Category Archives: Regulations

Formula One: 2017 technical regulations an opportunity for Shell

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The impact of  2017 changes in Formula One technical regulations have received significant media attention in recent months. With wider tyres and increased front and rear wings coming our way, the visual impact of a 2017 F1 challenger is set to be quite dramatic. An area which has been explored in less detail has been the impact the regulations may or may not have on fuel performance.

Speaking to select media at a Shell V-Power event at the Bruntingthorpe proving ground in Leicestershire following the British Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel and Guy Lovett, Shell Motorsport Innovation Manger, spoke about the regulations and the possible implications.

Guy Lovett: ” It [the regulation changes] gives us a little more opportunity, the token system is abolished so the engine development side of things is more open and its the same on the fuel side. The important thing is for us to exploit our close relationship with Ferrari and ultimately develop the best package. From a fuel perspective, that doesn’t necessarily  change how we work, it just gives us more opportunity”

Sebastian Vettel  “from a driving point of view, next year we will have more grip, more downforce, but that means also more drag down the straight which might slow us down a bit. And the fuel consumption might go up because you have more drag. Equally we go faster through the corners, so it will be interesting to see from that front what we need to do in the car. will we be saving fuel or can we be flat out?”

You can view the interview in full through the Shell Motorsport Periscope Channel Here:

Questions around the impact of 2017 regulations from JWGP can be seen at around 10 minutes into the broadcast.

Over the course of 2015, Shell V-Power introduced five fuel compound upgrades to Scuderia Ferrari, these upgrades delivered a performance improvement of around 0.5 seconds per lap. Such a rate of development and performance gain is a testament to the strength of the partnership. The development race continues into 2016 with Shell set to introduce a new fuel compound for Scuderia Ferrari in the coming races. With such a significant regulation change coming in 2017 Shell have already begun to divert resources towards the 2017 programme. After the summer break the resource split between seasons will be around 50/50, with a complete shift to 2017 planning coming soon after.

A key defining factor in 2017 compound development will be final conclusion of the technical regulations. At this time it has not been confirmed if Fuel tank capacity will increase from 100kg to 105kg or if the current regulation will be maintained. As mentioned earlier in the interview with increased drag through the aero regulations likely to increase fuel consumption, if fuel tanks remain at 100kg Shell will focus their efforts seeking efficiency gains. If the fuel tank capacity increases a greater focus on performance from fuel can be expected.

For more from Shell Motorport, you can follow them on Twitter here

Formula One: Red Bull Racing Numbers

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A second row lockout on the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix served to reiterate  the continued resurgence in form for Red Bull Racing and act as some vindication for the teams decision to bring Max Verstappen into the team replacing Daniil Kvyat after only 4 races in the 2016 season.

Max joining the team coupled with a sensational qualifying performance lead to a dramatic increase in FOM World Broadcasting Feed exposure and it has to be said a level of confusion with commentators and graphics editors, with numerous occasions of  the wrong driver being called during commentary or displayed on screen.

Whilst the FIA do mandate the onboard camera (positioned above the airbox) of one car from each team must be fluorescent in colour this indicator is often missed with viewers focusing instead on driver helmet or number. Unfortunately  Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo share a substantially similar helmet design leaving fans, broadcasters, and editors to rely on driver number.

Camera positioning around the Circuit de Barcelona – Cataluyna lends itself to many long, and forward facing front shots, with which, as you can see from the images used here, it is almost impossible to identify driver numbers on the RB12.

Red Bull Racing’s role in what promises to be a thrilling Spanish Grand Prix should be significant. Taking this into consideration, could the team please move driver numbers to a lower point on the nosecone to enable quick and easy identification for all!

Formula One: FIA – Convergence is coming as tokens are dropped

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At the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, the FIA earlier today held a press conference with Head of Powertrain Fabrice Lom & F1 Director Charlie Whiting, chaired by Matteo Bonciani, to discuss the developments in the Power Unit Strategy from the governing body.

The full transcript of the press conference can be found here

Changes explored in this press conference are set to be implemented from 2017 onwards.

In essence the FIA have broken the power unit strategy into 4 pillars:

  1. Addressing the cost of current Power Unit technology
  2. Obligation to supply
  3. Convergence of Power Unit performance
  4. Reviewing the sound of current Power Unit technology

For details on each of the pillars I highly recommend reviewing the press conference transcript, particularly the area regarding engine supply plans (pillar2), as referenced on this site earlier this week.

