Australian Grand Prix Formula One preview
Red Bull Racing
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix – preview
Albert Park facts & stats
The Australian Grand Prix has been Formula 1’s curtain raiser for 15 of the last 17 seasons, and on each occasion the race has been staged at Albert Park in Melbourne. The temporary 5.303km/3.295-mile track winds its way around the park’s central lake and it has a predominance of second-gear right-hand bends and chicanes.
Aside from being the first race for the innovative Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-28, this year’s Rolex Australian GP marks the first time that Pirelli’s new Supersoft and Medium compounds will be raced. With higher track temperatures expected in Melbourne than was the case during winter testing in Europe, tyre wear is expected to become a decisive factor during the 58-lap race.
Albert Park has been a happy hunting ground for McLaren over the years. The team scored its first victory with Mercedes-Benz engines at the track and it has taken a total of six wins at the venue (1997, ’98, ’03, ’08, ’10 and ’12). Jenson has taken three victories in Australia and Sergio Perez, who makes his race debut for McLaren this weekend, finished in the points last season.
- Race distance 58 laps (307.574km/191.110 miles)
- Start time 17:00 (local)/06:00 (GMT)
- Circuit length 5.303km/3.295 miles
- 2012 winner Jenson Button (McLaren MP4-27) 58 laps in 1hr 34m 09.565s (195.991km/h)
- 2012 pole Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4-27) 1m 24.922s (224.803km/h)
- Lap record Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m24.125s (226.933km/h)
McLaren at the Australian Grand Prix
- Wins 11 (1986,’88, ’91, ’92, ’93 – Adelaide; ’97, ’98, 2003, ’08, ’10, ’12 – Melbourne)
- Poles 10 (1988, ’89, ’90, ’91, ’93 – Adelaide; ’98, ’99, 2000, ’08, ’12 – Melbourne)
- Fastest laps 8 (1988, ’91 – Adelaide; ’98, 2002, ’03, ’06, ’08, ’12 – Melbourne)
Car 5: Jenson Button
- Age 33 (January 19 1980)
- GPs 228
- Wins 15
- Poles 8
- FLs 8
“Wow, I can’t believe it’s come around already! It seems like only last week that I was standing on top of the podium in Sao Paulo; I really can’t believe that we’re all getting ready to board flights to Australia. It feels incredible – the time has gone by so quickly.
“But they say time flies when you’re having fun, and I’ve had a fantastic winter: I’ve never stopped training and working, and I feel incredibly fit and focused ahead of this new season.
“One of the most fascinating things about Formula 1 is the way it resets itself each and every winter. I’ve seen every side of that: you can have a terrible winter of testing, then turn up at the first race and be competitive; equally, you can look impressive in winter testing and be nowhere in Melbourne. If you’re lucky, it all comes together in the tests and you hit the ground running at the first race. That’s always the goal.
“This year, I don’t think any team really knows or understands the competitive order. It’s been an extremely hard-to-read winter: varying fuel-loads and levels of tyre degradation mean that it’s hard to accurately predict who’ll arrive in Australia with the best-sorted car. But that’s part of the game.
“The start of a new season is always exciting as it’s the culmination of months of hard work and planning. I’ve had some great experiences in Melbourne, having won the race three times, and I love the place. There isn’t a better location in the world to be kicking off what will no doubt be a fiercely competitive world championship.”
Car 6: Sergio Perez
- Age 23 (January 26 1990)
- GPs 37
- Wins 0
- Poles 0
- FLs 1
“It’s been an incredibly busy winter. Joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was always going to be a massively significant step in my career, but I immediately started to appreciate what makes this team such a consistent winning force: the dedication, motivation and attention to detail is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
“Of course, for me, there has been the additional challenge of getting to know a new car and new engineering systems, and learning the names and roles of the many people I work closely with in the organisation. But it’s never stopped being fun and I can already appreciate how useful that learning will be when I arrive in the pit garage in Melbourne to drive the car in a grand prix weekend for the first time.
