McLaren Win Prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise

McLaren Electronic Systems (MESL), part of the McLaren Group, have won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for achievement in international trade.

The company previously won a Queen’s Award in 2009, then a recognition for its innovation in, and development of, leading-edge control and data systems.

MESL is best known as the Official ECU (engine control unit) Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship, NASCAR Sprint Cup and IZOD IndyCar series. However, with growing sales (increasing 60% since 2008), they’re quickly moving into other areas which include hybrid and powertrain technologies, FAA approved aircraft controls and, even, data and monitoring technologies for mass transit systems.

On receiving the award, Dr Peter van Manen, MD of McLaren Electronic Systems said “We are delighted to have been recognised in the Queen’s Awards for the growth of our international trade. We are proud that our technology is at the heart of international motor racing and that are able to translate it into other important markets. This is a wonderful endorsement for the reputation of McLaren and British development and manufacturing and will help energise our strategy even further to develop the business further in new markets and sectors.”

McLaren road car facility development continues apace

McLaren Automotive have begun construction work on their road car production facility in Woking.

The project is being overseen by ex-F1 team principal Ron Dennis, and the building will be located next to the McLaren Technology Centre, the group’s F1 headquarters.

Operations Director Alan Foster told the Woking News and Mail that Dennis had been a hands-on boss.

“Ron has been a visionary with this project, a real moving force,” he said. “The story I always tell is that I designed the building to be 200m x 100m. He called me into his office and asked me to make it smaller,” he joked.

It appears that Dennis has not lost the perfectionism for which he is famous.

2010 Technical Briefing #1

With new drivers, teams and rules, the 2010 Formula One World Championship is proving to be as unpredictable as ever, ahead of the season opener in Bahrain.

In the first of a mini-series of articles,’s Alex Scott looks at how the sport’s latest batch of technical regulations will pose a major challenge to its competitors in their race to the top.

I guess the best way to kick of this mini technical preview is with the most talked about aspect of modern F1 cars aerodynamics. The teams are once again pushing the regulations to the limit in order to gain those precious scraps of time, with some cars being completely redesigned to accommodate optimised double diffusers , a concept which was such a large talking point last season. Indeed, we have seen even more extreme versions of the diffuser appear over winter, and with the rule interpretations being stretched even further, we may yet see these devices cause further controversy in 2010.
The most notable aerodynamic innovation to appear over the winter is surely McLaren s air fed rear wing, which gives them a top speed improvement of up to an alleged 6mph on the straights. Some teams have questioned it s legality, but the device has passed scrutineering in Bahrain so you can bet that others will be working hard to introduce their own interpretations of this solution as soon as possible.

How each car treats it s tyres will be absolutely crucial this season, both in the race, and for those who make it through to the third qualifying session. As the top 10 on the grid will have to start the race on the tyres they used on qualifying, it will be key for the driver not to take too much life out of the tyres on their final qualifying laps, as their race could be compromised before it even starts. Certainly the most intriguing aspect to the 2010 rule changes does indeed stem from the strategic effects of the refuelling ban combined with the aforementioned tyre treatment. During races, good tyre treatment will simply open up many more strategic options for the team – for example, at places like Monaco where track position is key, those cars which are good to their tyres could conceivably stay out far longer than their rivals and avoid being dropped back into the main pack (and all the slower traffic). Therefore, they could make up a lot of time and potentially jump several cars before they need to pit themselves. Alternatively, they may simply have to make fewer pit stops than their rivals and automatically around 20 seconds that way, at absolutely no cost in running heavy fuel (unlike previous seasons, where it would be very tough for heavy, one-stopping cars to set a pace fast enough for them to ultimately benefit).
So who seems to have the advantage in this department? Well, Bridgestone have said that their pre-season testing data shows that Sauber are enjoying great tyre performance, however whether that translates from the cold tracks tested on to the heat of Bahrain, Malaysia and the like remains to be seen. Other rumours suggest that Ferrari have the ability to maximise their one lap performance yet also do consistent laps over a long stint, albeit at the cost of suffering tyre graining in the first few laps of a longer run.

With the banning on refuelling this season, we can expect to see greater importance being placed on the fuels provided to each team by their respective providers. Why is this? Well, a key point with the non-refuelling regulations for 2010 may well prove to be fuel consumption, an aspect affected by both the engine and the fuel itself.
If the various internet rumours are to be believed, the Renault engine is the most fuel efficient engine on the grid and therefore will require less fuel to complete a race distance, something which may supposedly give them a huge weight advantage at the start of each race in comparison the more thirsty engines of Ferrari and Cosworth. Despite the fact that this advantage will deteriorate over the race, as we all know, the easiest time for the drivers to make up places is early in a race where the field is still tightly packed. Whether Renault s superior consumption will make up for the alleged lack of ultimate engine power compared to it s rivals remains to be seen, but in theory, they have the ability to run richer fuel mixtures (that give more power) to compensate without using up as much petrol.
One final thing to potentially look out for this season, especially in the first couple of races, is the teams making errors regarding how much more fuel they will need to get to the end of a race, and having to take damage limiting action and losing seconds a lap (and several places as a result), in the same vein as what we saw with Felipe Massa at last season s Spanish Grand Prix.

Technical analysis: MP4-25

McLaren today rolled out their 2010 charger, the MP4-25. But how will it fare on the track? Is there anything we can learn from the look of the car as to how it will perform?

The ’25’ is strikingly different to its 2009 predecessor. For a start, the wheelbase is decisively longer; so much so that when McLaren tried to get it into the lift to bring it to Vodafone HQ to be unveiled, it did not fit.

Other noticeable differences are the raised nose, with ridges along the top, a move which is designed to emulate the success of Adrian Newey’s Red Bull RB5 of last year, which by the end of the year had become the aerodynamic yardstick. Another feature of the new McLaren is its shark-fin, anvil shaped engine cover, which again channels the airflow better over the rear wing and thus maximises downforce. Critics of such an engine cover have said that it can increase yaw or sideways movement, but McLaren obviously believe it has a beneficial effect.

The MP4-25 also sports a bulging midriff not dissimilar to a beer belly. This, press were reliably informed, was not ballast but rather the new fuel tank which will have to store enough petrol to get the car from the green light to the chequered flag.

‘The biggest challenge was incorporating the 160kg fuel tank,’ stated Jonathan Neale, McLaren managing director. ‘It affects weight distribution, airflow over the car, at every level.’ Engineering director Paddy Lowe added that ‘the fuel would get very hot’, another potential issue that the team had to solve at source.

McLaren hid their rear diffuser from prying eyes, in the knowledge that as soon as pictures became available rival teams would copy it. Lowe assured the press that the idea of the double diffuser had been ‘exploited as far as possible…it’s a fairly extreme solution and another step further.’

The 2010-spec narrow front tyres are also a key feature. ‘It’s difficult to say how they will behave,’ said Lowe. ‘The jury’s still out on whether the drivers will need to stop once or twice.’ It is clear that tyre management, which has been a weakness of both Button and Hamilton in the past, will become something both need to master if they are to stay competitive in 2010.

Team principal Whitmarsh said that not stopping for tyres would ‘improve the spectacle as the incentive to overtake is greater.’ Neale added that he envisaged teams being able to change the four tyres during a race ‘within 3 seconds’, raising the spectre of extremely competitive pit tussles.

View MP4-25 gallery.

Overtaking in Formula One still a problem?

The Formula One technical regulations in 2009 were significantly changed in order to improve overtaking during races. Amongst the most notable of these changes were a much-welcomed return to slick tyres banned in 1998, a complete clean-up of the car bodywork with fins, winglets and other ugly pieces of aerodynamic junk to be chopped off.

Another significant change was the size of the front and rear wings with the front wing being lower, wider and the rear wing being narrower and taller. These changes were put into place by the Overtaking Working Group – a collection of engineers from some of Formula One’s top teams with the aim being to reduce the amount of dirty air that has seen overtaking opportunities severely limited for several years as when one car follows another, aerodynamic handling is compromised by the hot, dirty air. With the addition of the KERS device it was hoped that this would aid overtaking too.

 The cars overall looked a lot more attractive too, but would these changes improve the action during a Grand Prix? The Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne was exciting and seemed to show that the cars were definitely capable of following much closer and being able to overtake. The trend continued into the Malaysian Grand Prix where we also got an entertaining four-car duel for third place between Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Timo Glock and Rubens Barrichello… until the early evening monsoons came along and spoiled the race courtesy of Bernie Ecclestone’s ridiculous idea to start the race later just to cater for fans who were too lazy to get up early.

