Tag Archive | Rosberg

Bahrain: Magnussen leads the way

Kevin Magnussen finished the second day of the Bahrain test on top of the time sheets, by a massive 1.5 seconds. The McLaren set the time late in the day on the softer Pirelli rubber. His time of 1m34.910 was two seconds quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s fastest lap at last years Bahrain Grand Prix. Nico Hulkenberg finished the day in second place in his Force India. The German had finished on top on day 1 and had looked to have set today’s fastest time until Magnussen’s lap at the end of the day. Hulkenbergs time of 1m36.445 was a tenth ahead of Fernando Alonso who finished third in his Ferrari, completing 97 laps.

Nico Rosberg ended the day in fourth place with a time of 1m36.965 after setting 85 laps in the Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas managed to complete the most laps out of the entire field with a mammoth 116. The Finn finished the day in fifth with a time of 1m37.328. Kamui Kobayashi’s Caterham set a time of 1m39.855 over the course of 66 laps and finished the day half a second clear of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull in sixth.

Red Bull had a much more productive day, with Vettel racking up 59 laps. His time of 1m40.340 was almost five and a half seconds slower than pace setter Magnussen. Ricciardo takes over for the last two days of this weeks test. Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso finished in eighth with a time of 1m40.609. The Frenchman completed 58 laps for the day. Esteban Gutierrez was a tenth down in his Sauber, the Mexican managed to complete 55 laps as the Swiss team focused on car management and understanding the brakes. Romain Grosjean’s Lotus completed 18 laps in a time of 1m41.670. Max Chilton’s Marussia brought up the rear with a time of 1m42.511 having completed just 17 laps for the day.

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Jerez: Massa leads the way

Felipe Massa was top of the time sheets at the end of the four day test in Jerez. The Williams driver was in the car for the second day in a row and managed to set a time of 1m28.229 on a damp circuit. Fernando Alonso finished in second place nine tenths down on former team mate Massa. Force India test driver Daniel Juncadella finished the day in an impressive third place with a time of 1m29.457. Kevin Magnussen was in fourth place with a time of 1m30.806 in the McLaren. Lewis Hamilton ran in the afternoon after taking over from team mate Rosberg. The Brit finished the day in fifth with a time of 1m30.822. Jules Bianchi impressed in the Marussia claiming sixth place with a time of 1m32.222. Adrian Sutil’s time of 1m36.571 was some way off the pace and over 8 seconds slower than leader Massa. The other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg completed his running in the morning with a time of 1m36.951. Kamui Kobayashi’s Caterham managed more laps on Friday and set a time of 1m43.193. Russian driver Daniil Kvyat finally got some running under his belt and set a time of 1m44.016. Red Bull’s woes continued as Daniel Ricciardo stayed in the car for the day although got limited running after the team announced they were quitting the test at lunchtime. The Australian managed a time of 1m45.374

Jerez: Day 2 Analysis

Day two of the Jerez test was all about the battle of the engines. It was not a productive day for any Renault powered car, their total laps for the day were 19 in comparison to Ferrari’s which was 100. But it was Mercedes who comprehensively racked up the most laps with 212.

The action on track for the first day of the Jerez test was somewhat a damp squib. The second day began on an much more artificially wet note. Pirelli decided to move its wet-weather running day from Friday to Wednesday in the anticipation that there would be actual precipitation in the afternoon, which there was not.

Morning began with a tractor wetting the track

The morning began with a tractor wetting the track

The cars got plenty of dry running in towards the end of the day and it was Jenson Button who set the fastest time with a 1m24.165. Compare that to last years quickest time on day 2 in Jerez. It was set by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean who managed a 1m18.218, so we are still some four seconds off of last years fastest time.

