How do we know for sure that a team’s cars are identical?

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    I’m just curious as to how drivers, the FIA and the public know that 2 cars within a team are the same? Are there regulations that enforce that?


    Keith Collantine

    There is no regulation that requires it.

    On one hand, drivers are usually not shy about pointing out when they haven’t had the latest upgrade.

    On the other hand, sometimes drivers might prefer not to have a particular new part, for example if it changes the handling a certain way.



    @keith Collantine Thanks for the reply – I read your article about the 2 roosters @ Ferrari – very interesting.

    Yes, indeed drivers are one of the sources.

    How would the drivers though know that their car has gotten the same improvements as their teammate’s down to the nut and bolt? For instance, let’s take Red Bull where they recently installed the Double DRS. How do we know that Mark’s car is capable of the same performance as Seb’s? We can assume that Red Bull made the exact same part for both.

    After they install the improvements, does Mark take Seb’s car for a spin to determine that the improvements are the same?

    I’m not saying they are different or that there’s foul play – I’m just saying is there a way we can know for a fact that the cars are not different at any constructor (aside from setup differences)?



    I’m sure there was a rumor going a round last year, that the HRT Team was not capable of handing their drivers identical equipment.

    No, ;), Webber does not take Vettels car for a spin, in this case a driver, will have to trust his team that it has provided him with an equal upgrade package to his teammate, although differences should show up in the telemetry readings.



    Simple Answer: We don’t.

    Although to be honest, I cannot imagine a difference more than a tenth, maybe 2 tenths at the very maximum between the two cars from the team.



    Thanks, I hadn’t heard about the HRT rumor before.

    Just curious, what do you think would happen if Webber asked Vettel to drive his car just to test its performance? I can just picture Horner and Newey jumping between Webber and Vettel yelling “Noooooooooooooooo!” in slow motion:-)

    Actually all cars would have to perform somewhat differently even if built to the exact same specifications. Does anyone know what the variance is for 2 cars made to the exact same specs? Like you said is it a tenth, two tenths or possibly more?



    Given the exacting standards required of a Formula One car’s construction, all the finite structural tolerances, no margin for error in parts fitting, and so on, I would assume the cars would be nearly identical in performance (for the big-budget top teams like Red Bull at least, not sure about HRT). Unless one driver has the latest update and the other doesn’t, of course.



    @kingshark @powderfinger I’m not so sure that that’s true actually (we don’t know)

    @freelittlebirds as @bobthevulcan says, given exactly identical construction then both cars are equally capable of the same laptimes.

    Generally there are a few fanatics who thrive on the technical side of F1, and scour every close up pic around to see whether or not the two cars have flaps in the same position or whether they’re off even just in position (I’m exaggerating, but hey…) I myself am one of them, and to be honest we probably get a good idea of whether or not the cars are of equal spec. Basically what we do is what Scarbs does – just that he writes about it, and quite a few others don’t. But he’s certainly not the only guy who scours over photos.

    It gets tricky with internal piping and stuff such as the DDRS, because obviously you can see whether or not all the holes are all in the right places, but you can’t see if the pipes are really in there.

    As @keithcollantine says, some drivers will tell you whether or not they have a new part, like Lewis with his Belgian Rear Wing.

    Sometimes it’s the driver choice though, so not favoritism. Mind you, this doesn’t always get published, which clouds the story somewhat.



    Obviously if a flap is different or the exhaust is smaller, it would be easier to figure out. We’ve seen different teammates including Red Bull try different upgrades to determine which one is optimal.

    However, I would imagine that many parts of an F1 car are concealed or sealed thus preventing closer inspection. I would also expect software to play an increasingly important role in F1 and to offer the capability to alter a car’s characteristics over another car’s and the driver would be none the wiser.

    Supposedly all software in F1 is checked or something like that but good luck going through 500,000 lines of obfuscated code (we’ll be done by 2020)

    I guess if a team wants to have different cars for each driver there’d be no way to find out nor a way to stop them. Probably it would be best for the driver not to know as there is really not much he can do about it but leave.



    What do you mean, we don’t know if Webber takes Vettels car for ride?

    I don’t even believe
    Webber is interested in driving Vettels car.
    He renewed his contract with the team, which to me is a definite point that he trusts them, that he and Vettel get equal/ identical cars.
    Had he not had this confidence in the team, I guess he would have moved to Ferrari, as we all know he did have a concrete offer. ;)



    @powderfinger no, I’m saying it’s not true that we don’t know if the cars are the same. I’m saying we’ll know of it. Maybe not the average fan, but there is a group of guys, as I said above, that will follow each and every part of every race religiously



    I’m not sure about the drivers or the FIA, but the public determines this by observing whether the teammate they like is being outperformed by the teammate they dislike. If he is, then it’s an indication that they are being given unequal equipment.


    Toro Stevo

    Given the height difference between Webber and Vettel, and the different ballast the cars would have as a result, Webber would probably perform worse in Vettel’s machine if his legs would fit in it at all. Likewise in reverse, if Vettel could reach the pedals.



    @toro-stevo – That reminds me, wasn’t it Nigel Mansell who couldn’t fit into the 1995 McLaren, so much so that they had to redesign the entire car to accomodate his girth? Tailoring the cars to suit drivers’ different body shapes would lead to some inevitable differences.



    So would it be safe to say that no 2 cars are alike even if made by the same team for the following reasons:

    1. Simple manufacturing variances will make each car perform differently. We don’t know what that tolerance is but we expect it to be very small for top teams.
    2. Each car is tailor-made for the driver and therefore will perform slightly differently.
    3. Race Setup will affect the performance of each car – this factor has the biggest performance impact of all here.
    4. The sinister possibility that the constructor may “slow down” a car through various methods that would be impossible for the driver to detect.

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