There is constant debate in all F1 circles at present, regarding “improving the show." This generally is taken to mean overtaking. The concensus by virtually all of the fans is that the lack of action, and processional races, is caused by the inability of F1 cars to pass each other.
There is a widely held opinion, not only by fans but by drivers and team principals, that any car needs at least a three second speed advantage to overtake, or the driver of the car that he is trying to pass has to make a mistake. Sometimes the maneouvere requires both.
We have all seen this for ourselves, as soon as the car gets within about 4 metres of the car in front, it runs into the turbulence caused by the aerodynamics of the leading car, loses its own downforce, and consequently is unable to attack and overtake.
The result of all this amounts to processional, boring races decided by qualifying position, and whoever gets the best start. Sometimes the first corner exit positions decide the eventual winner. Pit stops do provide an opportunity for gaining a place, but that is not overtaking.
There are several rumours in the F1 press, that in 2013 turbine engines may be allowed in F1. This is not new, as it has been done before, by guess who? Yes, the man himself, the late Colin Chapman.
It was designed in 1970 and was inspired by the 1967 STP Granatelli Indy 500 turbine car. It was actually raced for the first time in 1971. I was fortuanate enough to see this car in action at the 1971 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.Very strange indeed. I love the sound of any racing engine on full song, as I am sure most F1 enthusiats do.
I am also a lover of classical music, but the turbine sounds like The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, while the others sound like the Honky Tonk paino. The car produced none of the usual sounds. No screaming exhaust. No revs rising and subsequent gear changes. But you could hear the tyres, squealing faintly under protest.
When introduced into F1 in 1971, the Lotus 56 had been presented by Maurice Philippe in 1968 to compete in the Indianapolis 500. With its innovative turbine drive, instead of a normal reciprocating piston engine, F1 designer Colin Chapman saw the potential of such a car and let the project run slowly for two years. However in 1970, Chapman got in contact with Pratt & Whitney who could provide a turbine to meet the regulations of Formula One. The result is the Lotus 56B that was determined to run in the 1971 Formula One season.
The new turbine driven car had several important differences compared to traditional power. Most importantly, the turbine had about 600hp compared to 425hp of the traditional engines. Furthermore, the drive train was simpler as the car did not need a gearbox or clutch to get all the power to the wheels. A turbine engine is also smaller and lighter than a regular piston engine,and has less moving parts.
Rather than radiator openings in the sidepods, the car featured a chimney behind the driver's head to evacuate the hot gases from the turbine engine. As the turbine engine was very thirsty, the extra space in the sidepods was all used up by large fuel tanks that could hold up to 280 liters of kerosene.
Additionally, the lack of engine brake meant the drivers had to rely solely on the regular brakes. The car was therefore equipped with larger and heavier inboard brakes while the drivers had to get used to left foot braking, a little known technique at the time.This problem today would be solved by using carbon brakes.
The turbine concept nearly proved good enough for a GP win when in the flooded circuit of Zandvoort Australian Dave Walker moved up during the race from a back row starting position. He occupied the tenth position after five returns and made returns faster than the leaders Jacky Ickx and Pedro Rodriguez. Convinced of the possible victory, Chapman was left disappointed after Walker slid off the circuit and had to retire.
Although originally raced in Gold Leaf livery, its last outing was in the gold/black livery of World Wide Racing in which the sole version ever built still exists.
Based on the STP Granatelli turbine car ("Silent Sam") that almost won in 1967, Chapman’s team again produced an even more innovative design. The 56 was shaped like a wedge on wheels, in the same vein as the later Lotus 72 which was also designed by Philippe and Chapman. The engine of the 56 was also noteworthy, as it was a Pratt &Whitney gas turbine engine of over 500 bhp (370 kW) and 1560 nm (1150.44 lb/ft) . To get the best out of the power produced, the 56 was fitted with four wheel drive something also used on the Lotus 63 without success.
Chapman developed the car as a potential F1 machine after the failure of the Lotus 63, but while the car was promising, it was too heavy and too overcomplicated for F1. The car was designated as the 56B and Emerson Fittipaldi drove it in the 1971 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch during wet practice, the 56 was far and away the fastest car on the track, but the race was held in dry weather and the car was lost in midfield. Dave Walker drove the car in the Dutch GP and had progressed from 22nd to 10th in five laps of the very wet track, before sliding off the road and into retirement.
Fittipaldi used the car again in that year's Italian GP and managed to bring the fragile design home 8th. By then Chapman decided to cut his losses and abandoned the 56, the four wheel drive concept and the gas turbine engine to concentrate on the Lotus 72 (heir to the 56's wedge and 49's wings),] which went on to win the drivers' and constructors' championships for Lotus in 1972.
Ferrari are said to be asking the FIA for permission to modify their engines for reliability purposes. There have been multiple Ferrari engine failures in the team's cars and at Team Sauber, their engine customer. The season-long implications are quite serious. Because of the eight-engine rule, Ferrari and Sauber could find themselves penalized if more than eight engines are needed, not to mention the inherent points penalty for failing to finish races.
It has emerged this week that the problem most concerning Ferrari is the pneumatic valve system. Like most engines, F1 uses an overhead camshaft to open the valves, but unlike most engines, F1 uses pneumatics to close the valves. Pneumatic system failures can be put into three general categories: 1. Systemic system failure; 2. Individual valve failure; 3. Catastrophic engine failure.
Here is an introductory explanation of the engines: F1 engines have four valves per cylinder: two intake valves and two exhaust valves. The engines are four cycle. The cycles are intake, compression, power, and exhaust. When the piston is at the top of the cylinder at the start of the intake cycle, the valves are all closed. 1- As the piston moves down the intake valves begin to open allowing the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder. The camshaft rotates and is timed to match the crankshaft, and the cam lobes push the valves open. 2 - At the bottom of the cylinder stroke, all valves are closed and the piston moves up to compresses the fuel mixture. 3 – Near the top of the stroke the sparkplug fires and the power stroke begins. The exploding fuel sends the piston back down and spins the crankshaft. 4 – As the piston begins to return to the top, the exhaust valve opens and the burnt mixture is sent out the exhaust valve to the exhaust manifold.
Most engines use springs to close the valve. The camshaft lobes push it open, and a spring pulls it closed. This works okay on most engines, but not on engines that operate at very high RPMs. There are many issues other than RPMs associated with valve springs on high performance cars, but let's just say that they are not suitable for F1 engines and leave it at that for now.
Instead, F1 engines use pneumatic pressure to force the valves to close. The gas used in the system is nitrogen. Nitrogen is very dry, contains no moisture, and the volume in a closed system is less affected by temperature rise than air. Below is a diagram of the system:
There are inlet and outlet pressure regulators, there are check valves (one way valves) on the inlet and outlet tubing, there are sealing rings in several places (wherever the valve stem moves through fixed points), and there is the valve piston (not to be confused with the engine piston). It is the valve piston that is used to push the valve closed. The pneumatic pressure is applied to the underside of the piston at the appropriate time to push the valve tightly closed and to hold it closed. At the precise moment the valve needs to open, the pressure is relieved through the outlet and the cam lobe can then open it. The pneumatics work quite well and can be designed to apply variable “spring rates” for different engine performance modes. The system is closed, and in theory, no air is consumed. The pressure source is a pressure tank mounted somewhere in the sidepod.
Ferrari says that their system is leaking. This has happened to others, and was sometimes solved by re-pressuring the pressure tank during a pit stop. If the leak were minor and was confined to the transfer pressure tubing and fittings, the re-pressurization was usually adequate to allow the car to continue without further problems. But, the short pitstops associated with tire changes (no refueling) doesn't allow time for re-pressuring the tank. However, I am sure that Ferrari would take the time to do this and suffer the loss of position, in order to avoid engine failure.
Their problem may not be leaks in the pressure tank, the transfer tubing, or in the fittings. It may be more serious than that. Perhaps it is in the internals of the cylinder head? Perhaps the seals around the valve stems are leaking? If so, they may require a re-design of the cylinder head.
As I said in the opening paragraphs: Pneumatic system failures can be put into three general categories: 1. Systemic system failure; 2. Individual valve failure; 3. Catastrophic engine failure.
If the entire system leaks it is a systemic failure. Since many of the components are outside the engine, one should be able to engineer a solution that does not require FIA approval. But, if the problem is inside the cylinder head, an FIA approval would be required.
An individual valve failure would compromise the effectiveness of the engine causing a loss of compression on that cylinder, but it could also cause a catastrophic engine failure. If the valve does not fully return to the valve seat, contact with the piston could result in a complete failure, and these are usually dramatic. The worst case would be if the air leaked around the valve piston and resulted in pressure at the top of the piston and held the valve fully open. Bad news indeed.
My last point would be that I don't know why this would be happening now and did not happen in earlier incarnations of this engine. I do not know what has changed to cause this problem in 2010.
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren - 60pts
Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes - 50pts
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari - 49pts
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren - 49pts
Sebastien Vettel (GER) Red Bull - 45pts
Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari - 41pts
Robert Kubica (POL) Renault - 40pts
Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull - 28pts
Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India - 10pts
Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes - 10pts
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India - 8pts
Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault - 6pts
Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams - 5pts
Jaime Alguersuari(ESP) Toro Rosso - 2pts
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams - 1pt
This week the Formula 1 circus moves to China with Red Bull finally taking their first win of 2010. With three different drivers having won this season, can there be a fourth in China, equalling the stats of 2003?
