Formula One and Overtaking ~ Again!

It has been a long held opinion of mine and many of my friends that aerodynamics are the problem with the lack of overtaking. If a lack of overtaking is the problem, and I’m not sure that it is. Perhaps the real problem is the lack of close racing. Close racing can be exciting even if there isn’t much overtaking. I remember Mansell chasing Senna at the end of a Monaco GP. Real edge of the seat stuff, did he get by? No.

But thinking about the effect of aerodynamics on it’s own is only a portion of the problem. In fact it’s the cars that are the problem and by that I mean they are a victim of their own success.

The cars and each aspect of the cars is so finely tuned to the ideal or perfect situation that either that ideal makes the cars perform so well it’s difficult to overtake or in some cases the overtaking move will take the car out of that ideal situation and be a massive detriment to its performance so much so that the overtake cannot happen.

Examples? Well, dirty air from aerodynamics is the one we all know. But there are others. Short stopping distances from carbon brakes. Marbles off line from sticky tyres. Short overtaking distances from powerful engines and optimised traction. All of these things will make overtaking more difficult. But they are the stock and trade of the F1 engineers.

Have I an answer? No. But if I were starting to find out I’d have a look at trading off some downforce for reduced drag.

Other than that it’s a trip to the Goodwood Revival.

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Review: Overdrive ~ Formula 1 in the Zone

overdrive_cover_img I first heard of the book Overdrive ~ Formula 1 in the Zone by Clyde Brolin mentioned by Maurice Hamilton on the BBC Red Button Service for one of the practice sessions of the Bahrain Grand Prix. As a lifelong follower of motor sport and a keen student and practitioner of personal development I am intensely interested in the ways of the mind and how it can affect human performance. I was hooked.

The Zone is an often described state that many experience when performing at their very best. A paradoxical state where you are there but not consciously doing, where choices and actions become automatic and natural. Clyde Brolin (a nom de plume) writes a fascinating work recounting numerous interviews and  anecdotes with almost all of the top people in motor sport from both the present and the past and their experiences of The Zone. If that isn’t enough he includes anecdotes and interviews with many of the top performers in other sports as well.

The author has described this book as a lifelong ambition and it has been 10 years in the making. As an F1 journalist for one of the worlds most prestigious motor sport publications and the PR man for a high profile Formula One team Clyde had access to everyone in the F1 paddock over a 10 year period and painstakingly assembled interviews and anecdotes of racing people about being  in The Zone, what it means and what it is for all of them.

Too many to mention all here, the items that stand out for me are the detailed investigation into Senna’s out of body qualifying lap at Monaco in 1988, motor sports nirvāṇa of being in The Zone to Martin Brundles assertion that anyone and everyone is capable of achieving such states if they wish. Then onto Dr Claudio Costas testimony that the severe pain of broken bones can be completely eliminated when the love of a sport and the desire to compete are involved.

Written in a relaxing style, easy to read and constantly drawing you on to the next page this book is a very enjoyable and relaxing. In my opinion this book is essential reading for anyone interested in sport and human performance. If you’re a racing driver you should have already read it.

Clyde avoids prescribing a method by which one may get to the zone, leaving the reader to come to his own conclusions, and from the myriad of experiences described in his book it is reasonable to be cautious about such a recommendation. However there is a method that can vastly accelerate the process and that is something I’d be quite happy to show him.

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A View

YaR This is a picture taken from the north side of the Thames looking towards the South Bank and Waterloo Bridge whilst walking back from the Completion Evening for this years Youth at Risk Student Leadership Project.

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The Hare and the Tortoise

tortoise_and_hare We all know Aesop’s story about the Hare and the Tortoise. The hare and the Tortoise decide to have a race. The Hare rushes off at full speed. The Tortoise plods along at a steady pace. After a while the Hare runs out of breath and the Tortoise catches him up and passes. The Hare gets his breath back and chases of again at full speed. This goes on for a bit but eventually the Hare runs out of energy and the Tortoise wins.

Now substitute the names of Webber and Vettel or Hamilton and Button for Hare and Tortoise (and you can put those names in whichever slot you want, I’m not taking sides), and ask yourself a question.

If one of your guys goes off chasing glory and in the process uses all his fuel and tyres and the other takes care of his resources and is in a position to overtake his team mate at the end. Is it fair to ask him to hold station?

Sounds, looks and feels like discrimination against Tortoises to me!

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I have to admit, I feel a little pleased with myself.

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Virgin F1 car Seeing the arrival of the Virgin F1 team has given me quite a lift. Not because I’m a great supporter of the Virgin brand, indeed I don’t think I use any of their products or services and not because I like blowing my own trumpet (there are enough people in F1 who already do that).

Instead it’s because I spotted young Richard on the grid at Monza in 2008 (scroll down or click) and suggested on this blog that he was there to get into F1 before anyone else mentioned it. I say this because I follow nearly all of the F1 news and information and I hadn’t seen it suggested anywhere else.

That’s it really. Have a nice evening.

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Is it fair to have KERS charged on the grid?

Well that’s the question. What do you think?

It strikes me that if the KERS cars are allowed to have their systems charged on the grid they have an unfair advantage.

All the cars have to qualify on race fuel and the quantity of fuel on board has an effect on their performance. They have to make a choice; go light and have a better grid slot or go heavy and have more strategy options. At this point everyone is on the same playing field.

But then the KERS cars can charge their systems before they get to the grid giving themselves about an extra 80BHP on the line.

I don’t think this is equitable. I think the KERS cars should go to the grid uncharged and they should charge up on the first lap.

I’m amazed the non KERS teams haven’t picked up on this; or am I missing something?

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You become what you think about

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16706a-adrian_sutil_pourrait_quitter_force_india Adrian Sutil after the race:

“It’s a shame – you focus so much and think you can do it, but the car was just out of control at the end. I had the same feeling as Monaco – it’s hard to believe when you are in the car and then suddenly you lose it and it’s all over from such a great position.”


Ones feelings, of course, come from what one thinks about.

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Don’t think of the colour blue Adrian!

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pictures-genies-g-150x201 There is a story about an adventurer traveling across the desert searching for his fortune. But not the Paulo Coelho one.  It goes that one night the traveler was visited by a Genie in a dream. In the dream the Genie told the traveler that in the morning if he walked in the direction that the wind was coming from he would after a few hours stumble across an old wooden and brass chest. In the chest were all sorts of riches – jewels and gold and all the traveler had to do to gain access to the chest was not to think of the colour blue as he opened it. But he would only have one chance.

This reminds me of an experience of my own when doing a police motorcycle training course organized by the Chertsey traffic center in the mid ’70’s. We were told in this course to avoid manhole covers in the road because manhole covers are slippery when wet, and that reminds me of another story but perhaps not now. The problem for me was try as hard as I could not to, I went straight over the manhole covers. I told the instructor this and he asked me where I was looking, "Well at the manholes" I said. "You will always go in the direction you place your attention, look to one side" said the copper. It worked.

When the traveler woke in the morning he set out in the direction of the wind and sure enough he found the chest. As he sat cross legged in the sand with the chest in his lap. As he tried to open it he said to himself "Don’t think of the colour blue". Of course he didn’t get the chest open. You see, before you can’t think about what you don’t want to think about, you have to think about it.

I watched Adrian Sutil as Lewis Hamilton came up behind him last Sunday and hoped that he was not trying not to think of Kimi Raikkonen slamming into the back of him at Monaco last year and loosing a points finish for himself and his team. I was hoping he had a clear picture of the chequered flag in his mind. I wonder?

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A Logo Does not a Sponsor Make!

For those who were up early this morning watching the qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, you may have like me been expecting to see the Brawn repainted in a stunning Virgin livery. Not so!

A few Virgin stickers stuck on the Brawn yellow and white colour scheme seemed a little weak to me.

So far I can think of three scenarios for this:

  • Brawn just didn’t have the time/money/resources to get the job done.
  • Virgin are not as committed as the sound bites suggest
  • Young Richard is trying to be, so far as he is able, a little low key in the beginning until people have forgotten his little faux pas on the TV, when he said the F1 wasn’t green enough for him.

I don’t have a firm favorite from the above yet but I think things will start to pan out pretty quickly.

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Virgin-Brawn? Should that be Brawn-Virgin?

It seems that all will be revealed in the next few hours. Virgin are, at least for the time being, in F1.

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