“On top of all my acclimatisation, our winter has been extremely busy: there’s always a lot of work to do when you make significant changes to the car, and having only 12 days to iron out every single issue is never easy. However, we’ve had a productive three weeks of testing and we’re using every available opportunity to further refine the car before Melbourne.
“For me, arriving in Melbourne as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver will be an incredible honour. I’ve never worked harder over a winter to be ready for the new season, and I’m confident I’ve done everything within my reach to be ready. Now all I’m waiting for is for the red lights to go out next Sunday afternoon!”
Martin Whitmarsh Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“In the days leading up to the Australian Grand Prix, it’s fair to say that every team member of every Formula 1 team is looking over the precipice, balancing their hopes and fears, their nerves tensed in anticipation for the long slog ahead. It’s a tantalising prospect – and it’s one that keeps everyone who loves our sport coming back for more.
“At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we’ve faced a challenging few weeks prepping our new MP4-28 for the 2013 season. The often cold and sometimes wet conditions we experienced during pre-season testing in Barcelona and Jerez made it difficult to operate the tyres consistently within their optimal performance window. That issue, combined with a handful of typical testing setbacks, gave us a few headaches, but as ever our engineers and mechanics did extremely well to complete as much useful running as they did. Well done, boys.
“But it was much the same for all the teams. As a result, anyone who says they already know in what order the cars will line up on the Albert Park starting grid on Sunday March 17th is a soothsayer of rare ability. Indeed, in truth, even after qualifying on Saturday March 16th, no Team Principal will be genuinely confident of his car’s race-spec performance relative to that of his principal opposition until the flag drops and the proverbial stops.
“In addition to that motor racing truism, it’s important to remember that our MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design that we intend to develop aggressively throughout the year. Undoubtedly, it has great potential – and we fly to Melbourne determined to show well and to score points that should establish us in good stead for both the drivers’ and the constructors’ world championships.
“We’re still working tirelessly to bring more pace to the MP4-28’s performance envelope, and I believe we’ll arrive in Australia in decent shape. Having said that, we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes never under-estimate our competitors, and we’re certainly not under-estimating them now. As I say, the MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design, and I have great confidence that our design, development and engineering teams will work tirelessly to shave tenths off its lap-times for Melbourne, and for Sao Paulo, and for everywhere in between.”
A McLaren 50 classic moment
Australian Grand Prix, 26 October 1986
A breathless season-finale in Adelaide sees Alain Prost snatch the world title from under the noses of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. The Frenchman enters the race six points behind Mansell in the drivers’ standings, but seals the title after a thrilling 82-lap battle with the Williams drivers.
Alain qualifies fourth in his Porsche-powered MP4/2C, more than a second behind Mansell’s pole position time. He drives a brilliantly tenacious race to overcome an early puncture and press the Williams drivers in the closing stages, just as tyre wear starts to prove critical.
Alain’s team-mate Keke Rosberg is the first to encounter difficulties, the Finn mistakenly believing a delaminating rear tyre is his engine letting go, and he parks his leading MP4/2C at the side of the track.
It is an omen: soon after, Mansell’s title hopes go bang when he suffers a high-speed puncture on the Brabham Straight with just 18 laps remaining. That hands the lead of the race – and potentially the world title – to team-mate Piquet, but Williams calls Piquet in for a precautionary pitstop, handing the lead to Prost.
Piquet closes the gap to Prost from 15s to 4s in the last 10 laps, but victory is enough to seal Prost’s second world title. To date he’s the only driver to have won the Australian Grand Prix in both World Championship and non-championship form, having taken victory in the non-championship 1982 Australian Grand Prix that was run for Formula Pacific cars at Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne.
Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Räikkönen Q&A
Our Iceman is back in the driving seat and gives us his thoughts on how testing went for him, and how even the perfect amount of laps is never quite enough…
Albert Park is upon us and testing didn’t quite go to plan for you; how are you feeling at the start of the 2013 Formula 1 season?