The Chinese Grand Prix was another entertaining race but this time the rain intervened as normally races at the Shanghai track are horribly dull affairs. Then when the F1 circus arrived in Bahrain we had the first dull race of the season… a blip? No… every race since then apart from Spa, Monza to an extent and the midfield action at Silverstone have seen a return to the dreaded processions we had hoped to see the last of from 2008 had returned… but why? In this article we intend to look into why we still have processions.

We are losing more and more “classic” circuits from the calendar, with Montreal falling foul of Bernie’s greedy money games. Most of the dull races this year have been on tracks designed by much-despised track designer Hermann Tilke, he has also taken some of our favourite classic tracks and butchered them to the point we no longer recognise them… Hockenheim for instance. Tilke designs his tracks to be very wide but puts in corners which he appears to be obsessed with, the most common one being a long straight leading to a pointlessly super-tight hairpin and lots of very short straights and long, unimaginative corners. The Circuit de Catalunya whilst not designed by Tilke is a track that has only ever produced two exciting races since its introduction to the calendar back in 1991, so it’s no surprise that the 2009 race was going to be another yawn-fest.

The next race sees a welcome return to the classic Suzuka circuit which was built by the late John Hugenholz who also designed Zaandvoort another classic which is still used in other forms of Motorsport, will we see a good race at Suzuka this weekend? We also have Interlagos to come, but then the season finale takes us to the new Yas Island Abu Dhabi circuit another Tilke creation and I don’t like the look of it… however we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover just yet.

An interesting aspect to look into is the driver psychology, because at this year’s Australian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel attempted to defend his second place from a very fast Robert Kubica in the closing laps. The two collided as a result and both cars retired from the race. Vettel was very apologetic but the FIA stewards took a very dim view to this and hit Vettel with a 10 place grid drop for the next race. Since then Vettel appears to get nervous when he is trying to defend or overtake now particularly at Turkey when he tried to get past Button on a very light fuel load the same way Lewis Hamilton did on Felipe Massa in 2008. This may be a result of Vettel hesitating due to the FIA being eager to dish out overly harsh penalties for drivers messing up when trying to overtake.

A lot of the key factors still also lie in the design of the cars, when the Overtaking Working Group began to design the 2009 regulations they were designing them around the principles that downforce is greatly reduced and the cars rely a lot more on the driver and mechanical grip. There is still a lot that could be done to increase mechanical grip and one good way this could be done is by re-widening the cars back to 1997 regulations. This would in turn make the car “bulkier” and would allow a bigger hole in the air to be “punched” by the car creating a bigger and more effective slipstreaming effect, thus in turn allowing for a much better overtaking opportunity.

Due to the increase of braking technology the braking distances are becoming shorter and shorter and this is one theory which user scotty believes is hampering overtaking. Next year sees the banning of the ugly and unsafe wheel-rim covers which are designed to improve brake-duct cooling, so drivers theoretically may either have to brake more gently or brake earlier.

Whilst on the subject of regulation changes for 2010, the front tyres will be made narrower allowing for better car balance when turning in and refuelling during a race is to be banned. This will turn the races into economy runs and the most successful drivers will be the ones able to manage their fuel load and not run out in the closing laps. Whether this improves the action remains to be seen, but we can remain hopeful because it has worked before.

We now come to what could be the biggest cause of the overtaking problems which we still see the Double Decked Diffuser. At the start of the season there was a big row over the diffusers as used by Brawn, Williams and Toyota as others claimed they were in breach of the 2009 technical regulations, although eventually the diffusers were declared legal and Ross Brawn revealed that he offered to assist the teams in identifying the “loopholes” in the regulations that allowed the manufacture of the diffuser.

In the first two races of the season the only teams to run the Double Decked Diffuser were obviously Brawn, Toyota and Williams. Now you may remember that I mentioned the first two races in the dry were very entertaining, it wasn’t until China when Renault, McLaren and BMW were adding interim diffusers to the cars, and this was a wet race, when we got to Bahrain, the action we saw in Melbourne and Sepang was gone, and now everybody is using Double Decked Diffusers. A coincidence? Maybe not… at the start of the Australian Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello got caught up in some first corner drama and his diffuser was damaged, but he was still on the pace and able to overtake other cars, and these were cars not yet using the diffuser. In that race, the only cars that struggled to overtake were the Toyotas when they came up to Fernando Alonso whose Renault started the season with KERS and he was using it to defend.

