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Pirelli aiming for more tyre degradation and more pit stops in 2013

By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli aiming for more tyre degradation and more pit stops in 2013Pirelli is aiming for more tyre degradation and thus more pit stops in 2013, the Italian company announced today during the presentation of the Formula One 2013-spec tyres. The Italian tyre supplier completely revolutionised the P Zero dry weather tyres, but also the Cinturato wet weather tyres.

The tyre compounds will in general be softer, the structure of the tyres will be more flexible, and the shoulders of the tyres have been reinforced. Pirelli aims to improve the performance and to increase the thermal degradation to ‘open up more strategic options’ for all teams.

“The 2013 season continues the philosophy adopted by Pirelli last year in evolving the original 2011 range of Formula One tyres,” Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said.

At the start of the 2012 season teams had difficulties understanding the tyres, but as the season progressed teams could use their experiences to make the tyres last longer, which resulted in less competition.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery - Photo Pirelli

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery

“The goal is to continuously set new challenges for the drivers and to ensure that all the teams start the new season on a level playing field when it comes to the tyres. Through accumulating more information with each Grand Prix last year, the teams eventually fully understood the tyres, after a spectacular start with seven winners from the first seven races,” Hembery explained.

“The result at the end of the year was races with less competition and sometimes only one pit stop. This phenomenon was also observed in 2011, disappointing many fans and prompting some of the teams to ask us to continue developing our tyres further this year, in order to provide a fresh challenge with something different,” Hembery added.

Pirelli is now aiming for two to three stops per driver per race, which would make races even more attractive according to a statement issued today. Pirelli also promised to be more aggressive with the tyre allocations towards the end of the season.

Also new is that the sidewall of the hardest tyre will be orange marked, instead of silver, which will make it easier for the fans to spot the difference with the medium compound, white marked tyres.

Hembery doesn’t think teams will encounter problems getting the tyres at the correct working temperature like at the start of the 2012 season, “We don’t envisage that happening because the cars are so much more closely related to the previous year’s cars. Taking that out of the equation will certainly assist the teams, but they will have to get used to a little bit more degradation than they were at the end of last year.”

Just as last year, each car will have 11 sets of tyres available for the weekend, made up of six sets of the harder and five sets of the softer compound. The performance gap between each rubber compound will be more than half-a-second per lap, which, according to Pirelli, will ’encourage overtaking throughout the race’. Teams will get their first taste of the new tyres during pre-season testing, which starts on February 5 in Jerez, Spain.

Domenicali: Ferrari’s goal is to win the 2013 World Championship

By Berthold Bouman

Domenicali: Ferrari's goal is to win the 2013 World ChampionshipDuring a press meeting in Madonna di Campiglio Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said winning the 2013 title is the ultimate goal of the Maranello-based team.

Earlier this month it was announced that Ferrari had split the design teams, one team will be working on the 2013 car, and the other team will work on the 2014 car, while Nicolas Tombazis continues as Chief Designer.

“The 2013 season will be a complex one from many points of view,” said Domenicali. “We face a few changes on the technical front which will have a significant impact on all areas of the company, not just in terms of design, but also when it comes to the investment and infrastructure required to develop the new engine,” the Italian team boss explained.

The 2013 car is currently being tested in the Cologne-based wind tunnel originally build for the Toyota Formula One team, as Ferrari is rebuilding their wind tunnel in Maranello. “Our aim is clear, to win and the priority is still that of giving our drivers a car that will be competitive right from the very start. The development of the 2013 car began in the Cologne wind tunnel and is ongoing,” said Domenicali.

