A DARK DAY IN OCTOBER

Bianchi Suzuka 2014

Jules during the first red flag at Suzuka 2014.

I had planned to do a post about the crazy driver switcheroos that have been happening over a very short period of time. But I now sit here finding it extremely hard to find any words. Poor Jules Bianchi ran out of luck on Sunday. I instantly knew something was very wrong when I saw the images of smoke rising up from behind the tow vehicle. Marshalls gesturing frantically and no replays shown. I feared the worst and unfortunately I was right. Thankfully, he is still alive but on the other hand, brain damage is nasty nasty business. Once you have done what you can when it comes to surgery and so on, there is usually only time and a vague prognosis left. It’s not like a broken bone where you know exactly how long it will take to heal.

The official statement today is that Jules has suffered diffuse axonal injury. Pretty much the worst there is. Because the damage is, like the name says, very diffuse. I remember it from when Richard Hammond crashed and suffered the same type of injury and diagnosis. And that is one of the lights in the tunnel. Because Hammond got out of it on the other side, didn’t he. And as close to the same person he was as far as we can tell. Although his family are probably much more aware of the slight changes he is bound to have picked up from this.

But the hard statistics are that only 10% of people with this type of brain damage ever wake up again. But let us count our blessings even in dark times. He is still alive. He is in the best physical condition a person can be, which always helps. And he has the best treatment available. So hope lives and I will keep praying for him. If you want to read more about the condition, Gary Hartstein explains it well here:

http://formerf1doc.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/diffuse-axonal-injury/

If you have not seen the video of the crash yet, you can find it here:
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=818_1412603603
There is no gore, but the force of the impact is sickening.

RIP ANDREA DE CESARIS

andrea-de-cesaris-307688
If that wasn’t enough, an old Formula 1 hero died this weekend. Andrea de Cesaris suffered a fatal crash on his motorbike, killing him instantly. RIP old warrior. I remember a couple of his races vaguely when I watched F1 sporadically in the early 90’s. He earned the nickname “de Crasheris” after his first couple of years in F1. He had some seriously spectacular crashes. And he seemed absolutely unfazed and fearless in spite of them. The nickname is a bit unfair as he was actually quite a capable and talented driver.

I remember reading one team boss saying that he was amazed that de Cesaris made it out of F1 alive. I forgot who it was. But my first thought when I heard of his accident was that it finally caught up with him. A stupid thought probably, but you just can’t remove the need for speed from a racer. No matter how retired he is. I recommend this rundown of his 15-year long career in F1: http://counter-x.net/f1/de_cesaris/index.html

THE VETTEL-FERRARI MOVE AND THE REPERCUSSIONS

The news of Vettel leaving Red Bull and with pretty much 100% certainty teaming up with best mate Kimi Raikkonen next year was sadly overshadowed by Bianchis accident. But it is still quite a bombshell. Not many people in the world saw that coming. It is a brave and bold move from the German. Going from the safety of the brilliant Red Bull team to a Ferrari team who – let’s be honest – has been quite messy for several years. He goes to a team where there is still waves from Luca being forced to step down. A team that has a power unit far inferior to the Mercedes engine. A team who has been nowhere near in producing the downforce that Red Bull are able to in their cars.

Vettel clearly hopes to do what Schumacher did, pull Ferrari back into a championship winning streak. However, Ferrari has no Newey by the design helm. What they do have is a new team principal in Marco Mattiacci with no previous experience from racing to speak of. But the man is ambitious and pulls no punches. He is the first proper team principal successor to Jean Todt as I see it. He still has a lot to prove though. But if he starts with restructuring the team, getting rid of Alonso and aquiring Vettel together with Kimi Raikkonen, he is off to a pretty good start.

Even Kimi have loosened up on his adamant comments that he will quit F1 after 2015. So there is a definite no-nonsense plan to get Ferrari back to the top in a couple of years. Before that, they pinned a lot of that plan on Alonso. But that approach have failed time and again. So time for a new and better one. Not to mention that the team-mate dynamic is bound to be unproblematic with this line-up. Exiting times.

FERNANDO ALONSO

What is equally as interesting is seeing how Fernando Alonso has once again burned his bridges. To the point where he may in fact not even have a drive next year. He said he has all the options. Well, I don’t think so. Red Bull have clearly said that they did not even consider him: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/116152
Toto Wolff have stated in not so many words, that they do not want to risk a “mess” by hiring Alonso as it is now. In other words, team bosses know that Alonso is an outstanding top class driver. But they also know that he comes with a price. And some luggage. Clearly, for some, it is simply not worth the hassle. If you haven’t already, you should read this brilliant article by Mark Hughes on the topic of Alonsos exit from Ferrari:

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/alonso-leaves-ferrari/

So where will he go? McLaren is the obvious answer. But last I heard was that Ron Dennis said that they have not hired him. Honda seems to want him. But does McLaren? He was a ticking bomb the last time he was there. It doesn’t matter if Lewis was favored or not. Nandos blackmailing and Ferrari-IP using antics is simply not cricket. And they have not been forgotten in Woking either, I’m sure. But at the same time, it would probably not be wise for McLaren to pass on an opportunity like Alonso. So it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Will be interesting to see where the self-proclaimed samurai warrior ends up. The samurai should make a mental note: “A samurai must never bite the hand that feeds him. No matter how skilled he is.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

If this had been 20 years ago or longer, Jules would be dead. But this is the situation today: Safety has come so far that it saves lives and thank God for that. But in some cases (specifically head injuries), it sends drivers into a coma or vegetative state instead of killing them instantly. Some might argue that there is not much difference between the two. However, as long as there is breath there is hope. And anyone would cling to that when it comes to loved ones. I don’t know what my point is or if I have one at all. Maybe that safety equipment needs another quantum leap like it took after May 1st, 1994.

