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Video: First laps on the Circuit of the Americas, onboard Andretti, d’Ambrosio


By Berthold Bouman

Yesterday Grand Prix Journal reported the Circuit Of the Americas (COTA) was officially opened by 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti, who drove the first lap on the circuit in a Lotus 79, later followed by Lotus’ test and reserve driver Jerome d’Ambrosio who drove a Lotus Renault R30. On both occasions onboard cameras recorded the event, see below.

Jerome d’Ambrosio, Lotus with cameras on the car

Andretti commented about the circuit, “It’s everything I expected, and more. You can tell that there was a lot of thought put into the design of this course. The track is extremely technical, with 3.4 miles of real estate to learn. And that’s what we’re doing all day out here. With each and every lap, the driver learns a little bit more. But quite honestly, I think the track is phenomenal.

“It has all the features that race car drivers are looking for, as far as giving them the opportunity to overtake other drivers in the tighter corner. But then it widens out so there’s plenty of room to manoeuvre. So bottom line, there should be some really terrific racing out here in the months and years to come!”

Circuit Of the Americas – First lap Mario Andretti – Lotus 79 – Video COTA

Circuit Of the Americas – First Lap Jerome d’Ambrosio Lotus Renault R30 with commentary – Video COTA


Pirelli well-prepared for United States Grand Prix


By Berthold Bouman

The United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is not only a leap into the unknown for Formula One drivers and teams, but also for Formula One’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli. The Italian company has allocated the Medium and Hard tyre compounds for the inaugural US Grand Prix, the hardest tyres in their range, and a ‘relatively conservative choice’ Pirelli admitted.

Pirelli well-prepared for US GP

Pirelli has recently done a lot of simulation work to determine which tyre compounds would suit the brand-new track best. Pirelli sent two of their tyre engineers to Austin to inspect the track in detail, sophisticated laser equipment was used to determine the abrasiveness of the track’s new asphalt layer, the data was used to create a virtual representation on computer from a tyre point of view.

The engineers also took samples of the asphalt and used them to calculate the likely tyre wear, and also used them to see what the effect of the ambient temperatures at different points around the circuit will have on the tyres.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said, “There’s no doubt that preparing for a circuit that is completely new is more difficult than going to one of the established venues.” And he added, “The technology and know-how that we have at our disposal means that we can forecast some very accurate predictions without actually having raced at a circuit these days, thanks to the preparation work from our engineers.”

COTA President Steve Sexton was pleased with Pirelli’s preparations, “The sophisticated technology that Pirelli is known for has allowed them to be a market leader. Their analysis of our brand new track can help provide race strategy predictions that should assist drivers and teams toward achieving success at our circuit. We look forward to their continued work at Circuit of the Americas.”

Circuit of The Americas: Pirelli Virtual 3D Track Lap


Pirelli: The Korean Grand Prix from a tyre point of view


By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli will bring the Soft (prime, yellow marked) and Super Soft (option, red marked) tyre compounds to the Korean Yeongam circuit for round 16 of the FIA Formula One World Championship this weekend. According to Pirelli, the circuit will be a test for the soft tyres, as it has long sweeping fast corners like in Japan, but also slow corners like in Monaco or Valencia.

Pirelli tyres

The circuit also has varying levels of grip, as the part of the circuit that runs along the harbour uses normal roads. As seen in the past, the weather is very unreliable and therefore drivers could use the green marked intermediate tyres, or the blue marked full wet weather tyres. Yeongam is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, and therefore the front-right tyre is the most stressed, and the circuit also has heavy braking areas, which is also demanding from a tyre point of view.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s Head of Motorsports commented ahead of the race, “We’re bringing the same tyre nominations to Korea as we did last year, which at the time was seen as quite a bold choice because Korea has the highest lateral energy loadings of all the circuits where we use the supersoft tyre. This year, however, all our Formula One tyres are softer apart from the supersoft, which has remained the same.”

