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Archive for the tag “Brembo”

Notes from the Singapore paddock

  • The Romain Grosjean-Felipe Nasr first-lap shunt at Monza (Romain’s right-front hit Felipe’s left-rear) was indeed a “racing accident”.  It turns out that when Grosjean’s Lotus was hit from behind by Nasr’s team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, the resultant impact/deceleration was enough to activate the anti-stall on the Grosjean car.  That’s why he then had no control and collected Nasr. I asked Romain if this anti-stall-kicking-in-mid-corner thing was something he’d experienced before and he said he had: it’s become an integral part of this current era of technology and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.  I can see why the cars need anti-stall but Romain agreed with me that in the pre-anti-stall days the incident at Monza would have resulted in all three cars continuing relatively undamaged.  As it was, we had a “racing accident” – 2015-style.
  • Speaking of Nasr, he’s been having a lot of trouble with his Brembo brakes recently – specifically with managing the temperature windows.  With Ericsson racing Carbon Industries on the other Sauber, Felipe is also switching to CI for Singapore. Daniil Kvyat, meanwhile, was surprised to hear this, bearing in mind how quick he has been on the Brembos. More than anything, I think, it shows how difficult it is for a team to run two different  brake types within the same garage. Nick Chester of Lotus was saying that “finding brake temperature windows” is primarily all about brake ducts  – “which sounds simple until you remember that ducts not only play a massive role in aerodynamics but are also very expensive and time-consuming to make, given all the aero research that goes into them.”  Is this a good thing, I ask?  I  don’t mind getting excited about a new wing or something but  brakes to my  mind should be about stopping power. Ducts? Difficult to get massively excited about their inner workings but it explains why low-budget teams like Sauber find it so hard to get the cars to stop.
  • It’s official: Ferrari have confirmed that Kimi’s poor start in Monza was indeed “finger trouble”.  Having said that, Kimi replicated the start sequence a hundred times in the simulator a few days later – and was perfect every time. He would have hated that, too, because he likes working in a simulator about as much as he does wearing a tie. He’s still unsure of what happened but it all points to him not releasing the first clutch paddle…and initiating the anti-stall. Sergio Perez owned up to having made the same mistake in practice – and Romain Grosjean said that he still spends a lot of time thinking through the start procedure the night before a race. It’s still that complicated.
  • I said on video after the Italian GP (www.youtube.com/peterwindsor) that Kimi’s re-booting process seemed to be pretty quick but the word from the Singapore paddock is that it was actually surprisingly slow: all that’s required is a quick flick of the clutch lever and you’re away. I guess in Kimi’s case he also spent a few seconds wondering whether the nightmare could really be true…
  • Valtteri Bottas has confirmed that he “just happened” to leave the garage ahead of Felipe Massa in that final qualifying run at Monza. Bottas gave the tow to his team-mate – and the rest is history.  My bet is that Valtteri will be a bit more selective about who he has running five seconds behind him come Monza, 2016, but this is really something he should have thought about before the race week. No honest race engineer is ever going to prevent one of the team cars helping the other (in qualifying) but the driver has a different set of priorities – ie, he wants to beat his team-mate more than any other driver on the grid.  Most of today’s F1 drivers have managers for their contractual and financial affairs but, to me, this sort of issue should also fall under the remit of “management”.  If a personal manager isn’t going to remind the driver about something like this, who is?
  • Daniel Ricciardo told me that “getting the brakes to work at the correct temperature” has been a major factor in the recent, improved  performance at Red Bull-Renault. I say this because so much of the chat these days is about the Renault engine and very little of it is about Brembo. Singapore is going to be a big test for the brakes – but then Monza was, too, and they worked well there on the RB11. Daniel has been preparing for Singapore by cycling in a controlled-temperature environment (stationary bike!) and is of course looking forward to the weekend: “I sweat so much here it’s ridiculous.  When I got out of the car a couple of years ago there was so much fluid in the seat that boys thought I’d had an unfortunate accident or something.  I wouldn’t resort to Nico Rosberg’s extremes but I need to make sure that the front of the balaclava acts as a sweat-soak..”  Nico’s extremes?  Apparently he’s tried sanitary pads on his forehead…
  • Sergio Perez reports that the Mexican GP is a sell-out and that the temperature is definitely rising.  (A lot of the tickets were bought by touts, but then it was forever thus in Mexico City.)  No pressure on him, then? “I love it,” he chortled.  “The place has gone crazy. I never imagined that F1 could be so big in my country.”

