Tag Archives: Adrian Newey

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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Pit Stop – Vettel makes it nine in a row – By Lewis Brearley

So the 2013 Formula One season is now over. Sebastian Vettel equalled the ancient record of nine consecutive grand prix wins set by Alberto Ascari in his Ferrari across the 1952 and 1953 seasons.

The seasons themselves only contained six races back then and the fact it took 60 years for it to be repeated emphasizes just how big of an achievement it is.

Formula One has changed so much in between the ages of Ascari and Vettel. From races where half the grid would fail to reach the chequered flag due to mechanical gremlins and the racetracks were lined with unprotected trees and walls, to almost impeccable reliability and cars and tracks which have to pass strict safety tests before they see any action; yet one thing is constant – the fastest driver and car combination always wins.

The fastest combination by far this season has been Vettel and his Red Bull RB9. Using his superb feel for the delicate Pirelli tyres and the aerodynamic characteristics of 2013 Formula One cars, he has managed to harness phenomenal speed from Adrian Newey’s genius design.

The RB9 was the pick of the field in 2013, especially in the second half of the season post-Hungary. Newey and the Renault engineers managed to smooth the flow of the exhaust gases so that the diffuser was ‘sealed’ more often and more effectively.

This sealing means the disruptive wake caused by the rear wheels does not invade the air flowing through the diffuser, thereby decreasing the air pressure within it. The lower the air pressure, the faster the air can flow through the diffuser and the greater the downforce level produced.

However, harnessing the full benefits of this technology required a certain driving style. As the effect was lost when the driver took his foot of the accelerator, the driver had to cope with oversteer on corner entry. As the car got loose through the middle of the corner, the driver would have to have the confidence and balanced feel of the throttle, to re apply just the right amount of throttle to get the read end working fully again.

If the driver could react to this oversteer and had superb feel, then this combination of an early, sharp turn in and early acceleration led to amazing speed. As the season’s results show, Sebastian Vettel was much more adept at driving in this style than his team mate, Mark Webber.

Yet these characteristics are all gone now. Next year’s cars have a set place for their single exhausts, angled up towards the rear wing. It’s accepted that it will be impossible to redirect the flow towards the diffuser this time.

This all means Vettel’s advantage from the past three years will be wiped out. How he copes with this and how he adapts to the new cars will be his chance to get the last of those pesky critics of his back.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Mark Webber’s illustrious, 215 race long, career.

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Pit Stop – Top Ten Drivers in this Era – By Lewis Brearley

After 15 seasons of watching Formula One, there’s been countless memorable moments and races served up by some of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport.

Here’s my countdown of the top ten in the last 15 seasons.

10) Rubens Barrichello

Formula One’s most experienced driver spent half the decade as Michael Schumacher’s contractual number two.

He rarely got close to Schumacher and whenever he did was forced to concede his position to his team-mate, most notably at the infamous 2002 Austrian GP where the “switch” happened after the final corner.

However, the Brazilian could sometimes beat the great Schumacher and did the same when he partnered Jenson Button at Brawn, taking two wins in the 2009 season.

9) Mark Webber

Like Barrichello, Webber is most famous for being a number two to a German multiple world champion. But just like Barrichello, is able to beat the guy on his day.

Yet, Webber is more than that; he was a badly timed pitstop from winning the 2010 world championship and early in his career outperformed his midfield Jaguar regularly, especially in qualifying – a front row start at Hungary being the highlight.

8) Juan Pablo Montoya

The Colombian lasted less than six seasons in F1, yet made an indelible mark.

He started by overtaking Schumacher at only his third race and continued to fight him for the rest of his career. The man was fast, simple as that; five poles in a row in 2002 and a mega one minute victory with pole position and fastest lap at the 2003 German grand prix, testify to that.

It was his feisty, rebellious personality which made him leave the sport, mid-way through 2006.

7) Jenson Button

In 2008 Button was yesterday’s news, Lewis Hamilton was the new prodigy on his way to a world championship.

Button showed great promise in his first couple of seasons but was soon stuck in the quagmire of Honda F1.

Indeed, it was when his team became Brawn that Button exploded to front running status. However, it is since that championship that he has cemented his name as an all-time great rather a lucky world champion with some great drives for McLaren.

6) Lewis Hamilton

On pure speed, Hamilton probably is level with only Senna and Schumacher. However, grand prix driving involves so much more than that.

He seems to let his emotions affect his driving and just as importantly doesn’t take much interest in leading his team through a season.

That being said in 2012 he improved his consistency and with a new start at Mercedes next year, has the chance to impose himself as a leader of men.

5) Mika Hakkinen

The driver Schumacher claimed was his toughest rival, beat the German to two successive world championships before the turn of the century.

The best sign of the speed of the flying Finn is arguably found in the 1999 season when he set 11 pole positions in the first 13 races.

Oh, and the legendary overtake of Schumacher around a backmarker at Spa the same year.

4) Sebastian Vettel

Winning three world championships while at the same age Schumacher had not won any is quite a scary thought for statisticians. Indeed, every record is in Vettel’s sights and he is quite capable of taking them.

The German is improving every year, has already won 26 races and had 36 pole positions – behind only Senna and Schumacher – and has the might of the Red Bull operation headed by the genius Adrian Newey.
And as Monza 2011 proved, the boy can overtake.

3) Kimi Raikkonen

He says he knows what he’s doing and all the evidence supports that. He shook up F1 when he arrived at Sauber after just 23 career races and scored a point. A move to McLaren proved he could beat Coulthard with ease and the only thing that stopped him taking the 2003 championship was his McLaren’s dreadful reliability.

Chosen as Ferrari’s next man, he didn’t fit the latin atmosphere and was soon pushed out. Returned this year and proved he is indeed one of the greatest of the era.

2) Fernando Alonso

Second in wins in the era to only Schumacher, the Spaniard defeated the German in a titanic tussle for the 2006 title. This made him a double world champion but his career was about to dip.

Controversy at McLaren made him public enemy number one in Britain and he was forced into two seasons in a poor Renault.

However, just like the man he beat in 2006, his career looks set to be defined at Ferrari, where his leadership abilities and magnificent racecraft has earned him not only Italy’s, but the world’s respect.

1) Michael Schumacher

Whether he’s the greatest of all time can never be properly answered. It is much more certain that he is the greatest of this era, and not just because of his epic records.

Time and again, Schumacher overcame adversity with his true grit to win when he shouldn’t have done. He proved that he was better than all of the era’s great drivers, and at least on a par with Alonso, while ten years his senior.

It was the Schumacher era and he towered above it in a way never seen before or since.

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