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Archive for the tag “Red Bull”

Why Seb is so quick

I was looking through the LAT Photographic website the other day for some nice Red Bull action when I came upon these two images, courtesy of Alastair Staley. They were both taken during the race in India at the Turn 8/9 complex – a right-left change of direction of the type that in recent years has become a Seb Vettel signature section.  I had to look twice, I have to confess, when I noted Seb’s head position. I rang Alastair to confirm that both photos were indeed taken during the race (ie, that Seb wasn’t on a formation lap) and that they were both travelling at racing speed (ie, that they weren’t behind a Safety Car).  As you can see, the two photos captured almost exactly the same piece of road (which was fortunate, because Alastair then moved slightly, rendering further comparisons slightly more difficult). 2013 Indian Grand Prix - Sunday2013 Indian Grand Prix - SundayWhilst Mark is still looking at “the corner”, and looks to be carrying a little more load, Seb is already lining up for T9.  His car also appears to be “flatter” and carrying slightly less lateral load.  As we chatted, Alastair allowed that he had often noticed Seb’s very different mid-corner head position but that it was difficult to capture this. We’re talking a millisecond here, a moment in time.  I dare say that other great drivers have in the past “been able to get their corners over sooner”; it’s only now that we are in the digital age that the law of averages is coming into play. I don’t profess to have all the answers – and nor does Rob Wilson, who openly admits that he is learning something new (about the business of driving) every day. I could think of no-one better than Rob, though, to analyse these two photos. As well as winning all over the world in a variety of motor racing disciplines, Rob has coached, or coaches, many of today’s stars, including Giedo van der Garde, with whom we talk in Part 3 of this week’s show, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, Kevin Magnussen and – right back in his Formula Renault days – Kimi Raikkonen.

I think you will enjoy his detailed observations (below) in Part 1 of The Racer’s Edge, Episode 36.

How good is Sebastian Vettel?

In Part Two of this week’s episode of The Racer’s Edge I wanted to chat to a few friends about Sebastian Vettel. Where does he sit amongst the all-time greats? What’s he like as a driver and as a person? How much more does he need to prove? And this provided me, of course, with an excellent opportunity to talk again to one of my heroes – to John Surtees, OBE.  A lovely man and an F1 icon, John (or “Sir John”, as he would be if there was any justice amongst politicians) spoke with all the humility, knowledge and enthusiasm that befits the only man ever to win both motor-cycle and F1 World Championships. I was lucky to catch Sir Jackie Stewart as he was walking his dogs near Lake Geneva; and the phone connection wasn’t bad to Italy, either, where I tracked down one of the wisest of all journalists – Giuseppe “Pino” Allievi.  A Ferrari expert – an F1 expert – Pino did not disappoint.  As well as some intelligent thought about Seb and his place in history, Pino also gives us his view of Ferrari’s driver line-up in the medium-term.

From F3/GP3 straight into F1…

We had a lot of fun with this week’s show, which probably explains why it’s a little bit longer than normal.  So many excellent people with whom to talk!  I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say that we catch up with Scuderia Toro Rosso’s new signing for 2014 (Daniil Kvyat); with the versatile Alex Wurz (after his win for Toyota in last Sunday’s Fuji Six Hours); with the eloquent Karun Chandhok (on the eve of his home Grand Prix, hoping, obviously that the race will be on again in 2015); with the talented Italian, Raffaele Marciello, the new Euro F3 Champion; and, in the studio, keeping me honest, the Editor of F1 Racing, Anthony Rowlinson. In between all of this we also manage to look at some amazing retro F1 colour schemes (as applied to a current F1 car); to see some recent footage shot from a drone over Brands Hatch (it’s amazing, believe me); and to compare start-line reaction times with Pastor Maldonado. But that’s enough of me. Enjoy Episode 34.

 

“It’s the best circuit in the world…”

That was the verdict of Valtteri Bottas as he looked back at Suzuka, venue of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.  Williams didn’t have a great weekend (again) but that did nothing to dim Valtteri’s enthusiasm for the circuit and for the F1 disciplines in general.  We tasted a flavour of that at another great circuit last week when Valtteri chauffeured friends and Williams team partners around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in a hot little Renault Clio.  Mundane the car may be (by F1 standards); perfunctory his lap was not – and I hope we captured a little of its flavour in a short clip within this week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge.  In the Teddington TRE studio I was very pleased to welcome back our friend and regular technical expert, Craig Scarborough.  There have been plenty of rumours recently about Red Bull possibly running some form of KERS-related traction control;  Scarbs tackles this theory head-on as well as providing his own, inimitable, detailed analyses all of the teams’ latest developments.  And I’ve always wanted to chat to Alex Lynn, the very fast young Englishman who won prolifically in Formula Renault before graduating to F3.  Alex has now won three rounds of the ultra-competitive 2013 Euro F3 Championship and I think you’ll find him refreshing in his approach:  he chose to drive for the front-running Italian team, Prema Powersport, (a) because it would leave him with no excuses and (b) because it would take him out of his British comfort zone.  He’s risen to the challenge.  On top of all that, Alex also finds time to race his father’s ex-Bob Jane 1965 Lotus-Cortina, so there’s no doubt that his heart’s in the right place.  It’s been a sad week but I hope you enjoy Episode 33.  It’s about people who love our sport and the passion that they engender.

The beauty of Suzuka’s Esses

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - SaturdayIt’s always a pleasure to watch the uphill Esses section at Suzuka during qualifying – particularly during qualifying because race conditions frequently restrict a driver’s pace and movement to the car he is following. In qualifying, though, when usually the air is free, it is different.  And, for the most part, they’re all trying pretty hard.

I love this section of road not because of one particular corner, although Turn Six is, of course, critical: a perfect exit from T6 sets you up nicely for the straight that leads down to the two Degnas. I love it because it is impossible to be perfect through T6 unless you correctly manipulate the exit of T2, T3, T4 and T5.  The usual errors are to be too quick in these preceding places. We saw Nico Hulkenberg be consistently so on all his runs: he was either a fraction too fast out of T2 or having to use too much road out of T4.  He caught it all, of course;  Nico does that.  In a millisecond, though, he had “asked too much of the car”. Additional energy had poured into the loaded front or rear Pirelli (depending upon steering angle). Momentum, fractionally, had gone.

Romain was similarly slightly-over-the-top. He has this sumptuous way of being able to use the rear of the car to re-set the values but, in doing so, he also creates too much excess energy. He’s got torque and twist going on at the rear in the middle of, say, T4;  the E21 looks perfectly-poised…but in reality it’s not “flat” on the road. It’s a subtle thing, only visible when you see the car on the corner as a whole. You’d never touch it via the on-boards or via close-ups. Kimi?  Kimi on Saturday to my eye looked to be a slightly edgier version of the real one. He never demanded too much from the tyres but his inputs seemed strangely more angular than usual. Perhaps it’s just a Kimi thing these days:  the “real” guy gets out of bed on Sunday.

I’ll talk more about all this on next week’s show. Here, I’d like to say “chapeau” to Mark Webber. He consistently – from Friday onwards – found exactly the right balance between short-term, up-the-hill pace and perfection by T6. This was classic Webber, back where he used to beat Seb on equal terms. No pesky, dumb, chicanes; no boring corners. (The Suzuka Chicane, with it’s downhill, open-space approach, is actually quite an interesting section of road:  the key, after the rush of 130R, is not to brake too early.) Just a lovely section of medium-speed road with blind entries. Lewis similarly threaded the needle – and so, but to a slightly lesser extent, did Seb Vettel, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas, although Jenson seemed to want a little more from Ts 4 and 5 than they were ever going to give him. Perhaps that’s why he later described his laps as “fun”. I also liked Lewis’ “feel” for the wind change on Saturday at Suzuka. Trust him immediately to use this to his advantage; trust some others to use it as some sort of explanation as to why they were less-than-perfect.

Image of Mark Webber, Suzuka, Saturday, October 12: LAT Photographic

On taxi rides and slow chicanes

In this week’s post-Singapore episode of The Racer’s Edge, we talk to Derek Warwick about those reprimands; to GP2 winner and Mercedes F1 Third Driver, Sam Bird, about his success this year and the styles of Nico and Lewis; and Rob Wilson, our favourite driver coach, analyses Sebastian Vettel’s approach to those most boring of corners – the slow chicanes.  Hope you like it.

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