Saturday, 29 January 2011

Here is an excellent comparison of the differences between this season's Ferrari F150 and last year's car, done by "F1Times".

A higher nose, more like last year's Red Bull, is the most obvious difference. The F150 has retained the "push rod" suspension system as Ferrari has opted not to use the "pull-rod" configuration which Red Bull have been doing sucessfully for the last couple of years.

It'll be interesting to see how much the car changes from this layout in Valencia next week compared to the first Grand Prix in Bahrain in mid-March.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Schumi, Who Better?

After a season of criticism and set backs on the track, it's great to hear that Michael Schumacher is considered a major force for 2011.

Forget Vettel, Button, Hamilton and Webber, the man Fernando Alonso most fears this season is the 42 year old former Ferrari driver who retired from the sport in 2006 but sensationally decided to return three years later.

Alonso told Autosport: "If the ten cars of the five drivers, or the five cars of the five drivers are the same, in January, then I think Michael has the capacity, the experience, and the speed to be the toughest one.

"Hopefully, our car is superior to all of them, and then my toughest rival next year is Felipe. That will be a very welcome news for us, for that means that the Ferrari is the best car."

So all cars being equal, Schumacher is the major threat it seems.

It's easy to see why. Schumacher has now had a full year to understand the issues with the 2010 Mercedes and more importantly have direct input into the development -- from the very beginning -- of this year's contender. His sheer enthusiasm -- to say nothing of his raw focus -- when it comes to development is what helped propel him to the top with Ferrari all those years ago.

Much of the blame for his 2010 performance was his inability to make the most of the Bridgestones, particularly at the front. He found these narrower tyres lacking the bite he needed for his sharp and aggressive style into corners.

This issue is where Nico Rosberg was able to have the measure of Schumacher throughout much of the season. He could better adapt, particularly at low speeds, according to Ross Brawn.

Schumacher was right on the pace in the fast turns but because you are in the slow corners for longer, any deficiencies in speed heavily penalise you when it comes to laptime.

This year sees a new tyre manufacturer entering F1 with Pirelli. Will this be the tyre to help Schumacher deliver for 2011? The first test with the new cars is in just a couple of weeks in Spain.

Early indications are that the understeering issues with the 2010 Merc have been corrected in the 2011 model, and there's greater scope for set-up too.

One man taking an interest perhaps more than most will be a double World Champion in the red machine.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Demands on a Driver

Read some interesting comments today from Ferrari's Felipe Massa on the amount of work drivers have to do in the cockpit during a race.

Apart from the wheel and the pedals, there's a plethora of switches to constantly adjust during the course of the lap. These allow changes to be made to the way the car behaves for different parts of the circuit -- and all this adds up to extra performance.

But there are signs that things may be going a little bit too far. This year sees the addition of the moveable rear wing and the reintroduction of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System.

Massa told Reuters: "It's true we have so many things to do on the steering wheel and it's also true we still need to drive the car."

"For sure we can do it but from a driver point of view it's not fantastic. Everywhere you go you have three, four buttons to press, especially with KERS.

"It's going to be too much definitely but it's like that and we need to adapt very quickly."

And Massa's been working on the wheel for 2011 since mid 2010. When I tried out the full Williams F1 simulator in November, I was amazed at the number of switches and adjustments that could be made from the wheel.

I spoke to Sir Frank Williams about this last year and he was sure that more buttons and switches wouldn't affect drivers because if it meant extra performance they'd much prefer to have them. It'll nevertheless be interesting to see how this season pans out with regards to driver workload in the cockpit.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Another viewing...

For motor racing fans during this quiet spell, "In The Racing Seat" airs again this weekend on BBC World. I get trained up by two top racing drivers @antdavidson & @darrenturner007 . Lots of fun & I get a rare drive in the Williams F1 Team's full simulator. How close do I get to a pro's time? All is revealed this weekend.

TX Times (GMT)
Saturday January 8th: 0230; 0830
Sunday January 9th: 1430; 2130