October 20, 2011

F1 From The Driver's Perspective

Back in 2008 at Brazil, David Coulthard's Chin mounted a camera to his helmet, somewhere in the vicinity of his mouth, to give viewers at home the first ever taste of what it's like to be in a F1 car at speed in a race.  He was promptly wrecked in Turn 2 of the first lap.  So much for that.

Until now.

This is Lucas di Grassi doing an installation lap in the old Toyota TF109 at Barcalounger, Spain.  He lost his seat with Virgin at the end of last year, but he's now the official test driver for Pirelli... and he probably turns more laps than any two or three drivers combined nowadays.  He's the guy who tests all of Pirelli's rubber compounds, after all.  Modify the softs to make them a little more durable?  Let Lucas find out if it worked!  Introducing a new super-super-soft?  Let Lucas find out if it'll last more than a quarter-lap!  Figured out a new tread pattern for the Intermediates?  Give Lucas a raincoat and let him drive!  Except for the whole "threat of instant flaming death" thing, it's nearly the perfect job he's got. 

Recently, he strapped on two cameras; one to the top of his helmet, the other right at eye level.  The top of helmet-cam is nothing we've not seen before... heck, if you've ever played a racing videogame, you know what it looks like.  But the eye-level cam is new.  And, if you talk to di Grassi, it's not one that'll catch on, since it actually blocked his vision out of one eye.  That's right, he drove the lap using just one eye.

No wonder he lost out at Virgin.  But a cool viddy nonetheless!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:45 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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I think what I find interesting is that the gear ratio steps are relatively small. I'm used to the gears in a normal street car, where the steps are like 1.6:1, but it sounded like these were maybe 1.2 or 1.3.

I assume it's so that they can keep the engine within a pretty restricted range when they need maximum power. How many gears do they usually have?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 21, 2011 02:16 PM (+rSRq)

2 Never occurred to me that you'd get that much wind noise, but it makes perfect sense, in a way. Miracle they can hear anything on the radio...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at October 21, 2011 02:54 PM (GJQTS)

3 Steven, the tech regs state that the gearbox has to have between four and seven forward, one reverse.  I don't think any of the teams either this year or last had anything other than 7 gears forward.

If you watch the video, you can see the gear number pop up on the steering wheel, right in the center.  di Grassi only reaches 6th in the viddy, but there's one point where he's maxed in 6th.  I don't remember if the TF109 had only a six-speed gearbox, though.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 21, 2011 04:29 PM (o45Mg)

4 You just answered another question I've had, which is whether they had a reverse. I'd guessed they did not, and had to be pushed backwards. But I guess that having a reverse is necessary for safety reasons.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 21, 2011 05:15 PM (+rSRq)

5 The regs say there has to be a reverse gear.  They don't say that it has to work.  It's really a coin-flip as to whether or not it will.  Rubens Barrichello lost most of a practice session at Singapore this year because he wound up with his nose right up against the armco as he blew a corner.  He couldn't back up because his car couldn't engage reverse.  It was in the gearbox, but...

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 21, 2011 07:29 PM (o45Mg)

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