Tag Archives: Testing

Pit Stop – Moto Gp Test is Routine – By Lewis Brearley

Last week’s news was dominated by the first Formula One pre-season test and analysis of the varying fortunes of the teams’ new cars and revolutionary new engines.

Therefore, this week has seemed pretty quiet when compared to the flurry of news last week. This pretty much reflects the difference between Formula One and MotoGP’s approach to testing.

The teams of MotoGP had their first pre-season test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia this week and the lack of rule changes in the sport resulted in a pretty quiet and undramatic three days.

However it would be greatly untrue to say there are no stories to report. Going in to the test it was unknown who would be fastest out of last year’s championship contenders – Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.

But it was Marquez on his Honda who came out on top, the champion setting the fastest time on each of the three days. Yet it is too early to say the new season looks set to be dominated by Marquez.

Yamaha ended the test only two tenths behind, the fastest time set by Valentino Rossi who managed to outpace Lorenzo on each of the days.

Rossi has stated in the off-season that he will take a decision to continue beyond the 2014 season after the first six races providing his pace is improved from last year.

With this in mind, his pace at the test was very promising but with the obvious caveat that Lorenzo may have been pushing to a lesser degree than his team mate.

A second story to come out of the test was the promising pace of the “open-class” bikes, with the Forward Yamaha ridden by Aleix Espargaro managing to get within two tenths of Lorenzo’s works machine.

For those unaware of the biggest rule change in MotoGP this year, the open class is the replacement of the CRT category. In exchange for an increased fuel capacity of 24 litres as opposed to 20 litres teams have to use a standard ECU which will be controlled by the FIM.

The plan was that the new category would get closer to the factory bikes than the CRT bikes did and the performance of the bikes in the test seemed to confirm this.

In fact, the rumours that Ducati have opted to make their new bike conform to the open class rules shows how promising the class is.

However, the biggest mystery out of the test is why Ducati didn’t confirm which class their new bike was designed for.

For the first two days the Ducatis were grouped around 1.5-2.0 seconds off the lead pace and then on the final day Andrea Dovizioso managed to set a lap just 0.8 seconds behind Marquez.

This difference of lap times increased speculation that Ducati had been running both factory and open class bikes in the test to see which one was best. Yet which one of the two variations Dovizioso was running when he set his fastest time is still unknown.

Whichever version Ducati choose to compete with it’s unlikely that they will be racing the lead Yamahas and Hondas, who once again showed supreme pace. The only question remaining is whether Rossi and Dani Pedrosa can turn the championship battle from a duel into a four man competition.

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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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Pit Stop – 2013 Season Shaping Up- By Lewis Brearley

On Monday Lotus launched their new E21, the car with which they will compete in the 2013 Formula One Championship.

This means the 2013 season is now within view, and it’s already looking like being a worthy follow-up to the pulsating 2012 season with new construction Pirelli tyres, big new driver line-ups and the promise of an even closer season due to stable rules.

The stories attracting most of the news have of course been the driver changes at the big teams, McLaren and Mercedes.

The move of Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes has been covered in the blog in depth but the move of the young, charging Sergio Perez to McLaren also raises many interesting questions.

Perez’s move is a divisive one, with two mainstream opinions on his prospects. One view holds that the Mexican has only shown speed at three events in 2012 and that these were founded on a lucky tyre strategy obtained by under-achieving in qualifying and therefore being allowed to start on the prime tyre.

His mistake-prone tail-end of the season adds weight to this view as does the fact he only finished six points ahead of team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi, who is now without a drive at all.

The other view however, is much more positive. This holds that the speed shown with those three podiums at Montreal, Monza and Malaysia was so strong that Perez is a potential world champions worthy of a chance with a big team.

They claim his mistakes are just a common occurrence for a 22 year old with only two seasons experience in decent cars, and that Perez has a talent that can be honed to world champion status.

Whichever view turns out true is obviously unknown until the season starts, and it will definitely be an intriguing subplot to the season.

Pirelli is also preparing new and what they claim are improved tyres for the season ahead. They have a softer compound along with stiffer sidewalls which Pirelli claim will combine to offer better racing without the unpredictability that the teams and some fans thought went too far at the beginning of last season.

Pirelli are aiming for 2-3 pitstops per race to answer the criticism which arose after a run of average one stop races at the tail end of 2012.

It will also be interesting to see if Ferrari has managed to fix the problems in their aerodynamics department which have afflicted their past four seasons. If they indeed have, and Felipe Massa continues his strong form he showed at the end of 2012, then Maranello could offer a strong, dual title challenge with arguably the strongest driver pairing on the grid.

The final piece of the 2013 jigsaw is the prospect of the midfield teams closing in on taking outright Grand Prix victories. In 2012 the grid tightened up with six teams managing to win a race, while Sauber came tantalisingly close a couple of times.

If Sauber can add to the considerable strengths of their last car, their highly talented new lead driver, Nico Hulkenberg, may just shine and take a win or two.

Pre-season testing begins on February 5, the teams are starting to launch their cars and the ingredients are already there for another epic season.

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