driven in the pit lane.
  • mandatory 8-speed gearbox

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


So I suppose it would be inappropriate to let the first victory of 2011 pass unremarked. Alonso clearly had the car and the talent to get the job done on Sunday at Silverstone, romping away from the Red Bulls and the obviously disadvantaged McLaren in a manner that only Vettel had demonstrated thus far this year.

At this point I do not think this marks a revival of Ferrari fortunes for the year. I think that Ferrari benefited from the changing conditions through the weekend by managing to find the correct solution for their car at the right times. I also think that the radically changing exhaust rules through the weekend worked to their advantage, as the more-effective systems on the Red Bulls and McLarens were being affected by the rules changes that were happening between the sessions.

So this may very well be a one-off for the year; "normal" service may well resume at the next event.

The biggest effect on the track activity was the behavior of those mangling the technical rules during the event. When the rules are being adjusted between the sessions, one cannot plan effectively to put in a program to dial the car in to the track conditions. McLaren was the most visibly affected by this, although I personally put Red Bull's vulnerability down to the effects of the uncertainty.

To announce now that the rules changes will be changed again, throwing out the new interpretations of the rules in favor of bringing in more specific regulations for 2012 -- well frankly this should have been the strategy from the start. The FIA's technical regulators really dropped the ball on this one.

So we'll enjoy the result --even if we would have preferred Massa to put a proper pass on Hamilton on the last lap -- but be fully prepared for more frustration as the rest of the season progresses.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

European Progress?

It appears that if you combine A) restrictions in engine map usage with B) a low-downforce circuit, you end up with a situation where at least one of the Ferraris can run comfortably ahead of the McLarens, and with -- if not in front of -- the Red Bulls.

This race was always going to be a totally unique situation, what with the transition of regulations. Restricting the engine map usage a race before the off-throttle-blowing becomes illegal creates a single snapshot moment, one that is not really worth developing for.

It appears that Red Bull and Ferrari were well positioned for this race. The McLarens for whatever reason did not have the downforce needed to really run with the front cars. I am sure that McLaren will be better positioned in Silverstone, where the high-speed track is more likely to suit their cars. One can speculate that this may be more due to the Ferrari and Red Bull falling back into McLaren's clutches, as they have so far apparently avoided the performance loss due to engine mappings; one might speculate that this was more due to McLaren using the regulation to a better advantage than their rivals.

So all that verbiage aside, I fully expect that Silverstone will bring us the usual top three battling it out, albeit rather closer together than Valencia showed. There is a very small chance that Red Bull's performance advantage is completely due to the off-throttle blown diffusers, meaning that they will suffer disproportionally when the rules change -- but frankly I doubt it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

FIA Doublespeak

Charlie Whiting talks engine maps and diffusers:

Q: Why now?

A: Because it's illegal.

Q: So why not punish the teams that have been using it?

A: Because we say that it's 'arguably' illegal. The FIA technical department can only give an opinion. The stewards are the ones that decide whether or not the opinion of the technical department is correct. [...]
I'm sure the logic of this comes down to a couple of things: first, the Stewards don't want the Technical Delegates making definitive declarations of what is or is not illegal. That would be like parking officers making declarations about what you can or cannot do with your car.

Second, the Technical Delegates don't have standing to bring forward a complaint to the Stewards as they can't be the aggrieved party. The FIA likes the system where things are investigated as they are complained about, as enlightened self interest tends to keep complaints to a minimum. In this case, practically everyone is doing exhaust-blown diffusers to some extent, so if anyone protests them they are likely to get counter-protested right back and nobody wins. An example of I'll let you cheat because you know I'm cheating.

The other thing that this system does is it encourages teams to keep knowledge of any technical violations on the parts of their competitors quiet, so that they can be sprung at a tactically opportune time. Say for example when there were Bridgestone and Michelin tires in the series, and the Michelins got excluded at a critical juncture of the season because of the way they were constructed.

The whole thing is borderline unethical. If the rules are there, play by them. If you know of a rules violation, report it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stupid Regulations

I'm more than a bit peeved that I added an entire extra hour on the end of the scheduled grand prix time, and it STILL managed to cut out just before the end of the 2 hour rain delay. So I got to see almost NO racing.

Also disappointed by the poor Ferrari showing. Alonso's tire gamble for intermediates backfired, and Massa managed to be in the wars. The rain was always going to make Sunday into a lottery, effectively wasting the good qualifying showing. As I commented on Saturday, it's amazing what a poor season will do for lowering standards of good news.