When we see the awful footage of Bianchi slamming into that tractor, lifting it clear off the ground, it is hard to imagine how anything could possibly prevent a human from getting hurt in such a shunt. But that is what progress is for. In 1920, a car crash at 40 kph could kill you instantly. Today, we get out of our cars without a scratch and start yelling at the other guy instead. Unthinkable back in the day. I am certain that some bright minds can take us even further in this area.

Get well soon, Jules. We are rooting and praying for you!
Here is a photo we took of you while you were nice enough to say hi, give a smile and sign an autograph for my wife at Spa in 2012.

Love,
Soren

Jules Bianchi Spa 2012

About these ads
Posted in Formula 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

SPA 2014 – THE ICEMAN SHINES. ALL IT TOOK WAS A CLEAN RACE

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
Sorry for being a bit late with my review of Spa. One of my harddisks decided to call it quits. And it had to be the one with the OS. Oh, well. It was about time I upgraded the old gal anyway. Spanking new OS, SSD disk, twice the RAM and its smooth sailing. Now I just need to make an image of the installation in case it happens again. I was too lazy for that before. Nothing beats learning the hard way.

Ok, back to racing. As always, any Kimi fan has high hopes for Kimi around the Belgian track. And with good reason. He has won it more times than any of his current colleagues. And he would have won it more times if it weren’t for the fact that Spa used to take a year off now and then in the beginning of his career. Alas, for this year he is in possession of the Shitbox Speciale. The aero sucks donkey-dong and the engine is asthmatic compared to the Mercedes. So a repeat of the sensational win in 2009 is off the cards. At least that car had the oomph it needed on the long straights due to the KERS. The F14T is kinda like the F60 – but without the KERS.

That being said, Spa is probably the track on the calendar where driver skill matters most. The fabulous sector 2 with turns like Rivage and Pouhon is what separates the men from the boys. And Kimi sure knows how to work his magic there given half a chance. Just get some goosebumps watching Kimi in this V10 powered attack of Spa. The glorious, but oh so fragile MP4-20:

By the way. Fuck V6 sounds.
Right. Qualifying was wet-dry and very tricky. Kimis maximum was probably around P5. But the lack of heat in the tyres and the mistakes that often follow suit, saw him secure 8th place on the grid. Rosberg once again snatched pole from Hamilton. That makes it 4 poles in a row for the German. The stage is set for another showdown. And you probably know who drew first blood.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
THE RACE

Lights out and Hamilton jumps ahead of Nico and is first out of La Source. Making great use of his skill and knowledge of Spa, Kimi manages to pass the crazy Dane in the McLaren. If you looked closely at the TV pictures, you could see Magnussen do some wild defending after Kemmel into Les Combes. (Not the last time he would do this.) He brakes a tad too late which makes him vulnerable for attack and Kimi snatches his place. Rødgrød med fløde, tak! Vettel fails at his attempt to take the lead, also overshoots and goes back to 3rd place.

But Nico is not satisfied. He gets a good tow on Hamilton down the Kemmel straight on lap 2, but not nearly close enough to make any attempt of a pass. That didn’t deter him from trying though. A half-hearted attempt at going side by side into Les Combes results in chipping off a big part of his front wing. What is worse is that it immediately results in a puncture for the race leader. I can vividly imagine Hamilton shouting the foulest things inside his helmet as he has to limp all the way around the longest track on the calendar. Toto Wolff looked ready to howl at the moon as steam almost seemed to evade from his ears.

As the race goes on, we hear that Alonso will get his usual 5 second slap on the wrist. This time for the mechanics not having cleared the track within the allowed time. When the same happened for Kimi in Monaco in 2008, he was given a proper drive-through. A drive through where you can take the 5-second penalty together with a pitstop is not a penalty. But I digress.

Kimi now runs in 6th behind Bottas. And later behind Alonso as Bottas passes the Spaniard. He has no trouble keeping up and looks faster as well. But there is no getting by on the straight. So he does a surprisingly early stop on lap 8. It is a gamble. Because it requires him to make swift progress of the gaggle of cars he comes into from exiting the pit lane. And doing so without taking too much life out of the tires. This decision did put him slightly on the backfoot in the second half of the race. But it may still have been the best choice. So kudos to the Ferrari pit wall for doing something right for Kimi.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

He made it out ahead of Rosberg who had a frontwing change on the same lap. He makes a sweet pass on Gutierrez before Blanchimont. Unfortunately missed by the cameras. The following lap he zooms by Sutil who has learned to keep out of the Icemans way when he sees him in his mirrors. Then he makes minced meat of Vergne and setting the fastest lap in the progress. Ah. No one hitting the Iceman. No idiotic team calls. A track that brings out the best in drivers and Kimi is suddenly running in 2nd place behind Ricciardo. More proof that if you just leave him alone and give him the proper tools, he will beat any teammate under normal circumstances. Just imagine him in a car that actually fits his driving style.

