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Just How Radical Are the Changes to the 2009-Spec F1 Cars?

So how crazy and radical are the changes to the 2009-spec Formula 1 race cars? Based on the analysis by the good folks at Formula1.com, the changes are radical indeed.

2009overview

Ferrari F2008 vs F60 (2009-spec)

“The regulation changes for 2009 are some of the most extensive ever introduced to Formula One racing and fall into three main areas – aerodynamics, KERS and tyres. Formulated with help from the Overtaking Working Group’s (OWG) engineers, the new rules aim to (1) reduce the aerodynamic sensitivity of the cars to turbulence; (2) increase overtaking opportunities; and (3) slow the cars in the very quick corners. To compensate for the loss of downforce from the aerodynamic changes, slick tyres have been brought back for the first time since 1997 to boost mechanical grip. As a result of the changes the 2009 cars appear quite different to their predecessors, with the removal of the vast majority of bargeboards (now only allowed in a very small area – see red arrow), winglets, chimneys and cooling gills leading to much cleaner looking designs. Forthcoming Technical news articles will examine each of the key areas of change in detail.”

1-18-scale-118-scale-mclaren-mp4-5-1989-a-senna

McLaren-Honda MP4/5

The 2009 car is very similar to F1 cars of yesteryears, such as the McLaren MP4/5 driven by legendary driver Ayrton Senna. This author, for one, hopes that the new aero regulations will switch the focus from aero grip to mechanical grip, as the FIA intended with the switch to slicks, and will lead to more aggressive, wheel-to-wheel racing.

2009front

Front View

“As part of the aero changes designed to allow cars to be able to follow each other more closely (and hence promote overtaking), the 2009 front wing is both lower (75mm instead of 150mm) and wider (1800mm instead of 1400mm). The wing also features a universal central section (500mm), which all teams’ designs must comply with this season, and a flap section that can be adjusted by the driver twice a lap over a range of six degrees.”

BMW Sauber F1 driver Robert Kubica has already stated that the snowplow-like design of the front wing element, coupled with its rather ungainly width, will result in more race incidents. When looking at tracks with super tight first turns (Monaco being the most obvious), it won’t be uncommon to see sharp carbon shards cutting tires and causing DNFs and crashes. Decreased height of the front aero element should also prevent the cutting the chicane, especially at high curbed tracks / tracks with “sleeping policement” like Monza. Not having that extra “run off” will force drivers ever so tighter into corners. Be on the lookout for some hairy first corner antics. There will be plenty of it in 2009.

2009top

Top View

From overhead, the clearest difference between the 2008 and 2009 designs is the increased width of the front wing, now as wide as the car itself at 1800mm. Gone are the fairings on the front suspension pick-up points (where the suspension attaches to the chassis) and the use of turning vanes is now restricted to a small triangular section (see arrow) in front of the sidepods. Cooling vents, chimneys and winglets are noticeably absent from the top of the sidepods and there is no winglet on top of the rear axle. The rear wing is narrower (750mm instead of 1000mm) and taller (950mm as opposed to 800mm) and the diffuser has been moved further back.”

Again, the analysis from the top shows the absence of the plethora of bargeboards (that often looked like the saw blades), the smoke stacks and the vertical aero element on top of the side pods.

I CAN’T WAIT FOR THESE CARS TO TAKE TO THE TRACK IN A RACE!

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Formula 1, Motorsports | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dear Bernie (Ecclestone)…

Dear Bernie,

Bernie Ecclestone - "F1 Supremo" & Andy Warhol Stunt Double

Bernie Ecclestone - "F1 Supremo" & Andy Warhol Stunt Double

You must be under a lot of stress nowadays, as the global economic meltdown is affecting your business – Formula 1. I’m sure despite your denials to the contrary, Honda’s exit from the sport was damaging. Sure, you can shrug your shoulders and brush it off but any time a team fails and leaves, that’s really a reflection on you, FOM (Formula One Management) and CVC Partners.

Let’s think about how many teams have left Formula 1 in the past few decades – Eurobrun, Tyrrell, Prost, Jaguar, Minardi, Fondmetal, Super Aguri, Leyton House, Stewart, Benetton, BAR, Honda, Brabham, Lotus, etc, etc, etc. Sure, some of these teams were bought out and renamed, but the fact remains – this level of turnover can’t be healthy for any professional sports organization, especially one that is concerned one of the most expensive in the world to run. If the same number of teams left, say, the NFL or NBA, there would be outrage from fans and participants alike, but no such thing happens in F1. Because… you own every thing. And became a VERY rich man for owning the commercial rights to F1.

You’ve made a mockery as of late abandoning the GP in multiple countries because the venue wasn’t up to snuff, safety issues and so on. Let’s count the ways – Indy, Montreal, Kyalami, Adelaide, Phoenix, Detroit, Las Vegas, Jerez, Paul Ricard, Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico City), Autopolis, Suzuka and so many more. But let’s face it. The true reason for abandoning these cities wasn’t those reasons you cite. Rather, it’s because they wouldn’t submit to your demands for fees. And you’ve made a mockery of grand prix racing in general by going to countries and cities where the locals couldn’t give two shits about motorsports. So why, Bernie? Why?

And now that the FOTA (Formula One Team Association) is making a LEGITIMATE stink about how the revenue split should be reconsidered, you’re lashing out. For the 9 teams still in the game to get less than 50% of revenues, while your 80-something self and CVC Partners getting the remainder doesn’t seem right to me. Without the teams, both the factory and privateer squads, you would be nothing. And especially in these hard economic times ahead, it seems ever so prudent and appropriate that the share of revenues should lean toward the teams, not YOU.

Face it, Bernie. You aren’t going to live for much longer. And you aren’t going to take all that cash with you. You live the lifestyle of a multi-millionaire. That’s not too shabby for a guy who left school at age 16. So let’s loosen up that wallet a bit and give more to the teams. And count your blessings.

Yours Truly,
SportsflyJohn

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another One Bites The Dust

subaru-wrc-prodriveWell, it’s official Subaru has dropped out of the FIA World Rally Championship. Citing the global meltdown of car sales, Subaru said so long to a motorsport in which they were successful in the past, but not so much in the present, with the late Colin McRae and the late Richard Burns bringing home the championships. This departure, of course, leaves David Richards of ProDrive with little to do, except run the Le Mans GT1 team. Perhaps this will clear some bandwidth for him to return to Formula 1 by buying the very team he used to manage in the old BAR days.

This isn’t all of it, however. Subaru isn’t the only team to leave WRC. Suzuki has left town as well, citing the same economic reasoning. Frankly, Suzuki was a non-factor in WRC so I won’t shed any tears over their departure.

So this leaves Citroen and Ford as the only manufacturer teams to remain in WRC. Mitsubishi left a while ago. Peugeot left a couple of seasons ago. Seat did the same. And now Subaru. I certainly hope all this “departing” will not damage the series so much that it will crash and burn the whole thing.

But wait… THERE’S MORE! Both Audi and Porsche have announced that they are pulling out of the American Le Mans Series. Although both were incredibly successful in their respective classes (LMP1 and LMP2), no reasons were officially cited for the pullout.

I suspect that there will be other manufacturers to follow the long list of these escapees – Honda, Subaru, Suzuki, Porsche, Audi… Expect one of the Detroit 3 to pull out of NASCAR. If you want to trim the budget, racing seems to be the first to go. And with GM, Ford and Chrysler in a ton of trouble, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | ALMS, Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports, News, WRC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FIA: Stop Smoking the Crackpipe

FIA President Max Mosley

VS.

f1rollcall

Max Mosley and his hooligans at the FIA seriously need to stop hiring hookers for Nazi camp re-enacting sexcapades and dreams of bringing back F3000. There are plenty of things that the global motorsports stage needs without all this drama queen BS that Max is bringing to the forefront.

One of the more ridiculous suggestions by the FIA is standardization of Formula 1 engines beginning in 2010. In 2008, it was a standard ECU (made by McLaren, no less), banning of traction control (which created more accidents than ever, in this author’s opinion) and a mandate 4-race lifecycle for transmissions. Sure, it may have created a slighly better experience for spectators (due to all the mishaps – recall Timo Glock’s off road excursions this year, including that spectacular off at Adelaide in Australia?). Mandating a standardized engine for F1 means that it’s becoming a spec series. And spec series racing is BORING at best. Let’s consider all the spec series racing around the globe:

  • IRL: okay at times, but boring regardless
  • Champ Car World Series: no longer around
  • Speedcar Series: eh, Europe-based stock car racing; full of F1’s has beens = BORING
  • A1GP: the concept is novel, but boring; who the hell watches A1GP?
  • GP2 / F3: sure, it’s the ladder series to F1, but agan… BORING

Perhaps Max is trying to appease the little teams that feel left out of the “race,” so to speak. Okay, so who are the current players in Formula 1?

  • Scuderia Ferrari F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • McLaren Mercedes – constructor / engine maker (Mercedes via Ilmor) / car manufacturer (Mercedes)
  • Toyota F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • Honda F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • Renault F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • BMW Sauber F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • Red Bull Racing – constructor / engine supplied by Renault
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso – not really a constructor considering they get everything from Red Bull and the engine is supplied by Ferrari
  • Williams Toyota F1 – constructor / engine supplied by Toyota
  • Team Force India F1 – constructor / engine supplied by McLaren / Mercedes for the 2009 season

So, 60% of the current teams in F1 are manufacturers in the truest sense of the word. And the rest seem more than content with being customer teams, sourcing their engines from one of the big manufacturers. And obviously by being able to sell engines to customer teams, the manufacturers can reduce their own development and production costs. The system isn’t broken so why fix it?

So tell us, Mr. Mosley. You keep referring to cost reduction as the primary reason for standardizing engines, but the manufacturers are threatening to leave F1 if it happens. So if the teams are willing to bear the cost of development, manufacturing, testing, etc. of these gorgeous 2.4L V8 engines, who are you to stop them? And if standardized engines become the norm, I predict we’ll see the return of the late 80s and early 90s, when you had shitty teams with no money (Fondmetal, Eurobrun, Leyton House, Larrousse, etc.) trying to enter F1. There won’t be enough space on the grid for all these useless teams so we’ll see the return of pre-qualifying. We don’t need that for F1.

Max. Just leave it alone.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment