Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Valencia, 2011

R31 “a bold but failed experiment”

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

In the round-up: James Allison says the R31 was short on downforce from the first test.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

“Renault say 2011 car was ‘failed experiment’ (Reuters)

“We came out of the blocks adequately well, although it was clear from the first test that the delivered downforce was not as high as we had expected. The season which followed has been difficult for everyone at Enstone.”

Bernie Ecclestone: 'I'd float F1 in Singapore' (Telegraph)

“If I wanted to dispose of the company today I would float it in Singapore or Hong Kong.”

Will Rose be revved up? (FT, registration required)

“People close to F1 say the buy-out company has a plan that could be readily activated but that it is ??absolutely committed?? to Mr Ecclestone unless there is a material change of circumstances.”

Lingering hopes for US Grand Prix (The Independent)

[Tavo] Hellmund said: “I’m really optimistic and hopeful we’re going to have a Grand Prix.”

Manish Pandey on Twitter

“Very sad and surprised that Senna has not made the shortlist for the best documentary Oscar, comprised of 15 films. Hope BAFTA feel differently.”

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Comment of the day

Noelinho says greater engineering freedom doesn’t necessarily equal more exciting competition in F1:

It?s worth remembering that such freedom comes at the cost of equilibrium. The freer the formula, the greater the likelihood that one team will dominate ?ǣ and Red Bull this year have nothing on the late ?80s and early ?90s (or Ferrari in the 2000s at times).

How much value is placed on that balance is open for debate, but the last thing I want to see is one team dominating with a clear number one driver. Formula 1 is not a single-chassis formula, but at the same time, from a marketing point of view, it must be fiercely competitive formula at the front.

From the forum

Alex Khodabukus has a question on buying tickets for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Happy birthday!

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On this day in F1

A Maserati appeared in an F1 race for the final time on this day in 1960.

Robert Drake finished 13th, seven laps behind race winner Stirling Moss, in a Maserati 250F in the race at Riverside in California.

53 comments on “R31 “a bold but failed experiment””

  1. Reading between the lines, it would appear that Renault agree with Vitaly Petrov. They just use more words.

    1. replacing the word “Renault” for “R31” seems to make an huge sales difference for Renault.

      1. Well, they’ll be Lotus next year. I wonder what the name will be. Probably something like Lotus T134 or T135, since despite the separation of road and race cars, Lotus traditionally treated them as one on the drawing board.

        1. An equally interesting question is what Caterham will call theirs. A logical progress would be the T129, but I’m not entirely sure that continuing the Lotus type numbers makes sense for Caterham.

          Maybe they’ll call it the Eight.

          1. what colours will the Caterham team have? green and yelllow still?

          2. They are traditional Caterham colours, why would they change them?

    2. Indeed, @prisoner-monkeys, it almost seems like they are saying Petrov just was the first of them to say it out loud!

      I guess its good they can admit their mistake, if they then go on to improve on it in the future. Lets see what they make of the next car then.

      1. They shouldn’t be to unhappy, they are the only team besides the “Big 3” to have scored a podium this year. That should be worth something.

  2. It’s very disappointing that they didn’t keep up the promise shown in the first couple of races. I’d like there to be a bit more competition at the top, and not just have the podium places guaranteed to be shared between only 2 or 3 teams. I hope that next year we can see at least 5 teams get podium finishes at some point over the season, even if not regularly

    1. I agree, if next week’s podium consists of the Red Bulls/Mclarens/Alonso/Petrov, this year will tie 2002 a the season with the least podium finishers, at 7. In 2008, 14 drivers across 9 teams reached the podium, with 13 drivers from 8 teams getting there in 2009.

      1. 2012 could see a whole season with only World Champions on the podium!