We had some problems in testing but we still completed quite a few laps. Of course, you always want more laps, but it is what it is. We’re all going racing and then we’ll really see where we’re at. I’m not really concerned about reliability or anything like that as it was the same problem which caused us the biggest problems in testing and we’re on top of that now. You can never be 100% certain of course, but if you look at last season we had problems before the start of the year then we were pretty good when we got to the races. Of course we hope that we can perform better than last year, but let’s see how it goes.
Do you feel better placed to fight for the championship than last year?
Hopefully, but it’s so difficult to say from testing. Twenty kilos of fuel can make a big difference to lap time and we don’t know how much fuel people were carrying in Spain. Let’s see what happens in Melbourne. Hopefully we can be fast in the first races and have a good start to the year.
You’ve said the E21 is a nice step forward from the its predecessor; is that across the board and in every area, or is there more you want from a racing car?
I think you always want more, but this car is a pretty good starting point and we’ll see; hopefully we’re fast enough. I don’t think there’s any area where it feels worse than last year’s car; so far everything is better. We had good speed last year, but not enough to win the championship. That means we need more speed this year. If we can get just a little more from the car and keep our consistency, with some better results at the beginning of the year, then we should have a much better chance.
It’s your second year with Lotus F1 Team; does that continuity help you and your feeling with the team and does it mean you are working well together?
It helps for sure, but if it’s going to make a difference, well I don’t know. The fact that we know each other already will be better – you know each other and what the other driver likes from their car and so on – but if this actually helps to bring better results to the team I don’t really know.
What would you like to achieve in Albert Park?
I’d like to start the season strongly and hopefully run the first races better than we did last year. We don’t know exactly what to expect so we’ll try to do the best we can; we should have a reasonable start to the season.
You’ve had some good races in Australia; is it good to be starting the year there?
Australia is a nice place even though it’s a long way from Europe. The circuit itself is not the most difficult on the calendar. It was good to score a point on my first time at Albert Park, and the podiums and race win in 2007 obviously made me happy. The circuit hasn’t changed at all so I’m confident I know which way it goes…
Do you think Albert Park could suit the E21?
It’s always difficult to say for the first race of the year. It’s not a full time race track so the weekend starts pretty slippery. The weather can be a bit of a surprise sometimes and we’ll also learn how we compare to the other teams. You need a car with good traction and the E21 feels better in this area than the E20 which wasn’t a bad car itself. Strong turn-in and stable braking help too, and those areas also feel good with the car so we are well placed.
Romain Grosjean Q&A
Romain Grosjean talks us through the importance of continuity, how his experience from last year will help this season and his relationship with Kimi.
Next stop Albert Park and we’re looking ahead to the 2013 season; how are you feeling?
I’m really looking forward to the 2013 season; it’s been a good winter for us and we achieved quite a bit of what we wanted to do, even if the conditions were not always easy. We’re ready for Albert Park, it’s one of my favourite Grand Prix circuits, so it will be good to get there, start the season and do the best that we can.
We saw last year that the E20 was somewhat of a dark horse and that then carried on through the year; how does this year’s car feel in comparison?
It’s a good continuation of the E20 and definitely a step forward; the team have been working hard and are doing their best to give us a good car. The answer will only be clear after qualifying in Melbourne; we looked quick during winter testing but it’s always different to race weekends, so let’s see what the first race brings us. Hopefully it’s a good surprise, as was the case last year, and I’m sure we can have a very good season.
Last year you impressed with P3 on the grid in Australia, on a circuit you’d never raced on before. What’s your feeling as you look to the first qualifying session of the 2013?
I obviously have much more experience than I did heading into last year and I’m looking forward to the whole season. I will try to put all the work I have been doing together with the team and turn that into good performances on track. I feel much more comfortable as I approach the 2013 season. Last year there were some highs and some lows, so the idea now is to keep up the performance that I’m able to show and bring some consistency which needs to be there every time. We know what we want and we’ve had good discussions through the winter, so we’ll all looking to start the season with a clear direction.
