Tag Archives: Mercedes

Mercedes Tyre Troubles

19 May
We’re 5 races into F1 2013 and so far Mercedes have really struggled, despite qualifying on pole 3 many times they have struggled in the races, only finishing twice on the podium, and recently had a dreadful Spanish GP where after qualifying 1st and 2nd they could only finish 6th and 12th.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK’S THE PROBLEM?
Well for a team to have such a contrast between qualifying and the races it indicated that there is a problem with the way that they use their tyres, and with thus year’s Pirelli tyres degrading very quickly Mercedes are being left for dead by the rest of the top teams.
WHAT COULD THIS PROBLEM WITH THE TYRES BE?
Well all F1 teams have to do a compromise with the design of the cars when it comes to tyre degradation.
Qualifying is a vital part of a race weekend, if you can qualify high up you have a much better chance of winning the race and winning points, and for qualifying you want a car that can heat up it’s tyres quickly so that it can have the tyres at the optimum temperature for a qualifying run, but this erodes the tyres quickly.
Whilst in the races you want a car that is light on it’s tyres so they can last longer and you don’t have to do as many pit stops.
As you can see this means team’s have to compromise when designing the car, but almost every team will make a 70-30 split towards race pace since championship points are only available in the race.
SO MERCEDES HAVE FAVOURED THEIR DESIGN TO QUALIFYING?
It appears that way and this is giving the team nightmares in the race where they simply don’t have the tyres to race and compete.
IF THIS COMPROMISE IS THE CASE, THEN HOW COME THE TEAMS WHO WIN RACES ALSO GO FASTEST IN QUALIFYING?
I understand where you’re coming from, but since every team favours the compromise towards race pace then it evens out and so generally the teams fastest in qualifying are also fastest in the race.
Of course teams change the balance around occasionally and that is well shown by Ferrari this season, at Spain they were the fastest on race pace, but were off the pace in qualifying indicating that their compromise is even more set on race pace than other teams. This could potentially be a good decision for the team since points are only available in the race, but on the other hand they could struggle to pick up points at tracks where it’s hard to overtake e.g. Monaco.
CAN MERCEDES SORT THEIR PROBLEM OUT?
They of course can, but the time put in to sort out this problem is time which isn’t being spent on other important parts of this year’s car and also time being lost on next year’s car.
SO SHOULD MERCEDES PACK IT IN FOR 2013 AND CONCENTRATE ON 2014 WHEN THE RULES CHANGE?
That is of course an option for Mercedes and could be a great decision for the team as it will give them a big head start on the competition, and of course Brawn has taken this strategy before in 2008 when he quickly gave in on the 2008 Honda to concentrate on the 2009 car which was eventually branded as Brawn GP and dominated the 2009 season.
One problem with this though is that sponsor’s only want immediate success, they want the team winning now not in 12 months time, so by cutting their losses on this season they could lose sponsorship and funding which could leave them without enough to be as competitive next season.

Lotus claim first blood but rest aren’t far behind!

17 Mar

Good Day, Bad Day: Australia 2013.

Good Day:

  • Kimi Raikkonen: Q7 F1 10/10 – What a way for Raikkonen to start 2013, not only winning but winning in style in Australia with his closest challenger Fernando Alonso 12 seconds down the road, Lotus took a big gamble opting for the 2 stop strategy but it paid off with Raikkonen now the man to beat. 
  • Fernando Alonso: Q5 F2 8/10 – Fernando has a right to feel aggrieved for not winning the race he started the race well moving into 3rd on the first lap alone and the timing of his second stop was arguably the decision of the race undercutting both Vettel and Sutil after running behind both of them in 3rd. But if Alonso is disappointed with how his race today he needs only to look at his result here 12 months ago to be cheered up.
  • Sebastian Vettel: Q1 F3 7/10 – Vettel was out played by both Raikkonen and Alonso today on the strategy front, the 3 pit strategy was definitely the slower of the two and losing out to Alonso’s undercut was just unlucky, but Vettel will not be disappointed he’s only 10 points behind Raikkonen and the year isn’t over yet.
  • Felipe Massa: Q4 F4 8/10 – The pre 2009 Massa appears to be back for good, after some impressive races this year Massa started this season as he means to go on, racing for victories, he qualified ahead of Alonso which isn’t common and you never know he could be in championship contention this season.
  • Mercedes: 8/10 – When Hamilton moved to Mercedes many – I included – wrote him out of contention due to Mercedes’ not building good enough cars but they’ve changed that for this year, both cars were competitive in qualifying (Rosberg fastest in Q1 and Q2) and Hamilton qualifying 3rd and they were competitive today until they’re luck soured, Hamilton was ‘only’ 5th because of a massive lock up that moved him from his 2 stop strategy to a 3 stop and Rosberg was unlucky to suffer an electronic problem, Mercedes are definitely contenders this season.
  • Adrian Sutil: Q12 F7 9/10 – You wouldn’t believe that Sutil had missed 2012 looking at his performance today, he made a big call starting on the mediums but it payed off moving him up to 1st before his first pit stop and with his second pair of mediums he returned to the front, sadly he changed too early onto the ‘option’ tyres which cost him a lot of time and left him trying to hold drivers off.
  • Jules Bianchi: Q19 F15 10/10 – WOW! I knew Bianchi would be good in Formula 1 but I never thought he’d be this good, his times were stunningly fast he won the class B race and he was challenging midfield drivers during the race, Marussia have produced a fantastic car this season and I don’t think it would be going to far to say Bianchi could pick up points this season.

Bad Day:

  • Mark Webber: Q2 F6 6/10 – It was the dreadful start to the race that left Webber all but out of it but Webber definitely hates this track (even if it is his home GP) because it’s never worked out for him before here and if he wants to ever become F1 champion he’s going to need to do much better than that.
  • McLaren 5/10 – McLaren have a lot of work to do since their car does not look good in any way at the moment, only Button made it into Q3 and he didn’t even set a lap and in the race both drivers were fighting for the lower points, if this is going to be a good year for McLaren they need to up their game pronto.
  • Romain Grosjean: Q8 F10 5/10 – Whilst Raikkonen was winning the race Grosjean was struggling, yes he managed to avoid hitting anyone at the start but he finished a massive 84 seconds behind Kimi, Grosjean is seen as a quick driver but it all went wrong today and if he wants to fight for big points this season he needs to regain the speed he had last season.
  • Nico Hulkenburg: Q11 F- 6/10 – Hulkenburg’s race was over before it even began with him retiring before the race started due to problems with the fuel system, this is a real shame as Nico is one of the most talented drivers on the grid and maybe could have picked up some points today.

Time to say goodbye: Michael Schumacher

21 Dec

So what’s he managed in his career then?

Not much, he was only the world champion 7 times and that includes five years in a row from 2000 to 2004, only managed to win 91 races.

So his resume’s not very impressive is it. When did it all start?

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, or as it’s usually put in Belgium in 1991. After impressing in F3 and the World Sportscar Championship Schumacher was spotted by Eddie Jordan and was signed to replace on a one off basis to cover for the imprisoned Bertrand Gachot. Despite not having driven the track before qualified 7th despite the fact that the Jordan was a pretty average car, that hadn’t qualified higher than 7th all season.

Wow that’s very impressive, where did it go from there?

After that impressive debut most of the other teams were intent on signing Michael, but it was Benetton who were graced with getting the driver who would go on to smash pretty much every record.

I guess a few people were a bit upset by that decision.

You’d be right there Schumacher’s first few months were rigged with controversy, Jordan appealed in court for them to block the move after claiming they’d already agreed a contract but since it hadn’t been signed the move was allowed to go through. Then at the end of the 1991 season Sauber joined Formula 1 with Mercedes’ backing and looked to sign the German due to a clause in one of Schumacher’s previous contracts meant that Schumacher would join Mercedes if they entered F1. But due to Schumacher not wanting to move Peter Sauber decided not to push it.

