Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pit Stop – Turbo is back with a bang – By Lewis Brearley

Formula One testing gets underway only next week but until then there’s nothing really to except speculate. Who’s going to surprise? Who’s going to fail? How ugly exactly are the new cars?

However, all this is just an exercise in futility so until testing actually happens it’s worth looking back to Formula One’s previous turbo era: 1978 – 1988.

Renault was the very first team to race with a turbocharged engine, a 1.5 litre V6. While at first it was unanimously seen as a joke, slow and extremely unreliable, but by the end of the season the first signs of promise were visible.

The lack of reliability would plague the Renault throughout their span in the sport. Alain Prost had runs at the title in 1981, 1982 and 1983 but was always hampered by his car’s inability to finish.

All this disappointment and the loss of Prost to McLaren, caused Renault to withdraw from the sport at the end of 1985. However their turbo technology had revolutionised the sport.

By 1984 all the teams were using 1.5l turbocharged engines and the McLaren-TAG combination began to dominate despite impressive competition from Williams-Honda, taking three successive drivers’ championships from 1984-1986.

1987 saw the Williams-Honda finally take a driver’s championship with Nelson Piquet after his team mate, Nigel Mansell, severely injured his back which forced him to miss the final two races.

The year after was the final year for the turbos as they were banned for 1989 in a bid to slow the car’s down. But it was the final turbo year – 1988 – which came to define the era that preceded it.

McLaren procured the awesome Honda engine thanks to signing Ayrton Senna, who had built up a close relationship with the Japanese company in his time at Lotus. When combined with Alain Prost, then a double world champion, it delivered a championship double after winning an unprecedented and unbeaten 15 race wins out of 16 races.

The only thing that stopped McLaren taking a 100% sweep was the infamous incident at Monza, where Jean-Louis Schlesser turned in on Senna while being lapped, which cost McLaren the victory.

Despite the fact that the 2014 engines use turbos, the new and upcoming turbo era is going to be very different from the eighties. Whereas the old era was all about pure, awesome power with engines giving out more than 1000bhp when on maximum boost. This new era will be much more focused towards efficiency and refined power.

The turbo itself has a system where a large proportion of the waste heat from inside the turbo is stored and then utilised by the engine.

The style of racing will change for next year and whether it’s popular or not the technology inside the cars is an interesting and impressive step  up from the past few years.

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Pit Stop – Testing is close – By Lewis Brearley

It is now just one week until Formula One testing gets underway at Jerez and the hype is beginning to build.

Despite the confidence of the Lotus team that they wouldn’t be the only ones to miss the first test, they remain the only team to have announced that they won’t be there.

The effect this will have on Lotus’s preparations for the new season is as yet unknown and probably won’t be until the Australian grand prix on 16 March, but with the huge implications of the complex new regulations added to the negative stories around the finances of the team, it is generally expected to be a significant setback.

Yet, as the team and their fans will argue, setbacks during pre-season testing can be overcome. Lotus themselves lost two days of running last season when they found their new chassis was cracked and McLaren are infamous for their tendency to have poor starts to the season and often manage to overcome their problems by the time the season gets going.

Another big unknown is the driver situation at Caterham, who haven’t yet announced their partnering. Rumours gathered pace this week that one will be Kamui Kobayashi, the popular and exciting talent who has been out of the sport for a year.

When taken amid the current furore over the prevalence of pay drivers, if Caterham does decide to sign Kobayashi, it will be a real positive for the sport and certainly should give Paul di Resta confidence that it is possible to return to Formula One after being dropped.

His team mate is likely to be the young Marcus Ericsson, who has shown inconsistent flashes of speed in four seasons in GP2. He was often seen around the Caterham garage last season which backs up the rumours that he will be driving for them next year.

Regardless of who gets signed, the fact that Caterham haven’t yet announced their drivers raises eyebrows. With the competition to get seats being so high, perhaps they are just using the luxury of holding all the cards, and using all the time to make sure they get the best deal they possibly can.

Interesting things are also happening at McLaren. While they may have their driver line up of Jenson Button and the promising Kevin Magnussen sealed, they executive structure is set for a re shuffle.

Ron Dennis wrested back the controls of the team from his former trusted protégé, Martin Whitmarsh after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the team’s recent lack of success.

In his statement Dennis said to prepare for “changes to be made” and with Honda teaming up with McLaren next year, former Honda team principal and recently retired Ross Brawn is a possible new team principal.

McLaren really need a strong year, and next week at Jerez, Button will find out whether he has the car to be able to bid for his second world championship.

The teams are now almost ready but as of now it’s all unknowns.

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Pit Stop – World Rally Championship – By Lewis Brearley

The 2014 World Rally Championship begins next week with one of the most highly anticipated Monte Carlo rallies of all time.