One other area of specific interest is that of power convergence. Fabrice Lom explains the need and enabler to the topic here :

“The third pillar was to help performance convergence. So, to do that the first big thing that people thought was important is to have stability in the regulations.”

Regulations stability closes the door to dropping hybrid technology for the FIA and ensures the series Power Unit Strategy remains relevant to the automotive industry:

“There was a lot of discussion of changing completely the regulations, going back to normally aspirated engines, no hybrid. Firstly, nobody wanted that because the trend of the world is to go hybrid and to go low consumption.

But also they thought if there is a big change there will be a redistribution of the cards and there could be a big difference in performance between the power unit manufacturers, so they said stability of regulations would help a lot. So this is the first tool for convergence.”

The current token system around Power Unit development would not facilitate an environment in which manufacturers would be able to achieve a convergence of performance. However to ensure there is no ‘free for all’ the FIA will be implementing specific restrictions around such developments:

“Then we free the tokens, because the ones that are a bit behind wanted no limitation of development to try to recover. We also put limits on some performance related dimensions. This is a bit technical and you all have the regulations but for example we put limits on the crankshaft dimensions, on the weights of some parts, so we are sure that there are limits on the development on these items. These limits were put where the best one is today, so that people know the target and also allow us to stop the best ones to develop more, to go lighter or smaller, so that we put something like a bit of a barrier to development.

In addition to this we put limits on the boost temperature, so they cannot develop too much their cooling and also a bit of packaging on the energy store and control electronics to avoid having to redo all the energy store to help the chassis performance.”

Following this overview the FIA opened the press conference to the floor. In this session further questions around convergence were addressed.

When you do the power convergence, how are you going to ensure that whoever your benchmark is is actually not sand-bagging at the time to be artificially low, so that you can ensure that you have there actual performance to ensure that they don’t gain an advantage after the convergence date?

Fabrice: So clearly the package is to help convergence. We are not mandating convergence; there is no prescribed convergence. So we just put measure that should help convergence.

Naturally the convergence will come with the stability of regulation and we try to speed up the convergence by having these measures but there is no prescribed convergence.

What’s the timeframe for sorting this convergence out, because they have talked about 0.3s per lap around Barcelona. When would expect that to be in place and what if it’s not? What if one of the manufacturers has found something and is suddenly 1.0s clear?

Fabrice: So this figure of 0.3s is apparently something that went in the media. There is nothing prescribed, as I said, but we will measure it at the beginning of each season and if it is considered to be not at the level that we expect to be, we will come back to the Strategy Group and just report, and then what will happen will be a decision of the Strategy Group, according to the F1 governance we have today.

It remains to be seen how in reality a convergence system will work. Given limitations around Power Unit components through a season, manufacturers will  a limited opportunities to introduce updates without penalty. The sport should also question if convergence, which is tantamount to standardisation, is the direction any sport representing a pinnacle should be taking. That being said ‘the show’ element of Formula One can be assured through these actions, which may encourage further investment and a new audience to the sport.

At this time Formula One Management have made no comment around the FIA’s Power Unit Pillar Strategy.

 

 

Formula One: Red Bull Racing 2017 Engine Supply to be confirmed by the Spanish GP

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Under the 2017 Formula One Sporting Regulations published on April 29th 2016, power unit manufacturers; Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Ferrari ,must confirm to the sports governing body details of the teams they will supply power units to for the 2017 season no later than May 15th 2016 (the date of the Spanish GP), unless all parties agree to a later date.

This addition to the sporting regulations will put an end to protracted season long negotiations between teams and power unit suppliers as seen with Red Bull Racing through the 2015 season.

With a unanimous agreement to extend the deadline to submit this information to the FIA unlikely, Red Bull Racing have 11 days to finalise 2017 power unit supply plans. It is highly unlikely the addition of this requirement in the sporting regulations come as a surprise to the team, no doubt negotiations are well advanced if not an agreement already in place.

Given the improved reliability and performance Red Bull Racing have seen in the opening rounds of the 2016 season with the Tag Heuer branded Renault power unit a change in supplier is thought to be unlikely. Both parties have been keen to speak positivity around the partnership since the beginning of the the 2016 season.

Aside from Red Bull Racing,  Scuderia Toro Rosso, & Sauber may also seek to change engine supply for 2017, any such change would require definition in accordance to the same May 15th deadline. Whilst the 2017 sporting regulations make no mention of manufacturers supplying 4 teams on the grid, it is not thought existing agreements of this nature will not longer be feasible, as such current Mercedes Benz customer agreements are unlikely to change.