Did it turn out to be the correct decision? 

Definitely Schumacher’s first full season went with a bang, winning the Belgium Grand Prix and then going on to finish 3rd in the drivers championship, and then in 1994 he won his first of two world championships with Benetton winning the second in 1995.

So I guess he stayed there since they were clearly providing him with a very good car.

You’d be wrong. Once he’d won his second championship Schumacher moved to Ferrari for the 1996 season.

How did that go?

Phenomenal, despite it taking four years to win his first world championship with Ferrari (he almost won  the championship in 1997, but was disqualified from the season for dangerous driving). But once the 90s were over Schumacher became king, winning five consecutive championships beating the likes of David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, team mate Rubens Barrichello and his nemesis from 1998 and 1999 Mika Hakkinen. But he couldn’t hold off Fernando Alonso’s Renault who broke the run in 2005 before adding to that by taking 2006 too, this led to Schumacher retiring from the sport in 2006.

He retired in 2006? I thought he’d only just retired?

Well he retired for the first time in 2006 but after being linked to a return in 2009 when Felipe Massa’s horror crash left him out of half the season, but it was in 2010 he returned with Mercedes who had been Braun F1, the 2009 world champions.

So I imagine that was as successful a move as his his previous ones?

You’d think so, but sadly it was a disaster. In the three years since the return Schumacher finished on the podium once and once only, at this years European GP. Apart from that good results had been good to come by for Michael.

So has the great name been tarnished? 

Yes and no. Despite ruining his average points and win percentage there have been good things to come from it, he added another podium to the record and took his tally to over 300 races, also it represents the passing of the baton from one German king of F1 to another with Sebastian Vettel taking over the reigns.

So what 3 will he forever be remembered for?

Winning 7 world championships, appearing on Top Gear and for being to put it simply the best driver F1 has ever seen.

 

Korean GP dull by any stretch of the imagination

14 Oct

Good day, Bad day Korea 12.

Good day:

Sebastian Vettel: 9/10 S2 F1

Was unlucky to be pipped to pole by Webber but after overtaking at turn 1 no one could hold a candle to him, he led all the way from the front and was by far the best driver out there finishing 1st but more importantly taking control of the drivers championship.

Felipe Massa: 8/10 S6 F4

Massa is fantastic with him timing to turn his season around, he put in a fantastic performance for Ferrari last weekend and today was yet again very quick, so quick he had to be told to slow down in case he overtook Alonso. Despite a poor start to the season it’s looking likely that Massa will get the contract for 2013.

Nico Hulkenburg: 9/10 S8 F6 #DriverOfTheDay

Nico had a great race today picking up another important 8 points, he drove very well fending off Grosjean for the first and second stints before being overtaken at the start of the 3rd, but whilst Grosjean and Hamilton fought for 7th Hulkenburg overtook them both to finish 6th.

Jean-Eric Vergne: 8/10 S16 F8

Toro Rosso have been strong in Korea over the last few years but Vergne put in one of the best drives of the day to rise from 16th to 8th overtaking Lewis Hamilton in the process. Vergne hasn’t had the best of seasons but if he can drive like this on a regular basis he could move to Red Bull in the next few years.

Bad Day:

Lewis Hamilton: 3/10 S3 F10

When your McLaren can’t keep up with Toro Rosso you know you’re doing something wrong, Hamilton started poorly losing out to Alonso at turn 2, before spending the second stint being overtaken by Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenburg etc. One of the biggest surprises about Hamilton’s race was just how quickly he went through tyres which he did remarkably quickly, Hamilton’s race was livened up later on by the addition of astroturf to the car.

Mercedes: 4/10 MSC S10 F13 ROS S9 F ret.

Mercedes have really struggled in recent weeks and did again this weekend, they were the slowest Mercedes powered car and were slower than the majority of the midfield.

Kamui Kobayashi: 3/10 S13 F ret.

