Tag Archives: F1

2011 Vs 2012 Cars


by Jake McMillan

As we are now 6 races into the 2012 F1 season, we can start to make a comparison of the speed of 2012 cars compared to 2011. Rule changes, e.g. banning of engine-blown diffusers, led people to predict 2012 cars would be significantly slower, but no one was sure by how much? Some suggested blown diffusers gave an advantage of 1.5-2 seconds a lap. However, the relentless pace of technology and development in F1 means this would be recaptured to some degree through new innovation.

By comparing pole positions and fastest laps of races this year with those of last year we can begin to get an understanding of the relative pace of the cars. Of course, comparing times from one year to the next is not exactly comparing like for like as track temperatures, tyres and other variables will be different. However, we can analyse if any trends exist and make conclusions from that.

The first 4 races (ignoring Bahrain as there was no race there in 2011) in 2012 showed that pole position in each case was 1.3-1.4 seconds slower than the 2011 pole positions. The pole at Monaco this year was only 0.745 slower than in 2011 and this could reflect the improvements in the cars or perhaps the smaller gap is explained by Monaco relying more on mechanical grip than aerodynamic grip.

The fastest laps this year have been closer to 2011 times than pole position times. The fastest laps in Malaysia and Australia were only 0.15 and 0.24 secs, respectively, slower than the fastest laps set the previous year. However, at China it was almost a second slower, whereas in Spain the fastest lap was actually half a second quicker than the 2011 time. Monaco was slower than 2011 by just over a second, but this could partly be explained by most teams only one-stopping.

The trend seems to suggest that in qualifying mode, F1 cars are about 1.3secs a lap slower than last year but in race trim are only 0.2secs a lap slower. We shall monitor this as the season progresses.

2012 F1 – The Roulette Wheel Season


by Jake McMillan

The 6th race of the 2012 Formula 1 season gets under way at Monaco tomorrow and there is only one thing that we can predict, that the result will be unpredictable. Not only fans, but teams up and down the length of the paddock have been scratching their heads and sporting furrowed brows as they try to come to terms with the fact that there is no form book for 2012.

We’ve had 5 different winners for each of the 5 races, not just different drivers, but different constructors each time. Even if one of these wins again this weekend, it does not necessarily mean they are the in form team as there is no form. Some cars and drivers dial in their car to certain tracks on a certain day better than others.

With Button and McLaren winning the Australian Grand Prix with good qualifying and race performance, we thought we knew that they were the team to beat. But we were wrong. Malaysia tried to tell us, but we thought that unique track conditions upset the general pecking order. Then came China and we didn’t seem to learn as Mercedes seemed to be the “in form” team. Even after Bahrain we thought, well, that’s it, Red Bull have got it figured out and they are in control. Then finally at Spain, we realised, no one has got it figured out yet.

So, consistency is absolutely the name of the game for 2012. The driver who wins the World Championship may not be the driver who wins the most races, in fact, he may not win any of them?! Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen sit in third and fourth places respectively in the Championship, only 8 and 12 points off the lead. They’ve not won a race yet, but if they keep up their consistency it may not matter.

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari that everyone, including Ferrari themselves, was not a good enough car to win races or the Championship is now jointly leading the Championship! Alonso, for me, has been the stand out driver so far.

I’m going to make a guess for this weekend’s race and say I think Mercedes are going to do well based on the good mechanical grip they displayed at Barcelona. But that was a different track on a different day. You may as well throw a ball into a roulette wheel of driver names.

2012 F1 Testing Begins!


by Jake McMillan


Hoorah, with the 2012 Formula 1 testing beginning at Jerez tomorrow we will finally get a little bit of F1 action! However, as I have warned before, we all need to be very careful about over-analysing the relative performance of the teams. Testing is exactly what it says with teams testing and fine-tuning the performance of the cars. Some things will work and some won’t.

Unless one team is significantly much faster throughout a test session, or is significantly off the pace, we will not know which team is really quickest until we get to Melbourne next month. Despite knowing this, we all get sucked in every year, trying to guess which team will be the fastest. This is okay as long as we  remember that it is just a guess:

  • Teams will be running different fuel loads from each other
  • Teams seeking sponsorship will inevitably want to appear quick by doing more low fuel runs
  • The cars will be developed further between the tests and the first race so until we get to Melbourne we really don’t know
  • All teams ‘sandbag’ to varying degrees

Button’s Amazing Journey to Victory – Canadian GP 2011


Jenson Button’s amazing victory in Canada involved going into the pits 6 times as well as being last as he entered lap 41 before making a remarkable come back and taking the lead from Vettel on the very last lap of the race.

Let’s go through in detail Button’s rollercoaster ride:

Qualified 7th

Lap 5 – After safety car comes in Button is up to 5th as Hamilton and Webber collide at first corner. However, he is struggling on full wet tyres and on goes wide in turn 6 and loses two places to Schumacher and Hamilton and is back in 7th place again.