However, in accordance to the 2017 sporting regulations, manufacturers are now mandated to facilitate supply 2.75 teams should it be required or requested. In the days following the Russian Grand Prix  Honda have made it public that they are prepared to comply with this regulation and supply an additional two teams if requested. It is possible Honda may seek to expand its presence within the sport in future years with the rumoured exclusivity or veto clause McLaren hold over power unit supply nullified through this regulation development.

To review the 2017 Sporting & Technical Regulations in full follow this link.

Relevant Sporting Regulations Extract:

APPENDIX 9
SUPPLY OF POWER UNITS FOR THE 2017-2020 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASONS

  1. )  No power unit may be used in a given Championship season unless the Power Unit Manufacturer supplying such power unit accepts and adheres to the following conditions.

    Each of the Power Unit Manufacturers of an homologated power unit must :

    1. i)  provide the FIA, before 15 May (or such other date as agreed in writing between all the Power Unit Manufacturers and the FIA) of the season preceding that in which such power units are to be supplied, with the list of teams (clearly identifying the appointed “works/factory” team, if any) to which a supply agreement has been concluded for the given Championship season ;
    2. ii)  if called upon to do so by the FIA before 1 June (or such other date as agreed in writing between all the Power Unit Manufacturers and the FIA) of the season preceding that in which such power units were to be supplied, supply at least a number of teams (“T”) equal to the following equation :

      T = 11-A/B-C

      • –  A = Total number of teams (including “works/factory” teams) having a supply agreement concluded for the given Championship season with a New Power Unit Manufacturer.
      • –  B = Total number of manufacturers of homologated Power Units for the given Championship season.
      • –  C = Total number of New Power Unit Manufacturers for the given Championship season.

        provided that if the result contains a fraction then the fraction shall count as a full team (e.g. 11 teams divided by 4 manufacturers = 2.75, each manufacturer must, if called upon to do so by the FIA, supply at least 3 teams).

Formula One: Mercedes Debrief – Assessing a Power Unit Failure

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Some light reading for you between FP3 and Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix. Mercedes AMG Petronas explain the power unit failure debrief process following Lewis Hamilton’s challenging Chinese GP weekend:

What do we now know about the failure on Lewis’ Power Unit in Shanghai?
The Power Unit in question arrived back at Brixworth in the early hours of Thursday morning of the week following the race and investigation into the failure has been on-going every minute since its return to the factory. The MGU-H has been stripped and the issue is suspected to be associated with the insulation. The turbocharger will be replaced in addition to the oil pumps, after debris was found in the oil system. With the repairs completed, this Power Unit will remain in the driver pool and travel to Sochi as a spare.

What’s the initial course of action when a Power Unit failure occurs at the track?
First and foremost, a group of engineers at the circuit and a much larger group at Brixworth will pore through readings from the data logger, noting what every sensor on the Power Unit has recorded. That’s an instant check which will quickly establish the severity of the problem.

What happens if a major fault is discovered?
If it’s then determined that there is an issue which cannot be fixed at the track and hardware needs to be removed, the trackside technicians will ready the components for transport back to Brixworth as quickly as possible. The engineer responsible for the system suspected to be at the core of the issue will subsequently draw up a strip request instruction while the components are in transit.

What exactly does a strip request instruction involve?
It’s a detailed sequence of instructions for the technicians working in the build department back at Brixworth, which outlines who will be allocated to each individual stage of the process, what specialist equipment and / or inspection techniques are required and which procedures need to be carried out. The list is written in chronological order with approximate time frames for each step to create a carefully considered timing plan that’s fully resourced.

Where do the technicians begin when deconstructing a failed component?
In most cases, the technicians will start by back-flushing oil through the various galleries and filters of the oil and coolant systems to collect any fine debris. While larger fragments can be removed by hand, the finer debris – which often points to the start of the problem – can settle at the end of blind galleries or in filters downstream of the failed part.

How is debris analysed?
Microscope analysis of the debris is the first stage – looking at the different shapes and sizes present to establish whether it’s a case of fine wear or a component which has shattered into small pieces. The debris will then be scanned with an electron microscope to check its chemical composition. This helps to establish the material type – which in turn provides an indication of the component that the debris might have come from.