Ricciardo up front is pulling away from Kimi while Vettel behind him is losing ground. An unthinkable scenario when it comes to the Red Bulls just a year ago. Both Red Bulls are on the same tire as well. So Vettel not comfortable at all in the car this year.
Halfway through the race we get some further entertainment as we watch the battle between Danish dynamite and the Spanish firecracker. Kevin Magnussen does some brilliant defending. Pissing off Alonso to the point where he just can’t hold his hand on the wheel anymore. Oh, this does make me laugh :D

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Raikkonen did his final stop with half the race to go. The harder tire between 1 and 2 seconds slower makes it an immense challenge of keeping them alive for about 155 kilometres distance at race pace. He does a beautiful pass on the outside of Button into the final chicane. From there on in it was a question of maintaining pace while preserving tires and defending the position he had clawed his way into from 8th.

He ran as high as second before eventually being passed by Rosberg and finally Bottas on fresher tires. Still, 4th is a cracking result all things considered.
Alonso has another rendezvous with Magnussen towards the end of the race. His brilliant defending turns a little bit ugly down the Kemmel straight. He forces Alonso onto the grass at 300 kph+. “All da time you leave-a da space!” If not for that slightly crazy move he would have kept his position instead of a 20-second penalty. Other than that, he positioned his car perfectly.

The final 3 laps was probably the best of the entire race. Epic fight between Magnussen, Vettel, Alonso and Button. Positions shifting back and forth. Lovely stuff.
Ricciardo wins. Unbelievably it is his third win this year. Rosbergs 2nd place puts him 29 points ahead of Hamilton. And I think it is safe to say that the gloves are off between the two from now on.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Did Rosberg do it on purpose? I really don’t know. I can only guesstimate from looking at the onboard. I think he wanted to do something, anything, in a split second. Probably out of frustration over losing position. Perhaps it was race induced red mist. I think he did a slight adjustment of the wheel in the heat of the moment that was not fully thought through. So we get a deja vu of last years booing on the podium. Only it is a different German that is targeted this time around. Bottas on the podium again. He is a coming star for sure. But Ricciardo is also looking a whole lot better than I thought he was.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Kimi did an awesome job. But as he pragmatically stated: It was just because of his first clean race this season. Ever so modest. I have never seen and I never will experience Kimi big himself up. And we don’t need to either. We have Alonso and Hamilton to do that and that is more than enough.

I propose that we just hold 12 races at Spa next year. I don’t mind. The remaining 8 can be divided between Suzuka and Monaco. Places where it still takes balls. Kimis post race statement: http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2014/8/16261.html

All right. Monza is coming up. Don’t expect a review because I fear that Ferrari will be absolutely humiliated there. On the other hand it will be interesting to see which team clocks the highest top speed this year. It might even break some records.

Take care peeps. Enjoy life.

Love,
Soren

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Posted in Formula 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

THE CURIOUS CASE OF KIMI RAIKKONEN 2014

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Race Day - Budapest, Hungary
It’s time to delve into Kimis 2014 season. Now this is not going to be some sort of apologetic post although some will probably perceive it as that. I simply want to go through his season, race by race. Basically to try and understand what the hell is going on. Because there is no doubt that the season has been abysmal so far. It’s kinda like a nightmare that you just want to end. Hence my lack of motivation to write the normal amount of reviews like I usually do.

Has Kimi been underperforming? No, I dont think so. He has looked less than impressive in a race or two. Canada comes to mind. But we sometimes need to look past the race result itself. He has had his fair share of issues and incidents that hampered his race and results and we need to include these factors in the equation.

10 years ago, Kimi actually had a season similar to this one. After 10 races in 2004, he had 28 points using todays points system. The main problem was not only the car being inferior to the mighty Ferrari that year. But also its horrible reliability. 8 out 18 races Kimi retired because of technical problems. (Yes, even Germany was technical, as his rear wing broke off and caused the accident.)

The only saving grace for McLaren that year was Kimis stunning victory at Spa from 10th place. A feat he would repeat in 2009, saving the face of another team that had given him a dog car.

But this is 2014. So what do we know? Ferrari have managed to not only produce a vastly inferior engine to the Mercedes but also a very tricky car to drive and set up. Kimi had his fair share of problems in pre-season testing. Which gave him a whopping 1000 kms of less tracktime compared to his teammate. But let me just do a quick rundown of his races this season.

AUSTRALIA
Qualified 11th. Race finish: 7th. 6 points.

Issue: Traffic every lap in qualifying. He spun into the wall but that had no effect on his final quali result.
He got a hefty bang from Kobayashi during the start. But suffered from unpredictible and changing handling throughout the race. A lot coming from the brake-by-wire system that was far from being perfect at that point. And it would plague him for several races to come.

MALAYSIA
Qualified 6th. Race finish: 12th. 0 points.

Issue: Kimi was 2nd and 3rd in all practice sessions but when the rain came in qualifying, he could only manage 6th.
Kevin Magnussen drove into the back of Kimi on lap 2, giving him a puncture. This dropped him to the very back of the grid and spent the rest of the race fighting his way up to 12th position.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, Malaysia
BAHRAIN
Qualified 5th. Race finish: 10th. 1 point.

Issue: Good qualifying. But gets another hit from behind from Kevin Magnussen on lap 1 of the race. No visible damage or puncture this time. The nature of the Bahrain track highlighted just how underpowered the Ferrari was to the Mercedes cars. And he dropped back to 10th as he was out-tractioned and out-accelerated by several cars.

