OPINION: GP2 & WEC – Bahrain Rookie Test, the future of career development?

LMP1

With the size of your sponsorship portfolio rather than the success seen in your racing career continue to be a key determining factor in a driver stepping from junior racing category into F1, drivers whose skills are focused on keeping their car between the white lines are increasingly looking towards a career in endurance racing.

Owing to the cancellation of the German Formula One Grand Prix earlier in the season, in one month from now GP2 for the first time in the series history, take on the support race role for the World Endurance Championship in Bahrain. Following what promises to be a thrilling weekend of racing, the World Endurance Championship will run a series of rookie test sessions. These sessions will offer a selection of drivers from GP2, who may have otherwise lacked the budget to further advance their career, the opportunity to test championship winning LMP1 machines.

The test line-up will include Richie Stanaway, already competing the WEC with Aston Martin in the LMGTEPro category, who will be testing the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. Mitch Evans, who has already discussed he ambition to move towards endurance racing, testing the currently dominant Porsche 919 Hybrid, and 2013 GP2 runner up, DS Virgin Racing Formula E, and LMP2 driver Sam Bird testing the Toyota TS040 Hybrid.

Does this test represent a seed change in the mind-set of drivers and promoters towards Endurance Racing? No longer should it be perceived exclusively as the place for retired Formula One drivers (although the Colombian variety of these will be represented and very welcome!) Endurance racing offers drivers a formidable racing challenge, arguably superior in many respects to Formula One. The World Endurance Championship is rapidly becoming the home of a driving elite. How long will it be before Formula One drivers don’t just dip their toe into the Le Man’s experience, but when it comes to contract negotiations consider a seat with an LMP1 team as a true alternative to an F1 team.

This event in Bahrain is a huge step forward for Motor Racing.

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Formula One: Renault Sport confirm ICE upgrades available to both Red Bull Racing & Toro Rosso for Austin

renault sport

Rémi Taffin, Director of Operations

There’s very little not to love about Austin. The setting is impressive, the welcome is warm and the track is one of the best we visit all year. There are some very impressive corners and flowing complexes that challenge drivers, engineers and the technology we use. The power unit works in the mid to high range throughout the lap, with high average speeds and some very technical sections.

We will have our new specification of power unit available to use in Austin. The principal changes involve the internals of the ICE to give improved power and efficiency. We know that introducing the new PU will incur a grid penalty so the decision to use will be made in full consultation with the teams. At this point of the season obviously points are crucial so if circumstances allow then we will use on track.

Whatever spec we do use, we are looking forward to Austin. Our reliability has been good in the last three races and performance more in line with our expectations; both our teams just need a clean weekend to show the improved potential of both packages.

Austin Power Unit details

ICE

– Austin is one of the most demanding tracks of the second part of the year for the ICE, with just under 50% of the lap taken at wide open throttle, rising to 55% in qualifying. The average speed will be around 200kph with top speed peaking at over 320kph.

– The longest straight is the burst between Turns 11 and 12 at 1,016m. The power units will spend approx. 14secs at wide open throttle. Top speed is 325kph at the end of this straight in qualifying trim.

– The changes in gradient stress the internals of the ICE. When going downhill the mechanical parts and lubricants are squashed to the bottom of the car but when going uphill they are pushed back upwards. These repeated changes of pressure are unusual on the calendar and will be monitored over the weekend to avoid any potential problems or pressure drops.

Turbocharger 

– Austin’s gradient changes are an important consideration. The run from pole to the first corner is the most acute example of the change in altitude. The track rises 25m over 500m – equivalent to a gradient of 1 in 20 but at its steepest is 1 in 8. This elevation change means the turbo rotates at a higher speed to generate the same amount of power at the top of the hill.

– The low ambient humidity of the Texan grasslands has a big effect on the power units. The air will contain more oxygen and a naturally-aspirated ICE will generate more power, but the aridity is very taxing on the internals. A turbocharged engine mitigates this effect by varying the rotational speed to provide the correct amount of air to the ICE.

MGU-K

– The circuit layout with its flowing corners in the first sector, straight line in the second sector and stop/start character of the last sector makes the consumption per kilometre one of the highest of the season. This makes energy recovery through braking crucial.