Notes from Austin

  • _N7T6661Fernando Alonso looked fit and well after qualifying despite his recent nerve/back troubles.  He was beset by headaches for the week after Abu Dhabi (when a hop over the rumble strips did the damage) but he’s fine now, citing adrenalin as the greatest cure in the world.
  • I love the small, relatively cramped team hospitality units at the COTA.  You’re there in Ferrari, chatting to Luca Marmorini about the 2014 fuel-flow restrictors, and the next thing you know you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with Felipe and/or Fernando’s Friends.  After chatting earlier to Sahara Force India’s Andy Stevenson about his team’s third Brembo brake disc failure this year (Adrian Sutil’s broke in qualifying in Texas), the thought occurred that Felipe is going to have a bit of a pedal-shock when he first drives a Williams.  To my knowledge, Felipe has never driven with Carbone Industrie brakes – and they are very, very different from the Brembos.  As different, perhaps, as the new V6 turbo engines will be from the current V8s.  Felipe said that he’d tried CIs a few times at Ferrari and doesn’t like ’em.  “I will have to make some changes at Williams,” he said with a smile.  Hmm.  It’ll be interesting to see where Williams are at, brake-wise, come January/February next year.
  • Speaking of those SFI brake failures, the thinking at Brembo is that SFI have an installation problem.  Ferrari, for example, have had no such issues at any point this year.  Fair enough – but then you would always expect Ferrari to be atop the Brembo totem pole.  It’s a bit worrying, therefore – both for SFI and Brembo.  Add a couple of issues at Lotus with Hitco, and you have a surprising number of brakes failures in a year when other (historically-fragile) car components – hydraulic systems, electronics, clutches, transmssions, engines, etc – have been virtually rock-solid.
  • One of the sights I miss at modern F1 races is that of the washing line – the drivers’ sweaty overalls hanging out to dry between practice sessions.  They all used to do it.  Now, like Vespa scooters, I guess such displays are against Community Paddock Rules.  I did see this, though, after Friday practice, proving that there’s life in (crowded) F1 paddocks after all. I shot these sun-drying overalls through the fencing in the hope that you won’t report the culprits.photo5
  • It’s difficult to have fun on the roads in the US, but that all changes on the motorway leading to the COTA.   Not only does the road have plenty of sweeping bends in amongst the prairies and the grazing cattle;  the speed limit is also an amazing 80 mph (85 mph on the return lanes, oddly).  I can’t think of too many places in the world these days with speed limits that high, so all credit to the Texans.  My Hertz Chevvy loved it – and that’s saying something.photo2
  • I know I go on an on about “F1 improving its show” but I can’t let this race pass into history without commenting about the almost non-existent support package for the US GP.  Last year we at least saw Historic F1 cars – and gorgeous they were too, even if the owners were not allowed to use on-board cameras and the races were confined to the less-populated stages of the day.   We also had Porsche Supercup (American version).  This year the Historic F1 cars were nowhere in evidence – and nor were the Porsches.  The sum total of the USGP race cars was the F1 race (obviously), preceded at 9:30am by an (admittedly fascinating) Historic Formula Atlantic/Formula B race and then a bunch of unruly stockbrokers doing about $50m-worth of damage to expensive-looking Ferrari sports/road cars.   Why no Historic F1s in a country in which (a) F1 is trying to “sell its brand” and (b) has enormous F1 heritage, by which I mean Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Peter Revson, Eagle Weslakes and a race history that stretches back to 1959?  Why no Eagle on the circuit before the race, driven by Dan himself?  Why no Mario in a Lotus 79?  And why no Pro-Celebrity race, bringing in some Hollywood stars to spice up the day – especially in a year of relatively-predictable Seb Vettel domination?  Americans like shows – they’re used to shows – and it’s not difficult to enhance the F1 show with a few simple bolt-ons.  As much as I enjoyed watching (late on Saturday and early on Sunday) a Fred Opert Chevron B39 alongside a Ralt RT1 – and the mid-field laps of a nice Lotus 41C – and seeing Mario on the podium, presenting a trophy – I don’t think this is the sort of event that sits particularly comfortably – alone – as the main support race of America’s Grand Prix.  Fred Opert himself?  He was in Texas, supporting his man (Nico Rosberg, son of his former star driver, Keijo).
  • Which reminds me of one of the first Long Beach Grands Prix, when there was a decent Pro-celebrity race.  Poor old Clint Eastwood wasn’t particularly quick but luckily couldn’t hear the large-bellied guy sitting on his Winnebago’s roof on the outside of Turn Two (where I also happened to be watching).  “Hey Clint!” he would say, lap after lap.  “Where’s Dirty Harry now?!”.  Anyway, here’s a flashback to the first Long Beach GP in 1976.  Not a bad guest list:  Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Rene Dreyfus, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney and Maurice Trintignant. Sadly many have passed away.  As I say, though:  why no Dan in an Eagle at the COTA – or Stirling, for that matter?  He did win the second US GP (at Riverside, 1960). 1976 United States Grand Prix West.
  • Tim Mayer (son of Teddy), was a Steward at this year’s US GP.  It was 50 years ago that his uncle, the very rapid Timmy, signed to drive for Bruce McLaren’s new team prior to the (January-February, 1964) Tasman Series.  Timmy was instantly quick, almost dead-heating with Bruce at Teretonga and running right up with his team leader on several other circuits.  Then in March, at Longford, Tasmania, Timmy died when his little Cooper became airborne over one of the bumps and spun into the trees.  Tim, his nephew, is today an FIA Delegate and Director of ACCUS (Automobile Commission of the United States).  Timmy brought his mechanic, Tyler Alexander (left, below) to Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd.  Tyler then went on to become an integral part of the McLaren success story.1964 Tasman Cup Championship.

