2013 Bahrain F1 Grand Prix – post-Qualifying

Many are asking: What happened to the Kimi-Lotus pace?

This is a race with high complexity.  It is not as if they all are not of intensive complexity, yet this season’s continued challenging tire management variability seems a confounding incremental bundle of variability to the otherwise complicated endeavour.

I feel intense complication into the first corner, with intense intra-team, and extra-team rivalries creating powerful stressors, increasing probabilities of destruction.

But if the safety car doesn’t have to come out…

I would normally expect Vettel to lead by the second corner, and a Ferrari.  Normally the knee jerk reaction would be to assume Fernando; but Filipe lines up behind Vettel, who, according to this theory, out-drags Rosberg to the first corner; Alonso behind Rosberg.  If one assumes the Ferraris and Vettel to get the better of Rosberg-Mercedes, Rosberg can block, one, or the other, but not both, and possibly neither.  This scenario continues with an intense Vettel-Alonso battle to Vettel’s first stop, around… what, lap 10 of 11?  Alonso drops the hammer for two, possibly three more, and likely, Massa having passed a topping or going Rosberg, by lap 14, certainly, takes the lead on the harder rubber.  In this hypothetical scenario, Massa holds his victory’s chances in his own hands!  Can he drop the hammer, and reel off faster and faster laps, from the front, maximum tire preservation, to what?  lap 22, maybe 23?  Expect Massa to be on a two-stop strategy, possibly to cover Kimi?!?  Kimi must pass Massa in the first stint to ave a viable chance of winning on a two stopper, which other close observers must have concluded, also.

After the first stop, there re just too many variables to really get a handle on a pattern of performance.  For example, the Force Indias are THE FASTEST down the straights, and they have been pretty darn good on tire management; a Force India could win tomorrow!  But…. there is such an intense, searing rivalry, burning beneath the surface, wil they get past the first corner intact, from a start where they are so close?

Their day could be here; maybe if good enough, a double podium?!?

And after all, why not Rosberg holding everybody back, take control of the race, manage the tires as far as anybody else starting on mediums, and advance dramatically on Massa still out on hards in a long-running first stint?  Go Nico, go!

But maybe Lotus has maximized Kimi’s already best preservational use of the primary constraining variable of this race, the rear tire wear.  Maybe that means he has a harder time, ‘digging-in’, on a single lap jam; then again, maybe he’ll go as far on the mediums as Massa on the hards.

There is just so much at play here, enjoy!

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…they find the fastest path! 2013 April 13 – Chinese F1 GP Qualifying

The thing, about modern formula one, is that they come up with the formula, (I don’t know how they come up with the rules, but there is usually a lot of quacking and otherwise carrying-on), the specifications, the constraints, including the tires, and the teams try an almost unimaginable number of permutations …and they find the fastest path!

The whinging (good word Australia) about the tires, is tiresome, definitely!  (“tires, is tiresome”, yes, we can do that in Canada, within the formula.)

Hats off to Lewey, he won the qualifying.

As predicted, Massa would NOT beat Alonso.

Initially, I’d thought Ferrari look strong overall, but having taken a close look at their tire management, I don’t think they are ready to win; I think they’ll both have to take another set more than the team that wins, though Vettel could very conceivably do three stops, the last for softs, and sprint the last four or five laps to win.

Sad, what is happening at Red Bull; anybody who thinks this is a coincidence suffers from not paying attention and/or getting over the denial; it’s just too sharp to be a coincidence; it has design, and planning behind it; the all too rapid on-air report of the ‘problem’ and aggressive action to ‘quarantine’ it?!?  Give me break!  Oh well.

Hoping Mark will bust out of the back and take out Vettel (no injury) as he passes him on the final corner to win the Chinese GP, ahead of Massa, just for a bit of balancing in the kharma.

Everybody has the same constraints (though sometimes somebody finds a path around such constraints, especially when they can’t be policed).

So… tires… and funky, all-blowing-the-load-at-the-same-time, whatnot (in the qualifying today):
“…that’s what they do.”
At one level, when quite a few fans are expecting something (fairly specific), in this case, an hour or so on track dueling and striving, all these people are SO DISAPPOINTED!
But there are those paying attention, to the fascination of the these latest approaches; imagine completely abandoning significant blocks of time, for… retaining more options for during the actual race? Wow!

Fascinating.

People often complain about how the driver has been minimized in the equation, yet here, now, this format, right now, today, creates this intense, almost unbelievable pressure on the human operator, TO DELIVER!

There is no place to hide if you are left to a single timed qualifying run.

It’s amazing!

Getting over traditional expectations might allow some to gain a deeper understanding of the big picture, here.

Really interesting weekend, so far; I am hoping for high tension in the race tomorrow.

Even though the racing is slightly different from the mid-industrial era origins, it’s been a long time since there has been such volatility at the top.

I’m sticking with my outlying prediction of a Bianchi point, and hoping for a Kimi victory.

Late Update: 2013 April 13 21h32 NAEDT:

I just got a feeling that Rosberg must do well; so look for him to ‘get a bit of urgency’, and let’s see what he can do.  Go Nico, go!

Expect the unexpected! 2013 Apr 10 musings before the 2013 Formula One GP at Shanghai

I was writing this comment at James Allen on F1, in response to his excellent pre-race analysis; of course, it has little to do with the analysis, besides saying that pre-race analysis for this race is very difficult, and what you can actually understand from it should be, that it is very difficult for anyone to predict the results; so I’ll more appropriately put it down here:

Expect the unexpected!
Three weeks!?!
That is quite a while for several of the development departments of the top formula one teams.
However, we come from a base, three weeks ago, of:
a. Red Bull is the fastest car, can qualify at the top;
b. Ferrari is fast, can qualify good;
c. Lotus has had the lowest tire degradation over an entire race distance in the wet, probably won’t be able to qualify on the first two rows, and will be close on race pace;
d. Mercedes are fast, can qualify high (now), may be in the top two teams for tire management, and are the fastest improving team, just ahead of Red Bull, so far this season;
e. McLaren were trending positive from a poorly understood base machinery, and three weeks is long time for them to develop their car.

It looks wide open to me.
I still expect Red Bull to be the fastest.
I still expect Lotus and Mercedes to have the best tire management capability over dry race distance.
Everything else, to me, is open.
Which teams can out-drag their chief rivals, in the development game?
I anticipate warfare, impossible to hide, within at least one team.
When Alonso is out-qualified by Massa for five races in a row, I personally think, ‘way to go Massa!’ But that is irrelevant, because in the context of the environment of Formula One competition, right now, and in case you’ve not been paying attention, this really means that there is a problem with Alonso; and a problem with Alonso IS A PROBLEM AT FERRARI!  

So, that’s ‘kind of’ interesting; not that Ferrari hasn’t been in just about continual crisis mode since the beginning of last season.

I think McLaren could be closer this weekend; look for Perez in the top five, at the flag.

I’m looking forward to the intriguing battle between Sauber and Force India, and the intra-team intrigues there as well.  Some time, before the summer break, I expect Gutierrez to impress, and Bianchi to astound, any race now, for Bianchi; he should be on a top team.

We’ll also see how bad it is at Williams; hopefully not as bad as it was looking in the first two races.

For the cynics, who say/write something like: ‘blah, blah, blah, Vettel, Alonso, and/or Webber, and/or Lewis, boring, boring, boring, but maybe Alonso?’  I think you’re wrong.

Nobody really knows what the entire situation is at Red Bull, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the key players in the drama were not entirely sure how they personally will react this weekend (but we can likely rest assured that Dr. Marko knows where he stands).

What is up at Alonso/Ferrari; couldn’t it only be something that we don’t know, or is it just that Alonso and Massa are comparable drivers?!?  Now, certainly, the Alonso Media Corporation would NOT be supporting that view of the universe, would they?  So, they would have to admit that something is WRONG!  Wouldn’t they?  Of course they won’t; this situation will be described as Massa at the top of his career, with indirect unspoken suggestions that ‘he’s on a streak (that can’t last).’  It certainly can’t last, one way or another.  All I can say is, ‘Go Filipe, go!’  and ‘Go for the world championship!’

Does anyone have credible information about any lasting affect of the Mercedes instructions?  (No need to answer, it’s totally rhetorical;) no one knows the fallout at Mercedes.

There’s tension at Force India.

Hulkenburg is on a mission to beat Force India, and anyone who gets in his way.  If Gutierrez is as good as I think he is, when he gets his F1 legs, he is going to be really good.

In summation, there are a lot of highly reactive ingredients in the recipe this weekend, and there could well be some explosive outcomes, and because of that, potentially drASTIC RESULTS.  iMAGINE bANCHI ON THE PODIUM!

2013 March 23 – Malaysia Grand Prix – post Qualifying Analysis

Interesting!
The crystal ball is pretty muddy; that’s because there are so many significant variables.
I get the feeling that the four permutations of:
1. a. qualifying set up versus b. race set up
and
2. c. dry set up versus d. wet set up
yield very different car capability.
Specific observations:
i. Mercedes is fast in one lap, dry
ii. Lotus is comparatively slower in the wet
iii. Red Bull are comparatively fastest over a single lap, wet or dry
iv. Ferrari are quite quick in wet and dry, single lap and race pace, but not the fastest in anything
v. Vettel-Red Bull is the fastest package over a single lap, MASSIVELY
vi. Ferrari start very close to the front with two cars together
vii. Lotus start together at the back of the top ten

Here’s the qualifying positions, as presented by James Allen on his excellent F1 web site:
“MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m49.674s
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.587s + 0.913s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m50.727s + 1.053s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m51.699s + 2.025s
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m52.244s + 2.570s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m52.519s + 2.845s
7. Kimi Raikkonen * Lotus 1m52.970s + 3.296s
8. Jenson Button McLaren 1m53.175s + 3.501s
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m53.439s + 3.765s
10. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m54.136s + 4.462s

11. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m37.636s + 1.446s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m38.125s + 1.935s
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m38.822s + 2.632s
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m39.221s + 3.031s
15. Paul di Resta Force India 1m44.509s + 8.319s
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams no time

17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m38.157s + 1.348s
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m38.207s + 1.398s
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m38.434s + 1.625s
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m39.314s + 2.505s
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m39.672s + 2.863s
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m39.932s + 3.123s

* Three place grid drop for blocking Rosberg”

It’s very difficult to tell how the race might pan out, but here are some of the things I’d like to see:
A. Kimi will start well, pass three to four cars in front, and steadily work his way to the front, likely requiring one less pit stop than any other team*
B. Hamilton will aggressively pass Alonso at the start and have an intense dual with Massa.
C. Red Bull will require one more tire change than Ferrari*
D. One Mercedes driver will take one less stop than the other one*
E. Bianchi will score a point
F. It will rain and the race order will get drastically shaken up
G. Vettel will not win
H. It will dry, after a rain, and the race order will get drastically shaken up,
I. Tires delaminating, fine chaos and mayhem

(*assuming dry race)

2013 March 02 – Good old Ross Brawn sandbagging?

I admit it here, to all that read these posts, none but myself probably, that when Lewis Hamilton decided to make the move to Mercedes, to elevate the team like his idol, a German with the initials MS, I thought it was laughable.  Lewis is just not that kind of guy!

Well, I’m not backing off that thought, though I thought he move was bad for Lewis, and good for Mercedes.  Now, there has been quite a bit of shit happening at Mercedes F1 these days, and it looked like they were ‘in the weeds’; but now I’m not so sure.

Besides by differentiating itself as the ugliest car on the grid, second year running (though I think the Caterham is challenging this year), I thought they had gone down a dead end route.  I thought, incredulously, Ross Brawn had finally lost the Midas touch.

Since Lewis is the racing pride of most among the POM, we, the Formula One fans, have been inundated with the most minute reports of how Lewis and Mercedes are doing, one minute, very poorly, then the next, inspiring.  Well, we’re at a inspired moment, in the long stream of uni-directional time flow.  Could it be that the old limey has one more sandbag up his sleeves.

Obviously, I’m a big believer.  Mercedes have gone to the bank to ‘get serious’ about improving their standing in F1, hiring a raft of top F1 cronies, in an attempt to redress the unbalance Adrian Newey makes to all other teams.  I have thought this approach inefficient, if not ineffective, and with the seemingly almost self-appointment of the perpetually criticizing Austrian, non-executive chairman (I wonder how much money they spent on the consultants coming up with that title – lol?), I really thought Mercedes was completely losing their marbles.

But as the great Murray Walker is reportedly to have said, “I’m applying intelligence and observation to the situation…”, and I am realizing the truth in his saying, “Anything happens in Grand Prix racing and it usually does”.

It will be interesting if one or more of the Mercedes drivers can haul it up on to the podium.

I still think that Red Bull are quietly, and assuredly constructing a right bower, left bower, (they definitely have an) Ace (up their sleeve), king and queen (the personages of which I leave to your discretion; though one might keep in mind a board game, in which the queen is the most powerful player).

In other words, though I hope for a very interesting season, with closely fought battles, butteri with proper mounts, fast and crashing flowers, winning Spanish-speaking silver arrows, and coloured three point stars, the bulls will gore.

2013 February 28 – first day of the last pre-season test

As previously stated in these pages, Red Bull is ominous in form.

But, hey, don’t get those razor blades over your wrists yet, teams haven’t played all their cards yet.
There are very significant changes coming for Melbourne; assume the Ferrari is a data-gathering draught horse, not the Arabian Stallion they’ll be making their challenge with.
Prediction: We (most of us) haven’t seen Ferrari’s real 2013 car!
I don’t think we have a fully functional Lotus, on Thursday (Feb. 28th).
I don’t think we have the Melbourne-spec McLaren.
And we probably haven’t seen the complete 2013 Red Bull, either!
I think Sauber still have a significant functionality/component to turn-on/enable.
The Williams by-line was something to the effect, “we’ll have to bring an upgrade to every event”, probably suggesting a new upgrade for Melbourne, thus will not be seen this weekend in Barcelona.

So there is a long, long way to go to figure out the running order.

Yes, it will likely be another year of the running of the Bulls, but HEY, doesn’t it happen that some guy beats the running of the bulls, in Spain? Does that mean it’s most likely a Spanish guy?

2013 February 23 – second test, and the crystal ball is still muddy…

We’ve had the second test, at the race track that the teams have the most experience on, and therefore the teams have the best knowledge, of all the tracks on the Formula One schedule.  Yet, there is scant information to predict comparative pace of the competitors.

What we know:

  1. The new tires behave and degrade in new patterns from their behaviours and degradation patterns of last season, which itself varied greatly over the course of the year; they are at least as sensitive and variable as last year; it looks like they are more sensitive, and more variable than last year. Therefore, prediction: tire management will be at least as important as it was last year.

That’s about it.  That’s all I learned.

I did notice that one team did a race simulation; it seems to have been highly regarded by all on the pit lane, to have done one!  That’s probably relevant for the first few races, anyhow.