How much benefit will the continuity bring?
I think consecutive seasons in any category is good from two points of view. The first is with the driving itself; you’re restarting a season so you know the circuits, you know the cars, how a race weekend works and what you should and shouldn’t do. Then, there is the continuity with the team, which is another point and one that’s quite important as well. As we go to Melbourne we’ll know the set up we used from last year and we can work from there. All our engineers are the same and the way we approach the data is familiar. From this standpoint we can really work well and keep everything we’ve been learning together. During testing I also had to the chance to run with Kimi’s engineers which was very good. We are a team and we’re working together; there’s nothing that is hidden or not shared between us.
You’ve been with the team for quite a long time now; what is the feeling within the garage as we head into the 2013 season and where are our strengths?
This team has so much history; it was started a long time ago, has won three Constructors’ World Championships and there will hopefully be more in the future. The key people here know how to create a good car and over the last four years the team has been picking up momentum. Our objectives keep rising higher and higher, but I think it’s reasonable to say that we can achieve them.
It’s also your second season with Kimi as a team mate and you were both racing quite closely on track together at certain points last year; how will you approach this season and working with him again?
Kimi is a good team mate and the relationship we have is ok. We’re both quite quick and we’re always pushing the limits. In engineering meetings and internally we share everything which helps us both perform better on track and when we’re out there we push each other hard, but it’s always with respect and fair play.
It’s very difficult to predict these things after winter testing, but where would you hope to be in Australia?
I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot, but I really have no answer until we get to qualifying in Melbourne. Of course, we always want to be at the front; that’s the aim, and we’ll do the best that the car can do. As long as I perform to my best then I will be happy.
Eric Boullier Q&A
Team Principal Eric Boullier gives us the lowdown on the feeling within the team looking ahead to the first race in Australia and why he sometimes has stressful moments on the pit wall with Kimi and Romain
How is Lotus F1 Team placed ahead of the opening race of the season?
We can take quite a bit of confidence following pre-season testing. We didn’t complete as many laps as we wanted and we did experience a few glitches both technical and physical, but despite this we were able to work through most of the items in our itinerary. We are confident that we have made a step forward compared to last year.
How do you view the continuity with Kimi and Romain going into 2013?
That for me is one of the key points for this year and it’s clearly going to be one of the assets of our team’s performance. To keep both these drivers, who are very complimentary, is the best situation for the team. Both now know the team well and it is their second consecutive year together in Formula 1. With this you can build up a nice momentum for the start of the season, compared to last year where we had to spend time nurturing that relationship.
When you look around at your rivals, how intense is the competition likely to be this season?
I think it’s going to be as competitive as ever. You can see at least five teams having the potential to win races and it’s getting very tight. It’s going to be interesting to see how the teams can perform on a single lap, but also how they can perform during long stints and on track. More so than last year, it will be important to fight from the front with a good qualifying position and the race pace of our drivers will be important.
Last year there was a lot of talk about the Pirelli tyres and this year we have new constructions and new compounds; how do you think we’ll get on with them?
The most important thing is we want to keep the strength we had from last year in that we managed the tyres well. This is one of the key points we could see during testing, but I think it’s going to be another challenge to understand these tyres. The key is the Pirelli philosophy; we understand the tyres, however wear is higher than last year so you may expect more pit stops during some of the races. We still have to try these tyres in hot conditions; we’ve only run in cold weather so far and they have been specifically designed for higher temperatures, so we may have some surprises.
Going into 2013, where do you think our main strengths on track lie?
I believe we have kept the main strength of the car from last year, which was very conservative on tyre wear and degradation, and we’ve proved our capability to deliver one lap pace which is important for qualifying.
The team has been pushing to be at the front; how does 2013 fit into this plan and where do you see the team going?
