Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Driving on the Edge Review

Will be posting a review in the next few days of 2011 FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm's book Driving on the Edge.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Domenicali: Qualifying Not So Vital This Year

Ferrari put out a news release today ahead of this weekend's first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne -- with some interesting thoughts on qualifying.

This year the Scuderia would appear to have a great car from the start, with testing indicating their machines to be both reliable and right on the pace with the Red Bulls.

Ferrari's Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali, will be desperate to banish the demons of Abu Dhabi, where a pit wall decision to pit Fernando Alonso cost him the championship last season.

Domenicali is naturally cautious about the pace of the Ferrari as nothing really counts until the first race.

But he did reveal that this year's new Pirelli tyres -- and their higher rate of degredation over the bullet-proof Bridgestones of last year -- will mean qualifying will be less important because there will be more pit stops.

"This is significant in terms of teamwork at the races, because more pit stops means the role of team members becomes even more important in terms of deciding the final outcome of the races.

"A further impact of having more pit stops is that possibly qualifying and therefore grid position will be less important than in 2010. In simple terms it is more likely that a car that has not set the fastest time and taken pole position can still go on to win the race.

"It will be absolutely vital to have the right strategy in order to win the race.”

Races will be marked with three, or even four pit stops, mixing up the order and bringing a new element of drama to proceedings.

Add to that the new moveable rear wing to improve overtaking, plus the reintroduction of KERS for an instant speed boost, means it'll be an unpredictable season as driver workload in the cockpit reaches near-saturation point.

Less than five days now to Lights Out in Oz!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Davidson on the new Peugeot 908

This weekend it's the start of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in sports car racing with the 12 hour endurance event at Sebring in Florida.

And this year there are new regulations for the powerful diesel cars to try to narrow the gap with their petrol counterparts.

Peugeot is racing their 908 car in the LMP1 category, but with significant modifications this season. The engine is a 3.7L, V8 turbo-charged diesel delivering 550hp, roughly 150hp down on last year's 908 Hdi FAP.

And the new changes are clearly apparently to British Peugeot works driver Anthony Davidson, as he explained to Le Mans Live at Sebring.

"Performance is obviously not as good. We are about 5 seconds slower this year with the new regulations.

"(It's) difficult to forget last year's feeling in the car. Obviously you had more power, more grip so you forget that as much as can.

"You find yourself overdriving in the beginning and you are expecting too much from the car so we are having to restrain ourselves and relearn the car around this circuit. But I think come the race we will be more confident."

Watch the Le Mans Live interview here:

In the last couple of hours, Davidson took P1 in the overnight testing ... ahead of arch rivals Audi. Qualy today should be interesting.

The 12-hour race can be watched live on www.americanlemans.com.

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