– The third sector is very stop-start, but the hairpins and tight corners give the MGU-K a chance to recharge. At each corner, the driver will stamp on the brakes, putting large forces through the K and filling the battery once more.

– Three hairpins triangulate the track; Turns 1, 11 and 12. Revs drop to 7,500rpm and the car speed to just 80kph. All three come after a long period of open throttle, meaning engine braking and rear stability on the apex are crucial. The exits and correct engine response from the hairpins are however equally important since they each lead back onto another straight.

MGU-H

– A high percentage of Sector two is given to the long straight, which will give the MGU-H a chance to recover energy from the ICE.

– The flowing section between Turns 2 and 4 require the driver to maintain a constant level of throttle. This will require the ICE to turn at a constant speed, producing a steady stream of exhaust gas, which the MGU-H can recover.

OPINION: Renault bringing their highly anticipated engine upgrades to Austin is a significant statement of intent, if nothing more than to cement Renault remain committed to the sport and the current regulations.  Renault have not officially confirmed the number of tokens used for this upgrade, or if it represents the final development of the season. No doubt they will be keen to validate the developments on track and will encourage one or both customer teams to run the updated Power unit. 

Opinion: Formula One – The Championship that could have been

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On December 10th 2013 much to the consternation the majority of Formula One’s global audience, the FIA announced plans to award double points for the final race of the 2014 season in Abu Dhabi. Bernie Ecclestone later revealed this decision was in fact a compromise with him having initially tabled a proposal for double points to be awarded in the final three races of the season.

Throughout the 2014 season; media and fans continuously voiced disdain towards the rule, arguing the rule reduced the sport to entertainment and detracted from a driver or team’s performance across the season. As it turned out the rule had almost no bearing on either the drivers’ or constructors’ championship standings, but the rule was drew such criticism it was dropped after only one season. The sport’s governing body listened to the fans.

Fast forward to the 2015 US Grand Prix should Mercedes achieve a 1, 2 finish with Lewis Hamilton winning; the drivers’ championship will be sealed with three races left to run. This coupled with Mercedes securing the constructors championship in Russia earlier this month, should we be asking was Bernie Ecclestone right after all?

Had Bernie Ecclestone got his wish and double points been available for the final three races of this season, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton would head into the closing races all with a chance of winning the drivers’ championship. Would that be such a bad thing?

Over the course of the 2015 season Ferrari has shown they are moving into a position to challenge Mercedes with genuine race pace. Had double points been available for Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, Ferrari could have dedicated all resources toward winning those final three races and challenging Lewis Hamilton for this year’s championship. Under the current system both Mercedes and Ferrari have focused efforts of 2016 acknowledging the battle for 2015 is all but over.

The current points system gives equal weighting to every race across the season, but in a championship in which a single driver or team has dominated the end result have never really looked in doubt. Adding an element of jeopardy to the championship could have served to sustain or even grow audiences, forced teams to remain focused on the current championship rather than diverting resources to the following season, and left drivers feeling vulnerable unable to rely on performances earlier in the year.

So next time Bernie Ecclestone or the FIA announce a radical rule change challenging the fundamentals of the sport we hold so dear, perhaps we should hear them out and give their ideas a chance!

Formula One: US Grand Prix – Alexander Rossi Takes On COTA

Alex Rossi

Courtesy of Mobil 1 The Grid, Alex Rossi previews the US Grand Prix with iZone Driver Performance Racing Simulators

Opinion:  Thanks to Mobil 1 The Grid for posting this preview. Alex Rossi’s presence on the F1 grid for the 2015 COTA Grand Prix is great news for the Circuit and Formula One in general. Having an American driver on the grid should serve to further endear the track with locals and heighten the atmosphere at this fantastic venue. the COTA circuit manages to encapsulate some of the greatest corners in recent F1 history and bring them together into one single thrilling lap.

Rossi and the Manor team promised additional sponsorship backing from the Austin GP onwards, with his Californian roots perhaps Alex has been able to tap into the Silicon Valley Billions, adding to the mid season Airbnb partnership, I can picture the Uber Manor F1 team now! A strong showing in Austin should put Rossi in a good position for a full season campaign with the team in 2016.