        1. Imagine if next year we had not only 5 world champions on the grid, but the podiums were made up of only the, (lets face it if no one can touch redbull, mclaren, alonso, and schumy gets lucky next year, it could happen)

          1. I don´t see a lot of optimist about the new people that Mercedes hired… In theory, I have been told, Rosberg should be able to get podiuns and wins, and kick about everybody´s a**, including Schumi… after all they hired five former technical directors… so at least sowe can expect them to be highly competitive…

          2. Webber is still good for a podium!

          3. Lets hope at least Mercedes can get in between these teams @celeste, its a well needed shake up!

            Would be nice to have teams like Force India, Sauber, STR or even Williams have an outside shot at a podium once or twice next year as well though.

      2. And Heidfeld. He finished on the podium too.

        Now, that’s still only 8, and it’s still the same car Petrov had, but the beginning of the year showed a lot of promise for the team.

        1. Seven drivers- Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Webber, Heidfeld, Petrov.

          I didn’t mention Heidfeld as he’s most likely not going to race next week.

    2. i still think the R31 had potential. Atleast at the begining of the season. Maybe they lacked drivers that would push the car development further into perfection. Like Gary Anderson (I think) said, every team needs a #1 driver. Petrov was a #2 driver and Kubica was a #1 driver. Maybe that was the problem.

      1. You’d hope it did have potential, if they knew they had less downforce than expected already in testing.

        Still, the question has to be, why didn’t they start working on different exhausts right away, together with finding ways to combat the inherent weakness if they knew of issues right away. They’d have known where they stood arriving in Europe, knowing they’d likely struggle for a few months and then get a strong end of the season again.

        1. maybe cause the drivers didnt tell them the development won’t help? I dunno, but I do believe if there was a better driver (who would have given better feedback), it wouldve made them either push the development even further, or scrap it entirely at an early stage and adopt a rival’s design instead.

          1. I don’t think the drivers would be responsible for assessing the cars potential really…

            Maybe they were too far down the track to change, it would mean redesigning the whole car basically. It would have taken half the season to get it rolled out… Not worth the pain considering that ideas like the forward exhausts are the ideas that make champions.

          2. no i’m saying like how Mclaren did. Tested the octopus exhaust system all winter and then scrapped it and copied RBR at the last minute. Something like that.

  3. Pandey don’t be sad,they don’t have a soul that’s why they didn’t nominated it,we do & we know what this movie really is.

    1. It was not nominated because the the film was made entirely from archival footage, and the Academy does not recognise this kind of documentary as being elegible for nomination. It’s probably to stop people from assembling films entirely out of archival footage and submitting them to the Academy for consideration – they didn’t really do anything that could be called “direction”; other people did the hard work.

      1. I think that’s a bit harsh on Pandey, his film was several cuts above the copy paste that others might attempt, but I see your point.

        1. It also seems to show that Pandeys not above using the so called snub to get his film back in the media. Next time He tries to get an award it might be a good idea to know the rules.

          Cracking film though

          1. Ino (@f1givesyouwings)
            21st November 2011, 13:51

            I think they tried to argue that it has new audio material, but presumably that wasn’t enough. It’s a shame, as I feel that the exact reason that it’s not eligible for an oscar is what made it so special.

    2. also probably because only F1 fans understand who ayrton senna was and what the whole documentary is about. to anyone else, it’ll just be a formula 1 driver who hapnd to die in an accident during a race.

      1. Reports from Senna‘s premiere screening at the Sundance film festival described eighty year-old ladies discussing whether or not mid-season regulation changes introduced by Jean-Marie Balestre were fair.

          1. Indeed, it really had an impact. Seems that those rules about only archive material did them in then. A shame really

  4. SPEED have re-posted a story from Auto Motor und Sport suggesting that Honda are evaluating a return to Formula 1 with the 2014 engine regulations, possibly looking at joining McLaren.

    1. Makes sense. KERS/hybrid and turbo tech would be relevant to their road car research and they’d be able to plug their engines into a car that’s usually near the front of the grid.

      It’ll put plenty of pressure on the works Mercedes team though. With Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault not running Merc engines it’s all up to the works team to get any success.

    2. That would be great! The great old days of McLaren Honda, and has a nice ring to it :)
      Shame that McLaren are not looking at making their own F1 engines though, that would be really interesting to see what they would produce.

    3. I will appreciate if they will but I don’t think Honda is in better situation than late 2008. Their technology is falling behind, their road car business is slipping away. Only motorbike and Asimo(I’m joking) are only things they’re doing well.

    4. Very interesting. Great news for romantics, the thought of having Lotus Renault, Williams Renault and McLaren Honda on the grid would please them no end!

      When is McLaren’s engine deal with Mercedes due to end?

      1. End of 2012

        1. I guess McLaren would extend the deal trough to 2013 to have a new deal to coincide with the new engine formula though.
          Their contract has options to use the engines until 2014, but they won’t come free of pay for McLaren after 2012.

    5. It would be good as it would bring back good memories, but I don’t know if they’ll be competitive.

    6. I think it would really bring those emotions up (would they then pick up Bruno Senna and Nic Prost to drive as well ;-) ).

      Personally, I am not that keen on things like Lotus Renault, Willams Renault, McLaren Honda etc. to hark back to a past long gone. I rather think its great to see new things developped instead of this overwhelming urge everyone seems to have to go retro. But certainly if Honda want back in, McLaren would be a great team to do it with.

  5. for me the biggest failure are the two drivers they currently have

    1. BadAss comment- and I like it!

  6. Not sure if this has been posted before but there was a MASSIVE accident in the GT race at the Macau Grand Prix this weekend. How no body was seriously injured I dont know. Look at the fron end of the Porsche after the second hit..

    1. Bizarre. Especially tha speed of those two ferrari’s under double yellow, followed by that third.
      Good to know nobody’s got injured

    2. The third drive should be banned from all forms of motor racing for going into a double yellow zone at that speed!!

  7. I wonder if Tammy Ecclestone is punishing her father for something with that abhorrently posh home redesign. It just breathes so much “I am spending all your money completely on horribly over the top things” I just can’t believe anyone would feel good living there.

  8. Nice COTD @noelinho, you really have been putting in some very good comments in the past couple of days, thanks.

    1. Ah, thanks! It was only your comment that alerted me – hadn’t actually been on today. I usually comment only if I actually have something constructive to add.

      It’s certainly something people often forget. People have oft-bemoaned the lack of action in F1, and then pointed to the feeder formulas, missing the crucial single-chassis aspect that contributes to closer racing. It’s hard to remove engineering restrictions and maintain close racing, so inevitably, if you want to maintain close racing, you have to be selective about the areas where innovation and creativity are permitted.

      Ultimately, even with the restrictions we have in place, the best rise to the top – that is, McLaren, Ferrari, and whoever has Adrian Newey…

  9. Full marks to Renault for saying before the season ‘our design is aggressive’ and actually going through with it. Sure, it’s been hit and miss, but they sure gave us something to smile about at the start of the season.

  10. About the Senna movie, for people who can receive Dutch RTL7 (who are also are the Dutch channel for F1), on the 19:30 (GMT+1) the evening of Sunday the 27th, ie. the day of the Brazillian GP they show it there. With commercials, but on tv. Good thing, bc. I couldn’t find any cinema around here for it.

  11. The R31 was indeed a let down. I really had high hopes for it, particularly vs. the MP4-26 with its channelled side pods. Even the new floor the STR6 introduced didn’t come to much, their best results have been down to straight line speed!

    That said, I’d love some equally wacky ideas next season. Perhaps not from Williams though…they need a more conservative approach next year.

  12. When a team innovates something, or takes a design gamble, and fails – they can only come away from it stronger and with experience of what to absolutely avoid doing in the next season. In that way you can make a negative into a positive. On the contrary, if your season has gone absolutely fine, then the unknown only becomes scarier…unless your Adrian Newey ;)

  13. As I recall Macca’s design was drawing way out of the box as well, and many were hollering for Whitmarsh’s head on a pike at the beginning of the season, and as has been mentioned on this thread they were able to turn things around. Macca: 2 world champions and resources matched only by RB and Ferrari.

    Losing Kubi really hurt them. They had 2 podiums… but then it all went to pot. I really think that Robert could have steered the R31 and the team to a more respectable finish.

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