Where is the circuit?
The Shanghai International Circuit is based on the outskirts of China’s biggest city, Shanghai. It’s close proximity to the city means that it is easy accessible for the thousands of race fans coming to see the race
F1, don't we love it. Last year we had the double diffuser issue,"is it legal." This year we have Red Bulls suspension.
There are several self levelling suspension systems, most of them use a method of altering the length of the piston damper actuator within the damper unit itself. Under the current FIA regulations these may well be "illegal" or not, who knows. I certainly don't.
There is however another system which uses geometery to achieve the same effect.This system is not new, indeed it was patented in 1935, I think, by Ernest Earles. Widely used by BMW motorcycles, it was very effective in eliminating the forks diving under heavy braking.
"The Earles fork was a variety of leading link fork where the pivot point was aft of the rear of the front wheel — this was the basis of a patent for the design. Designed by Englishman Ernest Earles, this triangulated fork actually caused the front end of a motorcycle to rise when braking hard ".
I realise that RBR is not a motorcycle, but I believe that Adrian Newey, who is undoubtedly the most innovative F1 designer since Colin Chapman, has incorporated this geometery into the RBR6 suspension design.
By careful design of suspension attachment points, and possibly using a cranked suspension damper attachment point, he could reproduce the characteristic of the Earles fork of raising under load, and at the same time, the suspension would still operate normally.
This could then be used to hold the car at it's optimum ride height, irrespective of the fuel load.
The FIA have issued a letter to the teams, which re-iterates the FIA regulations in respect to suspension regulations.This is widely available and have no need to reproduce here.
I will however take one sentence and ask just how do you interpret this?
"The ride height can only be adjusted when the car is not moving."
Taken literally, that means that if the car ride height increases as it would with a convential system, that is also illegal as well.
Newey has, I believe, turned the RBR6 suspension upside down, resulting in it decreasing as the fuel load is consumed. Fanciful, maybe but entirely possible.
It is also possible that the RBR6 has a constant ride height, irrespective of fuel load. Does that equate to self levelling?
There are specific requirements contained in the FIA technical regulations. Provided that the car meets those regulations and the ride height is an entirely mechanical design feature, I fail to see any question of legality.
Sebastien Vettel (GER) Red Bull Renault
Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Renault
Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP
1. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari – 39pts
2. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari - 37pts
3. Sebastien Vettel (GER) Red Bull – 37pts
4. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren – 35pts
5. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes – 35pts
6. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren – 31pts
7. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault – 30pts
8. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull – 24pts
9. Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India – 10pts
10. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes – 9pts
11. Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India – 8pts
12. Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams – 5pts
13. Jaime Alguersuari(ESP) Toro Rosso – 2pts
14. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams – 1pt
1. Ferrari (ITA) – 76pts
2. McLaren (GBR) 66pts
3. Red Bull (AUT) 61pts
4. Mercedes (GER) 44pts
5. Renault (FRA) 30pts
6. Force India (IND) 18pts
7. Williams (GBR) 6pts
8. Toro Rosso (ITA) 1pt
Pit Stop Chart
Most Pit Stops:
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus – 2 stops
Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Toro Rosso – 2 stops
Rubens Barichello (BRA) Williams – 2 stops
First to Stop:
Rubens Barichello (BRA) Williams – Lap 7
Last to Stop:
Rubens Barichello (BRA) Williams – Lap 44
Fastest Pit Stop:
Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP – 21.802secs
Laps Led Chart:
Sebastien Vettel (GER) Red Bull – Laps 1-23, 25-56
Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull – Laps 24
Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull – 1min 37.054secs
Fastest Trap Speeds:
Here is my take and it is quite simple: If the leading driver of the pair reacts to a movement of the following driver, then that is blocking. If the following driver reacts to a movement of the leading driver, that is maintaing the "tow." If the leading driver moves around the circuit on his own without reacting to the non-movements of the following driver, he is trying to break the tow.
Hamilton initiated all the wiggles and Petrov followed. Petrov initiated none of Hamilton's moves. At the end of the straight Hamilton chose his line, held that line,and Petrov did the same.
Fair game and no warning was required, no flag should have been shown, and no one need refer to the rules for this judgement. It is commonplace in all of racing.
Following today's exciting and spectacular qualifying session, caused by the very changeble weather conditions,and very poor strategy decisions by some teams, notably Ferrari and McLaren, tommorows race looks to have all the ingredients of being another Australia.