What happens next to the various components in question?
Once the debris analysis has been completed and the components that were involved in the failure have all been stripped, everything is physically laid out to mimic its installed configuration. Looking at the series of components in front of them, what debris has been found and where it ended up, the engineers can begin to establish a likely sequence of events. They will then go back through the logged data from the track to find any step changes in the readings from each Power Unit sensor that might match up to a given theory.

Can virtual simulations be used in the investigation process?
Virtual simulation tools give a good insight into what’s going on within a system and are used extensively throughout the development phase. When a component has failed, those models can be referred back to and changes made commensurate with what the team suspects has gone wrong to mimic the cause of the failure.

Does the team ever carry out physical simulations to re-create a failure?
Deliberate errors can be manufactured into hardware, which can then be tested on the dyno in an attempt to replicate a failure. This might be seen as an expensive means of testing – but it’s cheaper than having a repeat issue at the circuit. Engines can be run with clearances altered to be either larger or smaller than the typical build standard tolerances – mimicking a scenario in which a surface has become worn, for example.

What about non-mechanical elements of the Power Unit?
Every element of the Power Unit can and will be analysed where necessary. An electrical component such as a PCB (Printed Circuit Board), for example, might be run in an oven at increasing temperatures to establish at what point its semiconductors stop working. This can then be tied in with knowledge about the temperature of that circuit board in the ERS module to establish whether overheating could be diagnosed as a cause of failure.

Who is generally involved in the diagnosis process?
In the first instance, an engineer with expertise in the system concerned will be assigned exclusively to investigating the issue through to its resolution. He or she will chair a meeting at least every 24hrs, calling in four to five people to help cogitate theories. These tend to be people that have a broad experience of the Power Unit, a good problem solving mindset and an ability for lateral thinking – working through theories step by step to ensure they are robust

Formula One: Red Bull Racing go agressive in Sochi

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Pirelli have published driver tyre selection compounds for the Russian Grand Prix revealing an that both Red Bull Racing and Haas F1 team duo have allocated 10 of the 13 sets availble to the super soft compound. In electing to take only one set of medium and two sets of the soft compound both teams are anticipating a race strategy with a high number of pit stops.

2016 sees the Russian Grand Prix move from October to May, with the move warmer temperatures are expected for the race weekend. This will likely impact the operating window of each tyre compound with the warmer temperatures lending themseleves towards a softer compound selection.

Conversely to Red Bull Racing, Ferrari have split their allocation evenly between the soft and super soft, Mercedes too have opted for a more conservative strategy approach leaving options open ahead of the weekend.

You can view driver tyre selection for the Russian GP in full here:

RUS Tyres. The 2015 Russian Grand Prix demonstrated overtaking is a possible around the circuit, but with

Formula One: The secret to Hamilton’s success

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Lewis Hamilton has spoken about the minor tweak he made to his driving position through the 2015 season which transformed his awareness in the car.

Speaking to Grand Prix winner and former Benetton driver Johnny Herbert in an interview for the Mercedes AMG Petronas You Tube Channel, Lewis explained that in exploring reasons behind some of his early season he made some very simple adjustments.

Watch from 2:32

‘All of a sudden, a new world’ commented Lewis, through simply raising his seating position by 0.5CM. In a period in which teams are so focused on optimising aerodynamic efficiency of the car, the driver is pushed deeper and deeper into the cockpit to minimise the impact their helmet has on vehicle efficiency. This approach compromises driver visibility to such an extent that they can not see beyond the tip of the front tyres. In wheel to wheel combat a driver has no visibility of their own front wing, they work simply from feel for the car.

Many drivers have been criticised for a lack of spacial awareness following seemingly needless accidents. Mindful that not all drivers have the presence or respect within a team as Lewis Hamilton with Mercedes, taking the lead of the World Champion, perhaps the FIA should look to mandate a specific drivers eye height when behind the wheel.

To subscribe to the Mercedes AMG Petronas You Tube Channel click here

 

 

Formula One: FIA confirm qualifying to revert to 2015 format

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In a short press release the FIA have confirmed that in full agreement with the teams and the rights holder, subject to the approval of F1 governing bodies, qualifying will return to the 2015 format from the Chinese Grand Prix and will apply for the remainder of the season:

At the unanimous request of the teams in a letter received today, Jean Todt, President of the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone, commercial rights holder representative, accepted, in the interests of the Championship, to submit a proposal to the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council to revert to the qualifying format in force in 2015. 

