Tag Archives: DRS

Lotus protest DRS-duct

The Lotus F1 Team has lodged a formal protest with the Chinese Grand Prix stewards against the DRS-activated f-duct run by Mercedes so far this year.

The device, which reduces front wing drag when the DRS is deployed, results in higher straight-line speeds, but other teams have questioned it’s legality.

Article 3.15 of the technical regulations prohibits the driver from influencing the aerodynamics of the car, with the exception of activation the DRS system. Lotus argue that the DRS-duct is driver-activated, while Mercedes counter that it is a secondary effect of the Drag Reduction System.

The debate is crucial because with chassis homologated for the entire season, it may be impossible for some teams to implement their own version of the system – similar to the McLaren F-duct in 2010.

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Raikkonen: I would not have come back if I wasn’t motivated

 

Kimi, you have decided to come back to Formula 1. Why are you coming back?
The main reason was that I never really lost the passion for racing in Formula 1, just maybe for all the other things around it. But when I did some NASCAR races this year I noticed that I was increasingly missing the racing side – to race against each other – because in rallying you really race against the clock. And then I got the call from certain people in Formula 1. All sorts of things happened and we managed to have a nice conversation with Lotus and make a deal – I’m really very happy with that!

Why did you choose Lotus?
Really there were two options – it was this team or Williams. And everything worked out with Lotus as we wanted, so that’s really the reason.

Have you been following the team and the performance this year?
I didn’t follow Formula 1 much at all last year. This year I followed it a bit more but not really any specific team. I watched the last 20 laps of the last race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, and because I knew this was going to happen I also watched how the Lotus team did. But before that I didn’t know anything about what was going to happen or that there would be a deal in Formula 1 for next year, so I just watched Formula 1 as a whole. I saw a few races but nothing special.

Do you think Formula 1 will be very different for you from what you know from 2009, with the DRS, Pirelli tyres, etc?
Comparing 2009 to next year the biggest difference will probably be the tyres. I don’t think there is a lot of difference with the cars. DRS is a new thing but this is basically similar to before. The button that used to be for the front wing has disappeared, so now it’s for the rear wing. I would guess the main difference is really the tyres.

Personally, what’s the main difference from the Kimi Räikkönen we saw in 2009 – in which way are you a better driver?
I don’t know – I’ve been away for two years. I haven’t driven and I haven’t even sat in a Formula 1 car since the last race in 2009. I’m interested to get back into the car, I’m two years older now and I don’t think anything else has really changed. It has been really nice to try to learn rallying in the last few years. On some days it was hard. It’s been easier this year than last year but still it’s a very difficult sport. I’m really looking forward to coming back. At least Formula 1 is something where I know how everything works as I’ve been there for many years – compared to rallying when I didn’t know what would really happen. Then I went to NASCAR and I had no clue how it would be. So in that way it should be much, much easier to come back and it should be pretty normal.

Have you already changed your training routine?
I kept training the whole time for the rallying but of course it’s not so physical – in the rallies it’s more that you have to sit in the car for the whole week. In Formula 1, it is more physical but over a shorter time. A month ago I started to get back into proper training for Formula 1. The neck is the most difficult thing to get ready but we still have plenty of time.

When you think about your last race in 2009, what is the feeling you have of driving in Formula 1?
I certainly remember all the braking and how quickly everything happens. But compared to rallying, say, you have slightly more time. In rallying, it doesn’t give you a second chance. When you make a mistake you go off. There are no run-off areas. In Formula 1 you have a lot of run-off areas, you can run a bit wide and it is not such a big deal. You lose a lap in the practice or in qualifying but in the race you maybe don’t even lose a place. So this time, the braking and the G-forces will certainly come back very quickly. The biggest thing will definitely be to get the neck used to it again. All the rest will take a while but it’s not really a big thing.

Six world champions on the grid next year, you are coming back to Formula 1 – how big of a boost is it for your motivation?
I would not have come back if I wasn’t motivated. There is always a lot of talk about motivation but nobody really knows what I do or what I think apart from myself so I don’t really care about what people say. But I’m happy to be coming back. I wouldn’t put my name onto a contract if I didn’t think I’d really enjoy it – so it will be interesting and exciting to get back!