The performance cars and drivers, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Button and others will start from the back of the grid, and will need to fight their way through the field, as they will try to gain the maximum points and hopefully a podium spot.
No doubt many fans and TV viewers will enjoy this.I fully expect to see many overtaking manouvrers as these top drivers are the best of the current crop.
Add to this the unpredictably of the weather in Sepang at this time of year, together with the race start time, it is almost certain to be a wet race, adding even more excitment.
Much of me says "bring it on" let us see just how good F1 can be in the right conditions.
Therein lies the problem. Bernie Ecclestone knows full well that at this time of year, a race start time of 1600 is almost guaranteed to be wet.
This then causes a whole series of different scenarios to appear. Qualifying as we have seen today, leaves us with a very mixed starting grid order, thereby increasing the chances of a much more exciting race.
Bernie has had all sorts of wierd and wonderful ideas to "improve the show".
These range from his ridiculous "gold medals" idea, to short cuts,and very likely others that we know little about.
My big fear is that he with others in the FIA will say "eureka" this is the answer. Handicap systems are all we need to fix the boring race syndrome.
Then what will happen? Success ballast, reverse grids, artificial track watering systems? The mind boggles as to what half baked idea they will implement.
I await the results of the race tommorrow with great interest. I hope that I am wrong, but if we have an incident filled exciting race, which we all enjoy, my enjoyment will tempered by these concerns.
The session starts dry although some dark clouds hang around the circuit. If there will be heavy- or monsoon rain the Qualifying will get postponed to Sunday, 9am local time (2100 EST ; 0000 UTC ; 0200 BST ; 0300 CET).
After the common shakedown laps the top teams wait for the backenders to lay rubber. Pedro de la Rosa is the first after 10 minutes with a full lap since Sauber has the infformation of rain in some minutes.The first top times are all in between 1:34min while Rosberg starts the session with a 25min delay. In his 6th try Hamilton posts a 1:34.0 and leads with this time over Alonsos 1:34.514 at session mid point.
Then Hamilton changes to softs and posts with 1:33.559 a new time to beat. Meanwhile, Williams reports rain in turn 6, 7 and 8. Webber is on another practice trim since lost time yesterdays. It seems that started with a heavier load on hard compounds. Schumacher posts a 1:33.992 which shows the momentarily difference to the other Mercedes fired car at the top.
Mark Webber started the mini-qualifying with an impressive 1:33.542 followed by Massa and Petrov on softs but it seems that it started to rain since all drivers posted slower times towards the end. The session finishes with Mark Webbers 1:33.542 over Hamiltons 1:33.559 and Vettels 1:33.587. With the top 3 within 0.010 secs we should see an interesting Qualifying session.
UPDATE - Reader Comment
We have received a post-race comment from John K, and we have looked at what he has said. His original comment is below in the comments section, and he is correct. John K says that Ferrari ran the extra louvers near the driver only on Friday and at no other time. That is correct based on the pics I have seen.
But, he also noticed something that I had not seen during the race: the gills near the exhaust were only on the left side of the car! There is a link in his comment to a pic. Here it is:
I have also found a pic that shows the same pitstop from a different photog.
There are only gill vents on the left side. John asked in his comments, "The hint may be that something on the left side needs extra venting and that it may not totally be exhaust related."
Agreed. Perhaps, it is the electronics? Any ideas guys?
Original Post -
At the Bahrin GP there were radio communications between the team and Massa that suggested that he slow down a bit, maintain his position, and try to make the finish because his engine temps were above the scale for reliability. I didn't hear any radio reports to Alonso.
Ferrari had already chosen (before the race) to replace their #1 engines (in terms of usage) with their #2 engines in both cars,thus implying that the engines were not at full song. I suggest that either they had a manufacturing fault, or the engines were stressed due to overheating in the Friday practice rounds.
Interesting stuff, one way or the other. But that is speculation.
Here are some facts made way of photographic evidence:
The Sidepod Gill Vents are obvious at Bahrain.They are located just forward of the exhaust outlets and provide cooling for the exhaust system.
The sidepod exhaust vents are also evident in this photofromSepang, but the vents on the upper bodywork, the area just behind the air intake duct, are new. They must be for engine cooling.
Some publications said they were on the car at Bahrain, but I have seen no photographic evidence.
Bottom line: apparently the very powerful Ferrari engine runs a little too hot in the non-european tropical/mid east desert races.
To mitigate these heating problems they have introduced improved air ducting to the engine. This is apparently in the form of the louvers seenabove. The FIA technical regs limit the placement of aperatures (holes) in the body works.
I have not mapped the exact placements, but the engine cooling louvers seem to be correctly placed.
But,I really do not know. But probably a good guess.....................................