Ferrari Chairman christens the F138 ‘La Speranzosa’

‘La Speranzosa’

Ferrari boss and Chairman, Luca di Montezemolo, has expressed his satisfaction with the start of their challenge for the 2013 World Championship’s and has christened their most successful car on debut in recent years as (The Hopeful One) “La Speranzosa”. With a strong result at the season opener netting the Italian team the lead in the Constructors World championship Di Montezemolo had praise for the entire team.

” ‘La Speranzosa’ is living upto our hopes. We did what we expected to do. We raced a good race, particularly against Red Bull and Vettel, whom I consider our strongest rival. Our goal was to make it to the podium and we did that. That’s definitely a positive start to the championship and will be good for the team psychologically: for the mechanics, the technicians and the drivers. It was important to start the season well as that hadn’t happened in the last two years.”

While further stressing on on how the car’s performance came together with the starts, the pit stops and the race strategy, he added, “We have more development to do on the single-seater. We know we don’t have the fastest car but we have a lot of irons in the fire too. And obviously, developing an intrinsically good car is a much easier thing to do.”

‘La Speranzosa’ is going to have a tough fight on her hands with ‘Hungry Heidi’ (Vettel’s name for his car this season) still having the fastest pace over a single lap. Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel are confident that the tyre degradation they suffered at Albert park was just a one off and caused due to the colder temperatures in Melbourne. With the temperatures in in Malaysia set to be much higher, they are hopeful that they will be fighting for the win.

Fernando Alonso also believes that the Red Bull is still a force to be reckoned with, “They saw a little bit of tyre degradation, but that does not mean that they are not the fastest.”

Triple world champion, Niki Lauda agreed in an interview with the German channel RTL, “Vettel doesn’t need to worry too much. It was just too cold for them, while the next race is hot. Red Bull will be back at the front.”


Perez conversation with Ferrari revealed

2012 Malaysia podium

Sergio Perez has made public some interesting conversations he had with the famous Italian marque. The ex-Sauber driver had very close links with Ferrari due to the fact that they were the engine suppliers to his former team Sauber, and the fact that they took him under their wings and made him a part of their driver development academy (FDA).

While being interviewed by Spanish sports newspaper Marca, he was asked if he saw any difference while looking into his rear view mirrors and seeing Vettel or Alonso, this is what he had to say, “In my case no. I make no distinction between them. Last year, when I was communicating with Ferrari, they often asked me to take care of Alonso, but I don’t know if they asked just me or the whole grid.”

It was always knows that Ferrari used everything in their arsenal to try and gain an advantage for their drivers, but this is the first time a driver has come forward and revealed that the team asked him to try and give one of their drivers safe passage if he was coming from behind or was being overtaken.

Whether he read into the request as meaning to just give up a place whenever the need arose or not, the fact that Sergio overtook Alonso in Monza 2012 to take the second place on the podium made his intentions quite clear, he is here to race. When asked if leaving the Ferrari family could be a missed opportunity, he said, “No. It’s an experience that led me to a better place. I’m happy at McLaren. I hope to stay here for many years, maybe my entire career.”

Malaysian Grand Prix 2013 tyre preview by Pirelli

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix
The toughest compound in Pirelli’s new 2013 range of tyres makes its debut in Malaysia, complete with a brand new colour. The P Zero Orange hard has been nominated for Sepang together with the P Zero White medium, which was already seen in Australia. The two hardest compounds in Pirelli’s range are ideal for the extreme temperatures and abrasive surface of Malaysia. Sepang is also well-known for its monsoon-like downpours, which make it extremely likely that the Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyres will be seen at some point over the course of the weekend.

Pirelli’s motorsport director says:
Paul Hembery: “We would describe Sepang as genuinely ‘extreme’: both in terms of weather and track surface. This means that it is one of the most demanding weekends for our tyres that we experience all year. For the first time we see our new Orange hard compound in competition, with this colour chosen to make it more easy to distinguish from the white medium on television. The nomination we have for Malaysia is the same as last year, but the compounds themselves offer more performance and deliberately increased degradation this season, Last year three stops proved to be the winning strategy in a mixed wet and dry race, with a thrilling finish between Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez that was all about tyres. We’d expect three stops again but once more it’s likely to be weather that dominates the action. Even when it isn’t raining, the drivers can expect humidity in the region of 80% and ambient temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade.”
Pirelli’s brand ambassador says:
Jean Alesi: “I’ve taken part in the Malaysian Grand Prix twice: the first time in 1999, which was the inaugural year, and the second time in 2000, which was my final year in Formula One. On both occasions I finished, but I remember what a big challenge it was both for the drivers and the cars: physically it is one of the most demanding races on the calendar. Like Albert Park, Sepang is by no means a ‘typical’ circuit, so what we see happening this weekend is probably not going to be representative of the rest of the season. However, it will certainly show you who has a strong car and a good ability to manage the tyres. With more degradation this year, knowing how to manage the tyres becomes an even more important skill – as it has always been in the history of Formula One – and Malaysia puts the spotlight on this. But if it really starts to rain hard then there is absolutely nothing you can do: it is just a question of trying to survive. So we could have a very interesting result depending on who makes the correct tyre choices.”
The tyre from a circuit point of view:
  • Malaysia is one of the more abrasive surfaces that the cars compete on all year, which is part of the reason why the two hardest compounds from the range have been nominated.
  • The P Zero Orange hard tyre has a high working range, whereas the P Zero White medium has a low working range. This makes it an ideal combination that can deal well with any eventuality. The durability characteristics of the new hard tyre are close to those of last year’s medium tyre, resulting in lap times that are around 0.4s-0.5s quicker than the 2012-specification hard.
  • The Sepang track is built on what was formerly a swamp, with a fundamentally uneven surface. However, the asphalt was resurfaced in 2007, which smoothed out most of the bumps – although some remain.
  • Last year, the hard and medium compounds were also chosen for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The top five drivers adopted a three-stop strategy: intermediate-wet-intermediate-slick. Bruno Senna meanwhile, in fifth place, stopped four times.
  • Check out the below video on Sepang and the heavy demands it places on tyres 

Technical tyre notes:
  • Malaysia places heavy lateral demands on the tyres; it’s the second-highest lateral load of the year after Barcelona. This can lead to heat build-up within the tyre, which can reach a maximum of 130 degrees centigrade.
  • Sessions at the Malaysian Grand Prix in the past have been frequently interrupted by heavy rain, and the race was even halted early in 2009, with half-points being awarded. Pirelli has a new specification of Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyre this year; with a redesigned construction to help improve traction and prevent snap oversteer.
  • Although grip levels are high in Malaysia, the frequent rain has the effect of washing any rubber that has been laid down off the track overnight, meaning that there is often a ‘green’ surface at the start of each session. While a dry line can emerge quickly because of the high ambient temperatures, drainage at Sepang is not particularly good, which can lead to pools of standing water.
The tyre choices so far:
PZero Red PZero Yellow PZero White PZero Orange
Australia Supersoft Medium
Malaysia Medium Hard

Horner fuming over McLarens faulty ECU unit

McLaren’s start to the season has been one to forget with their performance being way below their expectations. Their subsidiary MES (McLaren Electronic Systems), which provides the entire grid with mandatory standard ECU (Electronic Control Unit), has come under strong criticism from all teams and team bosses for their new ECU device that is to be used from 2013 onwards after they have faced multiple issues during preseason testing.

Red Bulls boss, Christian Horner was left fuming after the start of the Australian Grand Prix, where Mark Webber had a tardy, but not unusual, start off the line due to the faulty ECU. The KERS on his Red Bull failed along with all telemetry which tells the engineers on the pit wall what is happening with the car and helps them keep an eye on all systems and their temperatures.

2013 MES ECU 

Horner made his displeasure quite clear by saying ,”Mark’s problems were hugely frustrating, we lost all telemetry on the formation lap. It had nothing to do with Mark. You need to ask McLaren why the ECU didn’t work and why it messed up his preparation, because he was blind. It is something they need to get on top of.”