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Picture Credits: Lotus F1

BRA: McLaren Preview

Lewis Hamilton

“Winning in Abu Dhabi last week was a fantastic feeling, and it’s made me even more determined to finish the 2011 season with a victory. It would be great to go into the winter off the back of another win, so that’ll be my aim next weekend.

“It’s rare for there to be a straightforward race at Interlagos – particularly if the weather plays a role. I hear it’s been raining heavily in Sao Paulo at the moment – if it rains on Sunday, anything could happen. I remember having one of my best races in Formula 1 there in 2009 when I qualified 17th in seriously wet conditions, but raced up to third by the chequered flag. I spent the whole race overtaking people – it was brilliant.

“Of course, for Jenson and myself, Interlagos is the circuit where we won the world championship, so it will always hold some happy memories for us. In fact, I’ve only been here once [in 2009] when I wasn’t in contention for the championship. This year, with both titles already wrapped up, I want to enjoy myself: and I think we have the car to once again make a difference– we’ll pick up where we left off in Abu Dhabi, I hope.

“I think we’re all set for a great end to the 2011 championship: Interlagos is a fantastic circuit, one of the best on the calendar, and I think the combination of KERS Hybrid and DRS, plus the possibility of wet weather, mean we’re all set for a fascinating race.”

Jenson Button

“You’re struck by the sense of history whenever you go to Interlagos. There’s the bust of Carlos Pace on the way in to the circuit, and so many great drivers have come from here – including two McLaren world champions, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna. It’s such a unique place: it’s always an exciting experience to be racing around in the bowl with the packed grandstands looking down on you.

“There are a lot of physical challenges to overcome at Interlagos. It’s a busy lap with a lot of corners and gradients. I can only imagine what it must have been like to race here in the 1970s when it was twice as long but still packed into the same amount of space. Although it’s not the only anti-clockwise circuit on the calendar, the combination of bumps, gradients and corner speeds put a lot of stress on neck muscles that are more used to turning right than turning left.

“KERS Hybrid will play an important role at this circuit because there is quite a short drag from the start line to the first corner. Towards the end of the lap you’ve got a long uphill section out of the final corner and the power will certainly help there, too. And, if you can’t get past into the first corner, then I definitely think you’ll be able to close up along the start/finish straight and then have a look at passing on the short straight ahead of Turn Four, using DRS.

“I think we proved in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago that McLaren Mercedes still wants to win races even though both championships are now settled. Certainly I’m determined to win my fourth grand prix of the year, even if it means fighting all the way to the last lap of the last race.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal

“While everybody at McLaren Mercedes is extremely proud of Lewis’s dominant victory in Abu Dhabi, we’ve already switched focus to Brazil and are relishing the prospect of taking home back-to-back wins with which to end our 2011 season.

“Many of the recent races in Brazil have been complex, fascinating and gripping, particularly for McLaren Mercedes: in 2007, we came within a hair’s breadth of winning the title with either driver; the following year, Lewis so memorably snatched the title at the very final corner; in ’09, as Jenson blazed to the title, while Lewis drove with incredible commitment to finish on the podium. Last year, we held on to our championship aspirations with a double points finish.

“A victory here would be particularly satisfying. In fact, we’re keen to take our seventh win of the season here. Lewis and Jenson have now scored three wins apiece this year and each of them are equally motivated to take their fourth. From a team management perspective, that’s an excellent position for us to be in.”

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Picture Credits:Hoch Zwei

ITA: Mercedes Preview

The final European race of the 2011 season, Round 13, the Italian Grand Prix, takes place on Sunday 11 September at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, just outside of Milan. One of the most atmospheric circuits on the calendar, the 5.793 km circuit in the royal park at the heart of Monza features four long straights where top speeds can reach 340 kph.