Lap 6 – Button up to 6th as Hamilton forced wide by Schumacher at the hairpin.

Lap 7 – Button makes a mistake at the last chicane and he and Hamilton collide on the pit straight. Hamilton is out and causes the Safety Car to come out.

Lap 8 – Button comes into the pits for intermediate tyres and rejoins in 12th place, still under the safety car. The team tell him there is no visible damage to his car.

Lap 11 – Race Control investigating Button for speeding under Safety Car conditions.

Lap 13 – the Safety Car is in and Button makes up two places in less than a lap to 10th position but Race Control announce he has a drive through penalty which he takes immediately and rejoins in 15th place.

Lap 14 – Button passes Buemi and is up to 14th place.

Lap 15 – Button passes Barrichello, Sutil and Maldonado and is now in 11th place.

Lap 18 – Button passes di Resta and is in 9th place as Rosberg pits.

Lap 19 – Button passes Petrov and is up to 7th place as Schumacher pits, but it starts to really pour down with rain. Safety Car is deployed and Button pits for full wet tyres and rejoins in 11th.

Lap 22 – Schumacher pits and Button is now 10th.

Lap 25 – The race is red-flagged and suspended.

Laps 26-34 Restart behind safety car – Button is 10th. As the safety car comes in at the end of lap 34, Button has passed Pedro de la Rosa before the Start/Finish line and is 9th.

Lap 35 – Button comes into the pits to change to intermediate tyres and rejoins the track in 15th place.

Lap 36 – Button passes the Virgin of d’Ambrosio and then takes Trulli and Sutil at the hairpin and later on passes Karthikeyan and is up to 11th.

Lap 37 – Button and Alonso (who’s just come out of the pits) collide at the turn 3 chicane. Alonso is beached causing a Safety Car and Button has a left front puncture. By the time he gets back to the pits he is running last in 21st place.

End of lap 40 – Safety car comes in and Jenson is a couple of secs off the back of the pack as he has been limited on speed under the safety car to catch up the rest of the field.

Lap 41 – Button passes Liuzzi and Karthikeyan and is now in 19th place.

Lap 42 – Button passes Trulli and d’Ambrosio and is now in 17th place.

Lap 43 – Button passes Glock and DiResta (pits) and is now in 15th place.

Lap 44 – Button passes de la Rosa and is now in 14th place.

Lap 45 – Button passes Buemi and is now in 13th place and 21 secs behind Vettel.

Lap 46 – Button is ahead of Sutil (who pits) and is now in 12th place.

Lap 49 – Button passes Maldonado and Alguersuari into 10th place, 27 secs behind the leader.

Lap 51 – Webber  and Barrichello pit for super soft dry tyres and Button is 8th.

Lap 52 – Button pits (6th time) and rejoins in 10th place. 18 laps to go and 50secs behind the leader.

Lap 53 – Other drivers come in for dry tyres and Button is now 8th (Massa comes in for new front wing) and does the fastest lap of the race (at that point) with 1min 22.759secs.

Lap 54 – Button is now in 6th place as others drop back due to pitting later and 19.657 secs behind Vettel the leader (who pitted the lap before for super soft dry tyres).

Lap 55 – Button passes Heidfeld and Kobayashi and is up to 4th.

Start of Lap 56, Button is now 15 secs behind Vettel and 6secs behind the fight for 2nd place between Schumacher and Webber. Heidfeld runs over his front wing after damaging it bumping into Kobayashi.

Start of Lap 57, Button is now only 2 seconds behind Webber with a Virgin backmarker inbetween. He is 13 secs behind Vettel with 13 laps to go. However, Race Control put out the safety car to enable the debris from Heidfeld to be picked up. Button is 4th but has Glock in front of him.

Start of Lap 61 and the Safety car has gone in and there are 10 laps to go. Button clears Glock by the Start/Finish line and is 3.5secs behind Vettel. Halfway through the lap, Button is right on the back of Webber who is right behind Schumacher. DRS not enabled yet.

Lap 63 – DRS is enabled and Webber overtakes Schumacher but misses the last chicane and gives place back to Schumacher before turn 3 of lap 64 making sure to not let Button through.

Lap 64 – Webber misses the last chicane again and Button passes him on the start/finish line but has to go onto the wet part of the track on slicks.

Lap 65 – Button passes Schumacher on the back straight and is 3 secs behind Vettel with 5 laps to go and sets a new fastest lap of the race with 1min 18.866secs.

Lap 66 – Button sets another fastest lap (1min 17.967) and has closed the gap to Vettel to 1.5 secs. 4 laps to go.

Lap 67 – Button sets another fastest lap, but Vettel is responding and the gap is 1.3 secs with 3 laps to go.

