Sunday, 10 May 2015

Set aero to "unpassableness"

Well what do you think, is this the start of Rosbergs fight back? Or was that a prime example of where F1 has gone wrong?
Roll with me here, I thought this was supposed to be the age of the engine, energy recovery systems and cars actually racing for the win. But here we are four races into the season and we're back to four years ago and cars of similar speeds not being able to overtake each other. Because the moment a Merc gets up behind a Ferrari, on similar tyres, all the down force disappears from the front wing and the Merc can't follow the Ferrari through the long sweeping corners.

It's all about the aero again, sure the flappy rear wing thing will get the Merc past the likes of Torro Rosso and Lotus, but only if the Lotus has half its rear wing missing! And I don't think this is just this circuit, which the teams test on during the winter break and know like the back of their hand. This not being able to get close enough to overtake was evident in China, Malaysia and Bahrain. Those front wings are works of pure art, they are sculpted to within an inch of their lives. Multiple lines, element after element cascading in a spray of carbon fibre and Kevlar honeycomb, they are beautiful.  But they stop working the moment they get 20 foot from the car ahead.

I sometimes wonder if the aero designers, those oh so clever lads and lasses sitting in dark wind tunnel control rooms pouring over data screens looking for that millionth of a second difference. Do they ever stick another model in front of their new design and see what happens? Has no one explained to them that there are indeed other cars on track at the same time? And the chances are, their new front wing will have to negotiate Maldonado at some point.
I might only have a rudimentary grasp of aerodynamics from my HND at Farnborough tech back in 1989 but if I was the team boss of Sauber or Williams, I'd be telling the design office to make sure the front wing still worked six foot from the back of a Ferrari.

So anyway the race was less dull that I was expecting. Watching Hamilton is always exciting for me. His "rag it to the end" attitude encapsulated by the radio call at the end, wanting to know if it was just team orders to stop racing, or it actually was technically impossible catch Rosberg.  Sure there was plenty of whinging about not being able to catch and pass Vettel. And the usual old chestnut about not calling him when he's busy driving round corner and stuff. But all of that can be forgiven when the driver want the win not just the points.

And let's be fair to Nico here for a minute, he went out and got pole with a pretty special lap, that Hamilton couldn't get anywhere near. Off the line he didn't mess it up and then he just drove off. Ferrari's threw a shed load of upgrades at the car which didn't really make the car that much faster, certainly no faster than the Mercs anyway. So Nico did what Lewis did for the first four races, conserved his tyres, fuel and made it look easy, job done. Is the start of his fight back ... I don't know. If he can get his qualifying Mojo back then yeah sure, he'll keep Lewis honest. But realistically, I think this is Lewis's championship to lose still.  But we have Monaco next, and that has belonged to Nico these past few years.

Okay then, Rosberg won and made it look easy. Apparently he was less conservative in qualifying and just went for it like he did last year. So this time he hit the track running on Sunday, rather than worrying about how he was going to overtake Lewis.  

Lewis was second and had to break a sweat to do it. Too much wheel spin off the line and then a sticky wheel nut during the first pit stop and he was always going to be second. He complained all afternoon about not being able to pass Vettel and demonstrated when he had clear air that he had a smidge of a bit of a point. He got the fastest lap for his troubles, but on the same tyres as Vettels' Ferrari and four foot from the rear wing he was going nowhere.

Vettel was third and did the best he could. If debatable whether pitting early with Lewis would have helped, I think Vettel is still iffy in traffic and they knew they were comfortably ahead of the Williams.  Try the long middle stint and see what happens. Then Lewis started banging out fastest lap after fastest lap on the "slower" hard tyres and they knew the game was up. I think Ferrari is just happy they aren't fighting it out for tenth this year. To be just behind the Mercs is good enough right now.

Bottas was fourth and looking at the Williams social media stream you could be forgiven for thinking they'd won! Maybe they were just happy that their meagre upgrade kit had kept them in touch with Ferrari and Mercedes. They still don't have the cash to be building B spec cars, so to be there or there about is as good as a win for the plucky garagistas.

Kimi was fifth and I thought he was doing better than that, hmm. Anyway, the usual 1000 lines "I must do better in qualifying" on the headmasters desk Monday morning lad.

Massa, has some sort of issue in qualifying so only started from 9th, so something, something blah good show, instagram pictures of Massa Jr son all round, pick up the pay check. Goodnight.

Ricciardo didn't blow up for a change. Hurrah! and they managed to beat the junior team who had out qualified then by a country mile. People who know about these things said the pistons in the engine had been changed back to the old ones from the start of the year, rather than the supposedly better ones Renault took to Bahrain. Whatever the car ran faultlessly for a change and Danny gets himself some points,
Someone, I forget who, did mention that Redbull were basically running last year's car for the first four races and that was why they were so awful. It wasn't just the engine that was letting them down, this weekend they had a particularly fine new front wing and plenty of new aero pointy bits. I guess it worked for them.

Grosjean eighth and that lotus still looks a bit of a handful, especially in crazy Maldo's hands!

Sainz on home soil muscles his way past the team he hopes to drive for one day and lands ninth. Now the official FIA result I'm looking which was published at 18:45. Has Sainz ahead of Kvyat but these two were under investigation for being naughty at the end of the race ... hang on, I can check that ... wait there.......hmm I can't find anything to say Sainz was hit with the ban hammer. Oh well if the result changes later you can shake your fist at the FIA and curse their new Media chap who has screwed up the FIA web pages so now nothing is easy to find.

So Kvyat was tenth and fairly anonymous all race, until Sainz bashed into his and went past off the circuit. The young  Russian has had a bit of a tough time of it so far, the words "out of his depth" could be used by a less caring and more unfriendly commentator. But I just think it was a straight up choice between Putin's blood money and Vergne. Damned if they did and Vergne.

Right enough sarcasm. It's time to celebrate a new hero for this stupid game .. step forward Roberto Merhi who is a new Max "the Grin" Chilton. Roberto was four laps behind Rosberg this week. With a best time, that's the best time he could manage during 66 laps of the race, of 1:34:211 on lap 51. Hamilton's fastest lap by way of comparison was 1:28:270 on lap 54. Six seconds, I have no idea how far that actually equates to, but it may as well be the dark side of the moon for Merhi. Let's hope for our sake he gets to keep his seat a little longer. 

Roberto was bemused to learn he was racing now, and no longer testing

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