The grid has had an almost complete overhaul with only the Volkswagen line up of reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andrea Mikkelsen remaining unchanged.

Last year’s surprise package, Thierry Neuville, has joined the brand new Hyundai team. The Korean operation has plenty of doubters but journalists who were invited to the team’s factory were highly impressed by the facilities and determination of the new team to challenge Volkswagen for the championship.

The success of the debuting i20 WRC is in safe hands with Neuville, who surprised many by outperforming Mads Ostberg on his way to second place in the 2013 championship. If the Hyundai is good enough Neuville will surely be in the running for his first WRC win.

However, to do so will require Neuville to beat heavy competition. Outside of the formidable Ogier-Volkswagen partnership and his highly talented team mate Latvala, both the old hands Ford and Citroen have all new driver partnerships.

In the winter Ford announced its big marquee signing, Robert Kubica. The ex-Formula One driver has shown extraordinary pace in WRC2 and the ERC, including a brilliant, last stage win in the first round of the 2014 ERC.

His success at stepping up to the highest level of rallying will be measured quite easily thanks to his team mate being the fast and reliable Mikko Hirvonen, who moves back to Ford after two years with Citroen. If Kubica outpaces Hirvonen in Monte Carlo it will be a huge story and if Kubica does the unthinkable and actually wins the rally he would be the first man in history to win in both Formula One and the WRC.

Ford have also replaced the unpredictable Evgeny Novikov with the Welsh youngster, Elfyn Evans. Winner of the WRC Academy championship in 2012, Evans has the opportunity to learn from two amazing talents but conversely also faces the risk of being put in the shade by them. And in a sport where confidence rules, that could be damaging.

Evans does have the talent to shine if he approached the championship in the right way and may even sneak a rally win if things go his way, however it’s highly unlikely to be next week’s Monte Carlo rally.

The final challenges are from Citroen, a team looking to bounce back to success after a poor 2013 season and are another team with a brand new line up. Mads Ostberg is in pretty much the same boat after he was unexpectedly beaten at Ford by Neuville but has stated he is much more confident in the Citroen. If he can return to being at the front of rallies, the sport will be all the better for it as he looked to have the full package back in 2012.

His team mate is the former IRC champion, Kris Meeke. Being a rather unknown quantity and likely Citroen’s second choice as they attempted to sign Kubica, his potential in the WRC is a mystery. However, he is an experienced rally hand and it’s probable he’ll slip into a reliable point scoring role rather than a rally winner.

For a sport so used to domination by the now retired Sebastien Loeb, the 2014 Monte seems like a bright, fresh start with an expanded grid full of both experienced and untried but promising talent.

Whatever happens next week, all that’s known is that the winner of the Monte will be validated as one of the world’s great drivers.

Bowled Over – Australia Complete Ashes Whitewash – By Luqman Liaqat

Australia eased to a 281-run victory inside three day at Sydney to complete a 5-0 Ashes whitewash against England.

The third day was a subject of surrender from the tourists, as they were bowled out for 166 in 31.4 overs after being set a target of 448 with Michael Carberry’s top score of 43.

Ryan Harris (5-25) applied the polishing touches, taking the final two wickets of Stuart Broad and Boyd Rankin while Mitchell Johnson claimed three victims to finish with a total of 37 wickets for the series.

The opening day of the fifth and final test begun with a different look for England as Alaistair Cook won the toss for the first time in the series and put the hosts into bat first.

David Warner fell early for 16 when he was bowled by a Broad inswinger and then Ben Stokes saw Chris Rodgers play onto his own stumps when attempting a pull on 11.

Stokes was the beneficiary for the Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s downfall when he edged straight to Ian Bell at second slip. The fourth wicket of Shane Watson was England’s first lbw of the series as the hosts were left teetering on 94-4 at lunch.

After the break, George Bailey became the fifth Aussie batsman to fall cheaply, however as in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne that was a green light for another fightback from Brad Haddin.

Rankin went off with an injury and debutant Scott Borthwick was under an assault having his first three overs go for 21. Haddin raced to his fourth half-century of the Ashes series off 70 balls, with strong support from Steve Smith.

Seeing the end of Haddin’s innings was a huge surprise when he edged to Cook for 75 and the partnership with Smith was worth 128 moving the score onto 225-6.

Smith profited from England’s many short balls and full tosses, the Australian right hander crashed a six and four from consecutive balls to move to his third test ton.

After Johnson’s dismissal, Harris smashed James Anderson for two boundaries before driving Stokes to short extra-cover for 22. Stokes then had Peter Siddle and Smith (115) in next three balls for admirable figures of 6-99 as the Austrian innings closed on 326.

Before the close, more misery was to hit England, this time with the bat as Carberry fended Johnson to a diving Nathan Lyon before Cook and night watchman Anderson survived at stumps on 8-1.