It was a short but awful race for Kamui, he hit Button on lap 1 forcing JB to retire and and then ran in last after a drive-through and a front wing change. Kamui retired from the race on lap 16.

Fans who got up early to watch the race:

The race can be summed up as 5 minutes of excitement padded out with 95 minutes of processional racing, worth watching the 10 minute highlights than the entire race.

Korean Astroturf fitters

Whoever it was who put down the astroturf may be about to find themselves out of business because it was a pretty poor job. The turf was ripped up around the outside of the track which resulted in Hamilton getting some stuck to the side of the car and leading to a string of grass/turf jokes.

Championship hopefuls next to each other at Webber goes quickest.

13 Oct

3 winners and 3 losers of qualifying, Korea 12.

Winners:

Mark Webber: Mark’s really struggled since the start of the season and has gone from being a championship contender to having to play 2nd fiddle at Red Bull, but the strong performance today (qualifying 1st) should put him in good stead for tomorrow and could maybe revitalise his championship hopes.

Nico Hulkenburg: Nico is one of the best young drivers on the grid at the moment and he rose to that potential today qualifying 8th and should be able to challenge for big points tomorrow. Nico will find his good lap even sweeter with the knowledge that his team mate, Di Resta is starting back in 14th.

Felipe Massa: Massa clicked last weekend in Japan and appears to have brought this speed with him to Korea, he’s looked good all weekend, and starting from 6th he could be an outsider for another podium.

Losers:

Jenson Button: Whilst Lewis went 3rd Jenson couldn’t make it into Q3 and can’t be at all pleased with his performance. Button has always been weak in qualifying but his performance today could put him in a bad position for the race tomorrow and is likely to be fighting for the small points.

Bruno Senna: You wouldn’t want to Bruno at the moment, he’s struggling to put in a good performance in qualifying and it’s looking likely that he’ll be replaced at Williams for next year. Bruno could still pick up points this weekend but it will take a fantastic performance from 18th if that is to happen.

Mercedes: Mercedes were one of the strongest teams at the start of the year, winning in China but they have really lost ground since then and it looks like they’re either struggling to get the car working properly or that they may be putting all their work into the 2013 car.

Prediction:

I think it’s likely that it will be a Red Bull victory tomorrow and that the other Red Bull driver will also make it to the podium but the final place in the top 3 should be up for grabs, Hamilton is the most likely man seeing that he qualified 3rd but Hamilton has struggled at the first corner over the weekend and that could let Alonso through. Alonso’s Ferrari has been very strong over the first sector and if he puts in a fantastic first sector on the first lap he could run as high as 2nd or 3rd. Raikkonen should also be classed as a contender, he’s quick and always seems to be on the quickest strategy, all it would take is an awkwardly timed safety car for a Kimi podium. The final contender should be Massa who appears to have carried his speed from last weekend over to this one, if one of the top 5 qualifies retires Massa will be a big contender, so long as Grosjean doesn’t get to him before that.

 

Red Bull dominate despite stewards enquiry.

6 Oct

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Japan 12.

Winners:

  1. Sebastian Vettel: Vettel has had a very strong weekend, he was fastest in FP3 and followed that up by going quickest in qualifying which means that he’s started from pole 4 times in a row at Suzuka, from first on the grid Vettel will doubtlessly be looking to win and close the gap to championship leader Alonso. There is a chance Vettel could lose this pole position though if the stewards deem him to have held up Alonso.
  2. Kamui Kobayashi: It was at this circuit in 2010 that Kamui showed to the world that overtaking can occur at any corner and yet again Kobayashi has upped his game for the home GP, qualifying in 4th is good enough, but due to Button’s 5 place grid penalty (gearbox change) Kamui will start from 3rd on the grid. Would it be too much to hope for a Kamui podium?
  3. Pedro De La Rosa: since the introduction of new teams in 2010 there has been a hierarchy between the 3 but today that hierarchy was smashed apart, HRT qualifying higher than both a Marussia and more impressively a Caterham, you never know there may be some exciting racing going on between the 3 teams tomorrow.

Losers:

  1. Lewis Hamilton: With his championship dreams already damaged by his retirement in Singapore it could be shattered tomorrow due to him having to start from 9th, if he struggles to overtake early on he could be looking at the end of his chances in the championship.
  2. Mercedes: Do you remember the Mercedes who started the year looking so promising, even winning in China. Well a lot’s changed since then and Mercedes are now really struggling to put in good performances, neither driver made it to Q3 today and Schumacher also has a 10 place grid penalty, looks like a certain Lewis Hamilton may have made a bad decision.
  3. Felipe Massa: If you’re driving for the most prestigious team in Formula 1 and there’s every chance you’re going to be replaced you need to put in fantastic times in qualifying to make sure the management decide to keep you, sadly Massa refuses to listen to my advice and instead qualified 11th despite being 3rd quickest in FP3. But if Massa drives like he did in Singapore a top 6 finish isn’t out of the question.

Prediction:

Tomorrow’s race is set to be a crucial day for the drivers championship, if Vettel can get a clean start I fully expect him to win the race and I’d also say it’s likely that Webber will be finish 2nd. Who will finish 3rd is going to be much more of a guess, Kobayashi could do it if he drives like he did in 2010, Perez could do it if it’s a high degradation race, if Grosjean can make it past turn 1 he’ll have a chance and then there’s Alonso who will drive like a machine and thinks he could have qualified 3rd if it hadn’t been for yellow flags. Who will be on the podium? Only time will tell.

Hamilton set to announce Mercedes move.

28 Sep

Today (Friday the 28th of September) Lewis Hamilton is expected to announce that he is leaving McLaren and will instead will be driving for Mercedes next year. After 5 season with the team in F1 and many more years being supported by the team in lower racing categories it will be an emotional farewell when Lewis drives his final race for the team in Brazil this year.

In this post I won’t be looking at the reasons behind the deal (my opinions on them can be seen here), instead I will be looking at which drivers could replace Hamilton and who will he replace.

Who will Mercedes drop?

  • Mercedes have one of two options for who will make way for Hamilton, they can drop either Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Schumacher is the obvious choice, there are many people who feel that Schumacher should leave sooner rather than later and in recent races there has been evidence that his powers are waining, most recently running into the back of Vergne in Singapore. If Schumacher is dropped by Mercedes I’d expect him to retire for good. But Mercedes may want to keep Schumacher as he’s a more attractive target for sponsors, and if this is the case the team may decide to drop Nico Rosberg, winner of the 2012 Chinese GP. This would be in my opinion the wrong decision as Rosberg has a lot of potential and Lewis will find it easier to get on with Rosberg than Schumacher (who he has had some disputes with in recent years). If Rosberg does leave I’d expect him to be quickly signed up by another team, maybe replacing Bruno Senna at Williams.

Who could replace Hamilton?

  • Sergio Perez will be touted as the favourite to replace Hamilton, Perez is a fantastic driver: light on his tyres, fast and able to overtake and in the longterm he could have the potential to be better than Hamilton, but there may be resentment to sign him in that the Mexican is part of the Ferrari young drivers program and McLaren may be worried that Ferrari would poach Perez off the team after only a couple of years. If I was Martin Whitmarsh I would sign Perez.
  • Paul Di Resta will also be a likely target and with him being British he’d look ideal to replace Hamilton, especially after last weekend’s performance in Singapore. Di Resta would supply them with a solid driver who probably wouldn’t challenge for next years championship but would give them points and be a possibility in the future.
  • Nico Hulkenburg has been on many team’s radars and is expected to move to a bigger team in the not to distant future, he’s quick, competitive and when he’s having a good day he’s one of the best drivers out there, qualifying 4th in Valencia and finishing 4th at Spa. Nico will be looking to put in another strong performance in the Brazilian GP this year where on his previous outing he took pole. I think Nico is 3rd favourite.