April 05, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: China 2017

Shanghai... The Pearl of the Orient.  The showpiece of the Chinese economy.  The most populous city proper in the world.  So why the hell can't it sell out the Formula 1 Grand Prix of China???  Here's the trackmap:

Same as it's been since 2004.  Longest straightaway in F1.  I love that Turns 1-4 complex, for whatever reason.  It just looks like Hermann Tilke threw a french curve on his drafting table and said "yep, that's good."  Or his cat got involved.  Whatever, it's not my favorite circuit on the calendar, but it's hardly my least favorite.  It's just... there.  And while you would think that the new aero rules will turn this circuit on its ear, I've seen a report that estimates that the cars are going to be something like three kilograms short on fuel.  With the increased drag and higher engine output guzzling petrol, they think the cars can't legally have enough gas on board to finish the race!  They can carry 105kg, but will need 108.  Lift and coast, lift and coast... and hope for safety cars and rain.  Well, there's a slight chance of rain at least for race day.  That'll keep down the smog at least.

Speaking of race day, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their level best to make everything exciting!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 1am - 230am live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 2am - 330am  live on NBCSN
Sunday
Grand Prix of China: 1230a - 330am  live on NBCSN

...of course, all times are Pond Central.  Sometime after the race, the F1Update! team will get off their lazy kiesters and do their usual writeup.  Or something.  We'll see you then, then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:44 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 *blink* Are they usually in the habit of not doing the math on this sort of thing? It'll look pretty dumb if cars just start drifting to a halt at the tail end of the race...

Posted by: GreyDuck at April 05, 2017 10:38 PM (rKFiU)

2 That seems like the kind of thing they would know about by this point, and taken steps to correct.

Right?

Posted by: Ben at April 05, 2017 11:46 PM (S4UJw)

3 GD, Ben, you'd think so, wouldn't you?  But here's why their data may be less useful than you'd think.

These cars are new.  New aero rules, new aero fiddlybits, new wings fore and aft, yadda.  Actual real-world hard data on how the cars go along the race track is somewhat thin on the ground... essentially however many laps they turned during pre-season testing at Barcalounger, and one race weekend (Australia).  With me so far?

Now then... take the pre-season data and understand that it only approximates accuracy.  Barcalounger is nothing like Shanghai (for example, there ain't no ginormous straight in Spain... and China has two big'uns).  Moreover, I'm willing to bet that not a single one of the teams ran their full race-level aero package during pre-season testing... don't want to give anything away to the other teams, after all.

So really, the teams were making estimates on how and what the cars would really do in Australia.  Educated estimates, yes, backed up with years/decades of experience and many laps in testing, but still estimates.  Of course, the circuit in Australia is closer to Barcalounger in race style than China, too.

So when you take the "fuzzy" data gleaned from Spain and the harder data pulled in from Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!, then overlay it onto China, which has a greater percentage of time run at full throttle, and where drag plays a larger role, and suddenly it becomes totally understandable that their numbers could be off.  And they're not off by very much at all, if they are...

Three kilograms works out to be (roughly) a gallon or so of fuel, and F1 cars get something above three miles to a gallon... probably more now, with the hybrid power.  China's track is 5.45km long, or 3.38 miles.  So, assuming their numbers are off by 3kg, we're talking about running out of go-juice a lap or so short.  More or less.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 06, 2017 07:35 PM (UDOXQ)

4 Fuel consumption varies with speed and acceleration, so any such estimate is based on an assumptions on how the drivers drive. If fuel consumption really is going to be an issue, the drivers can dial back the accelerations and/or speeds a bit, not that dissimilar to trying to save tires.
Hmm... DRS reduces drag, so what if a driver does a few laps where they use DRS but intentionally doesn't pass, that also ought to reduce fuel consumption!

Posted by: Kayle at April 06, 2017 10:53 PM (y53xD)

5 My instinct says that the variables involved can't be *that* big, but F1 is indeed a game of micrometers and fractions of fractions of seconds...so I guess this really is a big deal.

Posted by: Ben at April 07, 2017 08:29 AM (S4UJw)

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