Asked about the tyre strategy Hembery said, “We should see another two-stop race this year, which in theory should be even faster. Strategy played a key role in last year’s race but there was also a safety car and some rain at the start of the weekend. So Korea is the sort of circuit where anything can happen, and as always the teams with the most data and the ability to adapt that information to rapidly changing circumstances will be the most successful.”

Technical tyre notes – by Pirelli:

• The aerodynamic set-up adopted for Korea by the teams is quite similar to Japan, with medium to high levels of downforce. However, the traction demands are much higher than in Japan, so the teams use different engine maps to help put the power down out of the slow corners.

Graining can be a risk in Korea, particularly in the low-grip conditions at the start of the weekend. Graining is caused when the cars slide sideways too much, creating an uneven wave-like pattern of wear on the surface of the tread that affects performance.

There is a long straight right at the beginning of the lap, which means that it can be hard to warm up the tyres effectively at the beginning of the lap. Subjecting the tyres to too much stress when cold is another main reason for graining and cold tearing.

Korea 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli


This week’s Formula One videos (week 41)


 

F1 Driver Nico Rosberg and his F1 Helmet

Nico Rosberg, Formula One driver at Mercedes AMG Petronas, travels back in time. Not long ago, Formula One drivers only wore leather caps. The development over the past decades has been stunning. Today’s helmets are state-of-the-art technology.

F1 News after the Japanese Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel, Kamui Kobayashi

Sebastian Vettel in Japan – Best Japanese driver ever – Mixed emotions at Ferrari – The madman from turn 1 – The latest championship standings and fastest lap – Hardest braking point in Korea

The Perfect F1 Pit Stop for Nico Rosberg

The Formula One pit stop is a perfect choreography within split seconds. Precision, timing, and teamwork are the key for success. Nico Rosberg and chief strategist James Vowles explain how the Mercedes AMG Petronas team works really hard to make their pit stops perfect.

Solberg’s Crash – 2012 WRC Rallye de France

And the craziest crash ever!

And from another perspective


Pirelli: The Japanese Grand Prix from a tyre point of view


By Berthold Bouman

This time Pirelli will bring the Hard (silver marked) and the Soft (yellow marked) tyre compounds to round 15 of the FIA Formula One World Championship: the Japanese Grand Prix at the classic Suzuka circuit. Pirelli, however, noted that both compounds are in general a bit softer compared to the ones used last year.

Pirelli tyres

The Suzuka circuit is fast and challenging, and together with Barcelona a circuit that is very demanding for the tyres, mainly due to the very fast 130R and Spoon curves. The 130R corner is the fastest of the year, cars reach speeds of 310km/h which is extremely demanding for the tyres.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery, “It is the layout of the track that delivers the technical challenge: Suzuka is a classic drivers’ circuit, a bit like Spa or Monza, with some of the most awesome corners that we see all year and very little margin for error.”

But the Pirelli tyres are ready for the challenge he said, “Despite the increased demands that this places on the compound and structure, they are still more than capable of withstanding the immense forces to which they are subjected lap after lap.”

There is again one step between compounds, Pirelli hopes to bring some extra excitement to the Japanese Grand Prix, and Hembery reckons the tyre choice provides plenty of room for different tyre strategies, “This should also open up the opportunity for lots of different strategies, which as we have seen already this year can form the foundation of a memorable victory, or boost drivers to a top result even if they have started from lower down on the grid.

“Last year the drivers’ championship was actually decided in Japan, but this year has been so competitive that we are still a long way from seeing the titles settled — and that is great news for all the fans!”

Pirelli’s Technical notes:

• While the non-stop series of corners puts plenty of energy through the tyres, the flowing nature of the track means that it has the lowest traction demand of the year. The only place where the tyres have to provide full traction is coming out of the hairpin (Turn 11) and the downhill final chicane. Braking effort is also comparatively low.

• The front-right tyre has a particularly tough task in Japan: through 130R, for example, it has the equivalent of 800 kilogrammes of downforce going through it — while cornering at maximum speed.