  • Monza is the fastest circuit of the year with an average lap speed of 255 kph; the season average is 211 kph.
  • The Formula One Italian GP has been won from pole 18 times in 61 races, including seven times in the past ten years.
  • DRS can be used for 74% of the lap (or 4.29 km) in practice and qualifying – the highest percentage of the season.

Michael Schumacher

“The final European race takes place at Monza, a truly historic Formula One circuit, and one where I have always been so warmly welcomed and supported over the years. We achieved a good team result in Spa last weekend, and I especially enjoyed the overtaking battles and the challenge of making up so many places during the race. This gives us a boost going into the final part of the season, and we will continue pushing hard to get the best possible results.”

Nico Rosberg

“I’m really looking forward to the weekend in Monza. We learned at the last race in Spa that our car can be competitive at high-speed tracks, and we definitely took a step forward there. I am confident that we can do that again in Italy next weekend. I visited the factory this week and I’m quite happy with how things are working out there. I’ll be arriving in Italy on Wednesday and attending the FOTA Fans Forum at Pirelli’s headquarters in Milan. It should be a really interesting event and I’m looking forward to the chance to speak with some of our fans there.”

Ross Brawn, Team Principal

“Monza is always a fitting venue for the final European race, and spending a race weekend there is a special experience. The unique high-speed circuit is a classic racing venue, and one of the best places to watch Formula One cars at their very top speeds. Coming off the back of our best result of the season in Spa, we are looking forward to the weekend and to finishing the European season on a high. With the emphasis jointly on engine power and aerodynamic efficiency, we have the benefit of our Mercedes-Benz engine and, as always for Monza, we will run a special low-downforce aerodynamic package to minimise drag on the long straights.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Monza features the highest straightline speeds of the year at around 350 kph, the highest average lap speed and, at 83%, the highest percentage of the lap spent at full throttle – not for nothing is it known as a ‘temple of speed’. The engine and KERS system will play an important role at this circuit, but it is equally important to develop an effective low-drag aerodynamic package and to make sure the car feels stable on the brakes. Michael and Nico both enjoyed strong, trouble-free races in Spa to score a solid result for the team with fifth and sixth places. We will be hoping for more of the same in Monza. Saturday 10 September will also mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Wolfgang von Trips in tragic circumstances in the 1961 race. Von Trips was well-placed to become the first German Formula One World Champion with Ferrari, and also drove sports cars for Mercedes-Benz in the early years of his career.”

Amid the attention attracted this year by both DRS and the performance characteristics of the Pirelli tyres, the return of KERS has been somewhat swamped in the public eye. Yet there’s a firm case to suggest that it, too, has played its own crucial role in enabling the significant increase in overtaking for 2011, with the system being variously used to boost drivers into the ‘DRS zone’ (i.e. less than one second behind the car in front), during the overtaking manoeuvre itself, or even to defend against a car behind with DRS in operation. While no hard data exists on this point, anecdotal evidence suggests KERS plays a role in nearly every overtaking manoeuvre for cars equipped with the system – as well as providing a valuable area of cutting-edge research into electronics and battery technology; in fact, exactly what the philosophy of Formula One has always been about.

How does the Mercedes-Benz KERS work?
The Mercedes-Benz KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) has been developed by Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth, UK with the support of Mercedes-Benz R&D in Sindelfingen, Germany – a process that also resulted in significant knowledge transfer to series production of hybrid technology. The KERS is made up of the Motor Generator Unit (MGU), the Power Electronics (PE) and a number of batteries that make up the Energy Storage System (ESS). When harvesting power that would otherwise be dissipated as heat through the braking system, the MGU works as a generator, providing three-phase electricity to the PE. This converts the electricity to DC voltage, and stores the energy in the battery. The process works in reverse when the driver requests boost, with the generator unit becoming a motor to supplement the engine power. The processes of harvesting and boosting are both approximately 80% efficient.

How large is the Mercedes-Benz KERS?
The motor in the MGU is approximately ten times smaller than commercial automotive units, while the battery is around eight times smaller than those commercially available. Overall, there are approximately 3,500 parts in a single KERS! It is a true example of cutting-edge engineering.