What do you do when you’re sitting in a Texan taffic jam? Watch the sunset…photo4

Images: LAT Photographic; Peter Windsor Collection

More notes from Sepang

 

  • Adrian Sutil was stunning to watch today – a Kimi Raikkonen clone in terms of his cornering technique.  This is a smoother, more compliant Sutil than the one we saw at the end of 2012 – and even then he was very consistently quick.  The new Sutil is all that and more.  Into Turn Six he was able to arc-in a good half-a-car’s width earlier than his team-mate and secure a beautifully-straight exit.  It was no surprise to see him run top-three in both dry qualifying sessions.  It went away in the wet but that was no surprise.  A suspected broken engine seal precluded any wet-weather running on Friday and Adrian, in these early comeback races, is in any event logically going to leave a little bit of margin in the wet.
  • Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton again showed their timing and class as qualifying came to a boil.  Seb, as normal, had refrained from using the options in Q1 and consequently made the show by less than half a second.  Mark Webber looked good in Q2.  Then, in Q3, when it mattered, Seb reminded us that his prodigious success rate isn’t entirely due to his maximizing Adrian Newey’s downforce in the dry.  His was a skillfully-honed pole, under pressure, in the mist.  At AMG Mercedes, meanwhile, it was again Nico Rosberg who set the pre-Q3 pace.  Lewis would do a time; Nico would better it.  Lewis’s driving even began to look like Nico’s. Then, a little earlier than Seb, on the wet track, Lewis was suddenly Lewis again.  Beautiful little neutral zones just when he needed them.  Just the right amount of steering input versus load.  Brilliant.
  • A big hand, too, for Felipe Massa.  Felipe looked very Webber-esque on his quickest lap, flinging the F138 from one side to the other in a way that suggested he had total and utter confidence in Pat Fry’s running gear.  Felipe’s edge is ragged;  Fernando’s remains more-rounded.  They make an interesting combo now that Ferrari’s Number Two is again quick enough to win.
  • Romain Grosjean, by contrast, is very different from the driver we saw last year.  As reactive and on-the-edge as Romain is, “quietening down” was always going to lead to slower lap times.  It’s only the vee-drivers – the manipulative drivers like Kimi, Lewis, Seb Vettel, Fernando (when he feels like it), Sutil, Bottas and a couple of others – who can develop maturity without eroding away their natural pace.  No doubt Romain will soon let frustration get the better of him and will move the counterweight in the reverse direction; and that’s a good thing, I believe.  If he isn’t going to change his technique, then there’s no point in just driving slower, even if he is going to finish more races.  Above all, Romain Grosjean is a racing driver, not a professional F1 point-scorer.  Let him be, say I.
  • Over in the GP2 paddock the scene was staggeringly underwhelming.  Sweating under a giant tent, the Eu4m teams were separated only by temporary banners.  There was no access for the GP2 personnel to the F1 paddock;  there were no frills under that fan-cooled tent.  Actually, I have nothing against communal garages like this.  They used to work a treat both at Watkins Glen and Long Beach – and in Detroit, for that matter.  The Monaco car park is too big to be included in the list but Sepang could have been very different if everyone had mucked in together and decided to go “open plan”, with the fans walking down the aisles as they watched the mechanics at work.  As it was, Sepang’s GP2 paddock to my eye was just a sad attempt to look like F1’s second cousin twice removed.  The awnings were there to give the team names some prominence – but who was going to take photographs?
  • I tweeted from Melbourne that Red Bull Racing are “potentially” going to try Hitco brakes in the near future.  This is still the plan, I understand, although the rain in Melbourne and the obvious chance of rain in Malaysia has made their traditional Brembos the obvious choice in the short-term.  It is confusing for mere observers, though, because it’s now well-nigh impossible to identify brake types without close examination of the products in question.  Take the situation at AMG Mercedes, for example:  Lewis Hamilton has lost no time in persuading the team to switch from their traditional Brembos to Carbone Industrie (the brakes he raced on at McLaren) but Brembo’s Massimo Arduini told me after Malaysian qualifying that Merc had reverted to Brembos “because they are so good in the wet”.  As it happens, both Lewis and Nico qualified on Carbon Industries, so, if nothing else, I guess this just underlines how competitive the brake battle has become.More about that in next month’s F1 RacingIMG-20130323-00680

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