Championship to be decided where the sport began.

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

With Vettel being on such form this year after 5 race wins, 2 second places out of 7 races and all his championship rivals squabbling amongst themselves taking points off of each other, the title is looking like it’s a done deal for the German. But this is not so. Vettel has had an immense run of luck these past few races while all of his rivals have hit trouble in one way or another. For the past three races it has been easy to see that under race conditions the McLaren has been the fastest car, and out of those three race McLaren have won just one with Vettel taking the other two. In spain Lewis Hamilton clearly had the better package overall but could not past Vettel due to having too short a 7th gear and not enough traction when compared with the German. In Monaco we again saw the McLaren to be the better overall package but this time in the hands of Jenson Button, and it was looking like Vettel was going to get passed due to his tyres being so close to being unusable, but he was saved by the red flag for Petrov’s crash which allowed him to put a new set of tyres on.

It may seem like other driver chances of the championship are depleting rapidly, but we can’t write anyone of the top guys off yet until we witness the events of the British Grand Prix. The FIA announced the other day the hot blown diffusers are to be banned from the Silverstone race onwards. For those of you that do not know what a hot blown diffuser is, allow me to explain it for you. Last year Red Bull positioned there exhausts to blow towards the diffuser and where later copied by all the teams, with the hot energized air from the exhaust going around the diffuser downforce was increased dramatically, but this year what the teams have done is created these trick engine settings which burns fuel in the exhaust pipe while the driver is not on the throttle making the blown diffuser effect last for the whole lap. But the FIA have said this is not aloud as it is a driver controlled aerodynamic device. So from the British GP onwards these engine maps will have to be scrapped and this will have a bigger effect on some teams than others.

Red Bull and Renault are the teams that are set to lose the most from this ban as there exhaust layouts are the most efficient when compared with there rival, but also there engines have reportable been designed with this hot blown diffuser in mind and there is fear from both Red Bull and Renault that getting rid of these engine maps would put there reliability into doubts. Red Bull themselves have said this week there are ready to question the decision to ban these engine maps which shows they are have concerns over how it will effect them. Red Bull where the team to first start doing this with there exhausts and they really don’t want to lose the advantage they have over there rivals who do not yet have a fully optimized system for the cars.

Silverstone will also show how the championship will pan out because it is the next track that is all about raw downforce, and if you have a fast car there you will always almost have a fast car at whatever track you go to. the string of corners from copse all the way to stowe tests a cars downforce levels to the max as you hardly ever have to touch the brakes through those fast sweeping corners in qualifying.

If we now go back to the topic of the ban on hot blown diffusers, Sebastian Vettel has today come out and said that he thinks Renault and Mercedes will be most hurt by the ban because there exhausts are placed the furthest forward. This may be true but Mercedes and Renault are not the two teams challenging Red Bull for the championship. Ferrari and McLaren are those two teams, and when it comes down to the positioning of exhausts Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren have very similar positioning with one very significant exception. Red Bull has a 5cm gap which is where the gas from the exhausts actually end up going and blow along the bottom of the diffuser creating a greater amount of downforce compared to Ferrari and McLaren systems which blow on top of the diffuser. With the hot blown diffuser Red Bull have been able to use there advantage of the 5cm gap for the whole of the lap, not just the parts where the throttle is being applied, which can account for the extra speed that they have over there rivals in qualifying that seems to disappear in the race where the hot blown diffusers can not really be used that much because it would mean you’d need to put a lot more fuel in the car which would make the car a lot slower over a full race distance.

Even if the ban does not effect Red Bull’s performance compared to it’s nearest rivals, there is still a reasonable chance for Vettel’s rivals to beat him because as we’ve seen in recent races Ferrari have caught up and have better pace and we’ve seen McLaren have the fastest race car, it’s just they have not had the luck that Vettel has and have made far more mistakes than the usually faultless German.

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Categories: Race Review

Round 6 Monaco Preview-A race Lewis needs to win.

May 24, 2011 Leave a comment

So we head to Monaco this coming weekend for the sixth round of the 2011 Formula One World Championship. So if we take a quick look at how the tables are shaping up so far we will see Sebastian Vettel leading the drivers championship from Lewis Hamilton and next his team mate Mark Webber. In the constructers standings we see Red Bull in first followed by McLaren and Ferrari. So before we get into all the details lets take a look at the Monaco GP circuit onboard with Felipe Massa on his pole lap of 2008, commentated on by Martin Brundle.

And now here are some facts and statistics on the Monaco track.

