Melbourne was a blast but F1’s aero problem remains (Australian GP analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The wet track allowed F1 cars to race side-by-side at Melbourne
The wet track allowed F1 cars to race side-by-side at Melbourne

The Australia Grand Prix was every bit as thrilling as Bahrain was dull.

But don’t expect many more races like that unless we get a lot more rain, because F1’s aerodynamic problem hasn’t gone away – as the later stages of today’s race showed.

Lap 1

Australian Grand Prix: Lap 1 position change
Australian Grand Prix: Lap 1 position change (click to enlarge)

In the pre-race analysis yesterday I wrote that you can count on two things happening on the first lap at Melbourne: the pole sitter keeping the lead and a crash.

Sure enough, Sebastian Vettel motored off into the lead and behind him Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher collided, tumbling down the order.

Further down the field a frightening crash eliminated Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastien Buemi and Nico H?â??lkenberg. Kobayashi’s front wing fell off, jammed under his front wheels and he slammed into Buemi and H?â??lkenberg.

Worryingly, this was the third time a front wing had come off Kobayashi’s car this weekend. The team said it did not fail on its own – Kobayashi had made contact with another car at turn three.

With the Virgins starting from the pits and Jarno Trulli not starting at all the HRTs gained the most places. Meanwhile the McLaren drivers converged – Jenson Button slipping back to sixth for fourth and Hamilton climbing four places to seventh.

Pit stops

Australian Grand Prix - pit stops
Australian Grand Prix - pit stops (click to enlarge)

Jenson Button pitted for soft tyres on lap six and completed the remaining 52 laps without another stop for tyres – an impressive feat.

Button’s early switch from intermediate to dry tyres prompted his rivals to follow suit. Though it’s possible that his off-track moment at turn three on his out-lap led them to being more cautious than they needed to.

When they reacted on lap eight Button was 2.1s faster than any other car on the track. The next time around he was 4.3s quicker.

For some reason Red Bull delayed bringing in Vettel and Mark Webber until laps nine and ten respectively. Although Vettel kept his lead Webber lost three places, plus another one when he went off at the start of his out-lap.

Lewis Hamilton lost two places in the first round of pit stops while Fernando Alonso picked up three (one was thanks to Adrian Sutil’s retirement).

The aero problem

Hamilton and Webber catching Kubica, Massa and Alonso
Hamilton and Webber catching Kubica, Massa and Alonso (click to enlarge)

During the first half of the race the Melbourne track was damp and then drying. The lack of grip meant the detrimental effect of running in the slipstream of another car was far less of a limiting factor for the drivers and so we saw lots of exciting passes and changes of position.

But it was a different story towards the end of the race. As the graph above shows even though Hamilton and Webber were up to two seconds per lap faster than Alonso/Massa/Kubica, once they caught them they couldn’t get close enough to pass.

Yes, Hamilton had asked a lot of his tyres in closing the gap to Alonso, making the job of passing him more difficult. But the fact remains the Ferrari driver had covered twice as great a distance on his rubber and Hamilton was faster. The McLaren driver couldn’t get close enough to try a pass because, now the track had dried, the cars were once again extremely sensitive to running in disturbed air.

Hamilton finally put a move on Alonso as the Ferrari driver became desperately short of grip, locking up his tyres at turn 13… and we all know what happened next.

This tells us two things about the much-debated question of – brace yourself for that horrible phrase – “improving the show”.

First, aerodynamics is still a big problem and fully dry races are likely to be much more processional than what we saw today.

However, because all the cars at Melbourne started on intermediate tyres none of them were forced to use both dry tyre compounds. As a result we saw some drivers pit more than others and as a result lapped quicker on fresh tyres later in the race – creating the opportunity for racing.

In the dry at Bahrain we saw no major differences in strategy among the front runners because of the mandatory pit stop rule. Removing this rule, and the requirement for the top ten qualifiers to start on the tyres they set their fastest time on should, looks like a good way of improving the quality of racing in F1. The next few races should provide more evidence for whether this is a good idea or not.