There is a long term plan and a clear road map to the front of the grid. Last year we showed some peaks of good performance and were nearly always at or near the front. I feel that this year we will be even more so and the key element will be to maintain that performance and pace to fight for regular points and podiums. At the same time, we’ll be preparing in Enstone for the new era of Formula 1 in 2014 with new engines and big regulation changes.
We haven’t started 2013, yet the team is probably looking at the massive regulation changes for 2014 already…
Yes, you’re right. As we keep saying, these changes will be a revolution in the Formula 1 world. Our design office started work on the next generation of cars quite a few months ago, but asking engineers to work in advance is not going to be enough if we want to be competitive in 2014. To achieve this, we’ll need to establish a new way of operating which will allow us to be much more efficient. Our view is that, in order to be competitive in the future, Formula 1 teams should forget about the way they’ve been operating for years and should re-invent themselves.
James Allison Q&A
Technical Director James Allison gives us his feedback from winter testing, why he’s optimistic about the season ahead and tells us where he sees the competition.
Looking ahead to a brand new season, how are you feeling and what’s the vibe with the E21?
Right after three tests in a row you feel quite tired as it’s almost like three consecutive Grands Prix. We’re a little frustrated about the amount of time we lost out on track, but we’re also excited, optimistic and looking forward to taking the car to Melbourne and seeing what we can do with it.
What have you learned about the E21 this winter and what do you think it can achieve?
I think that from right back in Jerez it was clear that there are a number of quick teams out there. I think it was also clear from the first test that we have the potential to be one of them and the evidence of our running so far hasn’t done anything to dispel that. We’ll be in the hunt for podiums and very much looking for race wins.
How big a challenge are the latest Pirelli tyres?
We’ve seen some headlines about the challenge they present, but it’s good to remember that the tyres are the same challenge for everybody and that they’re designed for the racing season, and not the testing season. We’ve also been using them so far in temperature conditions that are not really ideal so it’s foolhardy to make any conclusions based solely on what we’ve seen so far. I expect they’ll be less dramatic once the season kicks off, but nevertheless I think we can expect them to play a full part in the opening races of this year.
There has been a lot of talk of very big degradation. Is this an issue?
You need to put this talk in context of where and when we test. Of all the tracks we visit, Barcelona is one of the more aggressive and Jerez is about the most aggressive. Using tyres which are designed for summer, in the winter, on a track which is one of the most aggressive means that you won’t see the tyres at their best. Even with track and weather conditions far from ideal, we’ve still completed a satisfactory race simulation so we’re not too concerned as a team. When we see the tyres at less aggressive circuits in better weather conditions they will perform better. Yes, they’re going to degrade, but it’s not going to be as much of a story as some people are predicting. And it will make the races exciting too.
How beneficial for the team is the continuity with drivers?
It’s definitely beneficial as we don’t have to fret about any of the issues that we would have to with new drivers, such as seat fits and brakes; that’s all long behind us. Our drivers are absolutely match fit and ready to go.
Can the E21 bring a title back to Enstone?
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility. It looks like we’re entering an exceedingly close season from the evidence we’ve seen so far. Our car doesn’t look bad against the opposition from what we can deduce, and we have a good team and good drivers behind it. It’s certainly closer than last year, but we expected this going into a second season of relatively stable regulations.
Will we see the DDRS ‘Device’ out in action?
We’re a step closer to making it happen, but it’s something which is still in protracted birth pangs. It’s a very difficult concept to get right. It’s a passive device so the strength on the fluid switch isn’t very large. The difficulty is making the switch clean, repeatable, strong enough to trip the wing, but for the wing to be sufficiently robust. It’s a very delicate see-saw to ride. Hopefully, everyone will be well aware when it’s on the car and working at full strength.
There seemed to be something of a pre-season storm in a tea-cup about engine mapping?
As any good team we were pushing the limits to see what is possible and what is not. You have a set of rules, you want to find out where the boundaries are, you do this by asking questions. We were asking questions to the FIA about what’s possible whilst simultaneously testing what we were asking about on the track. By the time the FIA had looked at it and said ‘no you can’t do that’ we’d also found out we didn’t much like it in any case!