If it is the Double Decked Diffuser that is causing overtaking to still be problematic have the teams realised this yet? What else can be done to improve overtaking? We all yearn for a return to V10’s, 3.5 Litre engines or Turbos but with the current FIA in place this may never happen. What is certain is that the Overtaking Working Group need to get their thinking caps back on.

Button and Brawn proof the car’s the star?’s Hugh Podmore asks if Jenson Button’s assault on the drivers title is being overshadowed by the new rules.

Jenson Button last weekend took his third win of the season, and only his fourth ever. His success has come at a time when the traditional order of the sport has been upended, and teams that last year would have frankly been thankful for points are now challenging for the world championship. The rule changes have ushered in a new era. But does this mean unequivocally that the car is the star now? Is the level of driver talent relevant? Or is F1 just a competition of machinery, like Robot Wars, these days?

Many would argue that for some years now, the driver’s contribution to the speed of the package has been considerably reduced. Such was the state of play by 1993, when Adrian Newey’s Williams FW15’s technological gizmos essentially ran the car for the driver. The FIA has been fighting a constant battle since, for example taking away active ride suspension, removing and then reinstating traction control (then removing it again), in order to retain some pretence of driver influence.

The rise of drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve confirm the sceptics’ view. Villeneuve won the world championship in 1997, in a vastly superior car to his rival Schumacher, yet had to take it down to the wire to do so. Villeneuve is invariably considered lower on Greatest Driver Ever lists than his achievement might warrant, however, perhaps because he is the driver who best symbolises the triumph of the machinery over the man.

Today many casual fans are heard asking why Button is at the top this season. To them the answer is clear; he now has a winning car, which was not at his disposal last season. The rule changes have permitted clever engineers to shine at the expense of their more illustrious rivals – a wonderful story, for engineers. But the driver today is irrelevant, goes the argument – we might as well have remote control F1 races.

There are several reasons why this analysis is flawed. The first is the oft-heard refrain about how great drivers always look good, even in terrible cars. The examples through recent F1 history are numerous; Ayrton Senna in his Toleman and Lotus days, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher. Today the best examples are Fernando Alonso and to a lesser extent Lewis Hamilton. Alonso has been fighting with one hand behind his back for some years now, and still lands heavy punches. Hamilton is just lately finding out what it is like not to have a winning car and is acquitting himself superbly.

Perhaps this is because of the sheer breadth of talent the driver has to bring to the table. The driver is not only the one who has to drive the car faster than everyone else could, especially his team-mate. He has to set the thing up, with his experience, know-how and feedback the most important aspects of a car’s eventual race pace. He is also de facto team leader, representing all the garage and the factory in front of the world’s cameras and microphones. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, he has to be a politician, carefully manipulating the team, the suppliers and the sponsors into working for him. Senna, Schumacher and Prost were masters of all these aspects of a driver’s portfolio; Alonso is today.

The final word on the debate goes to Ross Brawn, subtly acknowledging the nuances of the driver vs car debate this week when talking about Jenson Button. “Even with the car we had last year I saw little flashes of something exceptional from him,” said the Brawn team principal. His intention was to reassure the world that Button was as much a key part of this year’s success as any diffuser.

Button may not be the greatest driver ever. But in showing up Rubens Barrichello, he is good enough to show that the average F1 driver is responsible for about 40% of the car’s performance. The other 60%, in normal cases, is down to the car. But where truly great drivers are concerned, that 40% can creep up, and up, until someone like Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari heyday might be said to be responsible for 60% of the package by himself. Incredible? Not really; as the old adage goes, the best drivers always seem to find themselves in the best cars.

In sum, in modern F1 it’s not really good enough for drivers to complain about the machinery and use it as an excuse why they are not impressing. They simply have to get more out of the car – because that’s part of their job description too. The best example today is Sebastian Vettel – a win for Toro Rosso last year, and quite possibly the difference between a winless Red Bull team and a winning one.

