Tag Archives: Chinese GP

Formula One: Mercedes Debrief – Assessing a Power Unit Failure

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 12.15.28

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: Unnecessary Risk?

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 00.04.49.png

Nico Rosberg will start the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow from pole position having set pole an incredible 0.5 seconds faster than his closest rival. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo will line up second on the grid, with the Scuderia Ferrari duo lining up on the second row.  Lewis Hamilton will start from either the back of the grid or the pitlane with MGU-H issues curtailing his qualifying session and likely forcing the team to introduce his second power unit of the season significantly earlier than planned. Something which could cause a headache for the team later in the year.

With Formula One returning the 2015 qualifying procedure for the Chinese Grand Prix, regulations around tyre selection have also returned. One such regulation is that drivers progressing into Q3 must start the race on tyres they set their fastest lap on in Q2. Intriguingly in Q2, the Mercedes team elected to send Nico Rosberg out on Soft compound tyres, despite all other contenders electing to set times on the Super Soft. The rationale for this decision within the session proved logical with Nico setting the fastest time in the session despite running a harder compound tyre. However with heavy rain preceding the event and cooler temperatures than were seen on Friday and are forecast for the race, the impact of tyre compounds had been marginalised.

This decision forces Nico Rosberg to start tomorrow’s race on a tyre compound which is known to be slower than every car around him. Whilst the performance of the Mercedes W07 suggests a significant advantage over the field, there is a growing belief that that aerodynamic efficiency of the car creates challenges for drivers when dealing with traffic. With Nico Rosberg’s likely title contender Lewis Hamilton starting at the back of the grid, and with  Mercedes struggling to consistently optimise start line performance in the opening races of the 2016 season, why did Mercedes make this call?  Nico could have elected to run Super Soft tyre in Q2 along with every other car in the top ten and in so doing have taken a considered and calculated approach to the race, mirroring or reacting to the strategy of those around them. In starting on the Soft tyre compound this is no longer an option.

Should Nico fall behind the Ferrari’s or Red Bull around him, spending his opening stint on a suboptimal tyre possibly 0.8’s per lap slower could  damage the team’s prospects of securing victory in China. Question marks over the longevity of the Super Soft tyre seem somewhat unwarranted with the soft tyre compound having lasted only 6 laps long in Free Practice stints.

Such a strategy call suggest that either the team have a genuine concern over the race pace of Ferrari, or locked themselves into a strategy ahead of the session and choose not to respond to Hamilton falling out of the process.

Pirelli commented on the strategy call

“Tyre wear and degradation in China is traditionally high, so the optimal strategy should theoretically be a three-stopper: start on the supersoft and then change to the soft on laps 11, 26 and 41. An alternative strategy (Rosberg, for example) would be to start the race on soft, run soft for the majority of the race (changing around lap 16 and 31), and then put on the supersoft for the final stint around lap 46. Am S/S/S/Mediuum strategy looks interesting but slightly slower.”

The Chinese Grand Prix has all the makings of a classic Grand Prix.

Formula One: Wehrlein “I was just unlucky”

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 23.14.43.png

Pascal Wehrlein’s qualifying efforts hit the skids in Shanghai today when a bump on the straight concealing a patch of standing water pitched him into the armco on his first timed lap. Team mate Rio Haryanto picked up the mantle but was less happy with his MRT05 versus his practice performance. Rio will start tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix from 20th on the grid ahead of Pascal and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Pascal Wehrlein:

“The track was pretty dry by the start of qualifying and so slicks was the right choice. There’s a bump on the start-finish straight and behind that a patch of water, which I hit, lost the rear and spun. It was very unexpected as everywhere else on the track was fine but difficult to see as it was hidden. I guess I was just unlucky as there was nothing I could do. The only fortunate thing is that I didn’t hit the armco too hard; it could have been a much bigger job ahead of the race. I’m disappointed not to qualify but the race is another day and our pace looked good in practice yesterday. It’s not easy to start from the back but that’s what we did in Australia and things didn’t end so badly for me. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and for my part I’ll be giving it my best shot as always.”

Rio Haryanto:

“I’m not so happy with my lap today. Yesterday we were quite competitive and in the mix with Sauber but today this wasn’t the case. It was difficult to get the tyre up to temperature because we’d already completed a lap before the red flag. We’ll need to look at how much of a factor that was for us when we examine the data this evening. Our race pace looked good in free practice yesterday so I’m still positive for tomorrow.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director:

“As Rio’s early performance on his opening run demonstrated, our decision to go early on the Supersoft could have gone either way. Sadly with Pascal it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. We hadn’t used the Supersoft all weekend so given the track was pretty much dry we thought it would be worthwhile doing our first run on that tyre early in the session to give us time to make any adjustments ahead of the second run. Unfortunately the bump we all knew about upset Pascal’s car such that, combined with the wet track at that exact same point, he was just a passenger. There was nothing he could do and that was the end of qualifying for him. Rio’s lap had a better outcome thankfully, so it was just a bit of bad luck on Pascal’s part.

