Although the current generation of cars are the fastest in F1 history in a straight line, the unique characterstics of Monza are the result of a bespoke aerodynamic package brought by most teams for the Italian GP. Most teams will spend a solid two weeks designing these packages in order to generate a good car balance for the various chicanes which litter the circuit whilst cutting drag and improving top speed.
In case you were wondering, we saw top speeds of 225mph with DRS in use on the main straight, the fastest speeds ever recorder in Monza. Of course Juan Pablo Montoya’s highest average speed of 162.9mph during pre-qualifying in 2004 remains unbeatable for now, but it just proves that despite all the fuss made about this year’s cars not being fast enough was, well, just a fuss.
Overall top speed was, however, limited by the energy usage capabilities inside this year’s hybrids. You will be aware of the fact that sometimes we see cars at the end of the straight with the rain-light blinking. This is to indicate that the MGU-H has gone into harvest mode and the turbo’s rpm is reduced significantly as a result and slowing the car down. When riding on board with cars reaching the end of the main straight, the engine rpm dropped significantly and this was a particular feature on Valtteri Bottas’s Williams. Continue reading →
Spa and Monza are two circuits that come at a convenient time on the F1 calendar as their place in the season – just two weeks apart from eachother – allows the teams to finalise their low downforce packages over the summer break.
Spa in particular has always represented a dilemma for the teams: do you go high downforce for the middle sector and compromise top speed, or opt for a low drag setup for S1 and S3 at a risk of losing out if it rains? It is for this reason that we see a mix-and-match of both low drag rear wings and high downforce front wings, although this year the teams had more unique combinations than usual thanks to the high top speeds these cars reach even with a high downforce package. Continue reading →
The final round before the 4 week summer break was held in Hungary – a very high downforce orientated circuit with only one straight to worry about in terms of drag reduction. It is for this reason that we often see as many aero bits crammed onto the cars as possible, just like Monaco.
Straightline speed is not a necessity but strong driveability is crucial for good laptime, from both the power unit and the chassis. This is particularly notable in the middle sector where a series of medium speed corners really test the car’s aerodynamic balance and power delivery. This is why Red Bull appeared to be a step closer to Mercedes as their chassis is arguably the best on the grid and their Renault power unit has had multiple software upgrades on the driveability front.
As far as new tech went there wasn’t much to talk about but as always there were a few things that are worth mentioning… Continue reading →
Hockenheim represents a demanding blend of both high top speed and good cornering grip. Unless you’re in a Mercedes it is very difficult to balance the car for this type of circuit. Red Bull had phenomenal pace in the final, tight sector but where half a second down in the middle relative the main competition. Williams by contrast – who have a slippery car in a straight line – had a solid first and middle sector, as proved during the latter stages of the race when Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton.
As far as upgrades go there were a few finer details across all teams, but it was McLaren who stood out the most this weekend. Continue reading →
Britain doesn’t tend to be a venue where vast upgrades are bolted onto the cars despite most of the teams being based a matter of minutes from Silverstone. It’s a little peculiar but the British grand prix just so happens to be at a place on the calendar where primary updates are still in the development stage. This is why we tend to see lots of parts brought to Spain/Canada, then Belgium after the summer break, and then again towards Japan for the final stint of the season.
However there were a variety of tweaks on display at the weekend, with McLaren and Red Bull being the busiest teams. Continue reading →
Whilst we have not been to the Red Bull Ring for some 11 years, the track is very similar to the likes of the Hungaroring and Silverstone: a mixture of medium/high speed corners with a few heavy braking zones thrown in for good measure. It is therefore a circuit that requires slightly higher downforce levels and good driveability from the power unit due to the multitude of undulations. The track’s gradient, particularly in the traction areas, puts the a lot of lateral acceleration into the tyres which can easily cause them to overheat, hence the importance of a strong power unit. Continue reading →
The Canadian Grand Prix never fails to produce and 2014 was no exception. As always is the challenge at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, brakes were a critical area where a number of teams were caught out. The MGU-K does most of the reverse torque on the rear axle this year so teams have been running far smaller rear brakes – discs and calipers. This means that, when we get a situation such as the MGU-K failing on the Mercedes, the rear brakes are put under a lot more stress and fatigue quickly. Coupled with the low downforce packages making it difficult to stop the cars from high speed and high track temperatures, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster… Continue reading →