Do Red Bull really need that new diffuser?

454936Sebastian Vettel today stormed to pole position for Red Bull Racing with team-mate Mark Webber a very respectable third on the grid.

The duo looked mean and fast throughout qualifying, with Vettel’s confidence such that he was frequently able to leave his flying lap til the very last moment.

The RB5 is without doubt the quickest of the non-double deck diffuser cars, and has shown its pace on three successive weekends now. Vettel was destined for third at least in Australia and Webber was threatening the front in Malaysia, and this weekend the car appears to be dialled in very nicely to the Shanghai circuit.

This raises the obvious question of whether the team are going to need to install the new rear diffuser, modelled on Brawn, Toyota and Williams’ arrangement, that the International Appeal Court this week declared legal. The design of the RB5 is thought to be such that to replace the current diffuser would involve a radical re-design of the car, possibly even a complete re-working of the rear suspension.

As Ferrari will tell you on the basis of their speed in China so far, removing or severely modifying a design is likely to upset the delicate balance of the car. The cars will have been designed with each component finely balanced, and any slight modification can disrupt the car’s grip, speed and handling. This accounts for fluctuation in performance over the course of a season, as teams try to improve their cars by sticking new bits on it.

Because that is such a risky business, head honchos at the Red Bull stable will have to be asking themselves whether they really need to follow the fashion and install a new diffuser. Another point against it is that while technical director Adrian Newey’s cars are invariably fast, they have a tendency to fragility.

The car is a fantastic one, purists will implore the Milton Keynes team; don’t risk sliding back down to middle-pack mediocrity.

Legality of diffusers a victory for engineering innovation

williamsdiffuserThe controversial diffusers of Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams were today declared legal by the International Court of Appeal.

The argument centred around the interpretation of the new regulations, which apparently were somewhat ambiguous in their specifications about the height of the rear structural arrangements.

The three teams, known as the “diffuser gang”, could be seen in two different lights. To their fans, and to engineers the world over, they were innovators, who when given a problem, thought constructively and cleverly around it. They ended up with fast, competitive cars, leaving their not-so-quick rivals in the shade.

To the other teams, they were effectively cheats. Perhaps resentful of the allegation of not having been as quick off the mark, many rival engineers were quick to allege that they had explored the possibility of “double-deck” diffusers, but had discarded it on the grounds that it wouldn´t be in the “spirit of the laws”.

A coherent argument emerged, one familiar to all those fans who have had to follow F1 engineering wrangles over the years. Two strains of thought were present – one followed the letter of the law, and interpreted its meaning, and came up with a standard diffuser. The other didn´t interpret, but saw what the laws hadn´t legislated against, and implemented that.

This is a very old argument – how far should engineers go? The FIA is always trying to reduce speeds and better the show. The engineers, meanwhile, are just bent on trying to make their cars go faster. So there is a discrepancy between what the laws say and what they mean, and the “diffuser gang” exploited that.

So the ruling is effectively a surrender from the FIA – they cannot say this is illegal because that would contradict their original laws. So it must be legal, and in so doing, they bow to the engineering innovation of a group of people who dared to exploit what the laws did not prohibit. A group of people in Brackley, Grove and Cologne, whose ideas are hastily being copied by other bases as this article is written.

The copiers are either wronged or naive, and in either case, they have a lot of work to do.

Analysis: 2009 a year of technical controversy?

514107In the past week or so F1 fans have seen two or three controversies emerge over the legality of the 2009 cars. delves deep into the grey area between competitive innovation and rule-bending as Formula One ushers in a revolutionary new technical era.

First came Ferrari s visible exhausts, which are widely believed to be illegal and so illegal, some say, that the team withdrew hastily to Mugello to remove them (see HERE). And then came the Williams and Toyota diffuser controversy (see HERE). These teething problems are nothing particular out of the ordinary in a season where regulation changes are a big talking point. But do the problems mean everybody is in for a season of technical squabbling?

From time to time F1 has a season where technical controversy abounds. Is so-and-so using traction control? Does so-and-so have a mass damper? Are so-and-so s front wing endplates too high? And so on. Recriminations become the norm, and races are sadly decided in the stewards office, or even worse in an FIA courtroom, rather than on the race track.

