Testing and other stuff

Having now had a look at the testing times from Valencia, I have concluded that any conclusions are foolhardy and I will leave that up to mate James Allen, who is happy to be brave on his blog. My view is one can analyse it all to the nth degree, but if you do not know the basic details, such as who was running what fuel load (and the teams are NOT telling), then it is a pointless exercise to build up expectations and false impressions. It is a better idea to go down to the pub and tell all the F1 fans that the times don’t mean much than trying to sound like it all makes sense and being told later on that you are talking tosh. There were a set of times produced which revealed that the Spanish fans went home happy having seen Fernando Alonso going fastest in his Ferrari (Cue: waving of flags and Spanish celebrating noises) and Pedro de la Rosa being second fastest in the rather stodgy-looking Sauber – which, in passing, is rather naked when it comes to sponsorship dollars). Michael Schumacher was third fastest in the Mercedes-wagen but Ross Brawn reckons the beast from Brackley (the car, not the driver) is too slow. The McLaren was behind the Toro Rosso, but that is possibly not a very significant result, given the differing levels of staffing/budget/equipment/experience/driver skills etc etc etc… Williams went for mileage rather than glory. Renault was OK but not on the pace of the others.

Yesterday I had to be in Paris for a job I was doing and I dropped by the l’Atelier Renault to see the Formula 1 car they put on display to coincide with the launch of the new car (they are keen, for some reason, to push the new image and forget about the old ING-look and the yellow-and-blue livery…) and to see if it looks anything like the new R30. It does not anything like it, if the truth be told, but that is not really important. The fact is that people walk by and look at it and that is good for Formula 1 whether the car is a bitser from 2005 or the latest state-of-the-art bit of kit. What was interesting was that close up the colour scheme actually looks really good. I was surprised by that. In photographs it looks pretty horrible – unless, of course, you are a fan of bees…

Anyway when I got home I was downloading the photo and figured that you might a look at some of the other things I found in the old iPhone. So here it is, tipped out into cyberspace…

Above is the view from the hotel balcony at the recent Wrooom skiing event at Madonna di Campiglio. Below are MotoGP commentators Steve Parrish and Didier de Radigues (both former racers) after they came down a black run at Madonna on tea trays. Yes, folks, bikers really are mad. Parrish said that he arrived in the catchfencing at the feet of Bernie Ecclestone who seemed to think that Parrish was mad as a fish.

Above is another Madonna photograph of the Ferrari drivers with The Bernard during the ice race event there. Below is a wet Champs Elysees with the Renault “R30” in the window.

Above and below are other vehicles that are on display in L’Atelier Renault at the moment. The Formula 1 car may be the glamorous end of the Renault production range but one needs to keep things in perspective. The company has been known to produce other cars, some of them even rather exotic, notably its ice cream vans and bakery trucks…

And finally, L’Atelier gives Renault the chance to showcase its new technologies, so here is a funny looking all-electric device which will no doubt be parked outside every Carrefour supermarket 10 years from now…

23 thoughts on “Testing and other stuff

  1. Personally, I think that if they had have left their logos and branding off the car, and just had the yellow/black stripes, that might have attracted more sponsors.

    I love the ice cream van though. They should have that in the paddock, with the drivers handing out cones. No picture of Robert’s plumbing van? Maybe he drove it to Valencia. 😉


  2. For the fuel loads, don’t the teams have a clever way of working out what each other are doing?

    I know they can work out horsepower by recording the engine noise and from that measuring the revs, then studying photos to work out the wing angles, then finally taking into account fuel load and speed trap figures. Which was how Renault worked out they were down on horsepower in 2008. Surely they can do it the other way around to work out fuel load?

    In an interview with the Beeb, Ross Brawn mentions they ran full tanks and were fine against the Ferrari, but weren’t as fast as load came down. Maybe they have a spangly way to figure it out that they’re not telling. Like when McLaren had a screen showing where all the cars were on the track, before GPS and no one had a clue how they did it.

  3. Ummmm, that car is not the same as the R30 running in valencia. The R30 has a sharks fin, more pronounced flappy gubbins around the air intake and no gills.

    I thought gills weren’t allowed any more…

  4. The times might be irrelevant, but the number of laps is not… Ferrari did 353 laps -1400km- and this is significant (McL:276/MGP: 280).

    I also do not believe la rossa was prepared to loose 3 days of testing to do some show off: These guys are hungry to win as 2008 and 2009 were hard to swallow in Maranello.

    They are -like the others- going thru a carefully established test plan and they -very wisely in my opinion- are using their racing drivers and started with the experienced one for the first 2 days. Other teams did differently… I am not convinced they did a better choice.

    Top of the timesheets? The icing on the cake, something to talk about in the medias, nothing more I guess but nice to look at for the tifoso 😉

  5. I wonder if that R25 or whatever is more state of the art than R30, at least it was a championship winner, and looked quite gorgeous at the time with all the curves at the back. The paint job is actually quite nice wish they had elf on the wings so it could be black as the big red pieces kind of ruin it ..

  6. Whilst still a novice F1 fan (2006) and still a “newbie” for some time to come am I not right in recalling Brawn being very good at testing last year? Does it not follow that Ferrari look quickest? But then, as you previously mentioned, there may well be fuel efficiency issues which would rain on their parade?

