May 25, 2007

Welcome to Monte Carlo!

Ever wonder what it looks like to drive a lap or two at Monaco? Well, here's your chance to ride along with Ferrari's Felipe Massa as he does a 1.5 laps during practice at last year's Grand Prix!

Just click here.

The video starts as Massa exits Mirabeau and begins to head downhill into the Lowes Hairpin (make sure to watch his hands). Be amazed that anybody can drive fast into, through, and out of the tunnel (it's bright/it's dark/it's bright again). He crosses the start/finish line at about :53.5 seconds. The first turn after that is Sainte Devote, where many cars go to die, and then the track starts to head back up hill.

Oh, and by the way... 57 gearshifts per lap, times 78 laps, equals 4446 shifts per race. Think the gearboxes get a workout here?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:09 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 There's a clip of Shumacher taking 2-3 laps right here. The first lap just looks like a warmup, but when it gets about 1:40 in, you can tell he's driving all out. He's on the apron in every turn and terrifyingly close to the walls all over.

Posted by: Will at May 26, 2007 01:27 AM (olS40)

2 They're using automatic transmissions, aren't they? Somehow it never occurred to me that they would.

But I guess it's necessary; otherwise the driver would spend the entire course with one hand on the shifter.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 26, 2007 10:36 AM (+rSRq)

3 Steven, they use semi-automatic shifting in F1... and they do spend the entire course with a hand on the shifter.

Well, two, actually.

F1 cars have three paddles on the back of the steering wheel, near the driver's fingers. On the right side of the wheel is "gear up," the left is "gear down." The clutch is engaged electro-hydraulically via those paddles, and that shifts the gears (the clutch shifts gears in the 5 millisecond range).

The only exception to this is when the car is going into neutral from 1st, or from neutral TO first. That's the job of the third paddle (which is located on different sides of the wheel, depending on the team). This is really only used a few times: when first starting the car, or when they're sitting on the grid before the race, for example.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 26, 2007 11:10 AM (2nDll)

4 Paddle shifters are starting to show up more and more on the street, frequently in luxury cars and ricers. I'm pretty sure one of the new Mazdas has them from the factory.

Posted by: Will at May 26, 2007 05:09 PM (olS40)

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