Also pathetic was Hamilton's trail of "incidents". He banged wheels with Webber with no consequence, then banged wheels with his team mate which managed to only put himself out. He also had a safety car speed violation, which was rendered academic by his self-inflicted elimination. I think Lauda goes too far when he claims Hamilton is going to get someone killed; but I think he needs to settle down just a bit perhaps.

But hey, let's give props to Button for being the clear master of the conditions -- fighting back from extra pit stops and a drive-through in order to put pressure on Vettel at the end, and being able to take advantage of a Vettel's uncharacteristic mistake on the last lap. I agree with Button, this was probably his greatest victory so far in his career.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Continuing the theme of taking decisions for 2012: Ferrari has selected the first scapegoat for the poor results yielded in 2011. Technical Director Aldo Costa has stepped down, and has been stashed in the Ferrari road car division (at full F1 pay, good for him) to work out the remainder of his contract.

Moving Costa to the road car division is a curious decision on Ferrari's (or Fiat's) part -- it could be seen as an effort to honor the contract they had with him, or it could be seen as an effort to deny his services to a competing F1 team.

Either way it doesn't look good. In the first explanation they are admitting that this could be more of a political shake up at the F1 team; in the second, they are admitting that Costa might be good enough to make a difference at another team -- which is also an admission that this is a political, rather than a technical, change.

Also consider statements claiming that the 2012 car has already been started. May is a bit early to be actively designing the next year's car, this usually starts in late July or August. This all makes it look like the 2011 season is already being written off as sub-par.

CFD Not Wirth Exclusivity

...ok that was a bit belabored.

Virgin Racing has split with Nick Wirth:
Following a board meeting post-Monaco, Marussia Virgin Racing has halted its technical collaboration with Wirth Racing Technologies and boss Nick Wirth, the designer of the Virgin race chassis.
This represents a serious setback to those backing Computed Fluid Dynamics (or CFD) as a primary driver of chassis aerodynamic design.

CFD theoretically eliminates the need to spend expensive time using wind tunnels and models to study the effects of aerodynamic elements on a car. If a team can rely on CFD, it either reduces the potential design and development costs for the team, or it frees up money for other parts of operating the race team.

Many of the current teams use CFD as part of their process, however the bulk of the work is still done in wind tunnels.

Virgin was the first team to commit to using CFD as the primary source of aerodynamic design information. Both cars that the team produced have come from this method.

The results have been lacking. This year the Virgins are still struggling in Q1 with little to show that they are ready to take on even Team Lotus, let alone the other "3rd tier" teams that have longer histories in the sport.

This is the time of year to be taking decisions which will affect the 2012 campaign, and Virgin has decided to return to a more traditional way of developing cars.

In the long run, development of more advanced CFD systems coupled with cheaper and faster compute cycles will lead to CFD being a more reliable source of aerodynamic information; however I think the state of the art still has much further to go before it can replace the wind tunnel.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Green Tires

For a sport obsessed with their "green" image, the FIA certainly makes some strange rules decisions.

While there are some changes which are arguably more "green" -- for example, removing the need to be on "race fuel" during qualifying sessions, and eliminating the need to "burn off" fuel prior to qualifying runs -- there are others which clearly are not "green".

I'm thinking of the tires specifically. While the number of tires used through a weekend is still limited, the tires themselves have a useful service life of perhaps 20 laps before degradation starts to impact performance. So you end up with more pit stops.

You also end up with a lot of this:

...a lot of little rubber balls, colloquially referred to as "marbles", accumulating off the racing line.

Not the best "green" image for a sport in general, or for the tyre manufacturer in particular.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Changing Them Goalposts

The FIA has changed the direction of car development for 2011 by deciding that blown diffusers are to be deemed "movable aerodynamic devices". They do this by once again defining the obvious:
To push this regulation change through, the FIA has deemed that throttle use will be allowed only for the purpose of increasing torque, not for 'aerodynamic performance'.
Some people give this feature credit for Red Bull's dominance over the rest of the field, but it remains to be seen if this will actually change anything at the front.

The FIA has thus far been silent as to the reason behind the change in rules interpretation.

Update, perhaps 20 minutes later: Or not:
Formula 1 teams have been given a reprieve to continue using blown diffusers freely from this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, AUTOSPORT can reveal, after the FIA had a rethink about going ahead with a major change to the regulations.


A high level source indicated that the decision had been taken because a number of 'unforeseen and unintended consequences' of the ban had been brought to the FIA's attention.
Want to bet one of of those "unforeseen" consequences was the Red Bull being relegated to running with the Lotus cars?