• High levels of stress on tyres can cause blistering if the car is not set up properly. This phenomenon is the result of localised heat build-up, particularly in the shoulder of the tyre, as it flexes. If not dealt with by reducing the demands on the tyre, this can cause parts of the tread pattern to break away and affect performance.

Suzuka 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli


This week’s Formula One videos (week 40)


Scuderia Ferrari Racing News n.17

The Scuderia’s work with the last six F1 Championship races in sight never stops: Felipe Massa tells us how he got ready for the two back to back races in Japan and Korea. Filippo Petrucci, Head of the Test Team, explains how to organise a day on the track – from logistics to the drivers’ contributions – and the Scuderia Ferrari technicians proceed with the explanations in the Formula 1 alphabet.

Mark Webber meets Zlatka Suboticane, artist and winner of his helmet design competition at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix

Time lapse: Preparation of race cars for overseas transport – Sauber F1 Team

Isn’t it amazing to see how the entire car is stripped to bits and then built up again? Remember that this maintenance and preparation is done between any two races in our busy schedule! As the material will travel directly from Singapore to Japan, our mechanics will have to do the same at the race track after the Singapore GP and then, with even less time, between the Japanese GP and the race in Korea!

Red Bull: Here’s how our Copenhagen Showrun looked from a Go Pro camera perspective!


The race is on – Circuit of The Americas passes FIA inspection


By Berthold Bouman

Great news for the American Formula One fans, as FIA’s Safety Director Charlie Whiting has given the green light for the United States Grand Prix on November 18. Whiting has given the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) the FIA seal of approval after his latest inspection, and has given the circuit the Grade 1 status, the highest grade a circuit can get, which means it has been approved for Formula One racing.

FIA’s Charlie Whiting inspects the Circuit of the Americas

Whiting was impressed with the progress that has been made. “Everything that I’ve seen so far has been absolutely first class, and the progress that’s been made since the last time that I was here is amazing,” Whiting said. “The guys have done an awesome job — it really is quite fantastic! It’s built to the highest quality, exactly as we expected, and I’ve got absolutely no complaints whatsoever.”

Whiting personally walked the complete now fully paved 3.4 mile circuit for a closer inspection. Everything was checked: the asphalt, kerbs, guard rails, safety barriers, run-off areas, debris fences and other safety measures. Whiting was especially happy with the layout of the circuit and its turns.

“There are 3-4 corners that are very likely to see overtaking,” said Whiting. “If you look at Turn 1, you’ll see that the turns have been designed so that they’re extremely wide and the apex is very short. It’s a very modern approach to slow corners where we hope overtaking will take place. So I’m very confident it will work well.”

And his favourite part of the circuit? “Turn 1 is awesome! It’s the only word I can think of to describe it, and I think drivers and teams coming here for the first time will say the same thing,” he said. Whiting also visited the pit and paddock facilities and the Race Control building, where Whiting and his team will be housed during the race.

Whiting will be back in Austin for the final approval on Monday, November 12, as the remaining landscaping and painting projects will be completed in a few weeks time. The COTA was designed by German Hermann Tilke, and is the first purpose-built Formula One circuit in the United States.

Bob Bondurant takes a lap around the Circuit of The Americas

Time lapse video of the construction of the Circuit of the Americas


Pirelli: The Singapore Grand Prix from a tyre point of view


By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli has allocated the Soft (yellow marked) and Super Soft (red marked) tyre compounds for the only night race on the 2012 Formula One calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix. The 5.073 km long Marina Bay street circuit has 23 turns, it has a bumpy and slippery surface, and together with the humidity, the heat and the constant changes of direction, this track is hard on drivers, cars and tyres.

Pirelli tyres

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented about the track, “Personally speaking I love the Singapore Grand Prix: it makes for an amazing spectacle at night with a great atmosphere and a fantastic challenge for our tyres. Due to the unusual circumstances in which the race is run, under more than a thousand spotlights, the teams and drivers have to think very hard about strategy — as track conditions and evolution are somewhat different than you would find in a normal daytime race.”