What would comprise a good outing at Albert Park in your mind?
A good Albert Park would be a first row grid place from qualifying and a podium in the race. It’s certainly possible.
Australia: An Engineer’s Guide to Albert Park
This is one of the tracks where there is a reasonable amount of track evolution. Between first practice and qualifying, with a similar fuel load, the track can be up to three seconds per lap quicker. The weather can be blistering hot one day and freezing cold the next. There have been race weekends with 14ºC during qualifying and 40ºC during the race. It can change very quickly, and you have to set the car up to be able to cope with both. Normally at this time of year it’s in the mid-twenties and very pleasant, which causes no trouble at all, but you do have to keep one eye on the forecast as it can change rapidly. This affects not just engine temperatures and so on but also how you use the tyres. If there’s a chance that the temperature may significantly rise or fall you have to have a compromise between qualifying and race setup.
TURNS 1 + 2
The end of the straight is the fastest section of the track, with speeds of 300kph achieved. There’s then significant braking into turn 1. The gravel trap at the end of the start-finish straight sees a lot of action over the weekend. It’s particularly attractive to cars on the first lap.
Turn 3 offers a good overtaking opportunity.
TURNS 11 + 12
The high speed chicane of turns 11 and 12 is taken in excess of 200 kph, with a reasonable kerb providing an extra challenge.
TURNS 13 – 15
This final sector is relatively low speed compared to the rest of the track; conversely, there’s a good amount of gain to be made here.
TURNS 15 + 16
The last two turns, 15 and 16, are where you want the car to work best. These are very slow, and are where the most lap time can be gained from the car. If you increase grip through here by 5% you see a difference of around 0.2s per lap which is huge.
1. REAR WING
Relatively high levels of downforce are required for Albert Park so the car runs with a lot of rear wing. Not to Monaco levels, but comparable amounts to Barcelona and Silverstone.
It’s a circuit that is medium to high in terms of brake wear. Certainly nowhere near as fierce as Canada, but it won’t be a track where we have our smallest brake ducts on.
A reasonably soft car is required to be able to maximise the grip potential from the slippery Albert Park surface. Set-up evolves over the weekend to match the improving track surface, as the park roads grow into a race track through cars racing on them for the only time in the year. As a counterpoint to the requirement for a soft car, there are sufficient change of direction requirements to need a stiffer set-up to aid responsiveness. It’s important to have a strong front end, as understeer is potentially the main factor. Although there are some sections where good traction is important the priority is to have good turn in and change of direction through the chicanes.
Medium and soft compounds. It’s not a circuit that’s particularly hard on tyres.
5. FRONT WING
Proportionally more front wing is used as a counter to the low-grip nature of the track which can provoke understeer.
Inside Line: All the Latest from Enstone
IT recruitment experts Nigel Frank International have joined the growing portfolio of partners at Enstone.
As the global leader in recruitment for Microsoft Dynamics specialists, Nigel Frank International will assist Lotus F1 Team in sourcing candidates for permanent IT positions; joining globally recognised brands including CNBC, Avanade and long-standing client Microsoft Dynamics as an Official Business Partner to the team.
As part of a three-year deal, Nigel Frank International will gain unrivalled access to the GENII Business Exchange platform, the team’s elite group of IT and Technical Partners and a range of global hospitality and incentive packages.
Have You Heard the News?
CNBC, the world’s leading business and financial news network, has signed on as Official Business Media Partner in a move which cements the team’s position as the number one Formula 1 team for business.
CNBC takes business news to a global audience of 390 million homes around the world. Throughout the 2013 Formula 1 season, this new agreement will allow Lotus F1 Team’s partners to benefit from CNBC’s unmatched reach of affluent and influential business leaders with commercial advertising campaigns airing on its international network. This new relationship builds on the team’s recent partnerships with brands such as Microsoft, Unilever brands Clear & Rexona and The Coca-Cola Company.