Red Bull were forced to call their day to a halt with a couple of hours of the test left. The RB10 was pictured with a lot of smoke coming from the back of the car in the garage. The team later confirmed that the issue was with energy storage. It has not been a productive two days for the champions, 8 laps were ran today 11 overall. Their time of 1m38.320 placed them at the bottom of the timing sheets and is not in any way representative, as it was taken in the morning when the track was wet. It’s very early days, but it is not the best of ways to begin your title defense. Sebastian Vettel traveled home early and will hope for better fortunes at next months test in Bahrain. Daniel Ricciardo will take over driving duties for the final two days.

Red Bull suffered ERS problems

Red Bull suffered ERS problems

McLaren finally got some mileage on the MP4-29 after not running at all on Tuesday. Jenson Button continued at the helm and successfully completed a few installation laps before setting a time early in the morning. His times gradually got quicker and quicker as the track dried out and he ended the morning session top of the time sheets. The McLaren was able to go quickest whenever it ventured onto the track, knocking off whoever would be perched on top spot. There was a period in the early afternoon where Jenson Button set his fastest lap time of the day at a 1m24.165 and then consistently ran to within a tenth of that time for three laps in a row. Button managed 43 laps and will hand the car over to rookie Kevin Magnussen for the last two days.

Jenson Button

Jenson Button

It was the rear end of the McLaren which was all the talk up and down the paddock. The Woking team have attached four vertical fairings on their rear suspension wishbone. These fairings seemingly are able to deflect air flow both down towards the diffuser and up towards the monkey seat in between the rear wing and diffuser. It could be an element which retains downforce in slow speed sections and minimises drag on the straights. The teams this year are looking for ways to replicate the downforce they had with exhaust-blown diffusers, given that this year the exhaust must exit from a central position out of the rear of the car. McLaren may just have found a small solution to the problem.

The rear of the McLaren MP4-29

The rear of the McLaren MP4-29

Kimi Raikkonen was in second place behind the McLaren and completed 47 for Ferrari. The Finn jumped up to second spot in the mid afternoon. Ferrari look like they are just getting to grips with the new engines for this year and Raikkonen was capable of setting some fairly consistent runs. Spaniard Fernando Alonso will get his first taste of the F14T chassis tomorrow and Friday.

Valtteri Bottas completed his last day at the test before Felipe Massa steps into the Williams car for the final two days. The Finnish driver had a productive day completing 35 laps and ending the day in third place with a 1m25.344, which was a little over a second slower than the fastest time of the day. Williams will be aiming to get more laps under their belt at the final two days, in order to better prepare themselves for the Bahrain test in February.

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg came close to breaking into triple figures for the amount of laps the German completed, he did 97. The Mercedes car looks solid straight out of the box and the sheer amount of running will give the team and all Mercedes powered teams confidence in the reliability of the new power trains for 2014. Rosberg managed a time of 1m25.588, which was 1.4 seconds slower than the leader. The team brought a reinforced front wing to today’s test after Lewis Hamilton crashed off at Turn One after a front wing failure yesterday. Mercedes will be looking at maximum reliability for the last two days in order for them to break into triple figures for their lap count. Overall a wholesomely impressed day from the Brackley based team.

Rosberg ran the most laps

Rosberg ran the most laps

Force India had a very productive running schedule until Sergio Perez stopped at the first corner with smoke coming from the rear of the car. The team had run consecutively throughout the morning and early afternoon, completing a respectable 37 laps. There was a period in the late morning when Perez was battling former team mate Jenson Button for the top spot as they traded quickest times between them lap after lap. Force India will repair the car overnight in order to try and get some more running in tomorrow.

Perez's smoking Force India

Perez’s smoking Force India

Sauber continued their running with Esteban Gutierrez once again in the cockpit of the C33. The Mexicans day was primarily devoted to slower installation and systems check runs. He ended the day in sixth place completing 53 laps with a time of 1m33.270. Gutierrez was responsible for one of the mornings red flags when the Mexican driver spun into the gravel at turn 5.

Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson was also responsible for one of the days three red flags when he ground to halt out the back of the circuit late on in the day. The Swede managed to beat Vettel’s time though and ended the day completing the most amount of Renault laps with 11 and a time of 1m37.975.

Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson

All three Renault cars, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham all suffered Energy Recovery System failures throughout the day. It is allegedly an issue with a malfunctioning component in the ECU, a problem Renault aims to rectify for tomorrow by sending new parts to the track overnight.

Toro Rosso had a dreadful day. Seemingly dogged by Renault’s issues, the team spent all morning in the garage, hoping that they would make it out onto the track at the close of play, which they did not do. Daniil Kvyat was supposed to be running for the team today and will be hoping to get some laps in the Toro Rosso at Jerez.

Marussia have managed to get their MR03 car to the circuit and they have set up their garage. The team hope to run the car tomorrow morning, although almost certainly not immediately. Lotus are absent from the test.

Jerez: Button leads on Day 2

Jenson Button has finished top of the timesheets on the second day of running at the 2014 tests in Jerez. The British driver completed his first laps of the week after not being able to do any running on Tuesday. His time of 1m24.165 was significantly quicker than Kimi Raikkonen’s time of 1m27.104 from Day 1.

Kimi Raikkonen ended the day in second place in his Ferrari with a time of 1m24.812, some 0.6 off Buttons time. Bottas’ Williams was in third place behind his countryman with a time of 1m25.344.

Nico Rosberg came home in fourth place with a time of 1m25.588. The German also set the most amount of laps. He completed a very impressive 97 laps of the Jerez circuit. The mileage should be able to give his Mercedes team some much needed information for both car and engine development.

Sergio Perez finished the day on the side of the circuit at turn one after the back of his Force India car was smoking. The Mexican managed a time of 1m28.376 which was enough to place him into fifth place.

Esteban Gutierrez was sixth with a time of 1m33.270. The Swiss team chose to dedicate its day to systems operation and installation running. A spin into the gravel from the Sauber driver brought out the red flags in the morning.

Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson managed to beat a lap time set by Red Bull on what was a tough day for the Renault powered teams. The Swede managed a time of 1m37.975 and completed 11 laps.

World champion Sebastian Vettel only managed 8 laps throughout the day and 11 for the whole test. His day was curtailed mid-afternoon by an ERS fault and the German decided to head back home. The Red Bull managed a time in the early morning of 1m38.320.

Toro Rosso did not leave the garage after they too had issues with their Renault power unit. They will be hoping to get some running in tomorrow.

Marussia’s car arrived at the circuit late in the day and they will be hoping to get their 2014 testing up and running later tomorrow morning. Lotus are absent from this test.

Hamilton’s adverse 2013

2013 was woeful for Lewis Hamilton. The 28-year-old only had five podium appearances during 2013, a feat matched by the beleaguered 2009 season in the McLaren MP4-24. In fact it was the first time in his career that he failed to score more than one victory in a season (he managed two in ’09). Here, we aim to establish issues the world champion suffered with over the course of the 2013 F1 season.

PASTURES NEW

In January Hamilton arrived at his new base in Brackley. It is a new and wholly different environment to the one he had long become accustomed to at Woking. A factory less eminent to that of McLaren’s metallic, clean mega structure set upon a pristine, gleaming lake. New surroundings, faces and names to memorise. The only man Lewis truly knew was his team mate Nico Rosberg. Throughout their youth the two traveled and raced against each other in several junior series’. They grew up with each other. Hamilton now lives just a stones-throw away from the German after he bought an apartment last year in Monaco.

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Its not just communicating with new faces, its adapting to a completely different F1 car. No one car is the same. Lewis would have had to get used to all the different buttons on the steering wheels, the different maps the car runs, the different terminology and codes that team engineers use.

BRAKES

Mercedes used a ‘FRIC’ (Front and Rear Interconnection) suspension this year, a system which helps stabalise the cars pitch under braking and roll through corners. By the time the F1 circus headed to Europe, it was the much talked about must-have device. And whilst this helped Lewis gain lap time over his rivals, it wasn’t long before Mercedes’ rivals caught up and other problems developed.