Earlier this month Domenicali said Ferrari will not suffer a repeat of their 2012 testing troubles. “What happened to us last year in the first winter test in Jerez, will not happen to us this year, because we are now sure that the wind tunnel gives us no more surprises,” he said. Ferrari experienced problems with their wind tunnel last year, as the results in the wind tunnel could not be replicated on track, the reason Ferrari will use the Toyota wind tunnel until their own wind tunnel has been completely rebuilt.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa

Domenicali is confident Felipe Massa will be at the front of the field this season and help Ferrari to clinch the title, “Personally, there was a lot of pressure on me regarding possible changes, but in the interests of the team, I preferred to wait and today, I’m convinced that keeping Felipe in the Ferrari family was the right decision.”

The annual Vrooom meeting in Madonna di Campiglio - Photo: Ferrari

“His performance in the second half of the season contributed significantly to our second place in the Constructors’ classification: for the team that is a strong point and for Fernando, it provides further impetus to try even harder.”

About Ferrari’s star driver Fernando Alonso he said, “His strength as a champion and his great fighting spirit is a guarantee for himself and for the team: our responsibility is to give him a car with which he can make the most of his abilities and his killer instinct.”

Domenicali also dismissed the usual rumours about Sebastian Vettel joining the Reds in the future, “I think our President has already commented on this subject several times: a dream team is fantastic if it is correctly managed, but at the moment we are not looking at that, because we want to ensure the team is as well-balanced as possible.”

About the criticism aimed at Alonso he remarked, “As usual, there are people who try and stir up the politics, believing they will provoke a reaction, but I am deaf to these things and I believe Fernando is totally focused on his performance, while I can assure you that the team will give its answer on the track, with deeds, not words!”

Pedro de la Rosa joins Ferrari

Pedro de la Rosa joins Ferrari - Photo: FerrariCertainly good news for Alonso’s compatriot Pedro de la Rosa, who was left without a drive after the demise of the Spanish HRT team. The Spaniard will join Ferrari as a development driver, and will spend a lot of time in the simulator. He will also be involved in technical, racing and commercial activities.

“We decided to add de La Rosa to our group of drivers mainly to strengthen one area, namely work in the simulator, which with the current regulations regarding testing, is becoming ever more important,” Domenicali said today in Madonna di Campiglio.

De la Rosa said about his new job, “It is amazingly motivating to be working for a team like Ferrari, not just because of what it represents in the history of Formula One and motoring in general, but also because it will be a completely new and very stimulating experience for me.” And he added, “I really hope I can get to work as soon as possible and to help in the development of the car.”

Video: Wrooom 2013 – Relaxing in the snow

This week’s Formula One videos (week 47)

Ferrari charity auction for areas affected by hurricane Sandy

Over 1.5 million Dollars have been collected by Ferrari to help the areas most affected by the hurricane Sandy super storm, with the first F12 Berlinetta delivered in the US, won at a charity auction in Austin, on the occasion of the US GP, for 1.125 million Dollars.

The McLaren Manufacturing Challenge

The McLaren Manufacturing Challenge is an annual competition designed to raise the profile and help improve the image of high-tech manufacturing and engineering. Finalists teams are invited to spend an afternoon at the McLaren Technology Centre, where they get to see how a Formula One team operates and how McLaren designs its world leading super cars, before the big race begins. Business Secretary Vince Cable was there to help present the 2012 McLaren Manufacturing Challenge trophy to this year’s winning school.

Williams in 60 seconds: Race Bay

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. This week: Race Bay.

McLaren Tooned Episode 11 Side Tracked

Episode 11 – Side Tracked. Starring Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

Pirelli: the United States Grand Prix from a tyre point of view

By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli has allocated the medium (Prime, silver marked) and hard (Option, white marked) rubber compounds for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, at the brand-new purpose-built facility the Circuit of the Americas, according to Pirelli a conservative tyre choice for a circuit with many unknown factors. All teams will get an extra set of the hard tyres on Friday during free practice in order to help them to understand the new track.

Pirelli tyres

A leap into the unknown, also for Pirelli, but Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said, “In many ways America will be the biggest challenge for us of the year, but stepping into the unknown is a situation that we are used to: last season the majority of tracks were completely new to us.”