The partnership will see CNBC branding on the nose of the team’s 2013 car, as well as on driver and pit crew overalls, team uniform, branding around the paddock and on marketing materials.
As part of our never-ending quest for unique media content, Lotus F1 Team has joined forces with legendary production experts Ridley Scott Associates to create a short video trailer as a taster of what’s to come in 2013; both on track and in the digital community. To watch the clip, simply head to: http://youtu.be/IPpS1adn9T0
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Brackley – 11/03/2013
The 2013 Formula One championship gets underway in Melbourne this week with the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, held at the Albert Park circuit in the city. For MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, 2013 sees an exciting new driver pairing with Lewis Hamilton joining the team to partner Nico Rosberg at the wheel of the Silver Arrows cars.
- The Safety Car has been deployed in six of the last ten races in Melbourne – including four of the last five
- Mercedes-Benz power has won four of the past five Australian Grands Prix
- 60% of Australian Grand Prix winners in the past decade have gone on to become World Champion
Melbourne is a great place to kick off the new Formula One season. I really like the city and the Australian fans at the circuit are always fantastic and so supportive. The first Grand Prix is where everyone finds out where they really are and we can judge how well we have done against our competition as the times in winter testing just don’t tell the full story. The weather in Melbourne looks very hot at the moment which is going to be a tough challenge as we have no experience with the F1 W04 in those conditions. Tyre degradation will be the biggest issue for everyone so we need to look at that carefully and do a good job in managing it. I’m really looking forward to next weekend and getting the season underway.
It’s the start of a new season and the beginning of a new adventure for me with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. I can’t wait to get to Melbourne, get out on track and find out where we stand. The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race: the teams don’t know how they compare in terms of performance, the fans are fantastic and, with big changes to the tyres again this year, we just don’t know what will happen in the race. I love the circuit. It’s a street track with a really bumpy surface so you try and put as much downforce on the car as possible and it really puts the drivers to the test. We had a good, reliable car during winter testing so that’s the positive we can take with us into the weekend but we know that in terms of performance, everything begins again from zero in Friday practice. So let’s get Down Under, get racing and see how things turn out.
The start of a new Formula One season is always an intense but exciting time for the team. Our factories in Brackley and Brixworth have been buzzing with activity with both Nico and Lewis visiting to complete their final preparations on the simulator, and the team working to finish the cars, engines and pack the freight for the four flyaway races coming up. The first race is where we can really begin to assess our competitive position and how much of a step forward we have made with our new Silver Arrow. We had a successful pre-season testing programme and personally, I am pleased with the progress we have made, both with the car and in terms of how we operate as a team. However, testing is simply that; racing is a completely different situation and Melbourne will see much higher track temperatures and more varied conditions than we have experienced so far. We’re looking forward to the challenge and to the action starting in Melbourne next weekend.
When it comes to starting a new season, it’s only facts that count – everything else is simply speculation. The facts are that we had a good winter test programme, completed the second highest mileage of any team and made some good progress. Lewis and Nico are working well together and there is a positive dynamic in the team, from the factory to the track. So we head to Australia well prepared. But we know, too, that we will be running in very different temperatures, on a different track surface and that every team will have to finally lay their cards on the table in qualifying on Saturday. Only then can we have a first indication of where we stand in terms of performance. It may sound clichéd but our goal is simply to perform as well as possible. We know that we must go forward from last season and we are proud to be representing Mercedes-Benz on the global stage. Now we have to live up to that standard.
Sauber F1 Team
Preview – 2013 Rolex Australian Grand Prix
1st Round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 15th to 17th March 2013
After 12 days of intensive testing at the Jerez and Barcelona circuits, the start of the new season beckons: on the weekend of 15th – 17th March, the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship gets under way at Melbourne’s Albert Park with the Australian Grand Prix. The Sauber F1 Team will embark on its 21st season with a new driver pairing: Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez will be behind the wheel of the Sauber C32-Ferrari. Building on the strong foundation laid down last year, the team now aims to make further advances.