He added saying that, “There’s been a lot of issues during testing. We lost all telemetry on the formation lap and then you can’t do the preparation that you need to for the start so then he’s blind for the start and that ECU issue shut the KERS down as well. By the time we’d reset the whole system he’d obviously lost the start, lost early ground.”

Applications of the ECU unit

  • Control and monitoring of a racing car powertrain
  • Up to 8-cylinder engines
  • Throttle-by-wire
  • Clutch-by-wire
  • Semi-automatic gearbox
  • Powerful onboard data logging and telemetry control
  • Ethernet connection to application and data analysis tools (System Monitor and ATLAS)

Pirelli’s 2013 Australian Grand Prix Race review

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen won the Australian Grand Prix using a two-stop strategy, having started the race on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre and then completing two stints on the P Zero White medium tyre. His tyre strategy gave him a decisive advantage over all his rivals, with the remainder of the top six all adopting a three-stop strategy.
Only four drivers started on the medium tyre: Adrian Sutil (Force India), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Sergio Perez (McLaren) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams).
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We took the deliberately bold decision to come here with the supersoft tyre in order to spice up the action. We believe that this worked very well, with a variety of different two and three stop strategies just as we expected and seven different leaders. Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus understood the tyres perfectly, making a two-stop strategy work when many of their rivals couldn’t. It was a true masterclass in tyre management. Although they were often in different places on the track, Raikkonen and Lotus were effectively racing Ferrari and Alonso throughout the second half of the race, who were on a three-stop ‘sprint’ strategy. Seeing how those different approaches played out at the end was the intriguing part of the strategy, which led to a spectacular finish and three very deserving world champions on the podium. It’s also worth pointing out that Raikkonen drove the fastest lap of the race on lap 56: the penultimate lap, on medium tyres that were 22 laps old. We are very happy with the performance and durability of both compounds, particularly as both track and ambient temperatures were very low, causing a bit of graining. The conditions next weekend in Malaysia will be very different however!”  
Fastest times of the day by compound:
  Supersoft Medium Intermediate Wet
First BIA – 1:30.454 RAI – 1:29.274 N/A N/A
Second SUT – 1:30.710 VER – 1:29.498 N/A N/A
Third RIC – 1:30.881 ALO – 1:29.560 N/A N/A
Longest stint of the race:
Supersoft 14 (Rosberg)
Medium 30 (Gutierrez)
Intermediate N/A
Wet N/A
The winning two-stop strategy that we predicted turned out to be correct. We predicted the first stop to change from supersoft to medium on lap 14, with a second stop for medium tyres on lap 36. Raikkonen followed exactly this tactic, making his first stop on lap 9 and his second stop on lap 34.

Analysis of results and tyre wear after the Australian Grand Prix of 2013

With Kimi and Lotus winning in dominant fashion, the Lotus team are looking like the team to beat in 2013. Being able to do one stop lesser than most of the field and having the pace to match and beat the lap times of  the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s will have the big guns worried. The below team by team analysis is based on performances in the Australian Grand Prix, but we expect the order to shuffle a little in Malaysia, as the track and ambient temperatures will be higher and this will change the tyre wear scenario quite a bit from Australia.

The Lotus’s are simply the easiest on the their tyres as was demonstrated by the winning two stop strategy for Kimi, with all the other lead cars having to make the additional stop for fresher tyres to keep up the pace. The pace that Alonso and Vettel were managing with medium tyres that were 14 laps old, was matched and bettered by Kimi on the same compound tyres that were 24 laps old.