About the choice of tyres he commented, “We’ve chosen the hard and the medium compounds as we think it will be quite a demanding track, based on the asphalt samples and simulation data we have gathered. Naturally we’ve leaned towards a slightly more conservative choice in order to cover every possibility at a brand new circuit, but the tyre choice in Abu Dhabi was also conservative and yet we saw one of the most exciting races of the year.”

Commercially the United States Grand Prix is also important for Pirelli, and Hembery explained, “We’re all absolutely delighted to be returning to America with Formula One: it’s a crucial market for us as well as being the home of many of the most enthusiastic fans out there. We’ve felt a huge buzz about this race, and with the championship so finely poised it couldn’t come at a better time.”

Technical tyre notes (by Pirelli):

• As Austin is a brand new circuit, the surface is likely to be ‘green’ and slippery, with a high degree of track evolution over the weekend. A totally new track often has a thin film of greasy oil on the surface, which is released by the asphalt as it settles into place. The race length will be 56 laps.

• Turn 11 is also particularly demanding in Texas as the driver starts braking heavily with the car already turning, creating an uneven distribution of forces across the tyres. Good grip from the compound is essential for an effective turn-in.

• The cars are likely to run with low gearing and medium downforce, with the set-up not expected to be dissimilar to that of Istanbul Park in Turkey.

• The weather can be uncertain in Texas at this time of year, with a 31% chance of rain on any given day on average. The month of November is characterised by rapidly falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing from 25°C to 19°C over the course of the month, exceeding 29°C or dropping below 13°C only one day in 10.

Video: The United States Grand Prix from a tyre point of view

Force India thinks Sauber’s sixth place in Constructors’ Championship is out of reach

By Berthold Bouman

Force India has officially given up on taking sixth place from rival Sauber in the Constructors’ Championship, as Vijay Mallay’s Team is now 29 points behind the Swiss outfit. Asked a bout the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Mallya said, “I have mixed feelings because we extended our run of points finishes, but on the other hand our two main rivals were ahead of us and scored well. With two races to go Sauber are almost out of reach and Williams are just 22 points behind us.”

Paul di Resta, Force India

Which means Force India has to be careful not to lose that seventh place to Williams, but said Mallya, “Without the problems at the first corner, I’m convinced we could have been up there fighting for some bigger points.” Mallya is looking forward to the first visit of Force India to the United States, “It’s such an important market for the teams and the brands associated with the sport so it’s a very welcome return to the calendar. It will be the first time Sahara Force India has raced on American soil and the whole team is excited to be going there.”

Also driver Paul di Resta thinks he could have scored more points in Abu Dhabi, “In terms of race pace the car was strong, I overtook a lot of cars and without the puncture we could definitely have had a stronger day.”  Like his team boss, the Scott also thinks Sauber’s sixth place is now out of reach, “I think under normal circumstances you’d probably say Sauber are out of reach. Williams looked good in Abu Dhabi, but I think we’re in a strong enough position to defend from them.”

But di Resta is adamant the Circuit of the Americas will suit the car, “Austin will be an unknown but it’s a new track so it’s likely to be similar to Abu Dhabi with new tarmac and a smooth surface. So there’s every reason to believe we can be competitive there.”

Force India TV – Nico Hulkenberg on the United States Grand Prix

Nico Hulkenberg visits Codemasters to try out the new Formula 1 2012 video game and gets his first taste of the brand new Circuit Of The Americas. He talks about the game then takes the virtual VJM05 for a lap of the track.

This week’s Formula One videos (Week 46)

Scuderia Ferrari Racing News n.19

After 5 years Formula 1 is back in the United States: the penultimate race of the 2012 season will be held in Austin, Texas. Let’s discover the exciting track with COTA President Bobby Epstein and with a lap on the track at the simulator with Jules Bianchi, the young talent from the Ferrari Driver Academy in Maranello. Furthermore the French driver talks about his season, which he concluded with a second place in the World Series. And then there’s the Formula 1 alphabet with the Scuderia Ferrari technicians.

