Archive | March 2015

Opinion: Wind tunnel Ban

Before the 2015 F1 season got under way and long before Mercedes went on to annihilate the opposition come Sunday, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner proposed that Formula One should re-think the way it works in order to minimise spending and generate a low-cost formula which wouldn’t be such a hindrance to manufacturer and independent teams alike. His proposal was simple: Ban wind tunnels.

Wind tunnels have long been around Formula One. They are used to extrapolate information on the way in which air flow reacts and relates to interacting with the surface on the car, it has aided the design process of cars which are in need of an aerodynamic solution. However, the costs of running these influential tests are extravagant, some teams have in the past had their wind tunnels running 24 hours a day. Teams further down the grid, notably Force India, are today having to send their car equipment some distance to Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne, Germany in order to get significant and accurate data on their chassis. This of course adds expense in not only transporting the equipment, but paying Toyota to use the wind tunnel.

The question is, if F1 were to be rid of these expensive contraptions, would the sport be any different? The answer is almost certainly yes. The banning of wind tunnels would reward the teams with the finest designers, something which would suit Red Bull Racing given that they employ the aero-whizz Adrian Newey. It would place the ability of the car in line with the skills of the men who draw and create them. It would mean that if a driver were to complain of a certain issue or element on his machinery, it would be up to the ingenuity of the designer to work around it and aim to create something which would suit the driver best. It would bring together more of a ‘team feel’ in the sport, the driver moans and designer draws, we would be reversed back to an age where computers didn’t have the effect they do today. More importantly still is the freedoms it should allow for aero men. Today the important figures like James Allison and Adrian Newey are bemoaning the lack of opportunity they have with the current rules to create solutions whilst cars slowly all begin to look the same. Their capabilities are being stemmed. With a wind tunnel ban, the FIA should open up more of the areas which could be open to interpretation, allow designers more freedoms around the car to create revolutionary pieces of equipment. Not only this, but a ban would dramatically reduce the costs involved and lower F1 teams budget, something which must become paramount especially as teams like Marussia, Caterham and even HRT couldn’t afford to remain in the (very expensive) game.

In short, Horner’s proposal was laughed off, but Formula One is heading back to the ‘good old days’ proposals of wider tyres, 1000bhp engines and we now even have sparks from the back of the cars, why is it so impossible to imagine a Formula One world without wind tunnels?

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Alonso in the dark

Fernando Alonso has posted a video of himself undertaking reaction training in Dubai. The video shows the Spaniard putting his senses to the test in a dark room, allowing for the best environment to test his reaction times in his bid to be back in the cockpit of the MP4-30 at Malaysia in two weeks time.

F1 2015

It’s here. It is upon us. The long and arduous winter where the long dark nights are filled with designers final touches, wind-tunnels maxing out into overdrive and drivers preparing and training in exotic climes are finally at an end. The 2015 season is almost here.

The speculation over teams (re)joining the grid, financial security and chassis ability will all be resolved, or at least become somewhat clearer on Sunday evening. The yardstick will have been well and truly thrown and the gauntlet set down by some to actively aim at beating over the course of the long season, which finalises in November.

The renewed McLaren Honda partnership has had a slow and solemn berth over the three winter test sessions in the south of Spain. There a several issues, more relating to the electrics and overall packaging of the power unit within the MP4-30. The chassis itself is aerodynamically sound, the drivers have expressed confidence in the cars ability to steer and corner, always a major plus. Australia will be the first time the McLaren will be run in anger, and don’t expect that to be until the Qualifying session on Saturday. The weather is good and the circuit has always been favourable to the Woking squad. The street-like track allows for cars with excellent traction and high-speed cornering ability to excel.

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We should expect to see a slow start for the McLaren Honda. The team will be keen to try and get as many installation laps in as possible, in order to ascertain whether particular parts of the chassis and the power unit are working together. We may even see a lack of running toward the end of the first free practice session on Friday, to make sure that the Honda power unit is not compromised and therefore requiring a change in between sessions, something which will have a negligible effect on the teams programme.

The weather is expected to remain sunny and warm for the entire weekend, so we can rule out a classic Jenson Button style inter-changeable conditions victory here. The overall aim for the squad is to run the weekend as reliably as possible, and score as many points in a race which normally has a high attrition rate. The Albert Park race should not be too large a problem for Alonso not to be a part of, although his presence will be missed, especially with new recruit Andrea Stella waiting for his prompt arrival in Sepang

The word McLaren Honda will want to hear after this weekend:  ‘Dark-horse’.