Read more: Bringing back refuelling will not solve F1’s overtaking problem

Race charts

Australian Grand Prix: Race chart
Australian Grand Prix: Race chart (click to enlarge)

Here are the race charts showing the gap between the race leader and the other drivers (top) and a version of the chart based on the leaders’ average lap time (bottom). The lap chart (below) shows the position of each car on each lap.

Australian Grand Prix: Lap chart
Australian Grand Prix: Lap chart (click to enlarge)
Australian Grand Prix: Race chart (average times)
Australian Grand Prix: Race chart (average times) (click to enlarge)

2010 Australian Grand Prix

188 comments on “Melbourne was a blast but F1’s aero problem remains (Australian GP analysis)”

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  1. Kobayashi’s front wing fell off, jammed under his front WINGS and he slammed into Buemi and Hülkenberg.

    you may want to correct that

    1. Fixed, thanks.

      1. also ‘Hamilton climbing for places to 11th’

        dont you mean he climber four places to 7th?

    2. i think fia ruined the good work they ve done with the 09 regulations longer cars mean harder overtakes i do like the new look but next year with the ban of yhe DD difusers maybe f1 will be even better

      1. yesterday i wrote exacly the same about the aero overtaking was much easier when the track was damp afterwards the race became a train 1st half of race a 10 2nd half a 5 for the uk fans of course the race was fantastic but on reality it wasnst mainly beacuse of the 2nd part

  2. Great article, this site and the articles it publishes are truly excellent for enthusiasts like myself. What’s more is they are written in a very impartial way, unlike certain other sites who’s bias is very obvious. Keep up the good work.

    1. I truly second that.
      The best site and the best comments :)

    2. Thanks guys :-)

  3. Interesting Australian overtaking stats from ClipTheApex:

    Total overtakes: 32 (Bahrain was 21)

    Drivers: most overtaking moves: Michael Schumacher (8), Fernando Alonso (5), Lewis Hamilton (5), Mark Webber (5)

    Most times overtaken: Pedro de la Rosa (5), Felipe Massa (5), Karun Chandhok (4)

    1. Very nice stat. While rather clinical, it does support the fact that today’s race was far from processional. Thank you.

      1. There were 21 on track overtakes at Bahrain, significantly higher that the Bahrain average of 17.29, the big problem there was that most of them didn’t appear to be televised. I think this is a major issue in F1 along with negative reporting in the media.

        1. Plus they were all between backmarkers.

          1. You can’t have every race with 10 changes of leader.

          2. Well, you would expect the front runners to do at least a little overtaking. Do brilliant passes for 18th place get remembered for decades to come?

          3. Yeah, I still remember (2 weeks is along time for my memory) that great pass between Glock and err, umm,,,, that other guy.

          4. …With much less downforce.

          5. There wasn’t a single on track pass for the lead in Australia. A big difference in that race was that the television coverage included most of the overtakes.

    2. so 7 more then last year

    3. Just 5 from Alonso??? MMmhhh

    4. HounslowBusGarage
      29th March 2010, 8:57

      Not sure I can understand these figures. Chandhok completed 53 laps against the first twelve drivers completing 58 each. So how could Chandhok only have been overtaken 4 times?

      1. I think those overtaking stats are for position, being lapped doesn’t count.

        1. Exactly. Funny that Massa was overtaken for position more times than Chandhok but I guess when your at the back you’re at the back!

  4. I believe it’s time to allow free tire choice. Allow them to choose which ever tires they want. If they can make soft last the entire race well advantage to that team. Bring hard and super soft and allow free choice. This way some might try for full race on hard and some might do 1 or 2 stops on super softs. With 2+sec difference on the tires super softs could be advantage you can push harder and be faster the pit stop time would drop you down but might give you the speed/grip advantage to overtake to. This race showed how exciting the race can be with free tire choice.

