jueves, 1 de mayo de 2014

How Rosberg came through, Ricciardo was compromised and Alonso got away with it


The UBS Chinese Grand Prix was not as thrilling as the Bahrain GP, which preceded it, but from a strategy point of view and in terms of revealing the decision-making process that goes on behind the scenes during Formula 1 races, it was a fascinating event.
There were a number of talking points, one of the main ones being the Red Bull team trying to manage its two drivers, asking Sebastian Vettel to move over so as not to prevent team mate Daniel Ricciardo challenging Ferrari. Vettel initially refused, then relented. There was some confusion about what strategy each driver was doing. So did it cost Ricciardo a podium?
Another was the relative performances of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg; multiple factors worked against Rosberg in the race, but he still came through to second place through determined driving and clever strategy moves by Mercedes.

Pre-race Expectations
The temperatures in Shanghai (18 degrees on race day) were among the lowest we’ve seen recently and Free practice on Friday had shown that this – and the nature of the corner layout in Shanghai with two 270 degree right hand corners – meant that front left tyre graining was a limiting factor for most runners. This would re-appear as a major factor in the race.

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix was not as thrilling as the Bahrain GP, which preceded it, but from a strategy point of view and in terms of revealing the decision-making process that goes on behind the scenes during Formula 1 races, it was a fascinating event.
There were a number of talking points, one of the main ones being the Red Bull team trying to manage its two drivers, asking Sebastian Vettel to move over so as not to prevent team mate Daniel Ricciardo challenging Ferrari. Vettel initially refused, then relented. There was some confusion about what strategy each driver was doing. So did it cost Ricciardo a podium?
Another was the relative performances of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg; multiple factors worked against Rosberg in the race, but he still came through to second place through determined driving and clever strategy moves by Mercedes.

The Pirelli choice of soft and medium tyres was the right one for the event, with the medium not suffering too much from warm up issues while looking like a good consistent race tyre, judging from the Friday long runs. It was fast and consistent enough to mean that teams would likely favour it as the race tyre. The soft was faster for a few laps, but by eight laps into a stint, the medium was quicker. This decided most teams by around lap 25 at the latest that two stops was the way to go.
In terms of the choice between two or three stops, pre-race models showed the two stop to be quicker than the three by about 5 to 6 seconds, but one needed to handle the tyres very carefully if two stopping. The general trend this season compared to last has been one less stop; so whereas the soft tyre was good for only six or seven laps at the start last year in a three stop strategy, this year the majority of the leading runners went for two stops in the end.
The length of the first stint would be crucial as would the performance on the medium tyre in the second stint.
With a wet qualifying, everyone had new sets of slick tyres for each stint.

Red Bull strategy call: Did Vettel cost Ricciardo a podium?
There has been a lot of talk about the incident in the second stint of the race when Red Bull asked world champion Sebastian Vettel to let his young team mate Daniel Ricciardo through and he initially refused.
Ricciardo had outperformed Vettel in qualifying, grabbing a second place grid slot, with Vettel third.
On the grid however, in front of Ricciardo’s slot, there was some oil from a support race, which had been dealt with by marshals with some cement dust. This played a part in him getting a poor getaway at the start and falling behind Alonso and Vettel.
However he was able to run a longer first stint than Vettel, who suffered more front graining. The German stopped on lap 12, the Australian on Lap 15.
This is a tactic called “offsetting” and as we will see later it was also used to great effect by Mercedes on Rosberg’s race in China. The idea is to run longer than the car you are racing, accepting that you will not gain track position at that point and will lose some time initially, but you will gain later by having fresher tyres for an attack.
Riccardo was primed by the offset to get ahead of Vettel in the middle stint and challenge Alonso for the podium. Alonso had stopped on lap 11 and Ricciardo stayed out until lap 15, so he had a four lap offset and slightly more pace in his car, so he was in a position to fight Alonso. This would play out for him in the final stint of the race.
However the problem was that he had fallen behind Vettel with the poor start so the team had to decide whether to ask Vettel, who was slower and struggling with tyre graining, to let him through or to let the pair race.
Red Bull’s instinct was to ask Vettel to let him through. This was the right instinct for a maximum team result. If you are going to do this you have to do it immediately. Vettel refused initially and Ricciardo say behind him for several laps, losing vital laps and three seconds to Alonso in the process.

Red Bull says that it was considering moving Vettel to three stops at this point, but this is unlikely for a number of reasons; doing that would have forced Vettel to pass a lot of cars and thus significantly increased the risk of an accident.
And it would have dropped him into the Hulkenberg/Bottas battle, which he would have struggled to get past as the pair had the extra Mercedes power and were involved in their own scrap.
If three stops was a serious consideration he would have taken the soft tyre at the first stop – instead of the medium – and run a 14/15 lap stint on it.
By lap 24/25 everyone had decided that two stops was the way to go and so when Vettel’s engineer told him to “stay out, it helps us” this indicated that they had committed to leaving him on a two stop. He was never on a different strategy to Ricciardo.
By this point Ricciardo was already past Vettel, although he said afterwards that he couldn’t tell if he was being let through or not.
If Vettel had fully intended to let him through, firstly Ricciardo would have known about it and secondly neither of them would have needed to go onto the tyre marbles in the move.
Alonso was a little compromised by Mercedes’ strategy with Rosberg, as we will see, but was still able to be very clever in the way he managed the gap to Ricciardo in the final stint and he eased off on the last lap, so the gap appeared smaller than it was.
Several leading F1 strategists think that if Vettel had yielded immediately Ricciardo would have caught the Ferrari with around 4 laps to go, but agree that passing him would have been difficult.
We were denied a thrilling battle at the end, but Red Bull were in a difficult situation, for the possible gain of Ricciardo having a chance of challenging Alonso for a podium. On one hand it was worth it, because that would have been a better team result than they did achieve, but on the other hand it wasn’t a certainty and it resulted in a negative impression over the Vettel team orders situation.
It will be interesting to see what they learn from this and how they manage it in future races, should the situation arise again.
But the fact that they followed the correct initial instinct – to get Ricciardo ahead of Vettel – showing that Vettel does not necessarily enjoy any superior status.

Rosberg beats the odds to finish second
Nico Rosberg’s second place did not receive much coverage, as all the attention was on Hamilton’s 25th win and the Red Bull team orders story, but it was impressive how he came through the field despite quite a few setbacks and a poor start.
His car had no telemetry, which meant that the team had to ask him to monitor fuel use and they had no idea of how much damage his car sustained in contact with Bottas at the start nor about his Energy Recovery and storage situation, which is a vital part of strategy these days.
Rosberg started fourth and was sixth at the end of the first lap, but his real challenge was to pass the two Red Bulls and Alonso. He picked off Ricciardo through strategy. He pitted on lap 13, moving to the medium tyre, which told Red Bull that he was two stopping and challenged them to cover him. Ricciardo didn’t, which shows that Red Bull was looking at the offset to Alonso and didn’t think they could race Rosberg.
This took the German past Ricciardo when the Australian stopped.
With Alonso Mercedes’ strategy was the opposite – they went for an offset, but first dummied Ferrari by sending mechanics out on lap 33, as if they were about to stop. As Alonso was ahead on the road, his team brought him into the pits, but Rosberg continued. He built a four lap offset and then had much newer tyres to pass the Ferrari in the final stint.
This pushed Alonso into a 23 lap final stint, which was longer than ideal in his battle with Ricciardo, but circumstances explained above show that he was able to get away with it and score Ferrari’s first podium of 2014.

From: http://www.jamesallenonf1.com

Senna ‘wanted to drive for Ferrari’ – Montezemolo

Ayrton Senna would have joined Ferrari for the final years of his Formula One career, the team’s president Luca di Montezemolo has claimed.
On the day before the 20th anniversary of Senna’s death during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Montezemolo told Ferrari’s website: “He wanted to come to Ferrari and I wanted him in the team.”
Montezemolo said he met Senna four days before he was killed at Imola. “When he was in Italy for the San Marino Grand Prix, we met at my home in Bologna on Wednesday 27 April.”
“He told me he really appreciated the stand we had taken against the excessive use of electronic aids for driving, which didn’t allow a driver’s skill to shine through,” said Montezemolo.
Driver aids such as active suspension and traction control had been banned at the end of 1993. However at the Pacific Grand Prix two weeks before the Imola race Ferrari had been found to have a form of traction control on their cars.
Montezemolo said Senna, who had joined Williams from McLaren at the beginning of 1994, was already thinking about his next career move: “We spoke for a long time and he made it clear to me that he wanted to end his career at Ferrari, having come close to joining us a few years earlier.”
“We agreed to meet again soon, so as to look at how we could overcome his contractual obligations at the time. We were both in agreement that Ferrari would be the ideal place for him to further his career, which to date had been brilliant, even unique.”