Formula E: Mahindra Racing’s Dilbagh Gill Preview’s Beijing and the season ahead

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Dilbagh Gill has been at the helm of the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team since it’s inception. In its second season, Mahindra Racing goes into battle as one of a select few manufacturers that is developing its own all-electric powertrain. We caught up with Dilbagh before the team departs for Beijing.

You’ve been very busy since the inaugural season concluded in London. What has changed in the team since then?

The summer was a very busy time for us as we have been developing and testing our brand new car, the M2Electro. We have invested in resources, equipment and technology to prepare this Mahindra spec car, which we believe is capable of competing at the front of the grid with the other OEM’s in the championship.The majority of testing was about maximizing reliability but we have a performance programme for the season ahead that I believe will show the M2Electro to be highly competitive. We have also invested in people, refining the team infrastructure to be sustainable for a prosperous futurein the Formula E Championship. If the first season was about getting the team up and running, preparation for season two has been about perfecting how we operate. I am delighted to welcome Campos as service providers to the team. We have worked very closely together over the last three months and I feel we have built a team that is ready to push much further than last season.

There is also a change to driver line-up with Nick Heidfeld joining the team alongside Bruno Senna. What has Nick’s signing meant to Mahindra Racing?

I am thrilled that Nick has joined the Mahindra family. I have made no secret of my aim for Mahindra to race at the front of the pack this season and to put Mahindra technology on the top step of the podium. From our very first discussions, Nick’s ambitions were aligned with ours and this has given us an extra incentive to push hard over the summer. Nick and Bruno both want to win and we want to give them the car for the job. Both drivers have contributed to an impressive lap tally already and I feel that they will push each other and keep each other honest. We have one of the most experienced driver line-ups and I know they will step up and lead the team.

Formula E is now an open championship. How will racing be different this season?

The added variable of individual powertrains in the championship means that the racing will be slightly different. It is too early to know what the difference in performance will be between the manufacturers in race trim, as most teams focused on reliability and efficiency in pre-season testing. The fundamental difference in the race itself is the power increase to 170kW. We expect to see a greater variety of strategy from different teams which should be very exciting for fans. Based on what we have learned in testing and our simulation studies, we are very confident in where we are with the M2Electro. There is going to be a lot more performance coming out of our cars.

What are your memories of the Beijing ePrix in 2014?

I think of last year’s race as one of the proudest moments of my career to date. We had tested at Donington of course and run some simulation races but as we all lined up on the grid, none of us really knew who would find their stride and who would suffer on the narrow, bumpy, temporary street circuit. We had worked hard to build the best team, equipped with as much knowledge as possible but there were still many unknowns and so much potential for error under race conditions. We had mixed fortunes in the race itself. Bruno set the lap record out there but unfortunately he didn’t finish the race, while Karun drove a fantastic race to finish in 5th place. We left Beijing with a lot of satisfaction and I personally have a lot of fond memories of that day. The atmosphere at the track and how Formula E was accepted was spectacular. We were all there to share in the inception of something very special and for that reason Beijing will always have a special place in my heart.

How have the sim sessions and preparation gone for Beijing?

This was the first sim session so there is a lot of data we need to validate in Beijing. In terms of preparation and the data points which we had, we are a lot more prepared for Beijing this year. We know a lot more and the amount of data collected this year through our 15 days of approved testing and 6 days of pre-season testing, gave us a lot more insight on the car, so that will really help us. We also have two very experienced simulation engineers working with us and they have been cracking on with this work non-stop since the end of testing.

How are you feeling ahead of the Beijing race?

I’m cautiously optimistic. I believe we made the right decisions both in terms of developing the M2Electro and the way we have prepared for the season. The team has really come together well and both Nick and Bruno have found their stride in the new car. There will always be some unknowns but I’m excited about the new experience of racing at 170kW, which will require teams to put much more emphasis on strategy, so the races will become more of a thinking-person’s game, rather than just a flat out race. I’m looking forward to unpacking the cars in Beijing and getting the season started!

