Tag Archives: formula one

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.

F1 2012 – Time to Start Getting Excited


by Jake McMillan

It seems like it’s been forever since we had the last F1 race, but with the first F1 Pre-Season Test only two weeks away, it is time to start getting excited. In fact, there are a number of reasons to get excited about the upcoming 2012 Formula 1 Season:

  • Teams more closely matched: As the rules have not changed massively for 2012 everyone expects the teams, especially at the top, to be more closely matched than in 2011. It’s very unlikely we will see the dominance of one driver or one team like we did with Vettel and Red Bull last year. Ferrari and Mercedes are both expected to do better this year. But will they?
  • The return of Kimi Raikkonen: He’s unlikely to be quick from the get go, but it will be fascinating to see how he gets on in his first season back in F1. Will he have the hunger? Will he smile?
  • A Senna back in a Williams: Although it is a time for rebuilding at Williams, it will be great to see Bruno Senna in a more competitive car and with a very professional team to see what kind of potential he really has?
  • Rivalries: So many of them up and down the pack – Can Webber be more on pace with Vettel this year? If Massa doesn’t run Alonso closer this year then he will likely be out of Ferrari at the end of the year; Will Massa and Hamilton manage to avoid touching each other? Button Vs Hamilton, who will come out on top this year? Schumacher Vs Rosberg; Paul di Resta Vs Hulkenberg … the list goes on.
  • How will Caterham do? Caterham (formerly Team Lotus) were floating between the teams at the back and the mid-runners last year. They expect, as do most of us, that they will be closer to, if not part of, the middle of the pack in 2012. Would be good to see.

Plus there is the Malaysian Grand Prix to be excited about. Well, for me, anyway, as I am going to Malaysia to watch it for the first time and I cannot wait!

The Barcelona car updates, have the cars really improved?


After the first 4 ‘fly away races’ (Bahrain, Australia, Malaysia & China), the teams have been adding new bits and pieces to their cars to improve performance for the 2010 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona (circuit de catalunya). But how much have they improved, if at all?

This is rather hard to judge as there is no real baseline to compare. However, the teams all visited the Barcelona track at the final pre-season test at the end of February.

Comparing the fastest lap times from that 4-day test with their qualifying lap times at the Grand Prix shows some rather interesting results. Obviously the track conditions were not exactly the same in February, but their relative performance differences between the two times are somewhat revealing and also quite confusing.

You would expect that the times at the Grand Prix with dry and warm conditions when the drivers are really pushing it as much as they can in the new improved cars that their times would be a lot faster?

Driver Team Spanish GP Qualifying Time Pre-Season Best Time Change
Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.995s 1m20.479s -0.484s
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m20.101s 1m20.667s -0.566s
Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m20.829s 1m20.472s +0.357s
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.937s 1m20.637s +0.300s
Jenson Button McLaren 1m20.991s 1m21.450s -0.459s
Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.294s 1m20.745s +0.549s
Robert Kubica Renault 1m21.353s 1m23.175s -1.822s
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m21.408s 1m20.686s +0.722s
Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.585s 1m20.539s +1.046s
Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m21.725s 1m20.911s +0.814s
Adrian Sutil Force India 1m21.985s 1m20.611s +1.374s
Pedro de la Rosa Sauber 1m22.026s 1m20.973s +1.053s
Nico Hulkenberg Williams 1m22.131s 1m20.614s +1.517s
Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.139s 1m22.523s -0.384s
Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m22.191s 1m21.413s +0.778s
Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m22.207s 1m21.571s +0.636s
Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1m22.854s 1m21.056s +1.798s
Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m23.125s 1m20.870s +2.255s
Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m24.674s 1m25.059s -0.385s
Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m24.748s 1m25.251s -0.503s
Timo Glock Virgin 1m25.475s 1m25.942s -0.467s
Lucas di Grassi Virgin 1m25.556s 1m26.160s -0.604s
Karun Chandhok Hispania 1m26.750s DNA N/A
Bruno Senna Hispania 1m27.122s DNA N/A

Surprisingly only 4 teams (Redbull, Renault, Lotus and Virgin) had improved times at Barcelona this weekend. All other teams had slower times (Jenson Button being the only exception).

Redbull’s improvement is very impressive, with both drivers able to deliver times half a second quicker than they went at the end of February. Lotus and Virgin both show half a second improvement which suggests that Lotus’s new changes are not as advanced as they hoped for.

The biggest change is Robert Kubica’s Renualt with a nearly 2 second improvement, whereas his teammate Petrov was only able to achieve a 0.4secs improvement.

Williams have a lot to be concerned about as Hulkenberg was a massive 1.5secs slower and Barrichello a horrendous 2.255secs slower. The Force India cars were 1.5secs slower on average, Sauber about one second slower , Toro Rosso 0.7secs slower and Mercedes just over half a second slower. The Ferrari of Alonso and Hamilton’s McLaren were at least three tenths slower.

So does this mean the team’s improvements have actually made their cars worse? Well, track conditions have to be factored in, but certainly don’t explain all the difference. It could also be speculated that during the pre-season test some teams ran low fuel using a lower ride height (i.e. not also being set up for a full tank of fuel as they do in qualifying).

Whatever the reason, one thing is very clear, Red Bull are simply doing a better job at developing their car than anyone else.