Gasolene TV – Alan Jones FW-07 Williams F1

Glenn Everitt presents the Alan Jones FW 07 Williams Formula One and see it fire into life for the 1st time since its retirement in the 80’s. This was one of the cars that contributed to his 1980 World Championship.

Nico Rosberg and the Race Overall in Formula One

Formula One: It fits like a second skin. It resists temperatures of up to 1.000 degrees Celsius and it is mandatory in Formula One. Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg and his chief strategist unveil the importance of the Nomex race overalls of today.

The Third Man. With Rexona and the Lotus F1 Team

Jerome D’Ambrosio was a Formula One driver for another team last season; this year, he’s the Third Driver for Lotus, supporting the team on the track and in the factory. This film reveals the desire of a driver trying to be one of only 24 Formula One drivers in the world.

Team Radio Communication – Sauber F1 Team

Grab your team radio and put on your headphones! Listen to how the Sauber F1 Team drivers, engineers and mechanics communicate at the race track. Lots of background information on our radio communication makes this video even more interesting. Pure motorsport! Some amazing stills, too, don’t you think?

Abu Dhabi GP: Williams looking for trouble-free weekend and hope to be competitive

By Berthold Bouman

Pastor Maldonado encountered many problems during the Indian Grand Prix, while Bruno Senna saved the day as he scored one point for his team. Williams is now looking for a trouble-free weekend in Abu Dhabi, and Mark Gillan, Williams’ Chief Operations Engineer, thinks cooling the car will be important.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams

“The Yas Marina Circuit layout of long straights and relatively tight corners puts a lot of energy into the brake system and with reasonably high ambient temperatures the general car cooling has to be run relatively open too,” he explained. “As per last year Pirelli bring their medium and soft tyres to this race and from an aerodynamics perspective the car will be set in medium to high-efficiency trim.”

Maldonado said about the challenges of the Yas Marina Circuit, “The race throws up some unique challenges because we start off driving in hot daytime conditions, but then the sun goes down and the temperature drops quickly. You therefore have to find a set up that balances these different conditions. The track also changes a lot each day and there is quite a lot of sand on the track surface which you have to deal with.”

Senna thinks the track suits the Williams, and hopes to be competitive this weekend, “Abu Dhabi could be an interesting track for us. It has a large number of slow corners which has not traditionally suited our car, but it is also hard on brakes and that is an area where our car has been very strong all year. We have had a lot of updates to the car recently so hopefully we can have one of those trouble-free weekends where everything comes together and we can be competitive.”

Video: Maldonado gives us his thoughts on the Abu Dhabi race this weekend

Video: Senna gives us his thoughts on the Abu Dhabi race this weekend

Pirelli: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a tyre point of view

By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli has nominated the Medium (Prime, white marked) and Soft (Option, yellow marked) rubber compounds for round 18 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Yas Marina circuit has a smooth and fast surface, and has a wide variety of corners, taken at different speeds.

Pirelli tyres

Pirelli expects the tyre wear to be low, and therefore drivers can push harder without damaging their tyres. One of the main peculiarities of the track is that the race starts when it is still light, and finishes in the dark, which means track temperatures will fall instead of rise.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery has fond memories of the track, as it was the track where Pirelli tested their Formula One tyres for the first time back in 2010. “In 2010, the teams sampled our tyres there for the very first time at the official end of season test following the Grand Prix. That was a very special test, as we were brand new and the teams needed to understand our tyres. We’ve returned to test in Abu Dhabi a few times since, and we actually launched our 2012 programme to the international media there as well at the beginning of this year,” explained Hembery.

About the race strategies this weekend he said, “We know that the combination of the medium and the soft tyre works extremely well here, and with the teams also having plenty of data about the circuit characteristics, they should be in a strong position to construct some race strategies that will make a real difference to the outcome of the weekend. With the championship so closely balanced now, having the right strategy could quite literally decide the title.”

