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  1. #1
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    Formula 1 Preview

    The 2009 Formula One season starts this weekend in Melbourne, Australia. With new rules, new cars, and one quasi-new team, there is much uncertainty to be answered. Surprisingly, the driver lineup seems to be the most stable aspect of the new season.

    Some of the changes to the cars mandated by the new rules will be readily apparent from their appearance. The rear wings will be taller and narrower. Rear diffusers will have new shapes and some teams are accusing others of running illegal shapes. Hopefully that issue will be resolved before qualifying starts at 1:30 am ET Saturday morning. Gone are most of the flaps, winglets, and other add-ons that sprouted here and there on the 2009 cars. One of the reasons for these new rules is to eliminate the rear turbulences that made it difficult for a following car to get close enough to attempt a pass. Front wings will be wider, lower, and adjustable by the driver. Look for them to be easily damaged through contact with other cars. The Bridgestone tires will return to being full slicks after 10-years of having the required groves. This is expected to a about 8% more grip, off-setting somewhat the loss due to the aerodynamic changes mentioned above.

    Then we have the KERS (kinetic energy recovery system). This high-tech device allows energy created from the brakes to be stored and used for acceleration when a button is pushed. Of course the system adds weight to the car that they will attempt to save elsewhere through compromises in items. For the beginning of this season the ten teams have the choice to run with or without a KERS. More uncertainty as to which team will run it and what advantage it might offer. The BMW-Sauber team likes their test results so far, but they figure the advantages of the system will vary from track to track.

    Engine configuration rules remain the same, although they are now limited to a maximum of 18,000 rpm. The last two years engines had to be used for two consecutive races without suffering a significant starting-position penalty. For 2009, each car can use up to eight engines throughout the season, and it is up to the teams to determine when an engine should be replaced. This is an attempt to reduce costs for the F1 teams. Another cost-cutting measure is the elimination of in-season testing except for some straight line aerodynamic tests.

    Two important changes to the qualifying and race rules: 1. The third qualifying session (“Q3”) has been shorted from 15 to 10 minutes. This will shorten the time teams have to burn up fuel and change to fresh tires for that one golden lap. 2. If a safety car has to be deployed during the race, the pits will now remain open for refueling and other needs, but the cars will be electronically monitored and limited in the speeds they can drive to get to the pits.

    One very controversial rule about the means of determining the season’s drivers’ championship has been instituted and then rescinded by the FIA after protests from the teams and drivers. Rather than the champion being the driver that accumulated the most points under the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system, F1 Czar Bernie Ecclestone wanted whoever had the most wins being declared the champ. If this had been in effect last year, Felipe Massa would have been the World Champion.

    Early this past winter Honda announced they would not be operating their F1 team in 2009. After attempts to find a well-heeled suitor, team principal Ross Brawn, a Brit, announced he would operate the team as BrawnGP and purchase engines from Mercedes. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello have been retained as drivers. Without the winter-testing other teams enjoyed, everyone expected the team to be at a severe disadvantage. But when the Brawn got on the track in early March it surprised all with their dominating speeds. Now the pundits are picking the Brawns to be the front-runner in the early part of this season.

    BMW-Sauber (Kubica and Heidfeld), Ferrari (Massa and Raikkonen), McLaren (Hamilton and Kovalainen), Williams (Rosberg and Nakajima), Toyota (Trulli and Glock), Force India (Fisichella and Sutil), and Renault (Alonso and Piquet) are all going with their 2008 driver line up. Red Bull with have Sebastian Vettel moving over from Toro Rosso to join Mark Weber after David Coulthard’s retirement. Vettel’s Toro Rosso seat will be replaced by Sebastien Buemi, joining the other Sebastien – Bourdais.

    There are no new tracks being used in the 17-race 2009 season. Of course that means no F1 races in the USA or Canada. In fact, the only race in the whole Western Hemisphere is in Brazil. All but four races will be televised live on the Speed TV cable network. The four exceptions will be carried on the Fox Network (they own Speed) on a delayed basis Sunday afternoons. In addition to the races, the Speed coverage usually includes the second Friday practice session and the Saturday qualifying. So this weekend Melbourne will have practice at 1:30 am Friday, qualifying at 2:00 am Saturday, and the race at 1:30 am Sunday.
    Last edited by woodym3; 03-24-2009 at 09:01 PM.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

  2. #2
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    Woody,
    We will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton will again drive for McLaren, with Heikki Kovalainen (God I had to look that up) and Rosberg and Nakajima will be with Williams again.

    Joel
    (damn I miss Michael!)
    Joel Bossard
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  3. #3
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    This season is gonna be great!

    Thanks for the writeup Woody.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by slantsixm3 View Post
    Woody,
    We will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton will again drive for McLaren, with Heikki Kovalainen (God I had to look that up) and Rosberg and Nakajima will be with Williams again.

    Joel
    (damn I miss Michael!)
    Thanks Joel. Yeah I got a little ahead of myself. It's corrected now.
    I miss Michael too, but I don't miss him winning ALL the time.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

  5. #5

    Kers

    I wish more were being written about this technology. As I understand it, there are two competing designs. One uses a flywheel in the gearbox to store kinetic energy, and one uses batteries to store electrical energy. I believe that BMW is using the flywheel approach which is supposed to be more efficient, but has drawbacks including a gyroscope effect and less freedom od weight distribution. The electric type suffers more losses and has the added danger of shocking crew members, safety workers, or the drivers if stuff goes wrong. I believe that the added weight of the systems has not been enough to effect the overall weight of the cars, just reduce the amount of ballast wieght thus reducing the engineers ability to control weight distribution. At this time, I believe only Ferrari and Renault are planning to employ KERS in OZ. The boost is limited to 80hp for no more than 7 seconds a lap.
    Bob Hopkins
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  6. #6
    I just read that BMW plans to run KERS with Nick but not Robert. Hedging their bets. I hope this goes better than Sebring for BMW.
    Bob Hopkins
    M3 1997 Black "Vader"
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  7. #7
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    BMW to split KERS use

    BMW has announced that Nick Heidfeld's car will run with an active KERS in Australia, but Robert Kubica's will not have it. Part of this decision is due to Heidfeld being very light so the KERS will not put the BMW F1.09 over the minimum weight allowed. BMW hopes to develop a lighter system for Kubica's use later in the season.

    Practice will be on Speed TV at 1:30am tonight (Friday morning).
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

  8. #8

    Spoiler alert!

    What a sad race for Kubica. He was passing for 2nd when he and Vettel touched. I believe Bob had some blame because going around the outside is always risky, but what a shame. BMW seems to definitely be the best of the non-uberdifusser cars. Lets hope they can exploit the new diffusser interpretation to challenge Brawn on outright speed.
    Bob Hopkins
    M3 1997 Black "Vader"
    911 1986 Red "Baron"

  9. #9
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    Penalties and stuff - More Spoilers

    For those of you who watched the race, but did hear of later penalty assessments:
    1. Sabastien Vettel (Red Bull)was deemed to be at fault in the crash with Kubica and will suffer a 10 spot grid penalty in this weekend's race in Malaysia. Vettel did apologize to Kubica (BMW) after the race too. Vettel was also hit with a big fine for attempting to drive more laps with the car in such a damaged condition.

    2. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) was assessed a 25-second penalty, moving him from 3rd place back to 12th, and putting Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) up to 3rd. Apparently Trulli went off the track during the late full course caution and Hamilton (rightfully) passed him. Trulli re-entered the track and re-passed Hamilton. Trulli claims Hamilton had slowed so drastically he thought he had a problem and was going to stop. Toyota may file an appeal.

    On the initial viewing I thought Kubica was mostly to blame for the contact and considered it stupid not to wait for a better opportunity with over 2 laps remaining. Since then I have watched it several times and read that at the rate he was lapping, he might have been able to catch Button for the win. Now I'm wondering if the team was urging Kubica to pass Vettel as quickly as possible.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenson Button View Post
    What a sad race for Kubica.
    I was furious... I was ready to fight. These men are amazing for not only their driving prowess, but for their ability to remain cool... jeez
    2000 323i
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    it was a beautiful day... the sun beat down
    I had the radio on, I was drivin'...

  11. #11
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    I thought the race was quite surprising, given the 1-2 of Brawn in their quasi-inaugural year. I was PO'd at Kubica being knocked out, but stoked Barrichello got 2nd.
    Say, anyone a member of a F1 club? I want one in Baltimore, but I know no one that's really into motorsport outside of BMWCCA and even then it's more about their cars than a given series. None of the pubs I know of have Speed Channel and local channels only play maybe on race a year and given Indy is no longer it's difficult to see it in a social atmosphere like a Ravens game or something. Anyway, good to know SOME people follow F1. ALMS was initially a disappointment, but hopefully the next race will prove a benefit to Rahal/Letterman Racing... C'mon Auberlen!!!
    If you're not passing, GET OUT OF THE WAY.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Scotty's Avatar
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    I just saw the race last night. Although things are obviously chaotic with the rule changes and technology updates, it was very fun not to see the usual procession of front runners dominating the race.

    Cheers to Ross Brawn and his team. Even though they won with the "cheater diffuser", they ran a great race and the other cars with similar aero didn't catch them. Poor Rubens cocked things up right from the start and generally had a bad day. But Jenson was flawless and it was fun to watch him win.

    Having said that, Brawn is obviously way too fast. Is Mercedes power that good? Is it the combination of the motor and the diffuser? What can McLaren be thinking? What will the FIA decide on the diffuser design? Is Honda chagrined to see two cars they once owned finish on top after years of failure?

    Yes, too bad about Kubica. After looking from several perspectives, I think Vettel should have backed off. He just didn't get his nose far enough in before the turn. (The Boeing 747 front wing down low doesn't help.) Robert could have played it safe and stayed wide, but he didn't. Too bad.

    How about the instantaneous rev changes heard in the onboard shots? I assume Matchett was correct in his assumption that the drop in revs is the KERS generator engaging to charge the batteries? Can't remember which car I heard it on...

    Interesting about the yellow stickers and the warning lights that tell corner workers to stay away from a disabled car until the KERS system is fully de-energized. It's definitely a new era in F1...
    Scott Lowrey

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    I
    How about the instantaneous rev changes heard in the onboard shots? I assume Matchett was correct in his assumption that the drop in revs is the KERS generator engaging to charge the batteries? Can't remember which car I heard it on...
    It was Hamilton's McLaren that caused Matchett's comment. I think it occured under acceleration, and I thought the KERS charged under braking. So maybe it was the end of the 6 second KERS power surge.
    Woody
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Scotty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodym3 View Post
    It was Hamilton's McLaren that caused Matchett's comment. I think it occured under acceleration, and I thought the KERS charged under braking. So maybe it was the end of the 6 second KERS power surge.
    Yep, thought about that later in the day - kinetic energy recovery.
    Scott Lowrey

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