Opinion: Formula One – Breaking down the 4th wall

Sochi

Over the weekend of the Russian GP I found myself in Austria,  unable to pick up UK F1 coverage either SKY Sports F1 (my preference) or BBC. To be honest after a rather dull race in 2014 my expectations for the race  were quite low, so trying to stay positive I looked upon the race as an opportunity to work on my German.

ORF

Discovering ORF hold Austrian rights for sport I was excited to hear through Twitter positive reports about the broadcaster, especially when compared to RTL and importantly had no breaks during the race. It then dawned on me I would get to hear interviews from the likes of Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda in their mother tongue, and I might get to hear a new perspective on the sport.

Now, I should preface this with a comment that the race coverage was good, possibly helped by a great race. Co commentary from Adrian Sutil was, different, and I definitely learned some new German. Who knew that the marbles that caught out Romain Grosjean whilst following Jenson Button through T3 were actually Gummikugeln ( yes I had visions of gummy bears attacking a Lotus) but the pre and post race interviews… terrible.

I would have thought with any language barrier removed team members and drivers, such as Hulkenberg and Rosberg would be more engaged more insightful and dare I said more entertaining. I experienced the exact opposite. It felt like Toto Wollf was reading a script and the drivers (yes I know they had bad results) couldn’t wait for the interviews to be over.

skysportsf1

BBC Sport

So in summary I would like to thank the production team behind the humanised presenting style the BBC launched back in 2009 when they regained the UK broadcasting rights to the sport. Both the BBC and SKY have managed to break down the 4th wall making teams and drivers real people. Perhaps this approach isn’t right for Austrian audiences, but as guy on holiday I can tell you a missed it, so much so I re watched the entire SKY Sports broadcast when I got home on Tuesday!

Formula E: Amlin Andretti prepare for Season 2

Amlin

With arguably the most exciting driver line up on the grid, Amlin Andretti enter season two with new backing, new partners and a determination to succeed.

As highlighted in the Renault eDAMs preview yesterday, teams appear to facing the challenge of season 2 less as the difficult second album, and more of the time to get serious.

Both Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro have for now at least been passed over in the F1 driver pecking order, both suffering at the hands of questionable management and the challenges of the Sauber F1 team. In Formula E with Amlin Andretti they seem to have found a home.

The team had a challenging pre season with TE Connectivity partnership plans not quite ready to hit the track. For season 2 the team will rely on the trusted base power unit used in season 1. Working with established systems should position the team well for early reliability and provide confidence in what their machinery can achieve.

In Amlin, Andretti have found a commercial partner keen to make themselves heard. highly active on social media and hugely interactive with fans, this dedication will appreciated and will help the team enhance their fan base over the course of the season.

In this short interview Simona discusses the most exciting prospects for her first complete season with Formula E, whilst she mentions the Paris ePrix , I wouldn’t give up hope of the Lugano event quite yet!

Formula E: Renault commit to the EV sector through Motorsport

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RENAULT AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL-ELECTRIC MOTORSPORT

Ranking amongst some of the most innovative companies in the world, Renault is at the forefront of the electric automotive sector with vehicles such as its Z.E. range, as well as the iconic ZOE and Twizy. And thanks to its motorsport commitments and unique racing pedigree in a range of categories, the French carmaker is also helping to foster the move towards more sustainable racing.

Recognising its potential, Renault jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the FIA’s all-electric championship as soon as it was announced in 2011. Travelling to some of the world’s most famous cities, Formula E’s ethos fits in perfectly with the French manufacturer’s environmental strategy. In keeping with its identity as a pioneer, Renault has made the most of the championship as an international platform in order to showcase its proficiency and expertise in electric systems. With innovation and excellence etched into Renault’s DNA, it was only natural that the manufacturer would support Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot’s bold venture into the world’s first fully electric competition.

Renault has been directly involved in Formula E’s development since 2014, contributing on both technical and sporting matters.

It was appointed Formula E’s Official Technical Partner, with Renault Sport Technologies overseeing all systems integration as well as supervising powertrain electrical safety and performance optimisation on the 200kW Spark-Renault SRT_01Es.