Monday, May 9, 2011

What We Learned: Turkey 2011

Well that was fun, wasn't it? Thoughts and reflections on Turkey, 2011:
  • Nice Circuit, Shame About The Place: Turkey has consistently provided entertaining races; however it's location in the middle of nowhere in a country without enough interest to make the race a viable concern for the organizers means we may not be back in future years. This is sad because Turkey introduced a good circuit into the schedule. While F1 may not miss the event, I think the larger population of vierwers will.
  • Go Go Gadget Racecar: this year with DRS and KERS in fine form we got to see many passes that in previous years wouldn't have happened. And yet it wasn't an automatic-pass system; cars had to have more than a trivial advantage over the car they were chasing to make the pass good. This is good for sporting's sake -- the faster car should get in front of the slower car -- but it means that we may be denied epic battles for position where a driver can keep his faster opponent back. Overall though it is definitely different from the racing we've had in the past. I'm not entirely sold on DRS, but I'm entertained.
  • Ferrari Circuit: For some reason, the Ferrari team goes well at this circuit, with Alonso providing what is only the team's first podium of 2011. Consider Massa's domination of the event with three wins in a row. The Ferrari still has qualifying issues, but in race trim it is... well, it is faster. Personally I think that had McLaren not had issues with Hamilton's car and had Button been on the more competitive strategy... well I don't think the Ferrari would have been third. But being positioned to take advantage of other team's mistakes and bad luck is the first step in being lucky yourself, and Alonso is giving the Ferrari everything he can.
  • Tired of Tires: Personally I'm starting to have doubts about the Pirelli tires. Having tires that are only good for 20 laps or so, with a restriction on how many sets a team can use over a weekend... this to me is not a good combination. Some of the shots of turn 8* showed a field of large marbles, and this was early on in the race. For a series that is trying to become "green" and "environmental", requiring the use of these extremely disposable parts that are nothing more than an entertainment gimmick perhaps is not consistent.
  • Past His Best Before: Schumacher's comeback continues to underwhelm. His banging wings and wheels early on in the race defending against already-done passes does little to redeem his lack of qualifying pace. The TV commentators observed that Schumacher needs at least a podium from this return to avoid losing face, and that's probably true. Schumacher is definitely not having fun these days. I agree that even if this return ends up being a waste of time that it will not damage his ultimate reputation too much, his records will stand for at least as long as it takes Vettel to eclipse them.
  • Speaking Of Whom: Vettel was mighty this weekend, going from a crash on Friday morning, to pole, to winning convincingly. This is definitely the driver and car to beat so far in 2011.
  • Opposite Ferrari: While Ferrari qualifies poorly and then races well, the Mercedes seems to have the opposite problem. Rosberg is qualifying well, but is perhaps getting let down by the Mercedes' lack of ultimate race pace.
*= leaving aside the crazy idea that a single "turn" can be three apexes separated by individual straight segments.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I don't understand

Bernie Ecclestone in quit threat:
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has suggested he could retire if Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation group wins control of the sport.
...and my first thought was where's the downside?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What We Learned: China 2011

Having watched Sunday's race through a haze of small children and pain medication, I may not be especially coherent.
  • Red Bull isn't invincible: Somehow Vettel found himself unable to fend off Hamilton's McLaren at the end of the race, having wrung the life out of his tires at that point.
  • Qualifying poorly may be a tactical advantage: Too bad that Webber and the team got the qualifying dance wrong, with Webber lining up 18th. But Webber put on a clinic on how to put to good use all the available, unused option tires he had available as a result. Definitely the drive of the day.
  • Strange Strategies: the teams at the front which deviated from the expected two stop race (ie McLaren, Webber, Mercedes) all fared better on balance than the teams that did the expected (which actually is just Vettel and the Ferraris). Massa and Vettel were out front with only a handful to go, but their tires were done and they were powerless to resist those which caught them. In Massa's case, he slid all the way back to 6th, as Hamilton, Webber, Button, and Rosberg all steamed by and was still only 15 seconds back of winner Hamilton at the flag.
  • Alonso brings up the rear again: For the third event in a row, Massa finished the first lap in front of his team leader. Massa seems to be either getting luckier than Alonso is right now -- or he is just better at making his own luck.
  • Another DRS fault for Alonso: While not exactly in his favor, at least it wasn't to his detriment the way it was last week in Malaysia. Ferrari has some work to do with this system still.
  • Faster cars burn more fuel: or so Mercedes has learned with Rosberg's car. Rosberg had to go into serious fuel consumption management during part of the race or would have risked running out.
  • Whither Renault? After impressing at the first two stops, the Renault cars did not impress the way some had expected in China. Time will tell if this is merely a case of the rest of the field developing while Renault stands still, or if the Renault car is going to turn into a specialist for some types of circuits.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What We Learned: Malaysia 2011

Quick commentary which boarders on incoherence:
  • DRS worked better here than it did in Australia. I think there were two differences between here and Australia. First, the placement of the "determination" point just before the last corner was at the end of a long straight run with only the final corner between the "determination" point and the "active zone", meaning that cars which were faster through the curves than their pursuers were unable to get away as much. So the cars which were faster in a straight line than their targets ended up closer to their targets than they did in Australia. Second, the pit straight is longer and wider than it was in Australia, giving more time and space for the DRS advantage to be realized. DRS still seems gimicky to me, and I suspect the Australia experience will be closer to the norm than Malaysia. That said, DRS will probably work better in China than Australia.
  • Ferrari has some qualifying speed, but at Malaysia they were clearly slower than the McLaren and Red Bulls.
  • Ferrari's race pace looks much more promising. While still not challenging for the lead, the Ferrari can dice with the Renaults and pick up anything that the McLarens and Red Bulls drop.
  • Ferrari's DRS failure on Alonso's car is frustrating. This is a pretty simple system all things told. I point at this failure as the principle cause of Alonso's driving into the back of Hamilton. The collision threw away the podium to be sure.
  • Massa had a steadier race, but still doesn't look like he's on Alonso's pace. If the Ferrari was on pace with the McLaren this wouldn't be as much of an issue, but really Ferrari needs both cars coming home higher up than they have been.
  • At this point the championship looks like Vettel's to lose. Two wins in dominating fashion, the Malaysian one with KERS unavailable to him. If Red Bull can keep consistent, he'll be uncatchable except perhaps around some specialist courses like Monaco or Spa.
  • Nice to see Heidfield back on the podium. It is just hard to hear it over the sound of Kubica weeping.
  • Petrov does his audition for the Dukes Of Hazzard sequel. Scary stuff to see the steering assembly come apart in his hands on landing, but not really surprising since the cars are not designed to be bounced over anything. That's the picture of the year so far.
  • The current car rankings look like Red Bull, then McLaren, then Ferrari, then Renault. Lots of distance to go, and I think Renault will fade as the year goes on.
Short week then China this weekend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Idiot Officials

Well here we are race two, and already we have a stupid decision from the stewards to wrangle with*:
Hamilton was penalised for making more than one change of direction as he tried to defend his position from Alonso. The Spaniard, meanwhile, received the same (20 second) penalty for causing a collision with the British driver during the fight.
So basically Hamilton was weaving, while Alonso was penalized for driving into Hamilton -- because Hamilton was weaving.

Either Hamilton defended his line appropriately and Alonso was too aggressive, or Hamilton was defending his position too aggressively and Alonso is blameless.

Can't have it both ways.
*= and why the hell is the press release detailing this not on the internet anywhere? All the sites I've checked just itemize the punishment without reprinting the text of the decision (which would be interesting to me, anyways) and the FIA site doesn't have it either.

Update: so OK now that I can actually find details of the penalties -- it looks like Hamilton and Alonso are being penalized for different incidents. Hamilton's transgression happened about two minutes before Alonso's:
The incident which caused Hamilton’s penalty was timed at 17.20 and the incident which caused Alonso’s penalty was timed at 17.22. Given the lap times involved one can say with some certainty that Hamilton’s penalty related to a move on lap 45, while Alonso’s penalty was linked to the collision on lap 46 that led him to pit at the end of the lap.
So the officials can have it both ways. Would have been nice if the text of the decisions had been actually available in a timely manner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Deadpool update: HRT sinking? is reporting HRT in 'major financial trouble':
"People with half a brain can understand what is going on," the source is quoted as saying. "We engineers have gone unpaid for two months.

"Five engineers have quit already," he revealed.
When you are not paying the staff, and the staff is noticing that they are not getting paid, you are in trouble. For most startups, this is where the end happens -- worthless options are snowblown at the remaining staff in liu of of real money. However the operation is usually running on fumes and the end is merely days away.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What We Learned: Australia 2011