Pirelli technical tyre notes:

Abu Dhabi, like many circuits, requires a medium-downforce set-up to guarantee good straight-line speed down the long main straight, which is more than one kilometre, but also enough downforce to provide enough braking stability and aerodynamic grip through the corners.

There are comparatively few high-speed changes of direction, so in order to help traction, one of the key demands that the tyres face on the Yas Marina circuit, the engineers tend to set up their cars with a comparatively soft rear end. At the start of the weekend the dust on the track surface can cause graining, and there is quite a high degree of track evolution.

Abu Dhabi is located at sea level, ensuring a high ambient air pressure. This benefits engine power, which increases further as temperatures fall towards the end of the race. This too has a significant effect on tyre wear and strategy.

Abu Dhabi 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli

This week’s Formula One videos (Week 44)

Circuit of the Americas ready to rock and roll

The first of a series of video features showcasing in detail the major aspects of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. International motor racing announcer Jonathan Green brings us up close and personal with all facets of the Circuit of the Americas as we prepare for our first major international event — The 2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix November 16th to 18th.

The great Ferraris of Sergio Pininfarina exhibition official opening at the Ferrari Museum

Present at the opening were Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, Paolo Pininfarina, president of the eponymous company, Piero  Ferrari and members of the Pininfarina family including the late Sergio’s wife, Giorgia.

Red Bull Racing Seoul, Korea running

Red Bull Junior driver Antonio Felix Da Costa Seoul Running in the RB7 along the Jamsu Bridge in Seoul, South Korea.

Ferrari Azure event in Maranello with 2012 London medal winners

A day to celebrate Italian excellence “bound together by passion for sports, privation and the will to win”, as Montezemolo said.

Caterham: F1 Technical Briefing, Abu Dhabi: How tyre performance affects F1 car set-up

Performance Director John Iley examines the Yas Marina circuit and explains the effect that varying tyre performance can have on car set-up and performance.

Inside Grand Prix: Does Vettel stay at Red Bull Racing? What does Raikkönen?

The topics are: Vettel staying at Red Bull, Raikkönen staying at Lotus, Rumour mill — France to replace New Jersey, Hockenheim not Nürburgring, Nico Rosberg blog, Championship standings, Brembo Brake Facts.

Raikkonen to stay another year in Formula One with Lotus

By Berthold Bouman

Kimi Raikkonen will stay another year with Lotus, sources today reported. The Iceman as his nickname is, made a comeback to Formula One with Lotus this year after he retired in 2009. Unlike Michael Schumacher’s return, the Finn’s return was successful to say the least, he is currently third in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of both the McLaren and Mercedes drivers, the only thing still missing this season is a race victory.

Raikkonen to stay another year with Lotus

During his two-year absence Raikkonen was active in the World Rally Championship for Citroen, but he couldn’t say no when Lotus made him an offer at the end of 2011 to return to the sport . The 2007 World Champion, now 33-years old, has been one of the most consistent drivers in 2012, and the Lotus proved to be a very reliable car, which resulted in his third place in the championship.

However, Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier warned it is unlikely Raikkonen would win one of the three remaining races of the season. “Realistically, I would be kidding people if I said we would win a race this year. If we’re in a position to fight until the end, to threaten the third position (in the drivers’ championship), I’ll be happy with that, to be honest.

“Yes, it’s frustrating at not getting this missing, or elusive win, but we had a good start to the season, with a new package and two new drivers. If we make a good start next year it will be a different story.”

In a statement issued by Lotus today Raikkonen said, “I think my return to Formula 1 has gone pretty well and the team has done a very good job all year so far. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be fighting for the Drivers’ Championship this season when you look at where the team was in 2011, so it has been great to be on the podium so many times and to score points on a regular basis.

“I feel very comfortable with Lotus F1 Team and we share the same philosophy of racing. Continuing with the team was an obvious choice for me and I’m looking forward to making another step forward together next year.”