What is the lap time benefit of KERS at Monza?
The lap time gain from full use of KERS is over 0.4s at Monza. This compares to a lowest value so far this season of approximately 0.3s per lap in Hungary.

Why is Monza such a potent circuit for KERS usage?
The best-case scenario for KERS boosting is relatively slow corners followed by very long straights – exactly what Monza features plenty of. There are four times in the lap (out of Turns 2, 7, 10 and 11) when the car accelerates from relatively low speed to near terminal velocity, and this means that there is a relatively large lap-time benefit from boosting out of any of these four corners. Typical KERS deployment in Monza would see four boosts per lap, which are delivered to the wheels 20ms after the button is pressed.

As well as high speeds, Monza features heavy braking. Does that make it a good circuit for harvesting energy?
The cars spend over 12% of the lap (more than 10 seconds) on the brakes in Monza, with the braking event for Turn 1 seeing them shed around 265kph. However, Monza is actually the most marginal circuit of the year for KERS harvesting, owing to the low number of braking events during the lap: just six in total (Turns 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11).

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Picture credit: Mercedes Grand Prix

ITA: Sauber Preview

Endless straights, high speeds, flat wings and an impressive history alongside a lot of passion – that is what Monza is famous for. The Italian Grand Prix, to be held on September 9th to 11th in the Royal Park of Monza near Milan, marks the end of the European season. The Sauber F1 Team wants to continue its positive trend with regard to qualifying performance and both drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez, are desperate to score points in the race after having been left empty handed at the recent Grand Prix in Belgium.

13th of 19 Rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 9-11 September 2011

Kamui Kobayashi (car number 16):

“Monza will be challenging, we have to find the best possible set-up for the car and see how fast we can go on the long straights. Last year we qualified 12th, which wasn’t too bad, because we expected difficulties there. Hopefully the race this year can be better. Last year I didn’t manage to do the race because I had a technical problem, and I retired on my first lap after starting from the pit lane. But this year I am quite confident of doing a good race. I like Monza. I have driven quite a lot there because I did Formula Renault Italia. I have also done GP2, but that wasn’t nice as I remember there was a lot of rain then. Anyway, I like the track and the town, as there are a couple of nice restaurants, it is quite close to Milan and it is always nice to go there as well.”

Sergio Pérez (car number 17):

“I’m very much looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix. The track in Monza is one of my favourites. There I did what I regard as my best race weekend so far. It was in Formula 3 when I qualified 14th and won both races. In 2007 and 2008 I raced there in F3 and then also in GP2. The very long straights in Monza could be tough for us. I want to maintain a good rhythm with positive performances in qualifying and for the start. Then, of course, I want to finish the race and score points for the team. It is my aim to finish the European season on a high. The race weekend there always has a very special atmosphere, and I can’t wait to take part for the first time in the Formula One Grand Prix. I like the people in Italy a lot and, of course, I’m a fan of Italian food.”

James Key, Technical Director:

“The Italian Grand Prix in Monza is a unique event for many reasons. First of all it’s a very old and famous circuit with a great deal of motor racing history behind it, and is a place where teams have been going for many years. It also has one of the greatest atmospheres of the year, with huge support from all the fans. Technically it’s by far the lowest drag level circuit of the season. To get the drag down to levels which are optimum you have to reduce downforce, which is why we call it a low downforce track, although fundamentally it’s a low drag track. It’s a mix of long straights with two chicanes. Certainly the first one provides an overtaking opportunity, followed by a whole range of low to high speed corners in sector two – with the Lesmo corners and the Ascari – and then a very tricky corner, the Parabolica at the end of the lap, which is quite critical for carrying as much speed as possible down the pit straight.