  7. I half expect Renault to be renamed Stryper.

    Stryper were a Christian rock band from the USA in (I think) the 1980s. The band’s image consisted of constumes mainly in yellow with black stripes and (I could be wrong), the number 777.

    Yellow with black stripes is the mark of the Lord apparently, as is the number.

    Needless to say, “rock band” and “Christian” are hardly good bedfellows when it comes to either music creation or marketing and edgy band to teenagers. No doubt there are some photos of them somewhere on t’internet.

    My initial reaction to the yellow + black livery was “ugh”. But since you point out that its a neat sidestep, in image terms, from the Singapore scandal, it makes sense. I’ve since seen some other photos where the car doesn’t look quite so horrible in black and yellow.

    Wonder if Winnie the Pooh will turn up as a guest in the pit lane?

  8. Joe,
    the pic of the two bikers with their tea tray is very funny. Living in Brussels, I do have some friends in common with Didier de Radigues. If only half of the stories about his biking days are true then even James Hunt should be considered as an altar boy.
    Thanks for the great blog.

  9. Joe,

    I see you’ve avoided the humor in printing “BMW Sauber Ferrari.” When will the name change? I have a good friend who is a plastics engineer who used to work on BMW bumper parts. He told me that BMW maintains (at least they used to) an extreme level of control over the placement of their name and trademark in all forms of media. How can they possibly allow this silliness to continue?

  10. ..really silly situation, ..F1 remember even more crazy stories but now!!! Wonder what Ferrari thing , ..Sauber & Ferrari looks like twin brothers this year 🙂

  11. I love the ice cream van. Possibly an attempt to lure Kimi for 2011?

    If not, possibly they should race it instead of the R30. If they’re sandbagging, they’ve got the Sarah in that car…

  12. thewizardweb,

    That McLaren, pre-GPS “where the cars are” device:

    I had the idea years before I saw it on the pit lane. Surprised it took so long to arrive there.

    Its not too hard to do. You just use what you know was the previous laps speed and predict that (with various speed-up/slow-down factors per corner – so you have to calculate this per race venue) as a percentage of lap complete and that is where you *guess* the oppositions cars are.

    For the first lap, you just take the qualifying speeds (valid as the top 10 are on that fuel load) and assume no one from outside the top 10 will factor into the first lap.

    Note that you don’t need a “wet” configuration for this, as the deficit will be roughly the same for most drivers on the first lap. For subsequent laps you will be using the lap times from the previous lap for each driver, so unless a driver has an off, you have a good indicator of their pace.

    You need:
    o a decent computer program (no that hard to write – seriously, not that hard at all – well not if you write software for a living, which I do)

    o some good visualisation software (McLaren’s approach was deceptively simple and very elegant – I wouldn’t have gone with a circle, I’d have been interested in trying to map onto the correct shape of the circuit)

    o Some good timing mechanisms to time every driver and feed that into the system each lap. This may or not may be the hardest thing to do. Get any driver wrong and it may (or may not, but you don’t want it to be the *may* do you?) be very important.

    I’ve thought of a number of things that would be advantageous for F1 teams over the years. They usually end up happening, although there is one I still have that has no yet been innovated and which I think (but do not know) would be legal and improve cornering speeds for a car fitted with the device.


  13. I can see why you think the Renault scheme looks better up close. It’s the shape of the car. You’ll find that, up close, the new car still won’t look very good.

  14. Remember the F1 engined Espace from a few years back (and the Transit for that matter)? Who wouldn’t love to see that ice cream van given the same treatment!

  15. Stephen K,

    As a fellow software engineer, I was also fascinated when I first saw the McLaren device – and equally amused when it was hurriedly turned off with an arm stretching out behind Ted Kravitz’s back. Spent a while wondering how it was done myself.

    My best guess was roughly the same as yours, with the addition of three or four truckies stationed round the track carrying a little bespoke box with 20 buttons on it and a telemetry link back to the McLaren pits. That, together with a feed off of the FIA timing screens for the sector & lap times, would make up the “good timing mechanisms” you mentioned. 🙂 After all, the good gentlemen of the road have been used as advanced rain gauges before now, not to mention the time Dave Richards used his helicopter pilot for the same purpose.

    Like you, I probably would have tried to map the data onto the shape of the circuit, rather than as a pure circle, but when you think about it, a circle is perhaps the better way of giving you the information you actually NEED, i.e. the gaps between the drivers, which may not be so obvious on a wibbly-wobbly line.

    Having said that, to make that work properly the circumference of the circle would need to be one of constant time, not of constant distance, otherwise the little dots would slow to a crawl at hairpins, and then zip round as the driver hurled down a straight – without a track map, that would be very confusing.

    I wonder which approach they took? A circumference of constant time isn’t so easy to do, obviously, but seems to be far more useful to me. I guess you’d have to calibrate it at the start of each weekend with one of your own drivers’ laps before it could start working for everyone else – re-reading your post, I guess that would achieve what you were saying in your third paragraph.

    Your last paragraph is intriguing – if you ever see it in use (whether through a team picking it up from you, or on their own initiative), do come back and tell us, won’t you?

  16. “Ferrari were on top throughout the three days in Valencia, largely due to running lower fuel loads the their main opposition, McLaren and Mercedes.”

    Anyone know how James Allen has come by this? I’ve yet to see anything other than RB saying that they were running full tanks, so I’m struggling to see how he has come to the conclusion that McLaren are faster than Ferrari given no one seems to know their fuel loads outside of the teams?

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