In June, Lewis conceded that he was struggling with the brakes, in comparison to Rosberg. At McLaren, Lewis had always used Carbone Industrie. A brake material he could always rely on to give him the power to stop as late as possible in the braking zones. Late-braking was Lewis’ forte. It had a different feel to the Brembo brakes he now uses on his Mercedes car. The Brembo is more adept to braking and turning at the same time, its a driving brake.

Back in Montreal, Hamilton told the press that he wants to evolve for the long term rather than look for the short term solution: “I can change them if I want or I can just get used to them, and I prefer to grab a hold of it, get used to them and do a good job.”

He had tried going back to the factory over the summer to alter his driving style, by braking in a different manner and allowing the car to slide into a corner and progressing on the throttle: “I’ve been working in the simulator, using different techniques. There are a lot you can use: for example, lift and coast in a race situation, so instead of braking at 100m, you lift at 120m and brake at 80m; or later downshifts.”

The Brembo’s are not Lewis’ friend and it shows on track. So often this season, Lewis has been unable to attack into a braking zone, or more worryingly, he has been unable to defend himself from an overtake. He has looked far out of his comfort zone. On more than one occasion this year the Brit has been overtaken around the outside, something he had proudly boasted about never happening to him. Braking has been the biggest thorn in Lewis’ side all year long. It is yet to be seen whether Mercedes will cave into placing his much favoured Carbone Industrie brakes on his 2014 machinery.

TYRES

Tyres were the biggest talking point for the first part of the season. Many teams and drivers couldn’t make them work .Mercedes problem was the tyre not lasting long enough to do a sensible stint in the race. It was not uncommon to see a silver Mercedes on Pole for Sundays race.

The chassis was very good at generating tyre temperature straight out of the pits, so the tyres always had good heat for the first qualifying runs. However, it was tyre degradation and heat management that was the issue. There were more than a few times when we heard the team over the radio telling drivers to preserve rear wear rates or that the rears were heating up too much. Lewis’ problem was actually trying to generate temperature from the brakes, which almost ‘osmosises’ through the rims and into tyre itself.  During qualifying Hamilton could take half a lap to generate enough tyre temperature to have confidence in the car, by then he would have already lost a significant amount of time.

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Then there was the British Grand Prix. A race which Hamilton was leading comfortably until the tyre cried no more and exploded. The fault was with the kevlar belt in the rim. Hamilton wasn’t the only one to suffer that race.

Towards the second half of 2013, Pirelli brought along last years compounds for the remaining races. The Mercedes cars did not suffer with massive degradation anymore, but they did not have the raw pace of the Red Bull, which was allowed to scamper away into the distance. Fortunately Pirelli look like they will be bringing a stronger, slightly more durable compound for the 2014 season, which means cars with higher downforce will be rewarded as drivers should be able to push to the absolute maximum.

PERSONAL

Hamilton is a lot ‘stockier’ today to that of the young boy who walked into the sport back in 2007. Back then he weighed a slight 66kgs. He is clearly more muscular in the upper body and arms, and whilst this may look athletic, it comes at a massive cost. Additional weight is a Formula One designers nightmare. An extra 5kg generally will cost around two tenths of a second per lap, a huge amount in Formula One terms. Lewis now weighs 71kgs, thats 5kg more than he did seven years ago. But it is a far cry off the 58kg that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel weighs.

Lewis’ love life never seems to be out of the tabloids. It’s no secret it has affected him in the past, his emotionless celebration of Pole Position in Korea 2011 was due to his split with pop singer Nicole Scherzinger. Since then the relationship had been on and off. Lewis is an emotional driver, we hear it over the radio at races. He just needs to focus and channel his energy onto the race track.

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He has allowed personal issues to affect his racing before when he decided he no longer wanted his dad as a manager. Since then he has long craved for the family feel in his garage. Last year at McLaren he admitted that he was envious of Jenson Button’s entourage of family, friends and management. He may well require that to help him feel more relieved at the back of the silver garage.