And Boullier added, “Kimi has made an exceptional comeback to Formula 1. From the first time he sat in the car this year it was clear he had lost none of his pace or technical feedback and we have been rewarded by a focused and motivated driver all season.

“For Lotus F1 Team to be fighting for such strong championship positions this year is in no small part attributed to Kimi’s talent and experience of racing. It was a natural conclusion for us to confirm that we will be harnessing his abilities for next season.”

Lotus posted a short video on their YouTube channel which ends with the message, “Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus F1 team in 2013. The story continues.”

Check out this exclusive behind the scenes video as we delve into the life of racing superstar Kimi Raikkonen and unveil the biggest news in the F1 paddock right now…

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

Japanese GP: Force India aiming for podium finish at Suzuka

By Berthold Bouman

Two fourth places for Force India this season, Paul di Resta was fourth in Singapore, while his team colleague Nico Hulkenberg took fourth place at Spa-Francorchamps, the next logical step would be a podium finish during one of the final six races of the season.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India

Team Principal Vijay Mallya is still confident and commented, “As I’ve said before that little bit of luck has eluded us. Hopefully it will come to us one day, because we’ve shown the pace of the car. This is the second time we’ve finished fourth in the last three races, so we’re becoming the bridesmaid a bit too often!”

Force India is still aiming for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, the Indian team is currently seventh, 26 points behind rival Sauber, but 21 points ahead of their other rival  Williams, who have so far gathered 54 points. “It’s not bad to be sitting at this stage of the season with 75 points in total — we’ve come a long way,” said Mallya.

Asked whether his team is still on target he replied, “I still remember the situation in 2010 when Williams pipped us by one point at the last race, so I guess it’s not over until it’s over! I’m still hoping that we can do it and one strong podium finish could help to wipe out Sauber’s advantage. It all depends how strong our rivals are in the final six races, but we certainly have some momentum.”

German Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t have good memories of the Suzuka circuit, and stated, “My race in 2010 with Williams was not especially memorable because I was taken out before the first corner. That was a real shame because it’s a track I really enjoy and with corners like the ‘S’ curves it’s a great experience in a Formula One car.”

He describes the main challenges of this very fast, but also technical circuit, from a driver’s point of view, “Suzuka is definitely one of my favourite circuits: it’s really challenging and technical, and you need a good car balance to hook up a good lap. Because it’s so technical it’s important to find a good rhythm because if you mess up one corner you can lose the flow of the whole lap.”

Hulkenberg’s main goal this weekend will be scoring points, “I’m feeling positive and we have generated some good momentum within the team recently so I want to keep that going. The goal is to keep getting consistent results in the points.”

Video: Paul Di Resta sums up the challenge of the classic Suzuka circuit ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix

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

Twittergate could hurt Hamilton’s contract negotiations

By Berthold Bouman

It wasn’t a smart move when Lewis Hamilton expressed his frustrations on Twitter during the Belgian Grand Prix, and it was plain stupid of the 2008 World Champion to post a photo of the telemetry of his qualifying lap at Spa after his team mate Jenson Button had grabbed pole position. Hamilton wanted to ‘prove’ that his bad qualifying performance boiled down to the fact Button had a new rear wing, and he had not, which was by the way, not even the truth.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - Photo: McLaren

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Certainly not a smart move as the 27-year old McLaren driver is currently amidst negotiations for a new five-year 100 million pound contract with the Woking-based Formula One team.

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was furious when he found out Hamilton had posted valuable car data on Twitter and ordered him to immediately remove the information. Later Hamilton apologized for the breach of confidentiality, but it was too late as the damage was already done. Whitmarsh said in a BBC interview, “He was asked to take it down and he did it immediately. So he misjudged that situation. He wasn’t thinking clearly, obviously.”

Hamilton has a million followers on Twitter, but McLaren’s Technical Director Paddy Lowe tried to play down the damage, “The data in there isn’t any great use to anyone, so I don’t think there is much damage done. The actual mistake Lewis made, which he understands, is he didn’t really appreciate the nature of that information.”