However Senna lost his life just four days later. “Unfortunately, fate robbed all of us of Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger over one of the saddest weekends in Formula One history,” said Montezemolo.
“Of Senna, I remember his kindness and his simple almost shy nature, which was in complete contrast to Senna the driver, a fighter always aiming for the best.”
“I always appreciated Ayrton’s style of racing,” he added. “As with all great champions, he had an incredible will to win and never tired of seeking perfection, trying to improve all the time. He was extraordinary in qualifying, but also a great battler in the races, when he always fought tooth and nail.”

From: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk

Senna’s McLaren Was Once Sponsored By Dragon Ball Z

Long time ago.....

Via: http://wtf1.co.uk

Imola gets set to commemorate Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger

Marking the 20th anniversary of his death at the circuit’s Tamburello corner, Imola will this weekend play host to a commemoration of the life and achievements of Ayrton Senna. Fittingly, tributes will also be paid to Austrian racer Roland Ratzenberger who was killed the day before Senna, in qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix.
It is expected to be a major event, with F1 racers past and present, including Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, in attendance, as well as team personnel from all eras and many thousands of fans.
Senna’s status as a legend of the sport is, of course, assured. Indeed, even before that fateful weekend in 1994, his three titles, 41 wins and a staggering 65 pole from, until then, 160 starts had already confirmed him as one of the sport’s greats.
It wasn’t just the Brazilian’s sublime abilities behind the wheel that made him and idol for millions, however. Senna’s lasting appeal is more complex than a simple list of record book statistics.
First there was his ferociously competitive nature, defined by what he called “an incredible desire to win”. Allied to this was a willingness to indulge that desire by frequently pushing himself right to the limit of his capability, and sometimes beyond it, attributes that often didn’t endear him to the sport’s authorities or his fellow competitors.
An insatiable will to win should be part and parcel of a champion’s make-up, however. What perhaps set Senna apart from other champions and certainly from his contemporaries was that behind the driven sportsman was a thoughtful and emotive individual deeply affected by his career, his racing, stardom and the riches that came with them. “We are made of emotions, we are all looking for emotions, basically,” he once admitted. “It’s only a question of finding the way to experience them.”
It was perhaps that duality, the contrast between hard-nosed, win-or-bust competitiveness and his fragile emotions, plus his ability to make his rarefied experiences intelligible to the outside world that made Senna more than just a champion or even a globally-recognised sports star and turned him into a legend.
The next four days at Imola are likely to bring back vivid memories of all those facets of the Brazilian’s personality and racing.
They will too allow Formula One to reflect on the legacy both Senna and Ratzenberger, who was killed at just the third race of his grand prix career, left behind.
The untimely deaths of both drivers gave rise to a concerted drive for better safety in Formula One, a movement that continues to this day. Indeed there is great merit to the argument that says that had it not been for the events of that terrible weekend in May 20 years ago, huge accidents like those suffered by Robert Kubica in Canada in 2007 and Felipe Massa in Hungary in 2009 might have altogether more tragic outcomes.
Meanwhile, as Imola prepares to open its gates to fans and Formula One stars alike for this weekend’s commemoration, we’d love to hear your favourite memories of Ayrton Senna or Roland Ratzenberger.

From: http://www.jamesallenonf1.com

Dogecoin arrives to NASCAR

It’s here, it’s finally here! After months of livery contests, this is the official Dogecoin NASCAR that Josh Wise will race at the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Internet nerds everywhere helped fund the #98 Phil Parsons Racing car in the hope that there’d be a Doge liveried NASCAR and now their prayers have been answered.

From: http://wtf1.co.uk

Today in 1994: Ratzenberger’s death stuns F1 family

Rubens Barrichello spent Friday night at Maggiore hospital in Bologna after his sickening crash on the opening day of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
On Saturday he returned to the Imola track, to widespread relief his injuries were not as serious as had first been feared. He would take no further part in the weekend, however, and that presented an opportunity for F1′s two smallest teams.
With Barrichello’s withdrawal the 28-car field had been trimmed to 27, with room for all bar one of them on the grid. The Pacific and Simtek outfits, both appearing at their third races, had fought over the last two places on the grid at the two previous races. Now the chances were only one of their drivers would be left behind on Sunday.
As has always been the case in Formula One the competitive urge is no less fierce at the back of the grid – it is merely conducted on a smaller scale by less well-funded teams. Simtek and Pacific each had in the region of two dozen staff at the track.
Simtek even enlisted BBC presenter Steve Rider to bring a parcel of extra parts with him in his luggage when he flew over from Britain. So it was a hassle they could have done without when their two drivers, David Brabham and Roland Ratzenberger, tangled at the Tosa hairpin during the morning practice session, leaving Brabham’s car stuck in the gravel.
That afternoon’s final qualifying session would decide which driver would take no further part in the weekend. Ratzenberger had an added incentive to make the cut: the Simtek driver had a place in the team for the opening races, but was widely expected to be replaced by Jean-Marc Gounon later in the season.

Technical problems had thwarted his efforts to qualify in Brazil. But at the TI Aida circuit he got him Simtek onto the grid and battled his way to the end of the race.
The high-speed Imola circuit was a very different proposition to the slow twists of Aida. Ratzenberger had been ahead of both Pacifics in the first qualifying session, but in the second Bertrand Gachot was leading him and Paul Belmondo was just three-tenths of a second slower.
Brabham briefly took over Ratzenberger’s car and confirmed his team mate’s suspicion there was something wrong with his brakes. They were replaced in time for the decisive final hour of qualifying.

Ratzenberger’s crash

Jean Alesi, who was missing his second race due to injury, was watching the cars accelerate through the flat-out sweeps of Tamburello and Villeneuve when Ratzenberger came into view, 18 minutes into the session. The purple car hurtled past at over 300kph and Alesi noticed sparks flying from the front.
What happened next was revealed in a series of grainy, static videos. A piece of bodywork flew from Ratzenberger’s car as he approached the Villeneuve corner. Crossing a recently resurfaced patch of tarmac, his front wheels appeared to lose contact with the ground. The signs indicated his front wing had failed at the point on the track where he needed it the most.
Instead of rounding the Villeneuve kink the Simtek carried straight on at unabated speed. Ratzenberger struck the concrete retaining wall on the outside of the turn at 314.9kph (195mph).
For the second time that weekend, Professor Sid Watkins and the medical crew scrambled to the accident scene. The situation was obviously very serious: Ratzenberger was slumped at the wheel of his car and the impact had gouged a hole in the cockpit. Brabham took one glance at his team mate as he passed by and immediately wished he hadn’t. “I think he’s gone,” he told his wife when he returned to the pits.
Silence fell across the circuit. Television cameras zoomed in pitilessly on the scene as a doctor tried in vain to resuscitate the driver.
It was hopeless: Ratzenberger had sustained serious head injuries. He was taken to Maggiore hospital and declared dead a few minutes after he being admitted.

“I was shaking all over”

The grim business continued at the track: the crash scene was hosed down and qualifying restarted 45 minutes after the accident. But Williams, Benetton and Sauber took no further part in proceedings.
Ayrton Senna, who collected his 65th pole position, had commandeered a course car to visit the scene of the accident himself, as he had after other serious crashes in recent seasons. In a column published on the day of the race Senna said his fears about safety had been “borne out in tragic fashion” by Ratzenberger’s crash.
Other drivers, even those who had witnessed fatal accidents at races before, were shocked by what had happened. “I felt sick as I saw the accident,” said Gerhard Berger, who knew from experience the consequences of a high-speed front wing failure at Imola. “And it was another Austrian driver, thus it was even worse. I was shaking all over my body.”
The paddock had lost a friendly, approachable driver who was just weeks into his dream career as an F1 racing driver. The tiny Simtek team was devastated by the accident, which had been made all the more traumatic by the gruesome pictures beamed back from the scene.
It left Brabham, whose wife was four months pregnant, with a gut-wrenching decision. On previous occasions when a team had lost a driver it had been normal practice to withdraw the second car – as Ferrari had when Gilles Villeneuve died and Osella did when Ricardo Paletti died in 1982.
But that was 12 years ago and Brabham, who had been instrumental in forming the new Simtek team, believed it was his duty to carry on. Bravely, he chose to race on Sunday, even amid doubt over the exact cause of Ratzenberger’s accident. It later emerged he had gone off the track on the previous lap and appeared to have weaved the car, perhaps trying to judge if his wing was broken, before continuing.
There were repercussions for fellow newcomers Pacific. Belmondo declined to take Ratzenberger’s empty place on the grid. The team had also concluded a sponsorship deal with a tobacco brand of the name ‘Black Death’, whose logos had been due to appear on their cars for the first time on race day. They left the stickers in the garage.
In the stunned paddock, the drivers came together in search of answers. Niki Lauda urged Senna to use his position as the sport’s most famous driver to lead a reformed Grand Prix Drivers’ Association and lobby the FIA for better safety standards.
Safety in F1 was back on the agenda following the sport’s first fatal accident in years. But no one could have expected the next one was just 24 hours away.
This feature will conclude tomorrow.

From: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk