Schumacher To Make F1 Return…

Last weekend we watched one of Formula One s all time greats retire at the top of his game, leaving many pondering the future of F1 post-Schumacher. However, F1 may not lose the valuable input Michael Schumacher made during his sixteen years of racing at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Today at a press conference at the time-honoured end of season celebrations in Monza, Jean Todt announced that Michael Schumacher would have a role to play within Ferrari next year. According to Todt, Michael was responsible for selecting Massa and Räikkönen for 2007, and amongst other things, he will continue to manage future driver line-ups.
  
“Michael has always been interested in following young drivers,” said Todt, recently promoted to Ferrari CEO as well as interim MD of their racing division.

“I have one of them next to me, I remember Michael talking to me about Felipe when he still was in lesser series. He also talked to me about Kimi before he entered F1 so he has a unique eye, and it will be important to allow us to make choices on the drivers of the future and also to follow the current drivers.”

“Michael is one of the greatest drivers in the history of motor racing. He has a unique knowledge of racing, so we’ll try to take advantage of his knowledge in the best way to take choices for the team at a sporting and technical level.”

“He will be very close to us while he won’t have any particular obligation to be present neither in the factory nor at the races nor at private tests. He will be an indispensable interface in the process of taking decisions for the future of Ferrari’s sporting arm.”

“Finally, as he’s done up to now, he will make his contribution on the definition of the road cars”, referring to his work developing the latest fleet of Ferrari s, including the 430, Enzo and FXX.

“The choice of Kimi was taken together with Michael. He was always informed on a daily basis of the discussions we had. He knew before and during the meetings, and knew of the decision. So it wasn’t a decision taken suddenly without informing him and he’s always agreed with this choice.”

“I read many things about his role within the team. What is certain is that we’ve taken many decisions together with Michael and that’s one of the reasons why we’re very thankful to him for carrying on giving his experience in Ferrari’s sporting future.”

However, unlike Todt, Schumacher is keeping his cards very close to his chest with regard to his new role within the team.

“I don’t think right now there is any need to specify in concrete terms exactly how and what, Jean has just said what I’m interested in and where Ferrari feel I could be helpful. I’m very happy to be involved in this way but I look forward first of all to get some rest for a few months and then I’ll have a much clearer view on what I’d like to have.”

“I’m so happy that Ferrari gave me this opportunity. As it’s always been, Ferrari gave me the confidence but also gave me the freedom to reach decisions and come to terms in common agreement. That’s something very unique and now I need a couple of months to get myself clear.”

The president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, shed further light upon Michael s expected contribution in 2007, describing the seven times World Champion as a super-assistant .

“I’m very happy that Michael will continue to work with us and to share our choices and contributing to them and this is important. Even if he won’t be inside the cockpit, his experience and his professionalism will be very useful for the future of Ferrari. Michael will be Todt’s de-facto super-assistant for certain things.”

DC and Schu at it again…

It seems like only yesterday that Michael Schumacher stormed through the soggy pits of Spa to consult DC on his driving abilities, and here we are eight years later and those two are still at it!

In a recent interview with F1 Racing Magazine, David Coulthard said that the now retired seven times World Champion would forever have two black marks against his racing career following his on-track antics against Villeneuve and Hill. The Scot believes F1 fans wouldn t understand the German s motives, and that an apology would help him to be remembered for his skill, ambition and dedication, alongside the considerable work he s done in improving track safety.

“At Monza I told a journalist, on the record, that I think Michael is a great champion but there will always be a question mark over some of the things he s done, but that was me, as an F1 fan, making an observation…not me, as a fellow F1 driver, launching a Jacques Villeneuve-style attack on Michael,” said the 35 year old.

“I have great respect for Michael s on-track achievements, just as I have great appreciation for the way he and I have been able to work together, off-track, within the GPDA, for the good of the sport. That said, there s no question that it must be very difficult for the public to understand some of the things Michael has done on track, and to forgive him for not apologising for having done them, and that s two black marks, isn t it?” pondered the Redbull Driver. “The first for what he s done, and the second for not saying sorry for doing it. And a sorry would be nice. Or perhaps he genuinely believes he s never done anything wrong, which is even more worrying.”

Nice to see some things never change…

Zanardi returns to F1 cockpit

Alex Zanardi will drive a Formula 1 car next month for the first time since leaving the sport in 1999. The former Jordan, Lotus and Williams driver, who lost both his legs in a horrific Champ car accident in 2001, will drive a 2006 specification BMW Sauber at the BMW World Finals in Valencia on November 26th.

According to the German car magazine Auto Motor und Sport, the BMW will be specially adapted, with hand grip accelerator and enlarged brake pedal to allow the Italian to drive with his prosthetic legs.

His heroic return to motorsport following his accident at the Lausitzring Oval has astonished even his closest friends, and despite his injuries his racing career is by no means over , recently winning a round of the World Touring Car Championship in Turkey, driving a specially adapted BMW 3 series.

Forum Discussion: Zanardi back in F1!!

Ross Brawn leaves Ferrari

Ferrari have announced that their Technical Director Ross Brawn, and Engine Director Paulo Martinelli will both be leaving at the end of the season. Mario Almondo, current Sporting Director, will take over from Brawn with Stefano Domenicali taking on the Sporting Director role. Jean Todt will take over as interim Managing Director.

Ferrari’s technical department will now be split into two – the chassis department will be led by Aldo Costa and the engine department will be led by Gilles Simon.

Oversteer and Understeer

Understeer and Oversteer

The forces exerted on the wheels by the weight of the vehicle are not distributed evenly. This means the slip angle for each tyre is different. The ratio between the slip angles on each tyre determine the way the car corners. If the ratio of front to rear slip angles is greater than 1:1 (ie the front tyres do not have as much grip as the rears), the car will tend to understeer. A ratio of less than 1:1 (ie the front tyres have more grip than the rears) will produce oversteer.

Understeer causes the car to go straighter than the trajectory that the driver is trying to take. This is sometimes known as pushing, plowing, or ‘refusing to turn in’. However, the car will be fairly stable as it is not wanting to spin. Understeer can appear under heavy acceleration and through heavy braking. If the brake balance is too heavy at the front (the front brakes are stronger than the rear), the car may understeer because the front wheels lock and lose effective steering. To counter understeer, more rear wing can be added to create more downforce at the back of the car, and the rear suspension softened.

Oversteer is when the rear wheels of a car do not track behind the front wheels. Instead, they tend to slide out towards the outside of the turn. This can easily cause a car to spin. In a race car, particularly open-wheeled cars, oversteering in high speed turns is caused mainly by aerodynamic configuration; A heavy aerodynamic load on the front of the car relative to the rear causes it to oversteer. In low turn speeds, oversteer can be reduced by traction control systems. To overcome oversteer, more front downforce is needed. This is usually achieved by changing the suspension settings.

Although understeer and oversteer can both cause a loss of control, many cars are designed to lean towards understeer as it is generally believed that it is easier to recover from understeer than it is from oversteer.

A car which neither understeers nor oversteers at it’s limit is known as a car with ‘neutral handling’. Race cars are often setup to slightly understeer as accelerating hard after the apex of a corner allows the car to get the maximum amount of speed down the following straight. The car that starts the acceleration soonest will usually have the biggest advantage, so slight understeer will help the driver to maximise the traction on the tyres and help them get a good exit out of the corner. An oversteering car also has a tendancy to be quite ‘twitchy’ meaning the driver is more likely to lose control during the course of a race.

Driving style is a massive factor in whether to setup a car to slightly understeer, or slightly oversteer. Some drivers prefer oversteer as they like to have a car which is more willing to turn into corners.  This is why drivers in the same team will often run with different balance settings and also why these settings may be changed during the course of a race.

The Gearbox

At Monaco, an F1 driver will make a gear change every 2 seconds on average.

The Gearbox is mounted at the back of the engine and is (usually) made of carbon-fibre. Its job is to transfer the power from the engine to the wheels in the most smooth and efficient manner possible. Modern F1 cars have done away with cables and manual clutches – cars are now fitted with electronic fly-by-wire devices; Gears are selected by paddles on the steering wheel. Electro-hydraulics perform the actual gear change meaning the driver can keep his foot firmly to the floor. Modern F1 clutches are made of carbon-fibre. They are less than 1cm in diameter and weigh less than 1kg.

In a race weekend, mechanics will replace every cog in the gearbox to reduce the chances of failure. The ratios of the gearbox are changed according to the track – how much acceleration and top-speeds the driver will need. Top gear (seventh) is adjusted first to make sure the car is approaching the rev limit at the end of the main straight. It is adjusted to slightly under the rev limit to allow for a revs increase for when the driver is in the slipstream of another car. The lowest gear will then be adjusted to give the best acceleration on the slowest corner of the track. The other gear ratios will then be adjusted to approximately equal intervals between first and seventh gear. This whole process takes about 40 minutes to complete.

During a race, the gearbox can feel temperatures of up to 100 degrees centigrade and it will see thousands of gear changes. It takes about 20 milliseconds for a gear change to happen and this is incredibly tough on the gearbox. This means it is really important to make sure there is enough oil in the gearbox and that it is working well. There will always be a trade-off between the efficiency of the oil (the lubrication) and the protection it gives the gearbox.

Hydraulics

Because of the huge forces exerted on an F1 car, it can be incredibly difficult to turn the wheel without any assistance. Hydraulics are used to help ease this. Hydraulics are also used in other elements of the car such as the fuel-filler cap and the gearshift. Hydraulics are used over electronic systems because they are lighter.

The point of hydraulic fluid is to create a link between two points. Fluid cannot be compressed, whereas air can be. This means that by having a tube filled with liquid (hydraulic fluid), you will get an instant response when you press a button or pedal. This makes system control quicker and more consistent. An F1 car can experience a range of temperatures. Because of this, the hydraulic fluid is made to ensure that it will operate safely at a range of temperatures.

Electronics

A modern F1 car has more than 1km of cables in it.

Modern F1 cars are packed with electronics systems which govern a huge range of features. The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is the heart which controls various systems on the car to make sure they work to maximum effect. One of the things the ECU controls is the differential – this controls the rotational speed between the rear wheels on the entry and exit of corners. It also controls inlet trumpet height and fuel injection to help maintain maximum torque.

The ECU will also control the clutch and gearbox. The clutch is only ever controlled by the driver when starting a car from standstill (such as at the race-start). When changing up a gear, it lets the driver keep their foot flat to the floor; when changing down a gear, it will match the engine and transmission speeds to prevent driveline snatch.

Engine mappings can change from circuit to circuit, depending on the speed and twistiness of the track. In a circuit such as Monza, the driver will apply the throttle quickly out of chicanes so the accelerator will be adjusted so that a tiny amount of movement on the pedal results in greater acceleration. At a circuit such as Monaco, the system helps the driver to maintain greater throttle control by making the first half of pedal travel very sensitive, and the latter half of pedal travel to be less sensitive. This system gives the driver greater control through the twisty bends.

Almost every part of the car is measured during a race from the pit wall. There are two main types of telemetry – microwave and real-time. When a car passes the pitwall, a burst of data about 4MB big is sent to the team’s computers. When the car is in the pits, about 40 MB of data can be downloaded via a laptop plugged into the car. This type of telemetry is known as microwave telemetry and is important because it gives the engineers a good idea of how well the car is performing. When on the track, the car is constantly sending smaller pieces of information to the team, such as track position. This is known as real-time telemetry.

Fuel

F1 cars run at approximately 4 miles per gallon.

Fuel is one of the most vital factors of a race. A full load of fuel on an F1 car will weigh about 75kg. This is more than 10 percent of the car’s weight so a car on an empty tank will feel a lot different to one with a full tank. A lighter car will usually be more nimble around corners, give the car lighter steering and causes less tyre wear and suspension punishment.

Teams will often test cars with both full and empty tanks to work out how the car’s handling will be affected by the change in fuel load. This testing has a big impact on a team’s pitstop strategy for the race.

The fuel tank itself is located just behind the cockpit. It is placed here because it is the strongest part of the car and the tank itself is kevlar-reinforced rubber to make it as strong as possible. This is to ensure that the car is as safe as possible. During a pitstop, fuel will be pumped into the car at approximately 12 litres per second – that’s 25 times faster than a garage forecourt!

Fuel density can be altered and special lightweight fuels are often used in F1 cars. Different fuel make-ups may be used in different races. In a race such as Monaco or Hungary where more responsiveness from the throttle is needed, combustion enhancers may be added to the fuel.

During a typical season a Formula One team will use over 200,000 litres of fuel for testing and racing