The Ferrari is looking good on race pace and the tyre wear is much better than what the Bull’s were experiencing, and the team is very positive about the year. They will be hoping to improve on their wear rates for the tyres along with trying to get their single lap pace closer to Red Bull in an attempt to try and start further up the field.
The Reb Bull’s have always been very quick in qualifying due to their strong pace in a single lap, but this year their lack of race pace is worrying the team bosses. This problem is compounded by the fact that the RB9 is not easy on its tyres and Vettel was complaining that his supersoft tyres were shot after just 3 laps into the race. Its not going to be easy defending his championship this year, but after Malaysia we will have a clearer idea if their tyre wear issues are here to stay or it was the low track temperatures at Australia that magnified the issue.
The Mercedes was the quickest in wet practice and the abandoned qualifying session and they have shown good pace with Hamilton putting the car in P3 for this race. Their tyre wear rate was quite surprising with the Mercedes making their supersofts last the longest at 13 laps, but the mediums lasting for a lesser number of laps than expected. Nevertheless the entire team are happy to be fighting at the sharper end of the field. With Malaysia always throwing in some surprises with the weather Mercedes are positive for the upcoming race at Sepang. 
The Force India’s also seemed to manage their tyres better in relation to everyone else bar Lotus in the first half of the race. But as the track got rubbered in, they seemed to be able to make their tyres last a little lesser than the previous runs. They seem to be in a place where Sauber were one year ago with their ability to start on the harder compound and run a longer first sting, and we are waiting to see if they can pull off what Sergio did at Sepang in 2012.

The dismal pace of the McLaren and the fact that it chews its tyres up in no time means that the team are contemplating reverting to the 2012 race winning car. This is not so easy as the FIA have made the crash tests a lot stricter than they were last year, but it might be an interim solution to the appalling pace of the new car. They have swapped places with Ferrari who started 2012 with a complex pull rod suspension which took them a long while to get working correctly. McLaren have copied this geometry of suspension for 2013 and it seems that unless they take the time to understand how to build temperature and mange their tyre wear with this complex system, they are going to be fighting for the final points finishes for some time. 

A below par qualifying session and the lack of experience of Vergne showed that the Toro Rosso has some work to do, but they have a good chance of scoring some points if they can get themselves to the right places at the right time.
The Sauber team achieved lesser than is expected of them, but they are hoping to iron out the issues which they faced with Nico’s car before this weeks Malaysian Grand Prix. The car showed good pace in qualifying and better points finishes are the target for the team. The Sauber has always been very good on its tyres and rookie Gutierrez managed to finish the race with just two pit stops. With a little bit of luck and on a good day where everything goes right they could get onto the podium and hopefully the elusive first win. 
The Williams started the year with a strong car, but the development path after their coanda exhaust was deemed illegal seems to have moved them a few steps backwards. They need to find some pace quickly but we expect them to have a disappointing race at Sepang unless they revert to their launch spec car (minus illegal coanda exhaust). 
The Marussia seems to have well and truly moved ahead of the Caterhams and they will be knocking on the doors of the midfield and threatening the position of the Toro Rosso’s and Williams unless latter two find some more pace. Bianchi showed good and consistent pace and treated his tyres a lot better than his team mate. He set a fastest lap only 1.2 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the race, but this was set after a last minute pit stop onto the super soft tyre.

Kimi Raikkonen sticks to plan A to win the Ausrtalian GP

Kimi Raikkonen has thrown down the gauntlet to his challengers and leads the Formula 1 Drivers Championship after he convincingly won the inaugural Grand Prix of 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian Grand Prix started in chaotic fashion with a rain-hit Qualifying session being abandoned after Q1 and postponed to a couple of hours before the start of the race. Kimi Raikkonen had a clean start and gained a couple of places by the first corner, but it was the tyre wear of the Lotus and the way that Kimi handled the pace of the race that earned him his first victory at the inaugural Grand Prix of a championship in Australia since 2007. That was incidentally also the year when he went on to win the World Championship in dramatic fashion in Brazil. Grosjean had a quiet and uneventful race, much to the delight of the other drivers, to finish the day in tenth place.