Lap 68 – Button closes the gap to 1.1secs. 2 laps to go.

Lap 69 (Penultimate Lap) – Button closes to within a second and uses DRS on the back straight. The gap is 0.7secs as we enter the final lap.

Lap 70 (Final Lap) – Vettel under pressure makes a mistake at turn 6 and goes wide and Button is through and takes the victory.

F1 Team Orders


There’s been a lot said on team orders in Formula 1 since the German Grand Prix last week.

All I have to say is this: Drivers are not more important than the team, but the teams are not more important than the sport.

What was Webber supposed to have done?


The coming together of the Red Bull’s of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend has become a massive talking point, a somewhat controversial incident that has multiplied in size due to the poor handling of the situation by Red Bull management.

Today Vettel and Webber met with each other and senior Red Bull Racing management to talk through what happened and ‘draw a line under the incident’. Both drivers made positive comments and talked about moving on. Webber stated ‘Seb and I will make sure it doesn’t happen again’. However, for this to realistically happen, they must have agreed on how and why the incident happened.

Like many other F1 fans, I watched the incident live on TV and then have seen it again and again on replay from every angle (UK users only) and I keep coming back to the same conclusion: Mark Webber did nothing wrong. I really find it hard to understand any criticism of his part in the incident.

I must also stress that I am not a particular Mark Webber fan and admire both him and Vettel equally. In fact, ignoring my tongue-in-cheek post about Vettel’s heritage, I really quite like Sebastian Vettel, both his driving and the way he conducts himself as a person. He seems like a really nice and uber-talented guy. However, last Sunday he got it wrong.

There are two ways of looking at the incident, firstly, you can analyse what did happen and secondly, you can make the assumption that Webber was at fault and then assess what he should have done instead.

As we all have seen now too many times, Vettel made a pass to Webber’s left as they came towards turn 12 on lap 40 of the Turkish Grand Prix. Webber had spotted Vettel’s run at him and had stayed to the left, giving him just enough room on the left to make a pass but left lots of room to the right. Basically he was covering the inside line and if Vettel was going to pass, he wanted him to do it from the outside.

Once it was clear to Webber that Vettel was trying to pass on the left he stayed straight, his car did not deviate. Watch the footage and see how twitchy Vettel is in his car compared to Webber who maintains his line. Before they get to the 150m marker Vettel , who is not yet passed Webber completely, moves sharply to the right and they collide and have their accident.

Some have been critical that Webber was at fault because he ‘squeezed’ Vettel on the left hand side. Vettel chose the tight left hand side to pass Webber (he could have gone right where there was lots of space) and Mark simply held his course.

In Webber’s mind, if Vettel had to take the corner on a tighter line then he had a chance of braking later than him and overtaking him back. It is important to remember, the accident occurred because Vettel turned right quickly and Webber had no time to react to that. They had not yet reached their braking points so Vettel could have waited a little longer, until he was fully passed Webber, before moving over to the right to take a better line through turn 12.

So, from analysing what happened, it is clear to me that Vettel was at fault for the accident. Webber was hard but fair; something a racing driver should be with his teammate.

If we make the assumption that Webber was to blame, then we must have an answer as to what he was supposed to have done instead. It is argued he should have given Vettel more room. As soon as Vettel came up the inside he should have moved over to the right. This would have absolutely gifted the corner to Vettel as he could also move right and take a more normal line into turn 12. If Webber had done this, he would have been severely criticised for being a weak racing driver. He is leading the Championship and there is no reason why he should make it easy for his closest rival to overtake him.

Some have said that when Vettel moved right he should moved right too. However, Vettel moves across so quickly he did not have time to react and you can see him tying to move right when he realises Vettel is going to hit him.

Sebastian had made a good pass on Mark Webber, but he hadn’t actually finished the pass when he moved to the right, that’s why the accident happened. Mark Webber did not do anything wrong and if I was him I would be quite angry that he has been given any blame whatsoever for the incident. What else was he supposed to have done?

Tension inside the F1 Safety Car?


I think maybe there is a major rift between Peter Tibbetts and Bernd Maylander? The four deployments of the safety car at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix meant we got to see inside the FIA Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG F1 Safety Car much more than we usually do.

They are doing a serious job, but it was clear that there was not a lot of love between FIA medical delegate Peter Tibbetts (on the left) and former DTM racer Bernd Maylander (on the right). The two have been in the safety car together since 2000, but they were not talking to each other and there were no smiles.

In fact, the way Peter was looking away from Bernd made it seem like something serious had gone on between them. The tension was palpable. Perhaps Bernd has been using his semi-automatic gear shift with Mrs Tibbetts?! Peter’s demeanour was very much like ‘I have to work with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to talk or be friendly to you.’

Next time there is a Safety Car on the track look out for Peter and Bernd, let’s hope they can be friends again.