Monday, March 27, 2017

New F1 season, new Hamilton complaints, new arms race between the FIA and the engineers

Regular readers will know two things about me and F1. First, I love the sport no matter what it's detractors have to say. And second, I think Hamilton is quick to blame everyone and everything but himself when stuff doesn't go his way. It's never his fault. It's the team, the pit crew, the chassis, the tyres, the suspension - and this time it's the floor of the car.
Could it be that he's just not the amazing driver everyone thinks he is?
Anyway the F1 season kicked off in Australia this weekend with some good racing, some interesting incidents and failures, and with Albert Park possibly being slapped with the mother of all FIA fines for letting the crowd on to the track while the cars were still present.
The cars look so much better this year than they've done in the last few years - lower, wider, better-looking aero, smarter wings, more doodads around the radiator intakes, and the raked front wing looks so much better. Of course this was yet another attempt by the FIA to slow the cars down, and as always happens, the drivers and teams have found ways to make the cars faster again.
As usual at the beginning of the season, the arms race between the engineers and the FIA is in full-swing. Right now it's the 'whale tail' T-wing up on top of the shark's fin behind the airbox. It's an "unregulated area" of the car from the FIA's point of view, so the aero guys instantly found a way to capitalize on that.
I expect that particular feature will be ruled out by the second or third race, just like when Brawn Racing had their blown double-diffuser a few years back.
It will be fun to see how the technical regulations change during the season. It'll be fun to watch everyone complain about Verstappen's blocking (because - you know - he's a race driver). And it'll be fun to play the Hamilton drinking game where you drink every time he complains.


Paul said...

I've been following F1 for close to 30 years and waited with excitement for the start of this season. And once again, as an avid McLaren supporter, I'm feel the first tingles of disappointment... again.
The cars were supposed to be up to 5 seconds a lap quicker this season which is why the cars are wider, the tires (sorry, tyres) are wider and the wings are lower. And they are faster but not the promised 5 seconds. And, surprise surprise, it's even harder to pass with the increased reliance on aero grip and not mechanical grip. In my opinion they need to get rid of all the little winglets and other BS that is used to smooth and direct the airflow. They need to go to a single element front and rear wing. I'd much rather see slightly slower cars that can be passed than what we've had for the last several years.
Less aero, more mechanical grip is what's needed.

Paul Canciu said...

Actually, Paul (feels like I'm talking to myself :) ), the wider tyres and smaller rear wing were intended for greater mechanical grip instead of aero grip.
But you have to consider that all these guys are very talented, so passing is hard, no matter the regulations.

Paul said...

Hey Paul (lol, I see what you mean :-) )
Agree, those two aspects increase mechanical grip but overall the % of aero far outweighs that of mechanical and the % increased this season. In Melbourne (I know. it's only the first race) there were driver comments that they couldn't get closer than 2 seconds to the car in front before they lost front aero. The last couple of years it was a a single second. More backwash from the car in front and more reliance of the front wing is making the situation worse.