CHINA
Qualified 11th. Race finish: 8th. 4 points.

Issue: Lots of different problems in practice sessions. Gear change problems in Q2 stopped Kimi from going to Q3.
In the race he had to back off in the final parts of the race over concerns about high fuel consumption. Complained over an unusual lack of grip during the race. Low temperatures combined with Kimis over-easy smooth driving style is likely a big reason.

SPAIN
Qualified 6th. Race finish: 7th. 6 points.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Spanish Grand Prix - Race Day - Barcelona, SpainIssue: Ferrari politics. The presence of Santander CEO, Emilio Botin at the race, saw Ferrari switch the pit stop strategies for Alonso and Raikkonen so that the Spanish Santander backed driver could finish in front. Also part of a plan and effort from Ferrari to try and persuade Alonso into staying at Ferrari.

The power of Alonsos car was also turned up for qualifying in an attempt to make sure that Alonso qualified ahead of Kimi. (FIA requested after qualifying that the power was turned down only on Alonsos car, not Kimis.) When that didn’t happen, action had to be taken during the race. It was a sham and a farce that not many people in the public know about. To quote Kimi in the team radio after the race: “I didn’t come here to be the second choice. You should explain me this shit!”

MONACO
Qualified 6th. Race finish: 12th. 0 points.

Issue: A great start and Vettels retirement sees Kimi running 3rd behind the two Mercedes cars. He is nearly on the same pace as the Mercs and is all but set for a podium finish. But the clownish Max Chilton managed to run into him during a safety car period, giving him a puncture. After stopping for new tires, this dropped him way back and he could only manage 12th on the near impossible to pass streets of Monaco.

This horrible misfortune was highlighted by the fact that Kimi was not informed over the team radio during the SC period, that backmarkers were about to unlap to get back on the same lap. If he had been, the collision with Chilton would not have happened.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Monaco Grand Prix - Sunday - Monte Carlo, Monaco
CANADA
Qualified 10th. Race finish 10th. 1 point.

Issue: Lack of running in practice. Kimi complains about the car sliding around more than usual on super softs during qualifying.
Some brake problems in the beginning of the race. Was always stuck behind cars during the race. Kvyats Toro Rosso for a big part of the race. Yet more inconsistent handling. The lack of oomph of the Ferrari engine made it very hard to pass even if the pace was much faster. In general a very unimpressive race to watch for a Kimi fan. His single point only came due to the crash between Perez and Massa.

AUSTRIA
Qualified 8th. Race finish: 10th. 1 point.

Issue: Made a small mistake in qualifying that cost him 1 or 2 places.
In the race, his brakes started overheating on the 2nd lap. Forcing him to slow down. Ferrari lets him stay out for 3 or 4 laps too long before his pitstop, making him lose 3 race positions. He lost 1-2 seconds a lap and still he was not brought in. These kind of calls boggles the mind.

BRITAIN
Qualified 18th. Race finish: DNF. 0 points.

Issue: Wet/dry qualifying session. A golden chance for Ferrari to take advantage of, but fails miserably with both drivers.
Kimi has a horrible monster-shunt on the first lap. He runs wide at the exit of turn 5, hits a dip before re-entering the track which makes him lose control of the car and crash heavily into the guardrail. Race over for Kimi and Bianchi steps in as test driver as a precaution for the test sessions the following week. Otherwise and thankfully, Kimi is ok to race in Germany.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - British Grand Prix - Race Day - Silverstone, England
GERMANY
Qualified 12th. Race finish: 11th. 0 points.

Issue: Once again when fitting the supersofts, the car slides around all over the place. He loses the back end in turn 2 and can only manage 12th.
During the race, Kimi seemed to be the punching bag of choice when passing or being passed. At one point he was sandwiched between a Red Bull and a Mercedes which made him lose a big part of his front wing. This worsened the graining factor, causing loss of pace. Kimi does however finally say that he was able to drive the car the way he wanted to – apart from these problems. First time we really hear this.

HUNGARY
Qualified 16th. Race finish 6th. 8 points.

Issue: Ferrari does another monumental and disgraceful blunder. They gamble that Kimis time is quick enough for Q2. He asks them several times if they are really sure. They are. Except it wasn’t. So Kimi starts 16th when he would have been comfortably in Q3.
Easily the best race for Kimi this year. Great fightback from 16th to 6th. If not for getting stuck behind Massa, his result would have been even better. It shows some promise for the remainder of the season.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Race Day - Budapest, Hungary
As you can see, (and it has been said before) Kimis problem is not that he suddenly decided to suck. It is coming to grips with a very unpredictable car in terms of setup vs. Kimis driving style. It is coming to grips with a far from perfect brake-by-wire system. As well as battling horrendous team-calls. Political or not. Throw in the likes of Kevin Magnussen and Max Chilton into the mix and you got a season from hell. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Spa is coming up in less than a week and there is hope for another great result. Especially when we know how Kimi simply loves this track and masters it better than his peers. Unfortunately, some realism have to be introduced. Even if the car feels better between Kimis hands, the Ferrari engine is still down on power to the Mercedes powered cars. And horsepower does matter a lot more in Belgium than it does in Hungary. But a good result could still be on the table. And heaven knows that we Kimi fans need one these days.

Finally, a big congratulations to Minttu and Kimi. As they are now expecting a child together. Let us hope that the child will inherit Kimis uncanny car feel so the next generation can also enjoy a Raikkonen phenomenon :D

getpic

Take care peeps.

Love,
Soren

Posted in Formula 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

KIMI RAIKKONEN’S PROBLEMS AT FERRARI EXPLAINED

A well-written reminder and a more in-depth view of why Kimi is having such difficulties in the 2014 Ferrari.

I had to repost as the reblogging fucked up my site format.
Originally posted on pitlane talk.

Kimi explained

It was no surprise to us that Kimi Raikkonen was struggling with the F14-T in Melbourne. Besides the obvious problems on the car (brake balance, traction and top speed), it features a problematic design that could extend Raikkonen’s struggles for a few more races.

Upon his return to Formula 1, the Finn enjoyed a stable car under Lotus branding: a push-rod suspension that allowed easy tweaks on front and rear end setup. Raikkonen likes a responsive, almost oversteery front end, without having to dial in too much input on cornering. In 2012, the steering precision was a little off for his tastes, so Lotus resolved the matter in a couple of race weekends and in Bahrain he was already on the podium. The E20 was known for its quick response to setup changes, which was mostly down to efficient push-rod packaging.

The situation at Ferrari now is a lot more complicated.

The very nature of the Prancing Horse’s cars after Schumacher’s departure consisted of stubborn understeer throughout the years. Nothing that a few setup changes couldn’t solve, or resources couldn’t handle. Kimi shined at Ferrari in 2007 and, despite a few off moments, was on it in 2008 and 2009 as well.

So what has changed at Ferrari that gave Kimi such a shock struggle in Melbourne this year?

Since 2012, Ferrari decided to develop their cars on the basis of a PULL-ROD SUSPENSION, something that was abandoned by teams at the end of 2010. The solution has its advantages, as it lowers the nose and the suspension, along with the center of gravity. However, the problem lies in fine tuning.

One of the major disadvantages of a pull-rod approach is the limitation on adjusting the car’s handling, which is due to difficulty accessing certain areas of the car. For example, in the case of a rear pull-rod, you have to remove the floor as well as the gearbox to fine tune the rear end because there’s simply no space to operate around the springs.

Therefore if the car’s handling is fundamentally understeery, it’s simply impossible for Kimi’s crew to counter that with more oversteer in two practice sessions. There’s not enough time to disassemble and reassemble the car until Kimi is comfortable with the handling as it’s usually difficult to get it right on the first try. Even if the mechanics are able to find the optimum input, the pull-rod suspension is a stubborn system that usually doesn’t react as precisely to setup changes as a push-rod.

Spending Friday practices in the garage picking apart the front end of the car is not a solution, especially this year when every kilometer counts.  Repackaging the front pull rod would be a solution, but it would affect the overall balance of the car and could make things worse. The quickest way would be to induce oversteer aerodynamically, which is why Ferrari will manufacture new parts for Raikkonen to solve his problems. Even that might take a few good weekends.

Fernando Alonso is able to cope with the system a lot easier, having raced with a pull-rod suspension at Minardi in 2001. Which is probably why Ferrari decided to reinstall the system to make the Spaniard more comfortable in the car.

Posted in Formula 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kimi Raikkonen’s problems at Ferrari explained

Soren:

A well-written reminder and more in-depth view of why Kimi is having such difficulties in the 2014 Ferrari.

Originally posted on pitlane talk. :

It was no surprise to us that Kimi Raikkonen was struggling with the F14-T in Melbourne. Besides the obvious problems on the car (brake balance, traction and top speed), it features a problematic design that could extend Raikkonen’s struggles for a few more races. 

Upon his return to Formula 1, the Finn enjoyed a stable car under Lotus branding: a push-rod suspension that allowed easy tweaks on front and rear end setup. Raikkonen likes a responsive, almost oversteery front end, without having to dial in too much input on cornering. In 2012, the steering precision was a little off for his tastes, so Lotus resolved the matter in a couple of race weekends and in Bahrain he was already on the podium. The E20 was known for its quick response to setup changes, which was mostly down to efficient push-rod packaging.

The situation at Ferrari now is a lot more complicated.

View original 385 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

POST-AUSTRIAN GP THOUGHTS – HAS KIMI FORGOTTEN HOW TO DRIVE?

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria
Let’s go there immediately. Address the elephant in the room so to speak. There is no denying that watching Kimi race this year has pretty much been abysmal. With the exception of Monaco, until fate played its cruel twist. So what is wrong? Kimi was the cream of the crop just a few months ago. Did he forget how to drive over the winter and suddenly became useless?

Some critics say so. But the idea falls on its own stupidity. Of course Kimi has not forgotten how to throw an F1 car around a track. The idea is both silly and idiotic. But it’s like an expert craftman suddenly being handed left-handed tools when he is right-handed. His work will suffer. And when the level of competition is very high, even the smallest disadvantages will show. He can eventually adapt but it will never be 100% as good.