Fernando Alonso who started in fifth place and behind his teammate, after forgetting to use DRS on his fastest qualifying lap, ended the day in a brilliant second place after looking to be stuck behind Vettel and a very fast Felipe Massa. Great strategy by Fernando and his Race Director, Andrea Stella saw him undercut Massa and Vettel to get ahead of them after just 10 laps on his second set of tyres (mediums) for the race. A great start along with Massa saw the two Ferrari’s muscle their way from fourth and fifth upto second and third by the end of the first lap. Alonso had a moment on la 55 when he almost went into the back of the Caterham of Charles Pic,  Massa finished the day fourth after a strong first two thirds of the race after he decided to push on his 11 lap old medium tyres during Alonso’s undercut on lap 20.

Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel had a great start but just couldnt get ahead of Alonso after the Ferrari leap frogged him with a master stroke of good old strategy. After starting at the head of the field Vettel wanted to achieve more but was not disappointed with his third place finish for the first Grand Prix of the year. Vettel drove a tough race and spent a lot of time in the dirty air of Alonso and Sutil. In typical Red Bull fashion he had a tough time gaining on the Force India in the DRS zone even with his rear wing open due to the lack of top speed of their cars. Webber who started alongside his teammate, had a disastrous start as usual, but this time it was caused due to an electronics problem due to the faulty McLaren ECU that hampered his KERS at the start and resulted in him having to fight in the midfield. This compromised his strategy and the result was a disappointing sixth place finish at his home race. Fighting in the mid field meant he had to produce some brilliant overtaking moves to claw his way back up the field. A flash in the pan was his move on Di Resta at Turn 9, without the aid of DRS.
Lewis Hamilton finished a satisfying fifth position after running with the lead pack all through the race, but he knew he had to switch to plan B and a three stop strategy after experiencing higher tyre wear on the medium tyres than anticipated. A sharp Alonso gave Hamilton all the room he needed and more as soon as he saw the Briton lock up in his rear view mirrors. Rosberg was out of the race on lap 27 after he had an electronics failure. A gearbox problem earlier in the weekend and now another technical failure means angry bosses in Germany will be asking difficult questions to the guys at the factory and back at the team’s base. 
A strong drive by Sutil in his first Grand Prix after being on the sidelines for a year saw him finish seventh ahead of his team mate Di Resta in eighth. Sutil looked very strong in the first half of the race, and kept Vettel on fresher tyres at bay, while leading for about 10 laps.

Jenson Button has had worse starts to his seasons, but he will not be happy at all with the lowly ninth place that he could mange with his MP4-28. His first year as team leader and the car McLaren have given him to fight for his second world championship is a far cry from the race winning car he drove at Brazil a few months ago. Button managed to keep Webber behind him for a while before the Australian found a way past. Sergio Perez had a disappointing start to his new life at McLaren with having to start from P15 and ending up just outside the points in 11th place at the end of the race.

Jean Eric Vergne finished the day in twelfth place while Daniel Ricciardo had to retire with a problem with his exhaust. A below par qualifying session and the lack of experience of Vergne showed that the Toro Rosso has some work to do, but they have a good chance of scoring some points if they can get themselves to the right places at the right time. But Vergne did show some good pace setting the fastest lap on lap 50, on tyres that were 18 laps old.

Sauber had a dismal start to the race as soon as they realised that a fuel system issue with Hulkenberg’s car would mean that he couldnt start the race and they could only field one car with rookie Esteban Gutierrez for the Australian Grand Prix. However he was the top finishing rookie and ended his first GP with a respectable and trouble free drive.

Valtteri Bottas had a good start off the line but a few mistakes into the race meant he lost some places and ended his first race in fourteenth place. Pastor Maldonado had a race to forget and his woes started on Saturday after being ousted in Q1 in the rain soaked qualifying session. Starting from P17 he ended up in the gravel at turn 1 after getting two wheels on the grass on the 25th lap.

On pure performance Jules Bianchi was our driver of the day, with the rookie finishing in fifteenth place, one lap ahead of and a best lap time 2 seconds faster than his team mate. In relation to the front runners his best lap time was 1.2 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the day, but this was aided by a last minute pit stop onto the supersoft tyres. His team mate Chilton finished two places behind but ahead on one of the Caterham of Giedo Van Der Garde.