Posts Tagged ‘testing’

More cars unveiled as first test kicks off

February 1st, 2010 No comments

The first pre-season test of 2010 kicks off at Valencia today which means it is the first chance to see how the different cars perform on track.

On the weekend, BMW Sauber and Renault launched their 2010 machines. The BMW Sauber C29, despite the name of the team, is powered by a Ferrari engine and as Drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi pulled back the covers at the Valencia circuit a car with a very high nose and a long shark fin was revealed.

Shark fins seem to be popular this year as Renault’s new car is also sporting one. The R30, to be piloted by Robert Kubica and Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov, was also unveiled on Sunday. With the departure of sponsor ING, Renault has returned to their historic yellow and black livery which gave the Renault RS01 the nickname ‘Yellow Teapot’.

On Monday morning, Toro Rosso revealed their first car as a fully independent constructor. Team boss Franz Tost said:

After four years of working in collaboration with Red Bull Technology, the STR5 is the first car that is one hundred percent down to our own endeavours.

Although the car looks quite similar to last year’s STR4, it has been designed to take full advantage of running a double-diffuser.

Mercedes GP also revealed their W01 in the pit lane ahead of today’s test (the car presented at the team’s launch last week was a repainted Brawn BGP01). It is a nice looking car with a graceful, swooping nose and a small shark fin engine cover.

Williams are foregoing an official ‘launch’ and will reveal their Cosworth-powered FW32 when it rolls out of the garage for it’s installation lap.

Pictures of the Renault R30 below:

After four years of working in collaboration with Red Bull Technology, the TR5 is the first car that is one hundred percent down to our own endeavours.
Categories: Cars Tags: , , , ,

Barcelona lap time comparison

May 15th, 2009 3 comments

Robert Kubica, Spain, 2009Back in March, Oliver White at BlogF1 posted an interesting comparison of pre-season testing times from 2008 versus those of 2009.

In those numbers was a hint of the dominance to come from Brawn GP and the relatively poor performance of McLaren’s MP4-24.  But they were also a bit misleading in that the second best improved team was BMW followed by Ferrari, neither of which have impressed much this year.  Red Bull, currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, did only marginally better in the comparison table.

Last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix marked the start of the European F1 season which is traditionally the time when teams introduce upgrades to their cars.  In fact, in previous years, many teams would only release their new car when they got to Europe, choosing to run the previous season’s car for the opening flyaway races.

So with most of the teams bringing updated cars to Spain there was a lot of talk of improvements in lap times.  BMW’s upgrade was the most radical, attaching a new rear wing, front wing and a completely redesigned nose.  BMW team boss, Mario Theissen, said they were hoping for a half second per lap improvement.

But are the cars significantly faster now than they were at the beginning of the year?  As the teams all tested at the Circuit de Catalunya in the winter we can compare their times set in testing with their times set during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

Below is a table comparing the fastest time set by each team at the Barcelona test in February to their fastest time set during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

Team Driver (Test) Best Time (Test) Driver (GP) Best Time (GP) Difference
Williams Rosberg 01:19.744 Rosberg 01:21.588 +00:01.844
Brawn Barrichello 01:18.926 Button 01:20.527 +00:01.601
Toyota Glock 01:20.091 Glock 01:21.247 +00:01.156
BMW Kubica 01:20.214 Kubica 01:21.239 +00:01.025
Renault Alonso 01:20.664 Alonso 01:21.392 +00:00.728
Force India Fisichella 01:21.045 Sutil 01:21.742 +00:00.697
Ferrari Massa 01:20.168 Massa 01:20.553 +00:00.385
Red Bull Vettel 01:20.576 Vettel 01:20.660 +00:00.084
Toro Rosso Buemi 01:21.013 Buemi 01:21.067 +00:00.054
McLaren Hamilton 01:20.869 Hamilton 01:20.805 -00:00.064

Barcelona lap time comparison, 2009

To be honest, I’m a bit confused by the results.  It shows that all the teams except McLaren posted slower lap times at the Spanish Grand Prix than they did in testing.  In fact Brawn GP were the second biggest losers in the comparison despite dominating the race last weekend.

Perhaps this kind of comparison is not really valid but if BMW claim their car is now half a second a lap faster shouldn’t they have been able to at least match the time they set in testing?

If anyone has any ideas about how to interpret these results, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Image: BMW AG

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , , ,

It’s all about the aero

March 16th, 2009 No comments

McLaren MP4-24 in testingMark Hughes has written an interesting piece on the ITV F1 website about the problems McLaren have been having with their new car.

McLaren won the 2008 Drivers’ Championship and were among the favourites going into the 2009 season after early testing.  But recently the Woking squad have been falling further and further behind the other teams and drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been lapping a couple of seconds off the pace.  After much speculation team boss Martin Whitmarsh confirmed McLaren weren’t sandbagging and those lap times were the best they could do.

But how could such a beautiful car be so slow?  And how could something with a nose like the Renault be faster?  It all comes down to the black art of aerodynamics.  While McLaren have banks of supercomputers running CFD analysis and a state of the art wind tunnel back in Woking, all it takes is one little disturbance in the airflow to effectively “switch off” a perfectly good aero part.