    1. Erm, I have a different idea, get rid of the sillt qually rule for starters, but instead of bringing tyres that can last a whole race distance, bring tyres taht can’t.

      All the teams thought that the softs would last to the end, but when they didn’t, some teams tried a gamble.

      Bring tyres to a race that will not last, maybe so that on a 1 stop they will struggle on an average track, this also means that the cars due to the softer tyres have more mechanical grip, which will aid overtaking.

      Do we really need 2 compounds? every weekend it looks like 1 is the optimal one and the other is a dodgy one. do we really need that?
      Obviously it doesn’t aid overtaking…

    2. Toby Bushby
      30th March 2010, 1:38

      Or even better, make the teams choose which two compounds they will take to each race. Each team chooses two, then Bridgestone delivers them to the track. Force the teams to know their own tyres without Bridgestone giving them advice. Oh, and remove the qualifying tyre rule. (I just love how spell-check tells me I’m spelling “tyre” wrong…. “tire” is something you do after walking around Albert Park all day.)

  5. I remember in the race Ted Kravitz said something along the lines of Ferrari felt Massa had the pace but as he was in the dirty air it hurt him do it must have really been an issue for Ham and Web as they caught up later when the track was drier.

  6. Removing this [mandatory pit stop] rule, and the requirement for the top ten qualifiers to start on the tyres they set their fastest time on looks like a good way of improving the quality of racing in F1.

    Couldn’t agree more! I just wish everyone would refer to it as improving the ‘quality of races’ and not ‘the show.’

    1. I hate the phrase “improving the show”.

      1. Hate is too weaker word Keith, don’t hold back, it’s more like detest, loathe or abhor.

      2. just like the phrase “double decker diffusor”

        1. Not nearly as bad as “stuck in dirty air”.

      3. Varun Mehta
        29th March 2010, 6:30

        It’s a better phrase than last years “Fuel corrected”.

      4. Look at the bright side, at least no-one’s suggested bringing in Simon Cowell as a consultant.


  7. After reviewing the data, if you change your tyres you cant over take people who stayed out on old tyres.

    Two stop stratagies will not happen again this season.

    1. Spot on, as Martin Whitmarsh said yesterday you needed to be 3 seconds quicker than the man in front to get close enough to overtake in dry conditions. If new softs arent 3 seconds quicker than softs that have done 30+ laps on an abrasive street circuit they never will be and it wont be tried again.

      Everyone, commentators and people on pit lane, said that the softs would last the distance and they did quite easily. In that case, what is the point of having the ‘prime’? Surely the point of having 2 types of tyre is to offer a steady prime and a quicker option that will fall off and not last?

      How about the F1 becomes a winter sport? It’d be guaranteed to rain more!

    2. That was one of my thoughts. The brave (and ultimately doomed) souls that enlivened the latter part of the race with this strategy went home licking their wounds. Given the same situation again, they’ll just stick to trundling around in the train.

      We may still see rain and very slow cars out of position again to help liven things up, but I’m worried it won’t be very common.

    3. Not for Lewis Hamilton anyway! Still worth trying fresh tyres to pass someone if there’s a decent gap behind you, if it loses you no places or maybe one.

      Many people are quoting Martin Whitmarsh and his 3 seconds. I’m not sure it’s as bad as that. Hamilton nearly made it past Alonso – which is always going to be tough – and no doubt would have tried again on the last lap if he’d not been rudely bundled off the track.

      He wasn’t seconds faster over a lap but was staggeringly quick in a straight line, and that created opportunities for him. He must have a sore knee this morning after pressing it against the vent all afternoon!

      I predict there’ll be some overtaking on the long straights in Malaysia and China, the teams will meet and take no action, and the problem will go away a little, until we reach Barcelona…

  8. I think you have hit on the big change that could improve the show Keith… RAIN!

    THanks to Bernie wanting lights and other modifications that some claim are artifical. MAybe it is time to include rain machines across the circuit. If you want the best driver to the fore, this would work.

    You could have them around the whole track and control them with computers so the start and finish time is completely random!

    We could then include some of those powerups from death race where the first driver to cross the mark gets an offensive or defensive weapon.

    To be honest my contribution for the remainder of the season will be to pray for rain! The race was fantastic!

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      29th March 2010, 2:30

      Sorry, but the idea of a “rain machine” is ridiculous. How much water do you think it would take to food the circuit – and keep it that way? We’re talking megalitres. Now, consider this: Melbourne is still in the vice-like grip of water restricions. Their dam is currently hovering at round 30% capactiy because significant parts of the Austrlian continent are caught up in a seriou drought. If you were to plant “rain machines” around the circuit for the sake of flooding it, the resulting public outcry would be ridiculous. I cannot think of a worse way to waste water.

      1. You do realise he was having a sarcastic joke at the farce which is quickly becoming our beloved formula one right?

        no? ok maybe not…

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          29th March 2010, 9:15

          Actually, I’ve heard of serious suggestions of “rain machines”. It’s possible to flood the circuit at Paul Ricard, but it’s very expensive and uses a lot of water.

          1. How bout people from the stands having water balloons and targeting them when they pass by, that should give us an unpredictable race.

          2. Really, what a waste? that wouldn’t happen in Australia, we have water issues….

          3. You could bottle it after the race and give to the poor!

    2. Well the GP in KL, should have lots of water around, there is a 60% chance of rain every day!

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        29th March 2010, 13:56

        That’s the point though isn’t it. The races which would need “rain machines” the most are the ones in countries that rarely have rain…and are therefore often running low on water supplies.

        Joke or not, rain machines would never be feasible. The feasible way of achieving the same result is to cut down on aero grip and/or increase mechanical grip. And we’ve been crying for that for years!
        I almost hope the rest of the season is as dull as Bahrain just so that the teams finally get scared enough to make some REAL changes to the cars for 2011.

    3. It didn’t do last night’s, I mean today’s, Indycar race much good…

  9. It certainly still is a problem as we saw from the last few laps with Hamilton unable to pass Alonso in the “dirty air”

    As usual though no one will listen and just blame Herman Tilke…

    1. I blame him as well, boring wide easy circuits with no elevation and too much run off and no punishing walls or kitty liter (although I suspect the rules he works under might enforce all of this) , that being said….

      The aero problem is so bad now, they can’t even get close enough to try and force a mistake….

      1. “I blame him as well, boring wide easy circuits with no elevation and too much run off and no punishing walls or kitty liter” Well he has to stick to the restrictions when designing tracks

        1. the one time I don’t add that as an after note…. ^^

      2. But he can’t do anything about it, he was strict rules to make these tracks and they produce good racing in other Formula’s so it’s the cars.

  10. Nice article and charts. Puts things in better perspective.

    I say bring back limited ground effects and reduce the wing-produced downforce.

    – a spec undertray/floorpan section all teams must adhere to
    – designed to produce max 500kg @ 270kph (or some tested value at a certain speed)
    – no more diffusers (at most just a restricted size flat panel with a hole for the starter and no sideplates)
    – single wing only at the rear with reduced chord with no sideplate aero tricks (no lower wings or winglets/scoops)
    – limited chord front wing with limited area adjustable fins (limited air deflectors ok as long as they don’t add downforce)
    – current limits on bargeboards and bodywork restrictions ok

    I’m not an areo engineer, but the earler ground effect cars that generated most of their downforce via the undertray rather than big wings didn’t have much of a washout problem.

    Maybe it’s a silly idea, and it would certainly need testing, but otherwise maybe an option to consider.

    1. I agree, Kremer, but the reason ground effects were abandoned was due to safety. Did you see Kobayashi today? If he had got in that state with GE’s Kamui should have gotten truly air-borne. See footage of the death of Gilles Villeneuve, for a demonstration.