Button, who cruised to victory at Spa, was disappointed by his team mate’s immature conduct, “Very surprised and, yes, disappointed. We work so hard to improve the car and to keep things like that secret and private. I didn’t want to see it on Twitter. It was the whole telemetry from qualifying!” Button was also sure it was irrelevant to point out the difference between the old and new rear wing, “He should be gaining it back in the corners because he’s got more downforce on. And I was eight tenths quicker in qualifying anyway.”

Rumours have now emerged that Hamilton might change teams and could replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, or even move to Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa in 2013. The rumours about the move to Mercedes came from BBC pundit Eddie Jordan, who firmly believes ‘a deal is imminent’, which would mean the end of a 13-year career at McLaren. Jordan said on BBC TV, “I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent.”

“Some weeks ago I said on TV that I felt Lewis was on the move and I had an idea at the time he had been speaking to Ferrari, which we now know is true,” added Jordan. “But I can now confirm his people have had meetings with Mercedes.” Jordan is adamant Schumacher is leaving Mercedes, mainly because FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone said to him in Spa, “I’m sorry that he’s leaving us not being a winner, because he is a winner.” But in his comments Jordan ‘forgot’ to mention Ecclestone had indicated he wasn’t sure he would leave, when Jordan asked whether he was sure he answered, “I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Schumacher has also insisted he has not made a decision yet, “As I told Ecclestone yesterday, I have not made a decision.” Schumacher is still a valuable asset for the Mercedes team from a technical, promotional and marketing point of view, and they will be very reluctant to let him go.

A Mercedes spokesman firmly denied Jordan’s speculations, “Until we are in a position to confirm our full driver line-up for next season, it is inevitable there will be speculation around this topic. We would ask for your understanding, however, that we do not comment on speculation.”

McLaren also denies the speculations, “We have been told by Lewis Hamilton’s management team [XIX Entertainment] the story is untrue.” And a spokesman from XIX Entertainment said in his turn it is highly likely Hamilton will sign a contract with McLaren, “As mentioned in the past by all parties, we are in advanced discussions with McLaren about a new deal. More importantly, at the moment, Lewis is focused on Monza and competing strongly for the championship.”

If Hamilton would leave McLaren the British team has a few options for 2013, the name of Paul di Resta, a Mercedes protégé, has been mentioned to succeed Hamilton, but also Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen who both previously raced for McLaren are in the race for the seat.

But it must be said, why would Hamilton go to Mercedes if his current team is one of the fastest this season, while Mercedes is not even in the race for the championship? But on the other hand, it could also be McLaren now finally had enough of Hamilton’s escapades on and off the circuit, and after Twittergate could decide ‘enough is enough’ and simply could dump Hamilton, and if Schumacher stays at Mercedes, Hamilton has nowhere to go.

2007 Canadian GP – Hamilton and Alonso, McLaren

Ferrari is certainly not too keen on the idea to pair Alonso with Hamilton, as the two were not able to settle their differences in 2007 when both drove for McLaren, which led to the premature departure of Alonso, who now very much feels at home at Scuderia Ferrari, and it is highly unlikely the Spaniard is willing to welcome back his old adversary.

But back to McLaren, during the Canadian Grand Prix, Ron Dennis said that Hamilton’s current five-year contract was signed in ‘a very different economic climate’, which means Dennis thinks Hamilton will certainly not get £100 million for a new contract, which would mean he would have to accept a substantial pay-cut.

Hamilton said about Dennis at the time, “Ron is a very tough negotiator. He was very tough when they negotiated the contract that I now have and I expect him to be the same when we go back in … I just have to wait for things to fall into place. At some stage they will.”

Indeed, Hamilton could be right, things will fall into place, and with Twittergate still fresh in Dennis’ mind, Dennis could become an even tougher negotiator, even tougher than Hamilton can ever imagine …

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.