Lewis attended a lot less sponsorship and partner events during 2013. This year was the first year where Lewis felt that the shackles were released. He was no longer required to be demure. Mercedes had no intention of holding him back or slowing him down. Less frequent sponsorship events were a driving factor in his transfer to the Silver Arrows. He had long become bored of having so many days of the year dedicated to sponsor events at McLaren.

Lewis will try and develop his driving style for next year, all the drivers will, the new engines will require it. He will have time to compare the data for braking styles between him and Rosberg over the course of 2013. He will have to go away and get leaner if he is to fight at the front. He will hope that this year is just a blip, after all  he could have had a nightmare year similar to that of former team mate Jenson Button.

Lack of in-race punishments

Have you noticed the lack of punishments for drivers who make mistakes during the race in 2013? Most cases are now investigated after the race and dealt with that way. It has come about after secret meetings between Jean Todt of the FIA, Charlie Whiting and all the F1 drivers.

They have all decided that every small touch or small incident in the race, should be investigated afterwards. This is for two reasons, one is so it does not upset the race itself, it does not ruin the outcome of perhaps a great battle on track and the other reason is to promote extra overtaking. Drivers were beginning to feel that if they get punished each time they touch a car, there is no longer the need to take the risk, they may as well sit back and wait for either the car in front to make an error, or collect the points they are currently earning from their position, instead of risking a drive through penalty for any calamitous manoeuvre.

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The race organisers and stewards have implemented the new provisions in the first four races consistently. There have been few drive-through penalties and the grid displacements that we saw at Bahrain were due to aggressive driving. Especially in the case of Esteban Gutierrez who completely destroyed Adrian Sutil’s race. So the main punishments are now being handed down from the FIA because they are preventable collisions.

In Bahrain we saw an incident at Turn 2 with Webber and Rosberg, to which only a warning was handed down from the FIA to Webber and also between Sergio Perez and Alonso at the exit of Turn 4. The FIA took the view that Perez was in front and inclined to take the racing line, it was Fernando’s fault for trying to overtake around the outside of the corner. Sky F1’s Martin Brundle also agreed, “He [Alonso] went on the racing line. Why should he make room for Alonso on the left side when Fernando tried it anyway, he has to stop to take into account that it is bumpy on the sand next to the track.”

Button and Perez battle it out

Button and Perez battle it out

The FIA also took a similar approach towards Perez with his incident with Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn complaining that Perez was moving in the braking zone, but the FIA took the view that he was ahead and therefore could take whichever line he suited.

It now means that drivers will be able to fight and go into combat with much more risk in 2013.

Friday Analysis: Shanghai

The talk of the paddock after Fridays two practice sessions were no longer about the Red Bull driver fall out – but instead the high degradation of the tyres brought to Shanghai.Each tyre in the Pirelli range have all been made a step softer for 2013 and have brought higher wear rates and higher degradation at all of the Grands Prix so far, much to the chagrin of most drivers and teams. In China the teams are experiencing massive front left graining, all due to the Shanghai International Circuits long right handers, including Turns 1, 2, 8 and 13. These turns are putting a huge strain on the Pirelli soft compound tyre more so than the medium tyre.

Perez crashed into the barrier at the pit lane entry

Perez crashed into the barrier at the pit lane entry

The softer tyre is also significantly quicker over one lap; early predictions suggest it could be as much as 1-1.5 seconds per lap, meaning it will be the ideal Qualifying tyre for Saturday’s Q3 session. Jenson Button actually went so far to proclaim the soft tyre was the “perfect tyre over one lap, it’s more like a Qualifying tyre.” The tyre did pose a problem for Jenson though when at the end of a 13 lap stint on a relatively high fuel load, he locked under braking for the Turn 14 hairpin and the tyre tread dissolved on the track surface, leaving Button to crawl back to the pits with a slowly delaminating tyre. Despite the softer tyres ability to deliver one quick lap, the pace fades away very quickly. A closer look of a 9 lap soft tyre stint during Free Practice 2 looked like this:

Lap 1: 1m 48.5

Lap 2: 1m 43.9

Lap 3: 1m43.4

Lap 4: 1m 44.1

Lap 5: 1m 44.3

Lap 6: 1m 46.2

Lap 7: 1m 46.8

Lap 8: 1m 48.3

Lap 9: 1m 49.5

These times are suggesting that the tyres are very quick straight out of the box. Managing the tyres first lap pace ensures that the stronger lap times have lasted for longer, for example by taking a slower lap 1 pace, the driver has managed to get his fastest lap on lap three of the run. But once the meat on the tyre has been used for one or two quick runs, it enters a realm of no return. The tyre drops off very quickly, and although manageable at first, towards the end of the stint (just lap 8) the tyre will be useless and in need of changing given its lack of pace. The simulations all suggest that after a 3 lap run on the softer tyre in Quali 3 on Saturday, the tyre may only be serviceable up to lap 7, anything after will result in huge loss of grip and subsequently, time.

Vettel was unhappy with the lack of pace to the frontrunners

Vettel was unhappy with the lack of pace to the frontrunners

The issue of safety could now be where the teams voice their concern to Pirelli. Several teams like Red Bull in Malaysia have already said the tyres are impeding the cars overall speed, as the drivers are having to drive slower to preserve the rubber. Free Practice 2 in China saw Jenson Buttons tyre delaminate and Lewis Hamilton hitting out by saying, “The life of the tyre, it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced with bits flying off all over the place…It doesn’t feel like the right tyre for this circuit. I did a couple of laps and the tyres just disintegrated.” Other drivers too have voiced their concerns and rued the rubber brought to Shanghai. However Pirelli boss Paul Hembrey hit back by saying the softer tyre was doing as it is intended, “If the medium did the same then I’d be concerned, but it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s a qualifying tyre. It’ll be a bit like Melbourne I guess where the top teams are going to be forced to qualify on the softer tyre because it’s such a performance advantage and within the first 10 laps they are going to have to pit.”

The medium compound tyre has a more structured wear rate and will be the ideal tyre to last around 15-20 laps during the race. This will be the tyre the drivers will want to be on for most of the race, despite its lack of grip compared to the softer tyre it can still offer a lot of durability. Enough to stretch to a risky two stop strategy.

The soft compound drop-off is very large and will have a significant impact on the race come Sunday. All of the top 10 qualifiers will all be on the yellow marked softer compound, because of the significant advantage it will yield in Q3, they will require that tyres grip to hoist them up the grid. Those starting from 11th backwards, will almost all certainly start on the white marked medium compound and try as hard as possible to eke out towards a two stop strategy, they will also be hoping to pick off a few of the front running cars whilst they are getting serviced in the pit lane.

Felipe Massa was fastest in FP2

Felipe Massa was fastest in FP2

We could end up seeing a scenario come race day where the weakest tyre wins. What that means is, whoever has to pit first may well come out on top over the long run, despite having the disadvantage of pitting so early. This is due to the overlap that they benefit from when receiving new rubber. Say a driver, in this instance Nico Rosberg was running third just 3 seconds behind the theoretical race leader Felipe Massa. Nico could pit on lap 7, a seemingly early and stupid lap to pit, but only for him to benefit from fresh medium tyres, which could run quicker than Massa’s Ferrari. After just 1 lap Nico would take the lead of the race, the degradation of the softer tyre really can be as much as 3 seconds a lap, if you stay out and get it wrong.

All the talk of extreme tyre graining, wear and degradation could all be elementary of course. We have seen in the past extreme tyre conditions on Friday for the scenario to change completely for the rest of the weekend. Given that the track conditions should remain largely the same as we are not expecting any rain over the course of the weekend and there are no significant support races to upset the chemistry of the track surface, there may well be a track evolution which could favour both compounds of the Italian manufacturer’s tyre. This would leave all previous criticisms unfounded and a fairly undramatic and straightforward race…but then nothing is straightforward in Formula One.