      1. Villeneuve’s – and for that matter Pironi’s at Hockenheim – were truly horrific accidents, but there are a couple of points worth raising in support of the idea of GE making a comeback:

        * The cars in ’82 weren’t carbon fibre and were much less structurally sound than those of today.
        * Many of the GE accidents were caused by suspension failure. I reckon the constructors could build stronger suspension these days. In fact, outside of the top teams, the build quality of the cars was often shockingly poor. In these days of mandatory safety tests etc., I reckon that wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

        It’s also worth noting that there were few GE-related accidents of note back in 79-80 (I’m not forgetting poor Depallier though) before the sliding skirts were banned. When FISA (the FIA) banned the skirts the teams got around it by pretty much removing all suspension movement – shocks being absorbed through the tires! It’s no wonder drivers were complaining of double vision…

        Great race this weekend btw :)

      2. How did ground effect figure in Gilles Villeneuve’s death?

        Villeneuve’s Ferrari crashed into the back on Jochen Mass’ slow moving March during a qualifying session. Mass had seen Villeneuve and pulled over off of the racing line, but Villeneuve assumed Mass hadn’t seen him and so also moved off line to pass him. Villeneuve’s bitter rivalry with Didier Pironi and the need to get the most from ultra-sticky one lap qualifying tyres also contributed.

        Ground effect was banned because the teams were running ever-harder suspension, which took an enormous physical toll on the drivers. But I can’t see how it made any difference whatsoever to Villeneuve’s death.

        1. AFAIK, when Villeneuve hit the back of Mass’ car, the incredibly stiffly sprung suspension allied to a sudden loss of GE caused the car the literally cartwheel. Pironi’s accident was similar.

          Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong though ;-)

          Incidentally, a great book to read on the era is Nigel Roebuck’s ‘Inside F1’, which is basically a selection of his Autosport ‘5th Column’, well, columns! The book deals with the period 80-88(ish). I’m old to remember watching the news of Villeneuve’s death on the BBC news, but as I was still under 10, there’s plenty in the book that was a surprise to me.

          1. I think you are wrong – these sorts of accidents have happened to flat bottomed, non-ground effect cars as well. See my response to gpfan.

        2. Well, Tim, due to the GE, Gilles motor went sky-ward-like when he battered on Mass’s tyres. Then he died.

          What are you having problems with?

          1. My problem is with your reasoning – i.e. driver of ground effect car suffers fatal accident, therefore ground effect must be to blame for the accident.

            What happened to make the ground effect Ferrari go skyward that wouldn’t have happened on a flat bottomed car? From the footage I’ve seen, Villeneuve’s front left makes contact with Mass’ right rear which launches the Ferrari. The same thing happened to Riccardo Patrese at Estoril in 1992 and Christian Fittipaldi at Monza in 1993 – both in flat bottomed cars. The only differences being that Patrese’s Williams landed on its rear wheels, Fittipaldi’s Minardi landed pretty much square on all four wheels, while Villeneuve’s Ferrari lands on its nose. Nearly 20 years ago I witnessed a fatal accident in Formula 3 in nearly identical circumstances to Villeneuve’s – both drivers involved were in non-ground effect Ralts.

            There have also been various incidents with flat bottomed sports prototypes getting airbourne on their own – see Peter Dumbreck and Mark Webber at Le Mans in 1999.

            I’m more than happy to stand corrected if you can explain what was uniquely dangerous about a ground effect car – but I’ve never read anything to suggest that ground effect made Villeneuve’s crash fatal.

    2. Eddie Irvine
      29th March 2010, 8:53

      This will bring F1 back to 1950.. Introducing a standard amount of downforce a car can create is like removing the brain from Andrian Newey.
      The best solution is GET RID OF RPM LIMITER, cars can’t use slipstreaming because even they have lower air resistance they also rev up to 18,000 as the car in front, so they just can’t go faster… it’s simple as that even if you have zero air resistance after some meteres the car in front will have the same speed as yours.
      Imagine you’re driving in a downhill, you all know you can go faster, but if your car had a rpm limiter to 4,000revs then you couldn’t use the benefit of the downhill.
      ALso, with bigger speeds comes the bigger braking more room to overtake under braking!

      1. They are far from a problem. Cars only rev up to 18,000, yes, but they can adjust the gear ratios to get past that. We see that all the time – how do you think they manage to get to such high speeds at Monza, along with low downforce? Higher gear ratios. This allows cars to get to even higher speeds without topping out… If the limiters are so restrictive then how would speeds of 330km/h be possible? Even when (lack of) downforce is taken into the equation, it’s still the same. They don’t get any faster because that is the maximum that current F1 cars can do in the best conditions. The benefits of removing the rev limiter would be negligible, if there were any benefits at all.

        1. The benefit would be variability.

          With a hard cap of 18,000 rpm, most teams are within a couple horsepower of each other. If you remove the cap, then teams might be able to milk a few more horsepower out of an engine and gain an advantage.

          The other possibility is blowing an enigine. But, that’s the compromise you have to balance…performance vs. reliability.

          I’m all for getting rid of artificial tech constraints like rev limitations.

          1. I would think we wanted the engines to be similar as opposed to giving advantage to one that can handle the extra RPM,

            I think that this, is not a real problem, Aerodynamics is what is causing the problem. More speed bigger braking zones? Slightly yes, but the amount of extra speed needed would be incredible.

            To increase breaking zones, It would be better to reduce the aerodynamic potential of the cars, (extending braking zones by both lowering mid corner speed and lowering brake effectiveness, or and this one seems simple to me, Reduce the size/effectiveness of the brakes themselves. although that could provide many arguments against it namely for safety reasons.

      2. I don’t think it would be a good idea, but removing the limitation of 8 engines per season would.

        It’s stupid hearing pitbox to Massa “don’t push, conserve engine. Not for now but for next races”

        come on…

  11. The racing is better when there is marginal grip. I think aero is a factorbut not the major factor. They need to lose mechanical grip – one way would be to make the tyres go off so much quicker – you could get them to race on the full wets, there would be loads more pit stops, or simply get rid of tyre warmers (easiest option to implement). I’d love to see the race the officals wet the track 5 minutes before they start and get them to start on intermediates just like Melbourne but the purists will argue until they are blue in the face on that. Mixing it up will see some fast drivers fall backwards and then have to carve their way through the field.

    1. But then they have a worse problem – aero washout still prevents close racing, and now they have to contend with even less tire grip. That would only add more dangerous understeer trying to overtake in corners in the faster sections.

      1. Hey, Kremer? I have always maintained that aeros extreme of the wheel base should be FIA controlled/ designed. That is: get rid of the front and rear wings, or make them minimal. The teams do not like this as it removes prime advertising space, but many ran without front wings in the ground effects era. And, if you remember Long Beach in ’79(?) Villeneuve ran with a ‘double’ rear wing, that was basically a two-fingered salute to the FOCA. This wing provided zero aeros. So, to provide ad-space, maybe the FIA could introduce “Andy’s Ad-Wings” (TM. me! lol).

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      29th March 2010, 2:49

      No, you need to get rid of aerodynamic grip. More mechanical grip is fine, because it relies on the driver to make it work. When one driver pressures another, mistakes are not so costly because a pursuing driver cannot get in range. But with mechanical grip, we can get drivers racing closer to one another.

      Mechanical grip requires the driver in order to work. Aerodynamic grip just works automatically.

    3. Rob, We need less Aerodynamic grip, and more mechanical grip, if you are suggesting having tyres that wear faster, I agree, but a softer compound, giving more mechanical grip with a short lifespan is the way to go, Cars can’t pass because of the Aerodynamics of the cars.

      I see where you came up with your idea, but the reality of a wet race is that because they drivers are struggling to keep the car on the track, they make mistakes and can’t drive at 100%, less mechanical grip on a dry track will see them drive slower, but it won’t help passing at all.

  12. What a great race! Exciting from start to finish! You really don´t need to have a team (I do have one though) to get glued to the TV screen. Completely the opposite of Bahrain (aka Boring-ain)…

  13. Very important points at the end of the article Keith about mandatory stops – I completely agree with them all.

    The fact that FOTA might be considering two mandatory stops troubles me, because this offers *even less* chance of grip differences between cars. It just seems obvious.

  14. One further point, I think the short pitlane at Melbourne, whilst being very tight between garages, also means that the cost of pitting is less than at most other tracks, i.e. Bahrain. Pitting at Monaco also doesn’t seem to cost a driver quite as much time (Hamilton 2008).

    I therefore have two ideas to make pitstops cost less time:

    1. design circuits with garages on either side and shorten the pitlane by half (a bit of an effort perhaps!).
    2. Increase the pit lane speed limit (not going to happen of course).

    So, in summary, none of my ideas have any credibility! But perhaps my point is made.

    1. Ordinarily it is a quick pit lane but they reduced the speed limit in it this year. I expect the strategists took that into account though.

      1. “I expect the strategists took that into account though.”

        No Way! They never think of everything! ;) lol

    2. I really like your ideas. With a pit lane twice as wide, there would be less penalties, higher speed limits, shorter stop times.

      Why didn’t anyone think of this instead of making big useless tracks like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. If they wanted to increase tourism, they wouldn’t have made a track in the godamn desert. Make it go over the water or something like the Hong Kong street circuit which goes over the water like a jetty.


  15. The use of hard and soft tyres at Melbourne was a change from last year due to complaints about degradation of the super-softs. Yet in this race the option/soft tyres were apparently capable of completing nearly an entire race distance, maybe because of the cool temperatures but despite the high fuel loads that were still there in the early laps.

    This had a major effect on the race outcome as the leaders only stopped once on laps 5-9. Keith alluded to this early tire change in his preview, expecting the first lap safety car to enable an early tyre change (to the harder compound). However, it was the rain that meant a tyre change was no longer mandatory but only required to get the cars onto slick rubber. I was surprised the option tires, not the hard tyres, lasted most of the race.

  16. Everything Kremer says above is spot on, the cars need to rely less on over-body air flow and should be permitted to make the under-body more effective.

    The obvious caveat to that is safety – we really don’t need a second era of ground effect.

    One other thing – why is there a section of front wing that must be undeveloped?! Cars cannot follow each other because they cannot generate enough front end grip, yet the FIA enforces an ineffective front wing?!?! Idiots.

    1. i think that the thinking behind that was if the wing is designed to produce down force from the sides rather than the middle, then they would be less affected from the turbulance from the car in front.

      1. That’s the theory, but it’s not working too well, is it? :(

        I’m in favour (see above and on various other threads) of a return to some form of GE F1 cars, but that aside, wouldn’t removing the ridiculous underbody plank help things somewhat???

      2. That’s correct.

        Problem is, when you follow a car around the corner, the wake from the diffuser is not likely to travel through the centre of the following car, but at the sides!

        1. True enough. I’m really trying to make the point that the plank is almost like the reverse of *underbody* grip, which given the reliance on aero through the wings really doesn’t help matters.

    2. Settle down, kid. ‘Idiots’? Come on, now. You just didn’t understand the point of it.

  17. I’m almost certainly being thick, but I don’t really understand what the bottom table is meant to show. If the dependant variable is the gap to leader’s average time, how come the leader isn’t a constant along the bottom and how come the leader only achieves a gap of 0 on his last lap? Is the y axis meant to be gap to the leaders best?

    1. The graph is correct. Think of it as the gap compared to the leader if he had circulated at a constant speed the whole race.

      In the first few laps they were racing slower because of a damp track, so the gap increased steadily. Then around lap 8 when the track dried they could put in faster laps so they started catching up.

      If you look carefully you will see the lines curve downward towards the end. This is because they were lapping ever faster as the fuel loads decreased (although not so much because they had to nurse their tyres.)

      If the race had started dry and ended wet, you’d see the line dip below zero at the beginning and turn upwards when the rain fell and lap times increased.


      1. oh right I see now. Cheers martin

  18. Nice Perspective. I had the same opinion in the Rate the Race topic. More than refuelling or No Refuelling but it is about making the cars more overtakable. I was watching the live timings in the F1 App from (FIA) One thing was evident. So many faster cars were stuck behind slower ones. If it was for the correct strategy and better overtaking possibilities Hamilton would have won by a mile ahead Button and co. So is the case with Fernando. Robert though was not the fastest car managed to stick on.


    Feel very sorry for Vettel. Red Bull garage needs to improve the work.

    AND VERY VERY SORRY FOR HAMILTON. Drove a fantastic race. Was really let down by Maclaren. TO me he drove the best race of the GP. I could understand his frustration when he yelled out in 54th lap “whose Terrible Idea it was to do a pitstop? “. yes putting the team on the pedestal is wrong but at that moment one can justify Lewis.

    1. Keith, quick question Any plans for developing an iPhone app based on this blog? Should be real fun given that ipad is also getting released now ? Sorry for little diversion on topic.

      1. Mouse_Nightshirt
        29th March 2010, 1:56

        Android as well if you’re at it!

        1. Any decent coders on here? My code is somewhat limited by today’s standards ;-)

    2. Sush Meerkat
      29th March 2010, 9:35

      “AND VERY VERY SORRY FOR HAMILTON. Drove a fantastic race. Was really let down by Maclaren.”

      No TMAX, he wasn’t let down by anyone, the optimum strategy is to pit for tyres first, Hamilton pitted while no one else did, they pitted him on the assumption that others would also pit.

      Both Hamilton and McLaren got out foxed by Button.

    3. How did Bridgestone muster the courage to bring a set of tyres that will last an entire race?

      That decision was taken a month before the Bahrain Grand Prix:

      Harder tyres for the Australian Grand Prix

      Given they have to manufacture and ship the tyres out there at considerable cost they weren’t going to change the compounds based on what happened at the first race.

      Nor is it by any means a given we would have seen a better race if they had brought softer tyres. It really isn’t as simple as that.

  19. Good Analysis For improve This F1 ” drama “

  20. I don´t see any problems with Hamilton having trouble to pass Alonso at the end of the race. I am following F1 since 72 and I always hear the same thing:
    To catch one driver is one thing, to overtake him is a completly different thing(it sounds much better in my native language)
    My point is, given enough time, Hamilton would eventually pass Alonso,
    but would be very boring if he could accomplish it right away. Where would be the excitement?

    1. I miss Murry…. (sad face)

    2. This is true – it should be hard to overtake, but based on what I’ve seen, its going to be actually impossible (as opposed to nearly impossible)to pass anyone in Barcelona, Monaco, Hungary, Valencia, Silverstone, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and Suzuka. Saturday will be more exciting that Sundays at those venues if the races are dry.

      Melbourne has not historically a terribly difficult place to pass, and neither for that matter was Bahrain, but what we’ve seen this year is shocking. Its as though the extra developed rear diffuers have made the air just that much dirtier and the effect is pronounced.

      1. I only disagree with one thing. Monaco and Valencia (street circuits) always have been nearly/actually impossible to pass anyone, specially Monaco (bicycle races would have the same problem there) and a lot of drivers refers to the Hungary circuit as more appropriated for karting races. On the other hand, old circuits like Monza, Interlagos, Spa and the old Hokenheime, never had this kind of problems. I read some nice comments here stating that the problem with overtaking has also a lot to do with the circuits and I agree with that.

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