by Vortex Motio @VortexMotio
Written in association with Missed Apex Podcast. Listen in the player below the article.
As you may know, the 2017 tires aren’t likely to over-heat as they did in prior seasons. So perhaps drivers can now abuse their tires turn after turn, lap after lap, all race long.
The downside is cars are more likely to run out of fuel. Due to the bigger footprint of the tires, and strong aero down-force on that footprint, the cars will be able to run at wide-open throttle for a significantly higher portion of the lap at every track. Which means they’re burning more fuel every lap. Thanks to the bigger footprint of the tires, the net amount of braking zone per lap is also reduced. Reduced braking zones means reduced energy recovery per lap.
Despite the glory of a fast lap in Saturday qualifying, the reality is points are only awarded on Sunday. This year more than ever perhaps, the key to earning points on Sunday will be race pace.
This year, particularly the first race weekend, the buzz and excitement will come from watching how the various cars perform in the race, in particular, I’ll focus on their race pace.
The Scuderia from Maranello were a pleasant surprise in pre-season testing: very fast, and reliable too.
But testing is not a good place to gauge the competitiveness of a car.
Whether Ferrari is fast or slow in the first few races, what is more important is how well they develop their car during the season.
A weakness for Ferrari has been the differences between their development models (wind tunnel and CFD) versus reality. For a few seasons now, Ferrari has shown up on a race weekend with their new little bits on the car and the car would under perform. To anticipate correctly how well a new bit may affect the car’s performance requires the CFD and wind tunnel models to correspond accurately to how they work in the real world. Ferrari’s competitors, Red Bull and Mercedes did very well developing their cars last season, more consistently than did Ferrari. There are signs that Ferrari’s modeling of their car may be more accurate. If so, they may be able to fight for a podium each Sunday.
These cars are faster and heavier. When they crash, they will crash harder. People assume that F1 is safe. But we should note that Alonso’s new team-mate already has F1 points under his belt after he filled in when Alonso was injured one year ago at Melbourne. That injury came from a common open wheel crash in a slower F1 car. I don’t need to mention that Bianchi crashed in a slower F1 car.
Crashes happen in racing. We don’t like to think about injuries in F1 but things will happen. We shouldn’t pretend like the risk of injuries has not gone up.
What is the essence of F1?
F1 is currently held together by a mesh of contracts, most of which will expire in 2020. The new owners of F1 may move aggressively this year to lay the ground work for a new F1 in 2020.
We will see discussions of the essence of F1. For example, is DRS truly part of the essence of F1?
What is the essence of F1?
This will be a question asked of everyone. It will be an important opportunity to listen to ideas on the subject, and think about the essence F1, and essence of automobile racing.