The horror show began from the off on day two for England as soon as the skipper himself left an inswinger from Harris for a plumb leg before. After Bell was dropped by Watson, nightwatchman Anderson followed shortly edging Johnson to a diving Clarke at second slip.

From 14-3 it became 17-4 when Kevin Pietersen pushed Harris (3-36) with hard hands leaving Watson with a simple catch. Bell was still struggling and only got off the mark after 40 minutes at the crease before Siddle produced a beautiful delivery to take his outside edge.

With a target of 127 to avoid the follow-on, there was a chance for the match being finished in two days. After debutant batsman Gary Ballance fell, Stokes provided a dogged effort to add 49 on the eighth wicket with Jonny Bairstow (18).

Stokes was out for 47 when he shouldered arms to have his off stumps hammered back by Siddle (3-23). Borthwick edged to third slip as England collapsed to an abysmal 155-all out.

The hosts started their second innings with a lead of 171, Anderson struck straight away for a leg before of Warner and had Watson caught behind for nine as the English seamers toiled in the warm evening.

Broad had Clarke for six and Stokes saw Smith edge to Cook at slip but Rodgers scored another careful fifty with Bailey who was on a handy 20 not out as Australia were on 140-4 at stumps (311 runs ahead).

Rodgers transformed his overnight 73 into another ton as he cut Pietersen away for his 14th boundary from 143 deliveries and extended the stand with Bailey to 109.

Bailey scored 46, before pulling Broad into Borthwick’s palms in the deep and it was the first of six wickets going down at either side of lunch. Haddin (28) was aggressive before dragging Borthwick onto his stumps and Johnson was bowled by Stokes (2-62), giving him eight victims for the match.

Rodgers 119 run stay at the crease came to an end when Borthwick claimed a diving catch from his own bowling and then had Harris caught in the deep for 13.

Rankin picked the final wicket of Siddle for his maiden test scalp, caught behind, as the hosts second innings closed on 276 and set the tourists a target of 448.

Cook (7) fenced a short ball from Johnson and then edged behind before Bell after a making a promising start guided a cut off Harris straight to gully.

When Pietersen was on his way for six to Harris, a familiar England batting disarray was under way.

Carberry showed some resistance, but was sent packing to the second ball of the evening session by Johnson. Three deliveries later, Balance (7) was hit on the pads from one that kept low from the tourists’ nemesis Johnson.

Lyon then had his say taking two wickets in an over, Bairstow fell for duck to an excellent catch by Bailey at short-leg and Clarke pulled off an absolutely magnificent low catch to see off Borthwick.

Stokes (32) reacted by going on an all-out attack, dominating a stand of 44 with Broad before being bowled out when attempting a slog of Harris.

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Pit Stop – Part One of 2014 Season – By Lewis Brearley

It’s scary to think that by the end of this month, pre-season testing in Formula One will already be underway. It gives you a sense of the work rate needed by the teams to get their new cars made and transported to Spain just two months after they packed up their 2013 cars in Sao Paulo.

But this year the turnaround is even more complex than usual. The 2014 cars are designed to brand new technical regulations: new engines, new KERS, new exhausts and new aerodynamics.
When the teams turn up and unveil their new cars on 28 January down at Jerez, Spain a new era of Formula One will begin.

The biggest change will be the introduction of 1.6 litre, turbocharged engines – or “power units” as they are being termed – with much more powerful energy recovery systems than the 2013 cars.

The power unit will contain both a kinetic energy recovery system similar to the ones used in 2013, only more powerful, and a second system which will utilise waste power from the turbo. However, unlike 2013 this energy will be used automatically and not at the press of a button.

Furthermore this system will be restricted to using only 100kg for the entire race with a maximum flow rate of 100kg per hour meaning fuel efficiency may be almost as important as outright power.

Next, the requirement of a single exhaust exiting the centre of the car at an upright angle, eradicating practically all of the downforce derived from blowing the exhaust gases towards the diffuser – Red Bull’s specialty.

The other changes are aerodynamic such as a front wing 75mm narrower and, for safety reasons, a much lower nose. These will affect the flow of air around the entire car and therefore are perhaps much more important than they may first appear.

The decrease in engine power combined with the loss of aerodynamic downforce means the 2014 cars are almost certainly going to be slower than the 2013 cars, as was intended by the regulations. How much slower they will be is unknown however, but the pessimistic predictions of silent cars circling six seconds slower is probably rubbish.

Even if the pace of the cars is much slower, such is the pace of development at the top teams that they will soon close in on the speed of the V8 machines.

The truth is that no one, not even Adrian Newey at Red Bull or Pat Fry at Ferrari, knows what next season will bring and that’s why 2014 is so highly anticipated. By the end of this month the first piece of the puzzle will be in place.

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