This proposal, if approved by the F1 governing bodies, will take effect as from the Chinese Grand Prix and will apply for the rest of the season. 

Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone welcomed the idea put forward by the teams to have a global assessment of the format of the weekend for 2017. 

The statement can be found here.

Formula One: Radio Restrictions Damaging Racing

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The 2016 Australian Grand Prix saw the first race in which the FIA mandated restrictions around team to driver radio communications were implemented. The restrictions, whilst dramatically watered down on the eve of the race itself, left drivers with far less support behind the wheel and almost entirely unaware of the performance of rivals and team mates.  This leads to such situations as that in which Ferrari were unable to inform Vettel of the reason for his teammate’s retirement.

Whilst purists may argue this simplified approach to racing places the onus of responsibility back towards the driver, is it actually damaging the racing we see on the track and the narrative commentators provide to an event?

One particular story emerging in the aftermath of the Australian Grand Prix was that race winner Nico Rosberg was actually nursing a critical front brake issue which in ordinary situations the team may have considered retiring the car over.

Mercedes AMG Petronas explain the issue here:

Owing to the restrictions in radio communication the team were unable to communicate with Nico on the problem and unable to assist in remedying the situation. Whilst it is hugely commendable that Nico was able to manage the issue and go on to win the race, the true excellence of this performance went largely unnoticed.  With the team not communicating with Nico over the issue, the broadcasting world feed had no opportunity to learn of the issue and discuss the challenge. Had commentators been aware of the issue there can be no doubt Nico’s achievement would have received far more praise. As the narrators of sport, commentators build drivers into legends not knowing what a driver is having to deal with, leaves the commentators and as a consequence fans somewhat blind.

In addition to the team not being able to inform Nico Rosberg of the issue and assist in finding a solution, they were of course also unable to inform his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The lack of radio communication, also means this element is absent from the World Feed and so Ferrari and other teams were also unaware the race leader had a problem. It would be unfair to suggest their knowing may have changed the overall race result since Nico was able to lap at the same pace as his teammate despite the issues, but had Lewis and Sebastian been aware of the issue they may have taken a different approach to the closing stages of the race. There are vast differences in the mentality of a driver knowing the car in front is managing a performance issue compared to believing it is capable of the same performance as your own car. By removing this level of communication drivers had little incentive to risk their existing position.

It was reassuring to see that the FIA are in constant dialogue with teams over this and other issues, as demonstrated with the softening of the regulations before the race itself. With the regulations having now been tested in a race situation perhaps it is time to revisit the rules once again.

Formula One: Alfonso granted Free Practice Only Super Licence

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The Force India Formula One Team have confirmed that Alfonso Celis will participate in the first free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

This announcement comes despite Alfonso having not yet achieved the required performance related results in junior categories to be granted a full FIA Super License. Upon querying how the team have come to this agreement, this writer was referred to Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code, in which it states:

5.2 Qualifications for Free Practice Only Super Licence

5.2.1 The driver must be the holder of a current FIA International Grade A licence.

5.2.2 The driver must be the holder of a valid driving licence when he applies for a Free Practice Only Super Licence for the first time.

5.2.3 The driver must be at least 18 years old at the start of the event of his first F1 race weekend.

5.2.4 a)The rest time he applies for a Free Practice Only Super Licence, the driver must successfully complete a question session regarding the most important points of the International Sporting Code and of the F1 Sporting Regulations.

b) For all successive Free Practice Only Super Licence requests, the F1 team concerned has to certify, through the F1 Super Licence application form, that they have held a briefing with their driver about the most important points of the International Sporting Code and of the F1 Sporting Regulations.

5.2.5 The driver must be judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars. The F1 team concerned must show that the applicant has driven at least 300 km in a representative Formula One car(1) consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of 2 days, completed not more than 180 days prior to the application and certified by the ASN of the country in which the test took place.

5.2.6 The driver will be on probation for a period of 12 months, during which the Free Practice Only Super Licence will be held provisionally and subject to review at any time.

This work around for drivers to participate in Free Practice without the required results to take part in a race allows teams to maintain a revenue stream from ‘pay drivers’ which may have otherwise been shut down. It can be expected other teams will take advantage of this regulation through the season.

This license does not replace any requirements for a full racing super licence. As such Alfonso Celis would not be permitted to act as a reserve driver for the Force India F1 Team.

To download the sporting code appendix in full  click here.