About a possible pit stop strategy he said, “One factor that could certainly come into play is safety cars: during every single Singapore Grand Prix that has been held so far since 2008 the safety car has come out at some point. This means that strategies have to be flexible as well as effective in order to quickly take advantage of any potential neutralisation.”

About the possibility of rain Hembery said, “While the humidity is constantly high, it hasn’t yet rained in any Singapore Grand Prix so this should be the same again this year and we are likely to see the ultimate performance offered by the two softest slick compounds in our Formula One range.”

It is difficult to predict which pit stop strategy would be best according to Hembery, “Last year’s race was won with a three-stop strategy by Sebastian Vettel, but Lewis Hamilton finished fifth after stopping four times and taking a drive-through penalty as well. As average speeds are not very high, degradation should not be an issue if wheelspin is controlled out of the slower corners, which can lead to overheating.”

Fernando Alonso is the only driver who won the event twice, in 2008 and 2010, while Hamilton won in 2009 and current World Champion Vettel won the race last year.

Singapore 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli


This week’s Formula One videos (week 38)


Scuderia Ferrari Racing News n.16

After the exciting race in Monza the men from Ferrari are back at work with the next stage of the Championship, in Singapore, in sight. Don’t miss the interviews with Felipe Massa, taking stock of the season at the moment, and Scuderia Ferrari Sporting Director Massimo Rivola. Last but not least: the section, dedicated to the Formula 1 alphabet. The Scuderia Ferrari technicians explain us the significance of the words idle, kerb, wiring loom.

Time lapse: Sauber F1 Team’s Oerlikon solar park goes on stream

The solar park constructed for the Sauber F1 Team in Hinwil by premium partner Oerlikon is now on stream after being officially opened today (Monday). It is one of the largest solar car ports in Switzerland.


Williams in 60 seconds: Composites

Williams in 60 seconds is a collection of videos aimed at giving an insight into Williams F1 as a whole. The group of 13 videos will focus on what the team does, how it’s done and the personnel behind the work


How to get a job in F1

Getting a job in F1 is a big dream for many people who are passionate about technology. The apprentice and graduate schemes at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, where the Formula One engines and hybrid systems are designed and developed, offer opportunities for talented young people to earn a place in the industry – and add practical experience to their theoretical learning.

Formula One – Grand Prix Insights – Nico Rosberg explains the HANS system

Formula One – A super light force to be counted with. The Head And Neck Support system weighs only 20 grams but it withstands forces of up to 2 tons. Nico Rosberg and Andrew Shovlin of the Mercedes AMG Petronas team explain how it works. With a spectacular crash test we demonstrate in this feature how HANS saves lives.


Kubica crashes twice during Rally San Martino di Castrozza


By Berthold Bouman

Former Renault and Lotus Formula One driver Robert Kubica crashed twice during the Rally San Martino di Castrozza in Italy this weekend. The 27-year old Pole and his co-pilot Jakub Gerber were unhurt, but after the second crash his Subaru Impreza was too damaged to continue the rally.

Rober Kubica’s Subaru Impreza after the second crash

Kubica recently won the Ronde Gomitolo di Landa rally also at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza, but this weekend already lost control during a shakedown test and ended up in a ditch. After the car was recovered Kubica himself drove it to the Subaru service point.

The second more violent crash occurred during a special stage, Kubica lost control but this time ended up in the trees, and he and his co-pilot were lucky to escape without injuries.

It is the second rally appearance for Kubica this year, after his near-fatal accident in February 2011 when he during the Ronde di Andora rally crashed, his car was impaled by a guard rail, which partially severed Kubica’s arm and hand. As a result, Kubica now has limited control of his right arm and hand, but is still hoping for a Formula One return, next year or in 2014.

First crash during shake down

Second crash during special stage


Kubica still a winner and eying Formula One return in 2014


By Berthold Bouman

Robert Kubica is back after his horrific rally accident in February last year, the Polish driver returned at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC car and with his Italian co-driver Giuliano Manfredi won the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana Rally in Italy last weekend. Kubica won all four stages of the rally and finished almost one minute ahead of Omar Bergo in a WRC Mini.

