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25 August 2014
Time for reflection... The Rosberg/Hamilton incident

The Belgian GP has proven to be the tipping point in what had already become a fractious relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.  The problems are many but a feud on this level only heightens when both drivers, drive for the same team.  Mercedes dominance has been clear to see all year, with us having to go back to 2004 (Ferrari) and 1988 (McLaren) to see one team with such a clear advantage over their rivals.  Ferrari had their drivers (or should I say Rubens) under control in 2004 but like Mercedes, McLaren saw the egotistical scales tilting in 1988.

I don't need to write about the tumultuous relationship between Senna and Prost as the story has been told over and over, from different perspectives.  However what I will say on that matter is that Prost was always villainized, something that irks me and perhaps always will.  Prost was a thinker, a planner, a strategist but came across as more outwardly reserved, whilst Senna cut from a similar cloth had a fierce personality.  Senna's never die attitude is what endeared him to his followers and even made those that cheered for others, respect what seemed like an ability to out drive the machinery he was in.

Does any of that sound familiar? I see echoes of the Senna/Prost rivalry emerging in Hamilton/Rosberg as both vigorously tries to best the other as the Championship comes to a climax.  The media (especially the British) has not made things any easier creating a hyperbole around the pair as they both look to take the drivers championship, creating friction that Mercedes management seem ill equipped to deal with.  Like Ron Dennis and McLaren in 88, Toto Wolff & Niki Lauda have emphasized throughout that both drivers are on equal footing and are allowed to race.  Unlikely to lose the constructors title to Red Bull now, with an almost unassailable lead they could just let the pair have at it.  However I'm sure the Daimler board of directors won't be impressed with their drivers feuding, all the time leaving the door open for Daniel Ricciardo to ghost in behind and take the drivers title.

So what of the incident in Spa?  Post race, like many others I took to twitter and as always I tried to see the argument from both sides of the fence, afterall this was a racing incident, not investigated by the race stewards.
Of course this came across as a defence of Rosberg, much to the annoyance of the Hamilton fans, although this was not my intention.  The move was never on for Rosberg, I simply believed at the time that Rosberg was showing Hamilton "I'm here and you're going to have a battle on your hands".  Toto Wolff's reaction in an interview with the BBC post race was that the move was "absolutely unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable, lap number 2 of a long race, a crash between two team mates"

The problem with the incident, is what ensued for Hamilton, the instant deflation of the tyre handing Rosberg the lead of the race, with Hamiltons stricken WO5 taking what would usually take just over a minute to get back to the pitlane, taking double that and of course all the time the delaminating tyre causing irrecoverable damage to his cars floor.  This more than anything is what people are unhappy with as even with a damaged front wing Rosberg was able to continue at a relatively decent race pace, whilst Hamilton's race was destroyed and his championship chances once again eroded.

If we were to rewind to lap one and look as Hamilton and Vettel diced for position in a similar way, Vettel (although he was actually further alongside Hamilton coming toward Les Combes, along Kemmel straight) abandoned his attempt to overtake, taking to the run off instead).
So does that make Rosberg's move wrong? Well lets also cast our mind back to Germany, when Hamilton was trying to get back through the pack and came up against Jenson Button at the hairpin.  Hamilton conducted an overtake in the same vein as Rosberg, where a collision ensued.  The result was a similar Front Wing breakage on Lewis' car but as the speed was much lower in this incident Button wasn't penalised with a puncture.  Yes I realise these are different incidents but in terms of racing incidents they both carry the same merits.  Just like the Rosberg / Hamilton scenario initially both blamed one another, Jenson later said he understood why Hamilton thought I was giving him the space to pass, but came short of actually admitting fault in any way (A racing incident.

Moving onto the post race debrief which has now sparked the insinuation that Rosberg intentionally drove into Hamilton.  As always this started out as a one sided argument with Hamilton telling the media that Rosberg had admitted driving into him.  As always though context is important, with Toto Wolff coming to Rosbergs defence:

"Nico felt he needed to hold his line,", "He needed to make a point. He didn't give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space and that Lewis didn't leave him space. "For Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico.
"So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion among ourselves, but it wasn't deliberately crashing. That is nonsense."

Rosberg is clearly towing the line that he rolled the car into the gap, hoping that Hamilton would allow him the room to retain his momentum, which in his eyes would have allowed both of them to continue their fight.  Hamilton however didn't have to leave him that space, he had the position and was entitled to put his car in that position.  Thus making it six of one, half a dozen of the other: Racing incident.

Did Rosberg intentionally crash into Hamilton? Only 1 person truly knows the answer to that...  What is clear is that the incident is the tipping point in the Championship and more importantly a major issue for Mercedes to deal with going forward.  As we have seen in the case of Red Bull / Vettel / Webber / Horner / Marko, team orders are not always a resolution to such incidents, with a toxic relationship between all the parties created, with each beginning to believe the other is 'taking sides'.  Turkey 2010 created much the same ripples for Red Bull as we are going to see going forward at Mercedes if things aren't controlled.
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24 August 2014
Bite Size Tech: Ferrari powered teams exhaust covering - Spa


It's no secret that both Ferrari and Renault have failed to live upto the benchmark set by Mercedes with the 2014 poweruint.  As always that doesn't stop manufacturers trying to make up ground though, with both Ferrari and Renault making strides since the start of the season.  Fuel has provided the platform for large performance gains in both cases, with new blends being used to facilitate better power and performance as the teams look to extract more from their race allocation of fuel.  This is an area that Mercedes and Petronas bested their adversaries with before the season commenced and so perhaps have less to gain as the season continues.
Marussia tested (at the post Silverstone test) with their exhaust primaries wrapped, to see what sort of performance gains could be made.  It's something that the other teams have been doing since the start of the season and so it has been one of those head scratchers as to why Ferrari hadn't adopted it before now.  Questions were raised after the Marussia test as to the legality of the Ferrari teams deciding to wrap their exhausts mid season, owing to the homologation regulations.  I've been stead fast in my opinion since then that this practice is legal as they're not changing the specification of exhaust simply heat wrapping it.  Of course there are compound effects of heat wrapping an exhaust, as it will increase the exhaust gasses potential velocity.  This increase in exhaust gas velocity increases the turbochargers potential which in turn increase the MGU-H's potential to harvest energy, passing it either directly to the MGU-K for instantaneous power or to the ES (Energy Store) for later deployment.

The increased temperature and velocity of the exhaust gases driving the turbine will of course change the requirements of the fuel being injected into the cylinders, producing more power.  This development will undoubtedly have implications for Shell, as temperature (especially EGT, Exhaust Gas Temperature) will play a crucial role in their fuels development, giving them another opportunity to make incremental gains.

As we can see from the images above, Ferrari have 'bagged' their manifolds rather than using exhaust wrap, this will have a slightly different effect and of course comes with a slightly higher cost.  It's difficult to proportion a power figure to this heat enclosure method as I've seen 20bhp banded around on other sites.  I'd be weary of giving actual figures and ask that people not only look at the additional top end performance that it achieves but the compound effects we see with fuel, ERS etc.

Images in this article originate from AMuS
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23 August 2014
Bite Size Tech: Caterham CT05 Engine Cover - Spa


Caterham arrived after the summer break looking to chase down their closest advisory: Marussia.  With this in mind the new owners had given a raft of new performance parts the green light as they chase their rivals for the all important 10th place.  (Although Marussia are currently in 9th, owing to a bad season for Sauber)

Part of the upgrade package was a new engine cover/cooling outlet, which looks to make better use of the region,  not only by dispatching of the un-wanted latent powerunit heat but also by improving airflow, especially in the coke bottle region.
Smaller, shorter and wider channels on the outside of the cover (terminating ahead of the suspension) allow for a tighter inner cooling outlet which of course creates more room for the airflow to migrate around the coke bottle, increasing the performance of the floor and diffuser.

Also worth noting is the new paint scheme on the Caterham, dropping the mixture of Green, White and Black down to just Black might not seem like a huge weight saving but every little matters.  Furthermore this is a recognized Colin Kolles tactic (weight reduction) in order to gain competitiveness.
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Bite Size Tech: Caterham CT05 - New Nose - Spa


The CT-05 certainly wasn't going to win any style awards when the team unveiled the car at the start of the season (above), with perhaps the most hideous intepretation of the 'finger' nose on the grid.  Their latest design however is much more aesthetically pleasing but more importantly may unlock some further aerodynamic potential in the car.
The more svelt vanity panel section above the finger extension is reminiscent of the Sauber C33, but unlike Sauber the team haven't used conventional connecting pylons but instead use much shorter ones, connected to the lower part of their nose.  As only the upper section of the nose has been altered and not the structural part it's unlikely the team performed another crash test.

In terms of aero the old nose was an extreme attempt at retaining the high nose seen prior to the new rules, in an attempt to drive airflow on mass under the car.  However quality trumps quantity every time and so the new design, although seemingly more conservative will likely yield better results downstream.
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Bite Size Tech: Ferrari F14T Rear Wing - Spa


Spa's unique circuit characteristics demand good top speed for the 1st and 3rd sectors whilst retaining a high level of downforce for sector 2.  This therefore makes for an interesting decision process when designing/selecting a rear wing, with most of the teams bringing a new specification of rear wing to cater for these demands, Ferrari are no exception.

Of course they completed correlation work to asses its merits in comparison to the standard specification too (below).

The newer wing (top and below) features a much shallower angle of attack for the Mainplane and Top Flap, whilst the endplate louvres which are used to reduce tip vortices are reduced from 5 to 3 (owing to the shallower AoA).  The chance of rain for qualifying/race and/or down to assessment work conducted in FP1&2 we may still see Ferrari run with the older specification as a precaution.
NOTE: As this piece was written after FP2 you should be aware that both drivers opted for the higher downforce wing for qualifying/race day.
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22 August 2014
Bite Size Tech: McLaren MP4-29 Rear Wing - Spa


McLaren have arrived in Spa with several updates, looking to increase the performance of the MP4-29, mainly centred around improving the airflow structures at the rear of the car.  As we have seen over the last few races the team have started to move away from the use of their 'wishbone wings' as the concept although sound hasn't produced the type of performance they require.  Furthermore as the design of many components was made to cater for them making widesweeping changes has taken time.




With changes to the 'wishbone wings' and diffuser already mentioned: McLaren MP4-29 - Diffuser - Spa we must now turn our attention to their new rear wing.  Having implemented several design changes to their rear wing in Hockenheim which was used again in Hungary and with a switch from high to medium downforce (with a large emphasis on drag reduction for the long straights) the team introduced another new design.
The top flap retains the leading edge tubercles introduced on the wings predecessor, retaining with it the increased L/D they create.  The mainplane however returns to having a regular trailing edge but has been redesigned with a curved leading edge, as the outer sections curve upwardly to reduce drag but also maximise downforce.  The canards added to the outside of the endplates in the last update have been removed as their purpose was to help unify the airflow structures in the region, which in turn will have a small drag penalty.  Whilst the louvres, used to minimise tip vortices have been reduced from 5 to 3, owing to the reduction in angle of attack of the top flap and mainplane.

Also worth noting is that the team are not running their Y100 Winglet / Monkey Seat this weekend (usually attached to the Y-Lon)


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