“We haven’t made things very easy for ourselves for tomorrow but as Australia and Bahrain showed, if you can get a good start and beat the back of the pack on the opening lap, there is still plenty to fight for. We’ve got a way to go to perfect our approach to qualifying but I’m hoping we can still enjoy a good race tomorrow.”

Rio         Q1    P20    9 laps   1:40.264

Pascal    Q1    DNF   2 laps

Formula One: Alonso officially cleared to participate in the Chinese Grand Prix

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 10.38.24.png

Following the standard medical check up all drivers are subject to following a racing incident the FIA have formally cleared Fernando Alonso to participate in the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, but remains subject to further tests.

The FIA have issued the following statement confirming Alonso’s condition:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 12.48.29.png

Formula One: Renault Sport F1 partner with APL

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 19.35.16.png

Renault Sport Formula One Team will put its best foot forward in its quest to propel itself up the Formula 1 standings thanks to a new partnership with Athletic Propulsion Labs, a world leader in Men’s and Women’s athletic footwear and apparel.

The partnership will see Renault Sport Formula One Team personnel using the advanced Ascend model from the 2016 Formula 1 Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix following successful evaluations at pre-season testing and at the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

The APL® Ascend is designed as the ultimate training shoe that can withstand the rigorous demands the Renault Sport Formula One Team encounters on and off the track. Using APL’s proprietary Propelium® technology, the lightweight 8oz. Ascend is the perfect intersection of performance and luxury. The shoe boasts an impressive list of features including a full length honeycomb mesh and minimal overlays for breathability and a sock-like fit, an articulated eye row that allows the foot to flex and an outsole, inspired by the shape of a feather, that incorporates natural motion flex grooves that react to every movement. Additionally they look very cool!

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport Racing
We are really happy to welcome Athletic Propulsion Labs to Renault Sport Formula One Team. Since returning to Formula One we have aimed to position ourselves as dynamic and creative and to partner with brands who share this ethos. APL definitely fits these criteria. Adam and Ryan Goldston have come up with a product that is both innovative and attractive and at the very forefront of footwear technology. They’ve managed to go beyond being ‘just’ a trainer manufacturer and become a genuine lifestyle brand. We’re looking forward to working with them on track with the race team and creating lots of exciting off-track synergies.

Adam and Ryan Goldston, Co-Founders of Athletic Propulsion Labs
Athletic Propulsion Labs is honoured to have been selected as the official footwear brand of Renault Sport Formula One Team. Athletic Propulsion Labs and Renault Sport Formula One Team share a common vision of creating world-class performance technologies in our respective fields. The opportunity to join forces in support of Renault’s re-entry into Formula One is very exciting and emblematic of the dedication our respective companies have towards reaching new levels of performance through technological innovation and breakthrough design.

APL branding will feature on the floor of the RS16 as pictured:

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 19.41.37.png

Check out the APL website here.

APL will be launching special edition Renault Sport F1 Team footwear later in the year


Formula One: Online Gaming Group AG88 join Sauber, more to follow?

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 15.54.04.png

The Sauber F1 Team have announced a race partnership with Dranix Technology Development Limited for two upcoming Formula One GPs in Asia. One of its brands, AG88, will act as a Race Partner of the Sauber F1 Team at the 2016 Singapore Airlines Grand Prix, as well as at the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix. AG88 is an Asian online entertainment provider. It is the leader in the Asian online gaming industry, and China is one of the most important markets.

During this year’s Singapore Airlines Grand Prix and the Japanese Grand Prix, the AG88 logo will appear on the upper sides of the sidepods, as well as on the garage walls.

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal of the Sauber F1 Team

“We are pleased to announce our partnership with AG88, the leader in the Asian online gaming industry, ahead of the Grand Prix in Shanghai. We will ensure we do our very best in providing AG88 a platform to increase its brand exposure in Asia, especially during the Singapore Grand Prix, as well as the Japanese Grand Prix.”

Judy Chen, Marketing Manager of AG88.com

“Both AG88.com and the Sauber F1 Team are dedicated to creativity, and have been going through constant innovations to achieve their goals to improve their core competitiveness. This cooperation between the two leading teams can be seen as demonstrating that they are now sharing the same values. Due to the hard work and endless efforts of all the employees, AG88.com has become one of the best leading online gaming brands in the world. AG88.com has always been seeking partnerships with companies with extreme passion and the desire of pursuing excellence. We are delighted to become a partner with the Sauber F1 Team, and are also looking forward to co-organising some exciting events and performances in Singapore and Suzuka.”

You can visit AG88.com here
The Sauber F1 Team establishing partnerships with the online gaming  / gambling sector  may open doors for other teams to explore such partnerships, with the industry somewhat under represented in the sport at this time. This is a great development for the team and the sport in general.

Formula One: Ricciardo’s new look…?

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 14.25.59.png

Those of you not on social media may have missed Daniel Ricciardo’s recent perhaps unplanned new look.

After being accused of growing a mullet by Ted Kravitz in the build up to the Bahrain Grand Prix it would appear fellow Sky Sports F1 presenter Natalie Pinkham may have taken matters into her own hands, or those of her husband.

Daniel Ricciardo yesterday posted images of his ‘new look’ in progress through his Instagram profile, following it up with a film of Natalie Pinkham’s reaction.

We made some late night calls & got Vince over to finish the mess that is seen on the left 😬

A photo posted by Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) on Apr 11, 2016 at 2:06pm PDT


You can follow Daniel Ricciardo on Instagram here & Natalie Pinkham here

Formula One: Sun Yue Yang joins Renault

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 14.06.44.png

Renault Sport F1 have announced today that, Sun Yue Yang will join the prestigious Renault Sport Academy, which aims to identify hot young talent at global level and prepare them for the multi-faceted challenges of top-level motorsport.

Fifteen-year-old Yue Yang, who hails from Shanghai, is the first Chinese driver to finish on the podium in the competitive World Series Karting Champions Cup. Currently fifth in the hard-fought series, he also races in the WSK Super Master Series across Europe and was the first Chinese driver to win a round of the German Karting Championship, the DKM. He started karting in 2014, winning seven heats in 2015 and becoming the first Chinese driver to finish in the top 30 drivers.

Alongside current Academy members Jack Aitken, Louis Delétraz, Kevin Jörg and Oliver Rowland, Yue Yang will be given expert guidance on the best career path to reach F1. Signed on a multi-year development deal, Yue Yang will follow a long-term plan that will see him hone his racecraft in karts before making his single-seater debut at the end of the year. In subsequent seasons, he will be given set objectives and continuously evaluated on his increasing technical knowledge and fitness with the target of reaching F1.

The Renault Sport Academy was rejuvenated this year but Renault has long supported young drivers. The first Formula Renault series took place in 1971 and many eminent drivers cut their teeth in the formula, including Jacques Laffite and Jean Ragnotti. Subsequently, Renault offered the winner of the Elf-Winfield Racing school a full year of Formula Renault, with Alain Prost winning the series in 1976. Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton have also been through the ranks of Formula Renault to win multiple Formula 1 titles, while the likes of Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen and Loic Duval have graduated from the Renault Development programme to become race winners.

Fred Vasseur, Racing Director of Renault Sport Racing, commented: ‘The Renault Sport Academy is a highly beneficial tool for young drivers. Firstly, we thoroughly evaluate them to give the right steer through the vast motorsport landscape. Then, they are exposed to the pinnacle of technology through the F1 team and what is required to get there. In short, we aim to turn each Academy driver into an elite athlete, capable of performing to his or her absolute best.

‘The Academy is also a tool for the Renault markets to better engage with motorsport within their own regions. We are pleased and proud to give Renault China the opportunity through the Academy to bring Yue Yang through the ranks. Yue Yang has shown strong potential in WSK to, with the right preparation, work his way to Formula 1. The opportunities for both Yue Yang and Renault China to benefit from this partnership are huge.’

See this interview from Sun Yue Yang from 2015 following his success with WSK


In parallel, Renault Sport and Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company launched an initiative to further boost young Chinese drivers’ chances of making it through the motorsport ranks to Formula 1. A new scholarship will be introduced whereby Renault will support the Formula Racing Development talent search. The Chinese driver demonstrating the best potential in the last three rounds of Asian Formula Renault will be offered an opportunity in the Renault Sport Academy in 2017.

This year, 19 drivers will compete in the pan-Asia championship that takes in 12 events in China, Thailand and Korea. Created in 2000, it has been a gateway for both Asian and international drivers looking for a first step on the motorsport ladder. The winner of the series has historically been offered a drive in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.

François Provost, CEO of DRAC and Director of Operations, Renault China, said: ‘In recent years, there have been very few Chinese drivers who have made it past the junior ranks in motorsport and no Chinese driver has ever competed in a Grand Prix. There are many reasons for this, but one of the recurring ones is a lack of funding to race beyond our national shores.

‘Now, Chinese drivers will compete for the opportunity of becoming a Renault Sport Academy driver where they will be able to learn more and showcase their talents against other international drivers.

‘Equally, the advent of this new scholarship will really put the Asian Formula Renault series on the global motorsport map and back into the ladder towards Formula 1.’

Jean-Pascal Dauce, Renault Sport Customer Racing Program Director, added: ‘For the past 45 years Formula Renault has given numerous drivers the opportunity to take their first steps in motorsport and some have progressed to the highest level. Thanks to our long history with Formula Racing Development, Asian Formula Renault has become one of the stepping stones in the Asian region. With Renault now putting down solid roots in China, opening a new plant in Wuhan to be closer to our clients, it is important for Renault Sport to allow young Chinese drivers the chance to discover the world of motorsport and the different opportunities offered by Renault Sport.’

Kenneth Ma, President of FRD Motorsport, commented: ‘Asian Formula Renault is the longest-running motorsport series in China. The first car was brought to the country by Formula Racing Developments in 1997. Over the past 20 years more than 500 racing drivers have been involved and trained by the championship.

‘This scholarship will encourage talented young Chinese racing drivers to further participate in motorsport. This will have a big impact for young drivers, and the recognition from an F1 team will give even more impetus to compete. For Renault Sport it is also an opportunity to develop future Chinese F1 drivers at a grass roots level.

‘FRD has been trying to find the best drivers for the world. Now, with the help of Renault Sport, I am sure that the Asian Formula Renault Series will go from strength to strength with even more young talented drivers coming through the ranks.’

Formula One: VIDEO – Scuderia Ferrari preview the Chinese GP

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 21.38.11.png

Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen talks through his 2007 victory at the Shanghai circuit in his maiden and championship year with the Scuderia.

“There were tricky conditions, it was wet to start with and then the track was drying up, so obviously there was a point to change the Intermediates tires and then we got a ride. Obviously not the easiest race to anybody, but we came out quite easily.” The track has changed little over all these years, but remains pretty interesting. “The circuit is quite challenging. First of all, you must mind the start with first few corners where you can get a lot of lap time, if you can get it right though. It’s not an easy circuit, but it’s fun.”


Scuderia Ferrari Race Engineer Riccardo Adami previews the 3rd Round of the Formula One World Championship coming from Shanghai. Commenting on the unpredictable weather seen at the venue and the impact it has on how the team approach vehicle set up. Also reflecting on the possible impact of Pirelli brining the supersoft compound to the circuit for the first time.

“It will be a challenge in setting up the car because we have a very long straight and also slow speed and high speed corners, so we should try to find the trade-off between those particular aspects of the track with the set-up of the car. Shanghai is a circuit with a particular shape. Turn 1 is a corner with longitudinal and lateral load transfers. So, we’ll try to find the right compromise between braking, but also the stability of the car in the corner.” And the challenges don’t end there: “The weather usually is very unpredictable. Over the last few years we have challenged ourselves with cold and rainy conditions. So, especially when it is cold, the front tackle becomes weaker, so then we need to tackle the set-up in this regard in order to find the good balance of the car”

This kind of track can make an engineer’s life hard, but luckily there are moments of relief: “China is not a big issue with the braking because there is not a high energy under braking circuit, even if it can be tricky with the balance of the car as I said for Turn 1, but also the other braking places on the track. So, we need anyways to raise our attention on this topic.” Finally, a word on the new challenges brought in by the 2016 regulations: “This year we will also have a third compound available, the Supersoft tire, while last year we had only Mediums and Softs, therefore it will be a very important item to understand the behavior of this compound in performance and degradation. So, we need to address a proper programme in order to find the right strategy for Sunday.”


Formula One: Button ‘Getting there is pretty crazy!’

In this film for Mobil One’s The Grid Jenson Button previews the Chinese Grand Prix and reflects on his past performances at the circuit and his experiences of Shanghai life and the traffic! Jenson talks through his first time visiting the venue with Mclaren back in 2010, a race  which saw him lead home his teammate Lewis Hamilton to a commanding 1-2 for the team.

After a challenging 2015 then team have made significant progress in performance, with the field leading chassis likely to suit the twisty second sector of the circuit, a sector Jenson particularly enjoys.  The long straights of else where on the track are likely to highlight the top end performance gap Mclaren are still looking to come to terms with, but after taking their first points of the year in Bahrain, the team will be heading to Shanghai with expectations of a repeat performance.