This is somewhat inevitable, however, considering the sheer amount of technical expertise the engineers have, and the resources they have available. It s effectively taking the world s most talented people in their field, putting them in a room and asking them to solve a set of problems. If they think they can get away with it, they are going to bend, find loopholes in and sometimes even break the laws.

In 1994 when traction control was banned, Benetton were widely suspected of using launch control and an illegal system to regulate the engine s power supply to the drivetrain. Nothing was proved in that case, but many suspected the team of having bent the rules somewhat. Nowadays, many believe that F1 suffers in the same way as athletics is alleged to do. In that sport. performance-enhancing drugs are said to be streets ahead technologically of the tests designed to find them. Similarly, in F1 it s the design gurus and technical wizards who have had years of the best technology and funding known to humanity, against a less knowledgeable and worse-paid set of stewards and inspectors.

The solution to this is twofold. For one, budgets must be reduced. Some standardisation of parts which has tentatively been agreed on would reduce the opportunity for cheating, as would reduced costs. Secondly, the FIA should tighten up its regulations why not have an ex-engineer (for example Mike Gascoyne) on a panel to lay down the law in minute detail – before the cars are designed.

But the truth is that as long as F1 remains a team sport, in which the cars are the stars as much as the drivers – fans can expect shady goings-on behind the scenes. As long as performance-determining parts are made by each team separately, one of them is going to be better and slightly less legal than another. This is what makes the sport interesting. If fans didn t have anything to complain about, or suspect another team of doing, the sport would be a duller affair all round.

Analysis: are 2009 cars dangerous?

This week saw the first outing of most of the 2009 F1 grid, at a sometimes drenched, mostly sodden Portuguese circuit. The teams had mixed results, and it was telling that the 2008 Toro Rosso of Sebastian Buemi was significantly faster than the 2009 cars of all descriptions. However, the appearance of the cars leads some observers to worry not about the beauty or otherwise, but about the potential implications for safety in the sport.

The 2009 cars have two major features which may have compromised the safety of the drivers. The first is the front wing, which is considerably larger than its 2008 predecessors. This will inevitably result in more collisions during on-track battles as the BMW Sauber drivers in particular have acknowledged, which could lead to front wings flying up in the air. More plausibly, it will result in more pitstops, which are where the most injuries in modern F1 have been caused. Imagine half the grid pouring into the pitlane after the first lap in Melbourne and you can appreciate that it is another risk.

The second feature which may affect the safety is the cockpit sides. The sides were first raised for the 1996 season as part of the raft of new measures implemented after the tragic death of Ayrton Senna in 1994. They gradually lowered as time went on to the bare minimum required by the rules, as drivers complained about the lack of visibility the raised sides caused. After Alex Wurz and David Coulthard s coming together in Melbourne in 2007, however, they were raised again for the 2008 season, and have not been lowered for 2009. But perhaps in order to aid visibility with a wider nose and larger front ends, the front of the 2009 cockpit seems to be more exposed than before. In one picture of his test in the new car, keen observers can see the bottom of Lewis Hamilton s helmet from a side view.

These two issues, when put together, could have serious ramifications for the well-being of the drivers. Let no-one forget that one of the causes of Senna s death was the entry of his right front wheel into the cockpit. The spectre of this happening again, while unlikely, is possible. The bigger front wings increase the likelihood of some bodywork breaking off, and if it s true that the aperture between the front of the cockpit and the raised side is now larger, and the cockpit is more open, that adds to the danger.

Moreover, Renault s failed crash test in the last few weeks raises the old question of whether everyone involved in this sport today really appreciates its risks. It s tempting, when there hasn t been a major injury or fatality for a while, to tacitly assume we are in a post-tragedy era, to assume athat sort of thing doesn t happen any more -type attitude. The sport was extremely fortunate that Robert Kubica didn t have a second front impact after his first in Canada in 2007, and equally extremely fortunate that Coulthard’s Red Bull passed five inches in front of Alex Wurz rather than hitting his head. These are matters for which no-one can legislate, and it could still happen.

Outside all British motor sport venues there is a disclaimer which says motorsport is dangerous . Simply because it is the pinnacle of the sport, Formula One does not and can never escape this universal truth. What the FIA and the teams can do, however, is to ensure the risk to the drivers is minimal. In 2009, in search of close racing, they may not have done that.