McLaren’s problems highlight the importance of aerodynamics in Formula One.  With no development allowed on engines, aerodynamics is where most of an F1 car’s speed can be won or lost.  Take the Brawn GP BGP 001; it has the same engine as the McLaren, but better aero and Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello have been putting in some scorching lap times.

The good news for McLaren fans, according to Hughes, is that once the McLaren engineers find the problem it should be pretty straightforward to fix.  The question is can they find the problem before they give away too many points?

In other aerodynamic developments, the Brawn GP diffuser’s legality has been called into question along with the Toyota and Williams.  According to Cologne newspaper Express, the BGP 001 design links the floor with the diffuser in a sneaky (and illegal) way to generate more downforce.  The FIA have already inspected the Toyota and Wiliams cars and found them, in their opinion, legal.  As Max Mosley says:

The current FIA view is that Williams and Toyota have been clever and found a loophole in the rules. It’s probably wrong, but they’ve exploited the wording of the rules in a clever way.

But because of the way these things work, the teams have to wait until Melbourne if they want to lodge an official protest.

And finally, Williams have decided to remove the cockpit-mounted ‘skate fins’ that appeared on their car in testing.  It seems like FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting didn’t like the safety implications of two massive spikes on either side of the driver’s head and I can’t say I disagree.  They did look kind of cool though.

Barrichello goes fastest in Barcelona

March 12th, 2009 No comments

Rubens Barrichello testing at BarcelonaWow.

Only days after the new Brawn GP car’s first shakedown at Silverstone, Rubens Barrichello set the fastest time on the final day of testing in Barcelona on Thursday.

His lap time of 1:18.926 was nearly a second faster than Nico Rosberg’s Williams FW31 and Lewis Hamilton was almost two seconds slower in his MP4-24 despite being powered by the same Mercedes-Benz engine.  The other Mercedes powered car, Fisichella’s Force India VJM02, finished in tenth place.

Not only was the BGP 001 fast it was reliable too, completing 110 laps.

I said last week that I thought Brawn GP could do alright this year but I didn’t really expect it to look so strong so soon.

Team owner Ross Brawn said:

The team made a very late start to our pre-season testing programme, with only seven days in which to run the car before the first race in Melbourne; therefore our focus has been on reliability and achieving as much mileage as possible. Both of these aims have been successfully achieved this week.

There has been loads of speculation about what the times we’ve seen in winter testing mean.  Does the fact that the Brawn went quickest mean it is really the fastest car or are McLaren sandbagging?  We won’t really know until the lights go out in Melbourne but even if Rubens set that time running on fumes, comments from the other drivers suggest they are impressed by the car’s speed.  Ferrari’s Felipe Massa said:

No one can do the same times [as Brawn GP]. Everyone was using less fuel, not only them.  But their times were much faster than those that anyone else could do.

McLaren’s performance is also very puzzling.  There have been comments from Ron Dennis and Norbert Haug suggesting that they don’t have the speed they want yet but I get the feeling they aren’t trying for raw pace.  With the ban on testing this year I think McLaren are being very methodical in correlating what they see on the track with what their computer simulations tell them.  If they can accurately simulate the real world using CFD and racks of computers then they will have an easier time developing their car ‘virtually’, as it were, throughout the year.

They may also be playing their cards close to their chest, not wanting to give any advantage away that could be copied by other teams.  As Ron Dennis said:

We had a strategy for this year to leave it to the last possible moment to produce our aerodynamic package for the Australian Grand Prix.  That in itself gave us some production challenges, and we have really only started to run the car in the last day with the Australian aero package. It doesn’t mean you are lost or that you don’t know what you are doing.

So that was why they were running the 2008-spec rear wing?

It’s all very exciting and who will be on the podium at the Australian Grand Prix at the end of the month is anyone’s guess but after Ross Brawn previously downplayed his team’s chances and suggesting that 2009 will be another transitional year it looks like Brawn GP could be serious championship contenders.

Thursday was the final day of testing for Ferrari, BMW, Toyota, Force India and the two Red Bull teams before the season opener in Melbourne but Brawn GP and McLaren will grab a few final days in Jerez next week.

David Coulthard said that “Force India could be the shock of the season”,  but if Brawn GP carry their testing pace through to Australia it could be the Mercedes-Benz powered BGP 001 that is the real shock.

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , ,

Red Bull bring back the shark fin

March 10th, 2009 No comments

RB5 shark finLast month, when Williams introduced their radical ‘skate fins’ I wondered why Adrian Newey, the man who introduced shark fins to Formula One, decided to shrink the engine cover on the new Red Bull RB5 to little more than a ‘stingray barb’.

Well, it seems like he was just teasing us as Red Bull have arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya with the mother of all shark fins.  As you can see in the picture, the engine cover of the RB5 now stretches all the way back to the rear wing!  There’s a closer view at

The 2009 race season hasn’t even started and already the teams are seeing what kind of crazy stuff they can fit around the new aero regulations.  McLaren have installed a completely new floor with cutout sections near the rear wheels and whether the FIA will allow Williams to keep the skate fins remains to be seen.

I don’t really mind the standard shark fin and even those skate fins are ok but I think the Red Bull’s new engine cover spoils an otherwise good looking car.