Robert Kubica, Canada 2010

On Italian TV Kubica stressed the rally was actually a part of his recovery programme, “In the end it’s a matter of re-establishing the way of driving and helping the arm to recover better. Having been a driver for 20 years, my body is accustomed to certain things, and I can feel these things only while I drive, so we’ll see.”

But the 27-year old driver is still aiming for a Formula One return, “Being here is already a good step, but I would have preferred to be somewhere else. I still have a long road to travel and will probably never be at the same physical level as before but I don’t intend to give up.”

Just last week Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier told the World of F1 blog Kubica had stopped his contact with Lotus himself. “He stopped contact with us months ago. I cannot make any assumptions about anything because I am not in contact with him anymore.” And he added, “I have contact with his management but nothing else. I’ve not been updated about his current state for a long time.”

Kubica’s manager Daniel Morelli has kept the Pole out of the publicity since his accident, he never gave any real interviews and there were no recent pictures of him available. That has changed now, as the former Lotus driver and winner of the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, spoke freely with the Italian press, and for the first time the injuries to his right hand and arm were clearly visible, and it appears he still can not use his right hand and arm properly. Kubica spent months to recover from his accident as he refuses to give up his dream: Formula One.

“The aim remains to return to Formula One and the next few months will tell me whether I can do it next year already or will have to wait until 2014,” he said. “Of course, I am doing my best to be fully fit next year. During the coming months I will be able to decide what I will do in the future.

“I have tested rally cars on circuits lately and in the next months I will decide on what I will do in the future and what will give me maximum pleasure. I will also be able to say if a return to Formula 1 is possible or not. I am happy to be here. Sometimes in your life you have to be happy with where you are, however one would like to be somewhere else.”

Video of Kubica at the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana Rally – Video by Głuchy Domofon


Pirelli: The Italian Grand Prix from a tyre point of view


By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli has allocated the Medium (white marked) and Hard (silver marked) rubber compounds for round 12 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, one of the oldest European Grand Prix circuits.

Medium and Hard rubber compounds for Monza

Monza is a high-speed circuit with long straights and the famous Curva Grande and the Curva Parabolica, the latter is the seemingly never ending turn ahead of the start-finish straight. According to Pirelli, there are three sections that are very demanding for the tyres, the first chicane (Variante Rettifilo), the last chicane (Variante Ascari), and the mighty Curva Parabolica.

Cars can reach top speeds of 340kph, on the 5.793 metres long circuit, which means tyre temperatures can go up to 130 degrees Celsius, in other words: Monza is very hard on the tyres and drivers have to be careful not to overheat the Pirellis. But Monza is also hard on the brakes, at the Variante Rettifilo cars decelerate from 340kph to 80kph in just 150 metres.

The Italian Grand Prix is of course Pirelli’s home race, and Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented, “Monza is probably the most important race of the year for us, as it is our chance to come home and showcase our tyres and specialised technology in front of so many of our people and the passionate Italian fans. There is a really special atmosphere to this race that is unique to Italy.”

And he added, “Monza is one of the most demanding circuits that we visit all year due to the high speed and significant lateral loads on the tyres. After Spa, it is the second-highest set of forces that our tyres will experience all year.”

Pirelli test driver Brazilian Lucas di Grassi explains the challenges of Monza, “It’s quite difficult to drive as the cars run with such low downforce that they are not always easy to control. So it’s all about the right compromise between downforce and handling. You have to be assertive under braking but all the straights and corners also mean that there are lots of good opportunities to overtake.”

According to di Grassi, taking care of the tyres is very important at Monza, “It’s important to look after the tyres in terms of traction, as the traction areas put a lot of stress on them and if you don’t get a good drive out of the corners onto the straights then it really affects your lap time.”

Monza 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli


Spa-Francorchamps crash wake-up call for Formula One


By Berthold Bouman

Fernando Alonso was incredibly lucky yesterday when the cars of Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton flew over the cockpit of his Ferrari, just a few inches closer and the outcome would have been a true disaster for the Spanish driver.

