Posts Tagged ‘testing’

Brawn GP BGP 001 shakedown pictures

March 6th, 2009 No comments

Brawn GPJenson Button put the new Brawn GP BGP 001 through its paces in a shakedown test at Silverstone on Friday.  The team will head to the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona next week and then Jerez for a further three days testing before packing up and heading to Australia for the opening Grand Prix on 27-29 March.

As the pictures below show, Jenson Button is clearly happy to be back in a Formula One car and Rubens Barrichello looks happy just to be there.

Two main nose shapes seemed to have emerged in the 2009 car designs.  The BGP 001 has the low nose favoured by the likes of McLaren and Williams rather than the high style of the Toyota and Force India.  The sidepods are high and wide like the McLaren and the front wing seems to be quite a complex arrangement.

Overall I think it’s quite a nice looking car.  Enjoy the pictures.

Categories: Cars Tags: , ,

First picture of the BGP 001 but is it any good?

March 6th, 2009 No comments

Brawn GP BGP have posted the first image of the new Brawn GP BGP 001.  Jenson Button took the team’s 2009 challenger out for a few shakedown laps of Silverstone today ahead of the car’s first full test in Barcelona.  According to Autosport, “the car features a wide low nose, and highly sculpted sidepods”.

There is also a distinct lack of sponsorship although that’s nothing new for this team…

But the big question on everyone’s lips is, will the car be be any good?  I think there are reasons to be hopeful.

Honda have produced some fairly rubbish racing cars lately but they knew pretty early on in 2008 that their car sucked and even sticking “dumbo ears” on it wouldn’t make it more driveable.  So presumably Honda switched their development to the 2009 car a long time ago; sooner, even, than BMW and news coming out of Honda over the last few months always seemed to point out the team were still working on the 2009 car.

Secondly, the Mercedes-Benz engine the team have acquired is looking pretty handy in the new Force India car and it powered Lewis Hamilton to the Championship last year.  I’m actually quite impressed the team have managed to fit the new engine so quickly.  We don’t know how long Brawn GP have had the Mercedes-Benz powerplant to work with but refitting the VJM02 to the new engine caused a lot of work for Force India as a change of engine and gearbox causes knock-on effects to other areas of the car.  Of course the Brackley engineers outnumber the Force India team but to get the engine integrated in a relatively short time is good work.  Whether this engine transplant causes reliability issues we will have to wait and see.

And lastly, they have Ross Brawn in charge.  The man knows his racing cars.  While Brawn couldn’t rescue Honda from the RA108 last year, this is now his team and he has been involved in the complete development of the new car.

So we won’t have an idea how fast the new car is until the Barcelona test and we won’t really know if can be competitive until we get to Melbourne.  Can’t wait.

Image: LAT

Categories: Cars Tags: , ,

Honda to test in Spain

February 26th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Brazilian GP 2008The BBC is reporting that Honda is planning to test in Spain in the next fortnight. Although there has been no official announcement, the BBC’s source said that team members have been told the deal is done and they should prepare to go to Melbourne. There is still no new information on who the buyer might be but despite Sir Richard Branson nosing around last week it still seems a management buyout is the most likely outcome. It is understood the new car will be fitted with a Mercedes-Benz engine which, if true, would seem to confirm the sale will go ahead.  Mercedes-Benz wanted assurances that Honda could compete seriously throughout the season before committing to supplying engines for the team.

But even if Honda are saved, can they possibly be competitive this season?  Last year Ross Brawn was talking about getting podium finishes in 2009. While it’s true they have missed the first two group tests, so have Force India and Toro Rosso’s new car hasn’t been seen yet (although it will be based on the Red Bull RB5.)  So as long as the team have been developing the car I don’t think they are necessarily doomed to spend 2009 at the back of the grid.

Another question is who will be driving?  Jenson Button is assured a seat but will we see the young Bruno Senna or will Rubens Barrichello get another drive?  While Senna was producing good lap times in testing last year, with their late start to 2009 Honda might be wise to have the experienced Barrichello in the second seat.

Categories: Teams Tags: , , , ,

What is aero mapping?

February 17th, 2009 No comments

BMW scale model in the wind tunnelThe pre-season testing reports have often made reference to ‘aero mapping’.  But what is it?

In this post I take a look at what it means when Hamilton spends the morning “concentrating on aero mapping and finding a good balance” but first, a disclaimer: I’m no aeronautical engineer.  If there are any engineers reading this, please feel free to correct any mistakes in the comments!

Basically, an aero map is aerodynamic data; numbers on a piece of paper, or more likely in a computer. The aero map shows how the wing elements and ride heights on a racing car perform in different settings in terms of lift and drag.  Race engineers can then use these maps to help them choose the best settings for a particular circuit.

Because it is just a set of numbers, the aero map can be loaded into a simulator for testing.  Pedro de la Rosa explained how they simulated Ferrari’s flexible rear-wing:

In the simulator, we tried an aero-map, all theoretical, nothing physical. Based on those numbers, we were able to achieve higher topspin. This is what I tested in the simulator. As far as I know, we never raced with that. It was just another item tested in the simulator.

Although a racing car’s basic shape and general aerodynamic performance are first sketched out on the designer’s drawing-board, this is only the beginning.  Over the course of development and testing every team spends many hours in the wind tunnel trying different setups and parts and ‘mapping’ the results.  The same concept can also be applied to track testing using laser sensors and suspension force transducers.


A slightly less technical solution was also seen in testing at Jerez recently when the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen was spotted with a green liquid on the chassis.  According to a McLaren spokesman:

This is what we call a ‘flow vis’  – where we take a paraffin-based light solution and apply it to the car.  The solution is light enough to flow over the car, drying quickly to determine the airflow over the bodywork.

This is a common occurrence when testing new cars and is used to confirm the wind tunnel readouts.

With the limitations on testing this year and the new aerodynamic regulations all the teams are working hard to make the most of the track time before the season starts.  The aero maps created will be vital in helping the race engineers find the perfect setup for Melbourne in a month’s time.

Images: BMW AG, XPB

Categories: Cars Tags: ,

Sandstorms in Bahrain, Webber in Jerez

February 11th, 2009 No comments

Massa testing at SakhirBMW, Toyota and Ferrari must be wondering whether it was such a good idea to abandon Jerez to test at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit.

Wednesday’s morning test session was red-flagged when a sandstorm prevented the medical helicopter from taking off.  The same thing happened on the opening day of testing on Tuesday when the helicopter was grounded by fog.

After the first group test in Portimao was disrupted by heavy rain the three teams were hoping for some fine weather to justify the hundreds of thousands of pounds extra it costs to test in the Middle East but the outlook for the rest of Wednesday doesn’t look good.  Even if the wind stops the track will have to be cleared of sand so the teams might not be able to continue testing until Thursday.

Meanwhile, back in Spain, Mark Webber has climbed into an F1 car for the first time since breaking his leg in a cycling accident three months ago.  He took the new Red Bull RB5 out onto the Jerez circuit for the first time on Wednedsay.

Image: Ferrari S.p.a.

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