Renault also served as a partner to the Renault e.dams squad, which went on to win the inaugural 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Teams’ championship.

Renault’s commitment to the sport has equally portrayed its readiness to apply the technological progress to all-electric vehicles in general, boost engine performance and improve battery autonomy.

For the 2015/16 season Renault has increased its involvement with reigning Teams’ title-holders, Renault e.dams. Producing its own powertrain, Renault has exclusively devoted its technical expertise to the team, which is determined to continue fighting at the front and has both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in its sights for season two. The cutting-edge technologies developed by Renault Sport for Formula E could subsequently benefit the constructor’s Z.E. range of road-going cars.

Cyril

CYRIL ABITEBOUL
RENAULT SPORT F1 MANAGING DIRECTOR

“Renault has a long history of embracing innovation in competitive motorsport. Our operations base in Viry-Châtillon has produced some of the most evocative and successful technology ever seen on track, including the 1970s Formula 1 turbo engine and V10 and V8 power plants that dominated F1 in the ’90s and 2000s.

“Ahead of Formula E’s second season, Viry’s full experience and expertise is being applied with one aim – to continue in the spirit of adventure and innovation, mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines.

Continuing Renault’s spirit of adventure and innovation, and mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines start with harnessing synergies between our motorsport disciplines. Through our F1 power unit we have developed a range of competences in electrical technology that will only be furthered by running in Formula E. In this way, and others, we hope to realise the full potential of Renault across all our competitive activities.”

Opinion: Formula E appears to offer the perfect vehicle for Renault to demonstrate it’s commitment to the EV sector, it should be considered significant that Cyril Abiteboul features in the press launch of Renault’s season 2 campaign, further underlining Renault have options away from Formula One. Renault eDams have focused solely on winning both the drivers and constructors championship in Formula E season 2. If things don’t go there way in F1, Formula E offers a very healthy alternative.   

Formula E: Season 2 Preview – Renault eDams

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HAVING WON THE TEAMS’ TITLE IN THE INAUGURAL FIA FORMULA E CHAMPIONSHIP, RENAULT E.DAMS RETURNS FOR ITS SECOND CAMPAIGN IN 2015/16 WITH ONE GOAL: TO SECURE BOTH THE TEAMS’ AND DRIVERS’ TITLES, CELEBRATING THEIR RENEWED PARTNERSHIP WITH RENAULT WHO, THIS YEAR, HAVE SUPPLIED THE ALL-NEW ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN THAT HAS BEEN DESIGNED EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE TEAM BY RENAULT SPORT F1.

Renault_72489_global_enALAIN PROST

“I think we’re looking good this year. Everyone will have to bring the level of performance, organisation, discipline just a little bit higher this season. Obviously last season was the first season and year of learning for all of the teams using the same cars. So this year is going to be tough, especially with all the new technology. We don’t know where we will be strong or not as strong so consistency is really key. However, with such a strong backing from Renault and their wealth of experience will be a real help. Hopefully we can really fight for both titles this season.”

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JEAN-PAUL DRIOT

“We definitely need to up our game this year as I think all the other teams have stepped up and are looking very competitive. I’m quite confident following testing in Donington. Our package that has been developed by Renault seems to be really strong thanks to its profound knowledge and experience in electric systems – and the performance has already been proven during pre-season testing. But we really need to concentrate because, although last year we secured the Teams’ title, this year is really about pushing what we know to the limits.”

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Nicholas Prost:

“I’m delighted to be remaining with Renault e.dams for this year’s FIA Formula E Championship. It’s important to stay in the same team for the sake of continuity. Everyone knows each other well and it’s much easier to work with the same guys and in the same environment. It’ll be exciting to see what we can achieve this year, especially with the new powertrain from Renault and a promising first run at Donington.”

Sebastien Buemi:

“I’m so pleased that I’ll be working with the guys at Renault e.dams again because we all get on so well. The team is a little bigger than last year with Renault being on board but having a big manufacturer like that only strengthens the team. After our promising performance testing things are looking good, but it’s too early to say what will happen during the season. Let’s see!.”

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Opinionated MotorSport Journal

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