Fernando Alonso escaped serious injuries at Spa

Something similar happened with Michael Schumacher during the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when Vitantonio Liuzzi torpedoed Schumacher’s car and also missed his head by inches when his car landed on top of the Mercedes. A similar crash yesterday now means these kind of accidents are no longer a coincidence but something that can occur again in the future, perhaps even with lethal consequences.

After Felipe Massa’s accident in Hungary in 2009, engineers have been talking about a jetfighter-style closed canopy, the FIA has tested such a canopy and also a forward roll-hoop (see videos) after the death of Henry Surtees, son of former Formula One driver and 1964 World Champion John Surtees, who was killed by a flying wheel during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch just one week before Massa’s accident.

Yesterday, Ferrari’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was relieved to hear his driver who visited the medical centre for a thorough check-up, was okay. “Having a car flying almost over his head could have been really dangerous,” he said. Technical Director Pat Fry agreed, “It was a very risky situation and seeing one car fly over his, a few centimetres above his helmet, left us with our hearts in our mouths for a few tenths of a second.”

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was also shocked. “It looked scary, didn’t it?” he told Reuters. “It just reminds us … we become slightly nonchalant. We see so many big enormous shunts and we are just used to the driver hopping out. Fortunately on this occasion he did.”

He said this accident was a wake-up call for Formula One, “You realise that they come inches away from not hopping out of the car on those incidents so … fortunate for him and the sport that we got away with a big accident.”

The accident yesterday re-ignited the discussion about cockpit safety, since the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 there have not been any fatal accidents in Formula One, but in motorsport disaster is always lurking around the corner.

Many are not a fan of a closed cockpit, while it can protect drivers from flying debris, there are also plenty of scenarios thinkable in which a closed cockpit could actually make things worse.

Domenicali commented, “We are working with the Federation [FIA] to try to work on the right system of protection. With what we have tested or are working on there are also some problems that you may have. We need to be very careful on all these devices. We are still working with the federation to find a possible solution … we are working very hard.”

Whitmarsh agreed and said, “I think people underestimate what a [closed] cockpit would have to be and how it could make the situation worse. You put this glass bubble over the driver, but you can’t assume that they’re safer. There’s all sorts of other incidents with cars overturning or fires in the cockpit [that could make it worse].”

In the US IndyCar series the new 2012 cars have a rear ‘bumper’ right behind the rear wheels which should on paper prevent that cars are catapulted into the air when they run into the back of another car. This happened last year with IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon who was tragically killed during a multiple car pile-up during the last race of the season at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The rear bumper so far did its job, but there is of course no guarantee it will stop every car in any situation from taking off into the air.

Nothing is easy in Formula One, adapting a similar concept for Formula One would mean a complete overhaul of the technical regulations as without a doubt clever engineers would find a way to use the bumper as an aerodynamic device to reduce drag or to generate more downforce.

But something has to be done, also the nose of a modern Formula One car is way too high up in the air and is also a reason why cars tend to get airborne when hitting the back of another car, something Mark Webber found out after he hit the (then) Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen during the 2010 European Grand Prix at Valencia.

The pointy nose is almost a guillotine and cuts though tyres and bodywork with ease, a rear bumper could solve a lot of problems. The canopy poses a lot of other problems that have to be solved first, there is no point in installing a canopy on all cars and then later find out it makes the problem even worse.

There are also people who are concerned about the aesthetic aspects of such devices, but as the FIA said in a publication about cockpit safety, “A radical aesthetic change would be a price well worth paying to save drivers’ lives and achieve a game-changing safety breakthrough.”

F1 Roll-Hoop Test (Video FIA Institute)

As part of the FIA Institute’s latest investigation into cockpit protection in open-wheel race cars, its research team tested the safety benefits of a forward roll-hoop.


Jet Fighter Canopy Test  (Video FIA Institute)

FIA Institute researchers recently tested the protective powers of a jet-fighter canopy for potential application in open-cockpit racing cars.