And this is the case in hand. Kimi has been given a tool that absolutely does not sit with him. How often have we heard or seen interviews and press releases saying that they are bringing modifications. They are trying “new” things, updates and so on. So far it has not fixed the inherent characteristics of the car that does not suit a natural instinctive talent like Kimi. Even though it is slightly better: http://www.planetf1.com/driver/18227/9359497/Raikkonen-admits-Ferrari-frustration

So why does it work for Fernando? Is he just a better driver? He is a very good driver but speedwise he cannot quite match the speed that Kimi possesses on equal terms. (edit: I see that this sentence upsets some people. But Alonso have said himself that he isn’t the quickest driver in the world. But that he has many other strengths. And I can only agree with that. But I stick to my statement. I have made a small change in the wording to make it sound less bombastic, though.)
However, Alonso has had the car (And the team) built around him for 5 seasons straight now. No wonder the car feels better in his hands. He doesnt mind a weak frontend. It’s how he drives. It’s a simpler and more predictive way of attacking corners. But ultimately not as effective as a very sharp front end and a rear that can be used to turn the car out of corners. But it demands a more delicate setup. And a very skilled driver to wrestle an optimal laptime out of it. In this day and age, the former style of driving is proving the one to have. But it certainly isn’t the fastest.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria

“Oh, but Fernando is so much better at adapting to a bad car.” Is he now? How short is your memory? The last time Ferrari had a real dog was in 2009. Kimi struggled a lot with that car the first half of the season. He was down on points to Massa. But when Massa was taken out by a spring to his head, Ferrari suddenly had to start paying full attention to Kimis demands. Something that had not happened since 2007, maybe early 2008.

Immediately Kimi looked like a different driver. But was he? Had he “woken up”? Of course not, you mongrels! He finally had a car under him that he could trust and a frontend that behaved to his liking. The car was still crap and seriously lacked downforce but it got him podiums. Compared to before, where he often struggled just getting points. The Ferrari engineers even said that they simply didn’t understand how Kimi could set the times he did with that car.

Ferrari had stopped developing the car before the 2009 summer break. Only some minor track dependant updates came along. But he still managed to rack up more points than anyone in the second half of the season. Maybe Hamilton just managed to squeeze by in points collecting. But that was only due to the rest of the competition developing their cars while Ferrari were busy preparing Fernandos new car for 2010. And Kimi was driving a stricken underdeveloped car. But he drove it like a boss.

Kimi_eau rougeLet me give you an example. Badoer was maybe not the best choice for stepping into a shitbox. But even though he was ridiculed back then, it also shows how incredibly difficult it is to suddenly adjust to new equipment. But I will give you a better example. Late August 2009, Fisichella almost won the Belgian GP in a Force India. Which was quite sensational back then. And he would have won it – if it wasn’t for Kimi Raikkonen driving a crappy Ferrari with KERS. At Spa.

So Fisichella is certainly no slouch behind the wheel. But the poor guy jumps at the chance and gets put in the Ferrari the very next race in Monza. It was horrible to watch. I know because I was there. There Kimi was; fighting at the front for a podium. If you didn’t know any better, you would think he was a championship contender. And half a minute down the road comes Fisichella, struggling, fighting with the car. Yes, its red and its a Ferrari but was it worth it for Fisi? I saw Italians shaking their heads and throwing their hands up in the air, lamenting his driving. Which people do now with Kimi.

Was Fisichella suddenly crap? Lost his talent in a fortnight? Umm, no. He got into a car that definitely was no picnic. And it wasn’t built for him. He tried all he could to make it fit his needs. But to no avail. He had 5 races in the car and it practically only got worse. Oh well. He has a career with Ferrari now and he just won the Le Mans so I guess he is alright. But it really was a trainwreck seeing him in the F60.

kimi_fire_av512Edit: Actually, I also want to highlight his race in Brazil 2009. It might be even more impressive than Spa that year. He was set for another fight at the front but gets a puncture and a broken frontwing from contact with Webber on lap 1. He gets into the pits, has a longer stop due to wing change, goes out the box, gets fuel in his eyes from Kovalainens fuel hose, gets set on fire, keeps on driving:
http://youtu.be/4YdysEv7gOk
From the very back of the field he fights and claws his way up to 6th place with fuel burning in his eyes for the rest of the race. Something he only complained about when the race was over. No one. And I mean no one could have done the same in that car.

Vettel_2887711bYou can also look at Vettel this year. He is one of the best qualifiers that F1 has seen. And yet, his new teammate is beating him in qualifying. And in races too. Again – of course Vettel has not lost his talent! “Now, hold on there a minute”, you say. “Vettel has been in Red Bull since 2009 and he should have his car built around him like Alonso and be just fine”. Well, theoretically yes. But things are not always that black and white in F1. He clearly has some serious problems adapting to this car and perhaps even more – the new formula. The lack of downforce is really hurting him and the more they try to work around the problem the more accentuated it seems to get.

So is Kimis problem the new formula this year then? Hard to say. Maybe. The new rules could certainly be part of the problem. But mostly it is the car that is killing off all his attributes. Kimi is smooth in his driving and great at saving tires. That skill is impossible to display when the car is sliding around on the track. His tires get spent just as fast or faster than the others. His raw high speed corner entrys? Impossible to do when you cannot trust the frontend. Manipulating the rearend? Forget it.

From his quotes to the press it seems that when one end of the car is okay, the other becomes unstable for him. And vice versa. As he elaborates in this article as well. It also mentions the brake-by-wire problems that have been pestering him too: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/114639

And one mustn’t ignore the blatant favorism that Ferrari is giving Alonso. Look at Spain. Pit stop favoring. Extra power for Alonso in qualifying. And how the pitstop calls for Kimi time and again are horrible. There is a room full of engineers with screens full of data and they cannot figure out that Kimi will lose 4 places if they do not pit him immediately! No, lets keep him out for a few more laps. Genius… Things like this makes me a conspiracy theorist and I usually loathe those. So Kimi has to deal with this in addition to fighting the car.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria

“But F1 champions should be able to adapt”. Yes. They should. But the fact is that this new formula clearly suits some drivers more than others. And they are the lucky ones because they have much less adapting to do. Look at Nico Rosberg beating Hamilton. Hamilton is close but many thought he would wipe the floor with the German. That has not happened yet. Rosberg is just one of those drivers that this years regulations just sit better with. Just like Alonso. Ricciardo. And it looks like Magnussen too.

I personally think it’s a shame that the need for raw speed is gone. F1 is being regulated to death. And the drivers that flourish are not the balls-out Gilles Villeneuve types that we all love to see pushing a Formula 1 car to the limit and sometimes beyond. I’m completely convinced that Senna would absolutely hate this new formula and he wouldn’t be quiet about it either. But alas, this is what we have now. And it is not set to change for a while. One can always hope of course. Meanwhile we can only lament that it filters out the true greats. The seat of their pants drivers. Like Kimi Raikkonen. Whose ability to be lightning quick out of the box is legendary.

The speed is still there. But he has a ball and chain around his ankle, hiding, hampering his ferociousness. The ball is the F14T and the chain the current regulations. Will Ferrari fix it eventually? Sadly, I don’t think so. They will soon focus everything on next years car. The question is – will Alonso be in it. Will Kimi?

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria

The Austrian GP review? Oh, right. Not gonna do that. Sorry folks. But I will say that the Williams were really impressive. Bottas looks like a coming star. I do think the track favored them a bit. Great track btw. But in spite of the gloomyness above, I am actually really looking forward to Monza. The Williams cars have some serious straightline speed. And I can’t wait to see what topspeeds they will achieve. 360 kph+ would be cool! That being said, it is going to be sad to see Nico being in front of Hamilton all season, just to lose it all in the final doublepoints race. You heard it here first.

Finally, take some comfort in these very mature words uttered by Kimi after qualifying in Austria:

Austria MTV3 Interview
I have always said that the problems won’t get fixed quickly and bigger problems take more time to fix but I believe we will sort the problems. About the difference to Alonso, of course it would be nicer to have it the other way around. But at the moment I do not stress about it, as my main goal is to get this team on top and fight for wins and then it will matter more… At the moment when we are fighting for positions 5-10, I do not worry about it much, of course you always try your best. I have lots of experience so I know how to ask what I want“.

(Translated by Vesuvius @ Autosport Forum)

Love,
Soren

Images ©  Photo4, Moy/XPB Images
Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any of these photos taken down for any reason.

Everything pretty much turned to shit after you left Ferrari, Mr. Todt. Can you come back. You can bring old Léon.

Everything pretty much turned to shit after you left Ferrari, Mr. Todt. Can you come back?                                              You can bring old Léon.

Posted in Formula 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

MY RENDEZ-VOUS WITH KIMI IN THE NORWEGIAN FORESTS

Kimi at Rudskogen_1
Well this was a treat! Just the day before yesterday I heard that Kimi was coming to Rudskogen Motorpark for a Santander event on the 28th of May. I was like whaaaat. And then I was like wah-wah-wah-waaaah (sad trombone). Because I was working that day. Thanks heavens that I have a nice employer. I asked for a day off ridiculously late and I still got it granted. So a big thank you to Mr. Magnus B. He loves cars and motorsports himself, so that obviously helps.

Where is the Monaco review you ask? Screw the Monaco review! Screw Marussia and screw Kevin Magnussen. There. I think that just about covers it. Happy?

Kimi_racestart

Ok. The Santander event was so the press could race against Kimi in rental karts and do some bits for their various channels, programmes and shows. Anyway, I still had to pick up my car from the MOT test. Which it failed. That meant I had to go home, get the other car and drive there. So I was late. And Kimi is not exactly known for sticking around. But luck was on my side. As I arrived there, the first race was just about to start. And I managed to rip out my videocamera and start recording. My footage below:

As you can see Kimi started last but was up to second place in just a few corners. Haha. Great fun to watch. But it was also noticeable that his kart lacked a little top speed to most of the other karts and was also slower to accelerate. As there typically is differences when it comes to rental karts. Perhaps it was Santander that made sure of that. So that the kart would be as similar to the F14T as possible. So he was not able to catch the guy in first place who is a norwegian race driver. Here is some great onboard footage of the start and the first lap: http://www.iltalehti.fi/iltvurheilu/201405290123740_v9.shtml

They did another race. This time Kimi and the race driver, Atle Gulbrandsen, both started last. He also works as a commenter for the norwegian broadcast of the F1 races. Kimi gets a horrid start but still gets up to second place after one lap or so. But again, the kart was too slow to catch the other guy. Anyway, it was all good fun and it looked like Kimi enjoyed it too. Unlike Vettel who I can guarantee would demand a change of karts, Kimi is not too bothered about these kind of promo races.

Kimi_race2

The funny part here is that Mr. Gulbrandsen was really raving on his Facebook page and on his Twitter account about him beating Raikkonen. And when Ferrari first wrongly wrote that Kimi won both races, he went apeshit on Twitter, saying they were lying and that he won, not Kimi. Yes, you beat Kimi. In a rental kart. Newsflash – it was just for fun. And it wasn’t real karts. The Ferrari statement was just their usual pre-fabricated PR they probably made days before the event.

Check out this tweet:
@Atlegulbrandsen
@InsideFerrari Why are you lying about the results from the karting race today? I won both races, not Kimi… #ForzaFerrari
#F1 #Ferrari

Wow. Anyway Mr. Gulbrandsen, if you seriously think you can beat Kimi Raikkonen in a real kart – think again. But don’t bash him guys. I would be proud myself in his position. And you probably would too.

About Kimi and karting. Here is a story from 2001. Which was a good while after Kimi had raced karts. From the book “Jaamies”:

He (Kalle Jokinen – close friend of Kimi) gave an example which enlightens Kimi’s top qualities – When Kimi finally went to F1, I stayed in the karting business and moved to Italy and worked in Haase’s factory. Once in 2001 I was testing with professional driver Mario Spinozzi on Garda Lake’s karting track. Kimi happened to call and asked where I was. I told him I was at Garda’s factory and Kimi said he would come and have a look, Jokinen said.

Kimi came and watched what the men were doing for some time. Then he got the old itch and finally Jokinen asked Räikkönen if he would want to try driving. – He said that would be okay for him, Jokinen remembers. On the Garda track a below 40 second laptime in a kart is a really good time. Spinozzi drove 39,8 laps at his best so the men had a really good testing pace. Yet he complained at the same time to Jokinen about engines and some other problems. – Kimi jumped into the car and immediately drove a 39,9 lap. He asked me to do a few changes, went back on the track and once again did the hard to do below 40 laptime.

The Italian engineman asked me if Kimi could do some testing since he gives such clear feedback about everything, Jokinen told. Räikkönen said that he can test the engines. He could tell about the qualities of all five engines he was testing after driving each for a short time only. The engine-man was blown away and wondered how Räikkönen had the ability to give so much different information. He thought Räikkönen was a living computer. In the end Räikkönen told the Haase-men that he would ‘try a bit’ once more, asked for a specific engine and setups and some changes. Jokinen knew what was about to happen.

- Kimi went onto the track: first lap 39,3 and he wasn’t even using new tyres. Second lap was already 39,2 and the third one would have been even faster but Kimi drove the car on two wheels in one corner, Jokinen recalls. Haase’s engine-man was astonished and told his partner: – Our problem isn’t the material, it’s the driver. At that point Spinozzi packed his things and left. He had enough of it.
————————————————————————-

Great story. But back to the Rudskogen event. I was cheeky enough to sneak down amongst the press people. There were really few spectators there. It wasn’t widely advertised at all. Kimi certainly didn’t mind that and me neither. So I was able to get some great close-up footage of Kimi getting out of the kart. And his old rally pal, Henning Solberg also showed up. And they had a friendly chat and some banter between them:

Kimi_smile

Seeing an opening, I snuck over and took a selfie of Kimi and me. He was nice enough to give a little smile as well. Too bad I look like crap on it. But I’ll take it. He was in a good mood so I also asked if he would mind signing my cap as well. He said “Sure” and “Here you go”. I wanted to say that we are many that support him and that he should get rid of Spagnolo as race engineer. But to be honest I was a little star struck so I just said “Thanks Kimi” and walked away like the chicken I am. The Ferrari PR lady was also standing right there, so I dont think Kimi would share any thoughts about Spagnolo anyway. And certainly not to me. But once I buy a large share of his moto-cross team – then! :D

After a while, some snooty Santander guy came up to me and asked me where I was from. “From F1bias.com of course”, I replied. That didn’t seem to impress him and asked if I could move up the hill a bit and make room for the next segment that was to be filmed. Too bad he didn’t know that my site gets more hits than some of the official press sites represented there. Especially my article about Kimi, Ferrari and Santander that really blows the cover of his entire seedy corporation. I regret wholeheartedly that Kimi is back amongst these wolves that have a hard-on for Spanish drivers in particular. That being said, I was thankful that they threw this event in my backyard so to speak ;)

Snooty Santander guy in Red

Snooty Santander guy in to the left of Kimi

Next and final event was a skit for a norwegian TV-show called “Golden Goal”. It’s a show mixed up with comedy and sports and it is very entertaining at times. So I filmed some of that as well. The program will probably run this fall. I will be sure to see if I can link to it later somehow. Kimi looked to enjoy the whole thing. And he nearly collided with one of them as he took off. lol My amateur footage below. Btw, a cameraguy bumped his camera on a colleagues head at 3:55. Haha.

Kimi karting

And after that, it was over. The whole thing took place in just an hour. Kimi exited stage right and I began my 2 hour journey home. Pretty satisfied with my day. And I am glad that I could share it with you guys. One more week to Canada. Hamilton will win that one. But can Kimi get his car right so he can consistently outpace Alonso again? Which he will do every day of the week once it behaves just slightly the way he wants it to. Time will tell. That and who will win of the two Merc guys is pretty much the excitement there is left for me this season. But F1 races are few and far between, so I will enjoy them nevertheless.

Take care guys ;)

Love,
Soren

Golden_Goal2

Le signed cap

Le signed cap

 

 

 

Posted in Formula 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments