Tag Archives: Mercedes

Mercedes GP 2012 Radical ‘New’ Nose

Today at Jerez, the first day of testing for the 2012 F1 Season, Mercedes GP revealed it’s new ‘nose’ (see exclusive photo below). Ross Brawn said it had significant aerodynamic advantages and that air would literally ‘pass over like water off a duck’s back’. Rosberg was first to drive it and Schumacher is looking forward to testing it shortly. An unnamed source in the pitlane said this was a stupid idea and that Mercedes engineers were clearly quacking up.

I don’t know if it is quick, but it sure looks cute to me.


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.

Button’s Great Decision

No, I’m not talking about his decision not to go for the intermediate tyres like so many of his competitors at the beginning of the Chinese Grand Prix today, but his decision to drive for McLaren in 2010.

It was almost universal opinion last year that Jenson Button’s decision to leave Brawn GP and drive for McLaren was foolish. Even the most loyal fans questioned it and saw it as a risky manoeuvre.

On the face of it, it really didn’t make any sense:

  • Why leave a Championship-winning team?
  • Why leave a team where you are totally embedded into the team as the No.1 driver?
  • Why risk going to another team that had made a truly awful car that year?
  • Why risk being a team-mate to Lewis Hamilton, respected as being one of the very quickest drivers in F1?
  • Why risk being team-mate to Lewis where he is already totally embedded into the team?

Fans and pundits alike came out (e.g. Jackie Stewart andNigel Mansell) to criticise the decision or, at least, to say that Button would struggle against Hamilton in the first year.

Jenson said he needed a bigger challenge to motivate himself and on closer inspection you could almost understand that driving against Nico Rosberg he would not enhance his reputation, he could only damage it. If he drove against Lewis, with most people seeing Hamilton as the better driver, he could enhance his reputation and would not damage it that much if he wasn’t as quick.

Like most people, I was very surprised at his decision to go to McLaren, but the more I thought about it, the more I understood his motives. I think the reality is that he really does want the challenge. He has proved he can win a World Championship and now he wants to prove to himself he can go up against the very best drivers in the same equipment.

So far, after the 4th Grand Prix in Shanghai, he has proved a lot of people very wrong which is always nice to see. There is a long way in the Championship to go, but already Jenson has proved that he and Lewis are closely matched, but clearly are very different drivers.

Jenson Button is leading the championship and has won 50% of the races this year so far. His decision-making skills are clearly as good as his driving.

Did you notice in Bahrain Q3?

Following the form displayed at the four pre-season testing events, qualifying at Bahrain threw up a few surprises that we are all now talking about: Vettel and Red Bull on pole; the poor one lap pace of McLaren; Schumacher consistently slower than Rosberg; the great pace of Kubica in the Renault and the poor speed of Sauber and Toro Rosso. However, did you notice the difference between the times of Q2 and Q3?

Unlike last year, the teams qualify in low fuel for all three sessions and the entire top ten used the ‘option’ tyre (super softs) for both Q2 and Q3. You would expect drivers to get quicker or at least produce very similar times in these two sessions, especially with no change in track conditions.

This did not happen. With the sole exception of Massa in the Ferrari, every driver was significantly slower in Q3 compared to Q2 with most doing times half a second off their previous pace.

Pos Driver Team Q3 Time Diff. To Q2 time
1 Vettel Red Bull 1:54.101 + 0.218s
2 Massa Ferrari 1:54.242 – 0.089s
3 Alonso Ferrari 1:54.608 + 0.436s
4 Hamilton McLaren 1:55.217 + 0.510s
5 Rosberg Mercedes 1:55.241 + 0.559s
6 Webber Red Bull 1:55.284 + 0.966s
7 Schumacher Mercedes 1:55.524 + 0.419s
8 Button McLaren 1:55.672 + 0.504s
9 Kubica Renault 1:55.885 + 0.922s
10 Sutil Force India 1:56.309 + 1.313s

As the track conditions had not changed, the difference can only be put down to drivers trying too hard to get that perfect lap for the first pole of the new season. Rosberg said that he really thought he could get pole but struggled with his tyres and said that if he got too much oversteer in one corner and overheated the tyres, the next few corners would be ruined.

Therefore, Massa’s performance is all the more impressive as he was the only driver to keep his cool and go quicker in Q3 than he had in Q2.

Vettel was quickest in both Q2 and Q3, but if you believe pre-season testing then the Ferraris will definitely beat the Red Bull tomorrow in the race. However, it just goes to show, don’t be fooled by what happens in pre-season testing!

Jake McMillan

Poll Result: The F1 rivalry we are most looking forward to in 2010

2010 is a year of fantastic rivalries and a recent poll on this site has revealed that the F1 rivalry we are most looking forward to, far beyond any other, is seeing back from retirement Michael Schumacher compete against all the current top F1 elite of Massa, Button, Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Webber.  Two-thirds of the poll (67%) stated they were most looking forward to seeing this battle.

Next highest vote (19%) was the battle between the two McLaren drivers of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Popular opinion seems to be that Hamilton will come out on top for 2010, but we are all wondering just how close or far away Button will be.

A small percentage of people are looking forward to the Vettel Vs Webber fight. Interestingly, no one voted for Alonso Vs Massa?

7 Reasons why the 2010 F1 Championship could be the most exciting Ever

Here are 7 reasons, in no order of priority, of why the 2010 Formula One World Championship is shaping up to be one of the most interesting and exciting championships ever:

1)      Button & Hamilton at McLaren – The current and former F1 Champions racing together in the same team. Both are British, racing in a British team but with very different driving styles that has been compared to the different styles of Prost and Senna. Regardless of who you support or comparisons to other rivalries, everyone wants to see if Jenson can measure up to and even beat Lewis?

2)      Alonso at Ferrari – The double world champion is now thankfully back in a competitive car with the most prestigious team in F1 history. Always ultra-competitive, he will be counting the milliseconds down until he can start challenging for race victories again. Whether he will be champion or not, who knows, but he will definitely be in thick of the action this year.

3)      Michael Schumacher is back – The most successful racing driver ever in F1 history returns to the sport with the current champion constructor, Brawn GP, now called Mercedes GP. This is very exciting. Massive debate has already taken place as to why he is doing it and whether he can be as good as he was before. Even if he’s not at his peak, he will still be very competitive and will feature highly throughout the year. He will give Mercedes GP expert technical input into how to develop their car over the year.

4)      Refuelling Ban – All drivers will have to start the race with enough fuel to finish it which will mean for the first time in over 15 years that drivers really will have to learn how to manage their tyres and fuel consumption. Drivers known to have aggressive driving styles (e.g. Alonso & Hamilton) will need to adapt in 2010 to be successful. This will make for interesting races as drivers who are more careful early on will be quicker in the later stages of the race. Drivers will need to be quick and smart.

5)      At least 4 Teams at the front – At this moment in time, it is expected that McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes GP and Red Bull will all be up at the front challenging for victories and points. Normally, we get one or maybe two teams fighting it out, but this year we will have a minimum of 4 teams that will be closely matched. It will vary from track to track and as the year progresses, but it is unlikely that one team will be head and shoulders above the rest.

6)      Change in Points – 2010 will see a change to the points system that will reward more points to those who finish higher up with the top 10 drivers receiving points as follows: 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1.  This is similar to the Moto GP points system and the aim is to encourage drivers to overtake and get race wins rather than settle for points.

7)      New Teams on the Grid – The arrival of Lotus, Virgin, US F1 and Campos Meta will definitely have an impact on the sport and we will all be interested to see how competitive they are? Bernie Ecclestone has even recently questioned whether they will even make the first race of the season. It will be exciting to see them on the grid as well as observe talents of new drivers such as Bruno Senna, the nephew of Ayrton Senna.

Just one of these reasons alone would make the championship interesting, but combine them together and we are looking at what hopefully will be one of closest fought and exciting championships ever. Every practice, qualifying, race and point will count. I cannot wait.


Jake McMillan