Pirelli: The Belgian Grand Prix from a tyre point of view


By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli has allocated the medium (Prime, white marked) and the Hard (Option, silver marked) tyre compounds for one of the most demanding circuits on the 2012 calendar: Spa-Francorchamps. Also a lap of 7.004km is the longest lap on any circuit, while the quickly changing weather conditions in the Ardennes can also play a role during this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Pirelli tyres

Pirelli opted for the two hardest compounds, as Spa with its high speeds, fast long and sweeping corners is very demanding for the tyres, and the most fearsome corner of all: Eau Rouge, a corner that according to Pirelli, gives drivers the ‘ultimate roller coaster ride’.

He is not a driver, but Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery is nevertheless a fan of the Belgian circuit, and he remarked, “I recently visited the 24-hour race there: the configuration of the track and the variety of the weather always seems to produce some great racing.”

About Pirelli’s tyre choice he said, “From a tyre perspective, it’s certainly one of the most demanding circuits that we face all year, because of the high speeds and extreme forces involved, which are often acting on the tyres in more than one dimension. The nomination of the hard and the medium tyres will allow drivers to push hard from start to finish, which is what Spa was designed for!”

Hembery also enjoyed a well-deserved vacation, but he is also looking forward to the second half of the season. “The first half of the season began with the most close and competitive start to a year ever seen in Formula One’s history, so I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of 2012 pans out, and which teams have made which steps forward over the summer break.”

He didn’t want to make any prediction about the battle for the 2012 championship, “Currently the grid is so closely matched — particularly in the midfield — that it’s impossible to predict.”

Spa 3D Track Experience:

Technical parameters that influence tyres’ behaviour:


Belgian GP: Ferrari’s Luca Marmorini about engines and horsepower


By Berthold Bouman

After a 33-day summer break, it is also back to business as usual for Ferrari . The next two Grands Prix are at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, both typical high-speed circuits and thus require some extra careful engine treatment. The man at Ferrari who knows everything about engines, is Luca Marmorini, and he explains why engines will play an important role during the next two races.

Spa and Monza are all about  engines and horsepower

“Monza for example is the circuit where drivers use full throttle for a greater percentage of the lap than at any other track. Spa-Francorchamps also throws up some specific problems, such as the fact the circuit is at quite high altitude, the weather is very changeable and often wet, but these are elements that affect the whole car package, not just the engine management,” said Marmorini.

Ferrari is always looking at ways to improve their engine, one problem the Maranello-based team is addressing is the drop in engine performance, explains Marmorini. “We are always trying to reduce the inevitable performance drop that can affect engines as they are used, because some engines having to complete two or three races, therefore it’s important to try and maintain the same performance level throughout.

“If you consider that an engine can lose 5 horsepower per race, then by the third race it can have lost a total of 15 horsepower, which is a significant figure. With our partner Shell, we work on development on new fuels and oils that can aid performance”

With nine rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship remaining, Marmorini was asked to give a verdict on the engine front, “Even if we can say that so far, in terms of performance and reliability of the engine, electronics and KERS, we are on target, we still want to do even better in the second half of the season when the championship will be decided, as well as meeting our major objective of getting through right to the end without the car ever breaking down on track.”

Teams are free to develop the engine electronics and KERS system during the season, and this is an area where Ferrari expects to find some improvements. “We have not revolutionised our work in this area,” said Marmorini. “Instead, we have concentrated on making the components better suited to the new car, lighter and less bulky, while improving efficiency. But we have been conscious of keeping the cost down on KERS to enable us to provide a competitive and economic package to our customer teams,” said the Italian engine technician.

Currently Ferrari are fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with 189 points, Fernando Alonso is leading the Drivers’ Championship with 164 points, while Felipe Mass is 14th with 25 points.

In the video below, Marmorini explains more about Formula One engines, and engineer Andrea Beneventi, explains the 29 functions on the 2012 single-seater’s wheel. In the section of the Formula 1 alphabet the Scuderia Ferrari explain HANS, qualifying, understeering and oversteering as well as uniball.

Video by Ferrari