May 20, 2011

F1 Practice: Spain 2011 (UPDATED)

Interesting news bits from Spain today, so lets get right to it.

First off, as the first real stop on the European leg of the F1 season (Turkey doesn't really count, since it's still pretty far from the team factories), every team has introduced a ton of new modifications to their chassis.  None of them were major... a tweak to the front wing here, a clip to the rear bodywork there, that sort of thing... but McLaren introduced "between 10 and 12" mods for this race, as an example.  That's not out of the ordinary; I'm sure most of the teams put the same amount of changes on their cars.  so what will all these changes mean?  I haven't the faintest idea, but here's the thing: neither does anybody else, including the teams. 

Next up, the FIA issued a command on Wednesday that made the teams scream.  One of the new technical developments that many of the teams have implemented is a neat trick with the exhaust.  As you know, when you push down on the accelerator in a car, the engine goes and exhaust is pushed out the... um... exhaust... at various speeds.  The harder the engine works, the higher velocity the exhaust is blown out.  Logical, right?  Well, most of the teams have repositioned their tailpipes so that the gas from the exhaust is blown over the rear diffuser, increasing the downforce generated.  Again, perfectly logical.  Well, the neat trick is that some of the teams have done something to their engines that, even when the accelerator isn't being pressed, the velocity of the exhaust gases is kept at a constant.  Now that's cool!  You can hear it during the races, a weird flatulence as they go through a corner or shift down.  Getting back to the FIA's fatwa, they decided to ban the constant velocity exhaust, effective for the Spanish Grand Prix.  Their rationale?  Because the exhaust flow is being used to improve the aerodynamics of the car, a part of the exhaust system violates the rule against "movable aerodynamic devices" (never mind DRS).  What part of the exhaust system breaks the rule?  The engine!  After all, the pistons move...  Of course, the teams immediately protested.  Not because they couldn't do the modifications in time, I'm sure they could.  The teams are saying the removal of the constant exhaust will ruin the stability of the cars, as they've been designed to have that additional airflow over the diffuser.  Remove that, they say, and the cars will be too dangerous to drive.  The matter has been referred to the F1 Working Group and a final decision will be issued "soon." 

Third, Pirelli has made a change to their hard compound tire and has debuted it here at Spain.  The short version is that it's now a SUPER-hard tire, and is predicted to last maybe 24 or 25 laps, instead of 16 or 12.  The tradeoff, of course, is that they have the grip of a newborn baby.  As a result, they are two seconds per lap slower than the soft tires.  Should make things interesting towards the end of the race, particularly if someone gambles by going off-sequence with their tire choices, like Mark Webber did at China.  Unsurprisingly, the drivers are united in their hatred for the new tire.  Lewis Hamilton calls them "disastrous."  Gandalf Kobayashi said "The new superhard compound gives you the feeling you are driving a totally different car. They are so slow."  To which I suggest, "shut up and drive."

Fourth up, the Circuit de Catalunya did something interesting during the offseason.  They excavated all the graveltraps at the track and replaced the kittylitter with larger-diameter stones.  This was in reaction to Lewis Hamilton's accident last year, and Heikki Kovaleinninninnie's crash in 2008, both of which were caused by a piece of gravel getting caught in the the front-left wheel and milling through the metal.  The larger gravel should prevent the stones from getting stuck in the first place, though it'd be even better if the drivers could keep their cars out of the kittylitter...

Finally, Kimi Raikkonen, former World Driving Champion and current rallycar driver, is making his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series tonight, driving the #15 Perky Jerky Toyota Tundra.

Perky Jerky.  A legendary marque, the equal to Ferrari or McLaren, for sure.  I'll be watching the race tonight, just to see how Mumbles does... of course, I'll pass along information afterwards!

UPDATE:  Kimi ended up 15th in his first truck series race.  He bumped the wall a couple of times, but so did just about everybody else at one time or another.  The Charlotte Motor Speedway was apparently quite the vicious beast today, never quite settling down and never, ever, generating much in the way of traction.  Everybody was loose during the race.  That Kimi made it through the whole thing without wrecking or spinning was impressive as heck.  He showed a lot of the car handling skills that made him the 2007 F1 World Champion, making some passes, avoiding two or three wrecks that happened dead ahead of him, just driving a solid race.  For his first time in a NASCAR truck with other racers around him, he did a helluva job.  However, some things will never change:

"Mrmmmrmrrmrmbl mrmrblbbmmrblmrmmm mrmrblbmmrmrmr.  Mmrmmrb mrmrbrmmllbrr mrmmrmr." - Kimi Raikkonen (note: real quote from post-race interview... man I've missed that)

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:53 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1

Perky Jerky?

I wasn't going to watch tonight's race, but won't miss it now.  ;-)

Posted by: Mallory at May 20, 2011 05:27 PM (WJ2qy)

2 The tire strategy & management will be the key IMO. Having great control of wear & conservation gives I think Jenson & Mark the edge but then again pole is proven a key too. I'm looking forward to a great race.

Posted by: von Krag at May 20, 2011 06:36 PM (VGXAE)

3 I agree, Kimi did a wonderful job in his first NASCAR race.  Impressive debut!!! 

Posted by: Mallory at May 21, 2011 07:40 AM (WJ2qy)

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