Tuesday, 21 December 2010

All change...in 2013

The much-vaunted F1 Technical Working Group, led by Rory Byrne and Patrick Head have settled on their plans to make the sport both more exciting for the spectator and more efficient - but will it work?

Its no secret that over the last, oh I don't know how many seasons the sport has struggled for a lack of regular overtaking.  Save for the odd race here and there where usually one of Button, Hamilton or Kobayashi have a particularly good day, races often go by without a single overtaking move of note.  Byrne and Head's plans seek to address that in a number of ways.

The cars will have a much smaller front wing, presumably to reduce the buffetting created by the dirty air off the back of the car in front.  This makes sense, I always thought the enormous front wings on the cars this year were unlikely to solve that issue, indeed they must have exacerbated it to a degree.  The cars will have most of their downforce created by the floor, specially shaped for that very purpose, and the overall downforce of the car will be reduced.

The tyres will remain slicks as this year, and cornering speeds will be maintained as far as possible though the cars will be slower in general.  On that note the engines will be reduced from 2.4 litre V8s to turbocharged 1.6 litre four cylinder engines.  I understand the drive towards greener engines, I just don't necessarily like it....

Plenty of work has gone into improving overtaking in recent years, to almost no avail.  I thought the removal of the ridiculous extraneous aerodynamic parts might make it easier to follow cars closely but it didn't have the desired effect.  I think circuit designs don't help, many of the new tracks aren't conducive to passing, even the best of the new breed, Istanbul for example, have only one or at the very best two clear overtaking spots.

I can only hope the changes, which will inevitably change themselves further between now and 2013, have more of an impact.  They're certainly more radical than any in recent memory, so fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Is Alonso about to enter his own 'Schumacher' period?

Reading the story today that Alonso sees his comprehensive pummelling of Felipe Massa this year as a sign of the good form he was in, I got to thinking, is he about to enter a period of dominance a la Schumacher from 2000-2004?

Of course the domination of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari was in large part down to the team of Brawn and Byrne, as well as Todt and Schumacher himself - so Alonso will have to go some to match the faintly ridiculous total of 56 wins in the period from 2000 to 2006, but I get the sense he's heading into a real purple patch.

Alonso bagged five wins this season in a car that was far from the best, at times the Ferrari looked a real dog in fact, but Fernando did what all great drivers do - he transcended the car and dragged it to the front of the pack.

In the eight and a bit seasons that Schumacher had in F1 before he and Ferrari really clicked and took five titles on the trot he won 35 races, in the 10 seasons Alonso has been in F1 he's managed a very respectable (if not spectacular) 26 race wins.  And that includes a season in a Minardi and four seasons in a relatively uncompetitive Renault.

Next year Alonso will hit the big 3-0, in years if not in race wins, Schumacher's era of complete and utter dominance also began in his 30th year.  As it stands there are, in my opinion, a good deal more really good drivers in F1 than there were in the years 2000-2004, where in 2002 for example we had Montoya, Coulthard, Barrichello and the other Schumacher, worthy drivers but not great ones, now we have Kubica, Hamilton, Vettel, Button - a whole bunch of very, very fast racing drivers.  Alonso's got a real fight on his hands, but if Ferrari can deliver him anything close to the kind of equipment Schumacher had access to in the early 2000s, he'll be standing atop the podium many more times in the next decade.