What we learned from yesterday's GP:
  • DRS isn't working in its current form. The only convincing DRS-enabled pass was Jenson Button blowing past a backmarker that he'd have blown past later anyways. When his McLaren was on even terms with Massa's Ferrari -- that is to say, the McLaren was visibly faster once released by the Ferrari -- DRS didn't help. Most of the other passes that happened could be attributed to tire degradation, in that cars with fresh tires are much faster than cars on worn tires. Watching one of the Ferrari's stalk Button before he peeled off on a tire change, you could see the DRS being deployed and it making almost no impression on the McLaren. Definitely not the go-faster tool that the FIA envisioned.
  • Ferrari is probably the third-fastest car right now. Alonso had a terrible start, but even so managed to be making up ground on third-place Petrov at the end. If he had not had the terrible start, he probably would have been ahead of Petrov's Renault. However he'd also be behind Button's McLaren, so at this point there is work to do. The F150* will almost definitely win races and may contend later this year, but for now it is clearly best of the rest.
  • Vettel still has it: a dominating performance in qualifying gave him the platform to convert to an almost uncontested win. This car/driver combination still looks unbeatable. What more needs to be said?
  • I don't want to write off Massa, but this performance is just more of the same we saw last year -- much slower than his team mate and vague complaints of technical difficulties, this time "rear tire issues". It would be too easy to write him off at this point, we'll check back in after a couple more races before we polish the axe.
  • Petrov impressed, but would Kubica have bettered that result? The year's worth of experience had done Petrov's performance a world of good, and a trouble-free run grants him his first podium. He probably is the beneficiary of Alonso and Button's poor luck. All things being equal, I don't see him regularly coming home in front of those two cars.
  • Sauber stumbles: running the entire distance on one tire change, especially when others were having severe problems making them last, is impressive. To see both cars excluded due to a technical infringement that didn't grant them a competitive advantage is a shame.
*= itallia blah blah blah, whatever. It's the F150 to me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crazy Time At HRT

OK, this one takes the cake as the stupidest thing said in F1 for... oh, quite some time:

Alguersuari: tyres could put HRT in front of Ferrari
Speaking to reporters in Barcelona he said: “You could see Hispania running faster than Ferrari if they are on new tyres and Ferrari were on worn tyres. You could see Hispania overtake Ferrari.”
Personally I think the only way a HRT will overtake a Ferrari during a race is if the Ferrari being passed is parked on the side of the road with at least two wheels knocked off it.

At least we know HRT has the budget for the really good drugs this year.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Deadpool 2011

So let's review my predictions from last year:
I would say that the bubble teams are Campos Meta and Lotus, with Stefan GP not being able to show up even if asked. Virgin could end up on the bubble next year depending on results.
Campos Meta became HRT, but somehow made it through the whole season -- possibly through not spending a dollar on car development. HRT has shown computer-generated images of their 2011 car, but nobody's actually seen it yet.

Lotus and Virgin both made it through the whole season, with Lotus comprehensively winning the "best of the new teams" category for 2010.

Implied in my prediction was that USF1 would survive 2010. They didn't.

For the more established teams, I note that the Renault team's ownership has been further diluted through the infusion of Group Lotus. I remain certain that Renault will divest themselves of the race team within a couple of years, at this point Group Lotus looks like the most likely buyer.

I also predicted that Toro Rosso would be sold last year, and that didn't happen. Between HRT and Sauber grasping for money to keep going, there was a surplus of teams available for purchase, so the Toro Rosso deal never even got started.

For 2011:

None of the premier establishment teams (Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren) are at risk.

Of the remaining establishment teams:
  • Lotus-Renault has momentum from last year and should survive.
  • Sauber is showing signs of weakness, but I think they will make it to the end of the year. I'm going to say they don't get sold.
  • Toro Rosso will get sold if a ready buyer steps up.
  • Williams will survive, but this season marks the beginning of a sea change. Patrick Head is basically selling off his shares (he is going from 27% ownership to 5% ownership) in the team through a stock-market scheme. He and Frank Williams are both in their 60s, and won't be able to do this forever. If this is a short term way to boost financing issues due to a lack of sponsorship, Williams is probably doomed next year or the year after.
  • I continue to not understand how Force India continues to get around, but they will continue to get around for at least this year.
For the new teams:
  • Team Lotus will be the best of the rest, possibly regularly beating Toro Rosso and Sauber. Finance is a bit more of a question though. I say they make it.
  • Barring some kind of disaster, Virgin will continue through into 2012.
  • HRT is my candidate for not making it, since they are only showing computer-generated imagery of their car thus far, and said imagery is very short on sponsorship.
As always, tune in next year for the laughing and pointing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mark your calendars

Ferrari unveil their 2011 car on January 28th.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Missing 2010 F1 Car

F1.Fanatic has pictures of the unraced TF110, built by Toyota and supplied to StefanGP which hoped to race it.

There has obviously been some development work done on it as the front wing shows more complexity than the other 2010 cars did at the beginning of the year. Generally it has smooth and uncomplicated lines.

With Toyota's engineering behind it, one suspects that it would not have started the season in dead-last place, and perhaps might have been faster than some of the established teams.

The question as to if StefanGP could have financed the operation properly, and set the stage to make more progress in 2011... this is the larger question that remains unanswered.