Track: Circuit De Monaco

Lap Length: 2.075  Miles

Race Length: 161.887 Miles

Laps: 78

Times Held: 57

Lap Record: 1:14.439 (Micheal Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)

Most Wins (Drivers): Ayrton Senna (6)

Most Wins (Teams): McLaren (15)

So looking forward to every Monaco race weekend we need to remember that practice doesn’t happen on the Friday but it takes place on the Thursday instead (the reason being is I think as Monaco is such a glamourous and rich place they use the friday as a day to sign and talk with sponsors). So if you like to watch practice the sessions are on Thursday.

Right what do you need to be good at Monaco? Well of course the most important thing at every track is a great driver but here in Monaco the need for a driver who is brave, committed, consistent and fast is emphasized as the driver can make a huge difference here even if they are in a slower car (aerodynamically speaking). The next thing you need is a good chassis as the low speeds of the Monte Carlo streets makes aerodynamics not as important when compared with a cars mechanical grip. You also need a car that can ride bumps well as the track surface is very bumpy, also being able to ride curbs well is a plus as there are a few kurbs which when ridden will gain you allot of lap time, for example the curb at the chicane after the tunnel. An ability to change direction quickly helps with all the twists and turns, and finally one of the most important things is traction out of low speed corners and this is vital for two reason. The first is it helps you get up to speed faster out of the corners than cars with poor traction and secondly it will protect the tyres massively as there is so many points on this track where traction will be low.

Speaking of tyres the tyres Pirelli will be taking to the principality are the soft (Prime) and Super Soft (Option). These are the two fastest compounds Pirelli supply with Monaco being the first time the Super Soft will be used in a race weekend. Pirelli have stated they think a two stopper may be viable here but have said they expect the Super Soft to last around 9 or 10 laps which will spice up the racing on the strategy side. Monaco can be a hard track for tyres with the low grip surface and  constant accelerating, braking and changing direction. I myself think we could see another four stop race but you never know with F1 in 2011.

So know we get to the what we might see happen this weekend in terms of pecking order and who’s the fastest. As the title reads I think Lewis Hamilton needs to win here in Monaco as it’s a track he and McLaren have thrived at in the past and a track Sebastian Vettel has struggled a bit at. Lewis will have a great chance of taking a lot of points off of Vettel if he wins as I suspect we will have 5 teams at around the same pace here. They are Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault. We tend to get all the teams closer together as cars aerodynamics are not as important here, so if Lewis wins he in my opinion could have Vettel finishing down in 10th meaning he would tale a chunk of 24 points out of Sebatians lead. But this is all what ifs and maybes, there are a lot of drivers in top teams that go really well around Monaco, Webber, Alonso and Rosberg are some of those.

So if we look ahead to qualifying I think we will see a few things different here. I read a comment that someone had posted on a website saying he thought Red Bull will go out on the softest tyre in Q1 in an attempt to knock HRT out of the race and stop them from protesting which I think may very well happen. Also this is the race I think Red Bulls pole run will end. I’m going to predict Hamilton to take pole in Monaco for three reasons, the first he and McLaren are experts at this track, the second is he is on great form and has great momentum and motivation following his extremly competitive Spanish GP and finally the third reason is McLaren have something good coming for this race as stated by Lewis himself and echoed by Martin Whitmarsh. I also think qualifying will be the closest we’ve seen this year with the five teams I mentioned before all in close company.

So my Monaco GP top 10 grid positions prediction is:

1-Lewis Hamilton

2-Fernando Alonso

3-Nico Rosberg

4-Mark Webber

5-Sebastian Vettel

6-Vitaly Petrov

7-Micheal Schumacher

8-Jenson Button

9-Nick Heidfeld

10-Felipe Massa

So onto the race which I think will be action packed and completely unpredictable. I very much doubt there will be rain after looking at the forecast but I’ve just got this feeling this will be the first race the safety car will get some mileage in as it’s very likely to happen here of all places. I think Lewis will lead from the start and pull out a reasonable lead then just keep the distance between him and second stable and just react to what the others do. The fight for second on the other hand will be massive with a huge amount of pit stops and people trying to get the under cut on other drivers. I also have a feeling that with the huge fight for second place going on there may be a few accidents with people and Lotus may just score there first points which would be a great site.

So my podium prediction is:

1-Lewis Hamilton

2-Fernando Alonso

3-Mark Webber

So that’s my preview to the 2011 Monaco GP, thank you very much for reading it and make sure you follow the Twitter page and like the FaceBook page. Thanks guys.

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Categories: Race Preview