“Although the lap is quite simple, it’s quite technical particularly with the downforce level you are running. You need a well balanced car through these corners. It’s also critical for braking, because the top speeds are by far the highest of the year, and you’re braking down to a very low speed for the two chicanes. In addition, the kerbs play their role in these chicanes, although in recent years the amount of kerbs you can use has been limited a bit. So it has a lot of different aspects to it. Overtaking can be expected in two places, although we don’t know yet how effective the DRS will be in such a low downforce setting. The tyres will be the soft and medium compound, as in Spa-Francorchamps. For the car we will have a modified front wing for low downforce settings and a rear wing specific to Monza.”

Circuit: Autodromo Nazionale Monza / 5.793 km
Race distance: 53 laps / 306.720 km
Schedule: Qualifying and Race at 14:00 hrs local time (12:00 hrs GMT)

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Picture Credits: Sauber Motorsport AG

ITA: McLaren Preview

Lewis Hamilton

“Last year, I won at Spa and failed to finish at Monza. For this year, I guess I’m looking to reverse that sequence! I’ve already moved on from my non-finish in Belgium and I’m really looking forward to returning to Italy, a place where I spent a lot of time racing karts: it’s a country I really love.

“I think we go into the weekend feeling pretty optimistic. I’ve never won at Monza and I’d love to get a good result this year. I’m particularly looking forward to qualifying, because I think DRS will make a huge difference to our laptimes, and I really want to get the maximum out of the car in quali – and then look forward to a strong race, of course.

“With unlimited use in quali, and those four long straights, I think qualifying’s going to be pretty intense: we’ll be 20km/h faster at four key points of the circuit, so our quali times are going to be much faster than in the race. That should be pretty exciting.

“For the race, you’ll also need the downforce, though, because you’ll want to be quick enough out of the second Lesmo and Parabolica to be in with a chance of challenging for position down the following straight.

“I think things are set for another very closely matched race – I’m really looking forward to it.”

Jenson Button

“It’s going to be the usual difficult trade-off between drag and downforce to find the ultimate package for the race. Last year, Lewis and I opted to follow two different paths – Lewis went for the low-downforce configuration and I went for more grip, at the expense of straightline speed. That meant that, although I had the laptime, I didn’t quite have the opportunity to mount an attack for the lead, because I couldn’t get close enough along the straights to have a go into the braking areas.

“But I think things will be a little more mixed-up this year. For the second time this season, we’ll have two distinct DRS zones, with two potential passing opportunities. The first zone’s going to be interesting because it’s always been very tough to challenge for position under braking for Ascari – the track’s pretty narrow and it’s a fast entry – so I’ll be really interested to see how well DRS will work into that corner – we might see some pretty spectacular moves!

“I think the more conventional passing opportunity will come from the second DRS zone, getting as close as possible into Parabolica, holding on through the corner – which won’t be straightforward – and then deploying DRS down the start/finish straight before, hopefully, passing into Turn One.

“The DRS is going to be a pretty major asset for a following car, and it might shape the race in some really interesting ways.”

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Perhaps it’s a bit premature to be discussing the return of the epic ‘Monza slipstreamer’, but I think the whole team is going to Italy keen to see if DRS will create the sort of exciting and unpredictable grands prix that we either watched or read about when we were younger.

“At the very least, going to Monza is always a very evocative and historic occasion – perhaps more than any other circuit, you can really feel the sport’s past here, and it’s become the perfect venue to bid farewell to the European season before we head to the final flyaways. I think it’s very important that Formula 1 keeps hold of these ‘classics’ – which also includes circuits such as Spa, Silverstone and Monaco – while also investing in new venues for the future.

“Despite its age, Monza certainly never gets any easier: selecting gear ratios to cope with the demands of DRS through both qualifying and the race will be tricky. At Spa, the DRS ban through Eau Rouge meant that maximum velocity at the top of the hill was pretty much the same through qualifying and the race. For Monza, there are no limitations, so it will be very different, and getting it right will require a lot of thought and experimentation.

“It’s rewarding to know that, even after 61 grands prix at Monza, the circuit is as much of a challenge as ever – that’s a great testament to the enduring appeal of the place, and the restlessly competitive nature of Formula 1.”

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Picture Credits: Hoch Zwei