Nico Hülkenberg (car number 11):
“Finally the start of the season is coming closer. I left Europe yesterday. I’m really looking forward to this race, as Australia is always one of my favorite Grands Prix, and Melbourne has a very special atmosphere, so I’m keen to be there. I also like the track which is not a permanent circuit. We are driving around a lake in a park and, especially during the drivers’ parade, you feel very close to the fans.
“The track itself is very challenging for the drivers. It has got a lot of bumps and you have to know how best to deal with them. In terms of competitiveness, the final Barcelona test showed we are quite well prepared but still have some homework to do, and that we still have room for improvement in certain areas. But I’m confident the baseline is good. I’m really looking forward to racing against the usual grid and finally get a clear picture of where everybody stands with regard to performance.”
Esteban Gutiérrez (car number 12):
“Now we have finalised the pre-season testing, I feel very grateful for the work of every team member and the opportunity to get up to speed with the basics of F1. Melbourne will be my first race in F1 and I’m sure it will be very special. It’s a track that I don’t know, but I’m confident I will be able to learn it quickly in the free practice sessions.
“Competing in a Formula One race is the next step in my career, and that’s what I need to focus on. One of the things that I need to do is feel natural and relaxed in my surroundings so I can focus on the most important elements during the weekend. I feel I have a good base for the start of the season, but, of course, I will keep on working as I have areas were I can improve. My goal is to exploit the car’s potential and finish consistently within the points.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering:
“We have had a very productive pre-season test programme completing 5,308 km, which is a credit to all those involved with the design, manufacture and operation. Nico and Esteban have quickly settled into their new working environment and have already established strong working relationships within the team, which is very important. You never know exactly where you sit compared to the other teams during winter testing, but importantly the C32 has performed as expected which is encouraging.
“Melbourne is a typical street circuit with significant track evolution. It is very important to have good braking stability and a car that performs well in the low to medium speed corners. The layout of the track also requires the car to have a good change of direction. It will be interesting to see how the new generation Medium and Super Soft Pirelli tyres perform at a track with less high speed corners than our two test tracks. It is important we maximise our full potential from the start of the season, as all the signs are that the grid will continue to be close. Overall the whole team is confident and looking forward to getting out there and starting the 2013 racing season.”
|Circuit||Albert Park, Melbourne / 5.303 km|
|Race distance||58 laps / 307.574 km|
|Schedule||Qualifying 17:00 hrs, Race 17:00 hrs local time (06:00 hrs GMT)|
|Driver||Nico Hülkenberg||Esteban Gutiérrez|
|Born||19.08.1987 Emmerich (DE)||05.08.1991 Monterrey (MX)|
|Height / Weight||1.84 m / 74 kg||1.80 m / 63 kg|
|First GP||Bahrain 2010||Melbourne 2013|
|Best race result||4th (Spa-Francorchamps 2012)||–|
|Best qualifying||1st (Sao Paulo 2010)||–|
|Points in total||85||–|
Sahara Force India F1 Team
2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix Preview
Sahara Force India looks forward to the season-opening race in Melbourne’s Albert Park.
Dr Vijay Mallya Team Principal and Managing Director
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, sums up the winter and looks forward to a strong 2013 campaign.
I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. We’ve picked up points in Melbourne for the past couple of seasons so that’s a clear objective for this coming weekend. Last year we had some of our best performances on street circuits, so I’m optimistic we can perform well on the streets of Albert Park.
I am very happy about our driver line-up and I am particularly delighted to welcome Adrian back to the team. Over the winter we thought long and hard about the decision, but I’m sure we have made the right choice. Adrian is very quick and has a great history with the team – he has been with us from the very start and is truly part of the family. Everyone was impressed by his performance during winter testing in Barcelona: he was able to deliver great pace right away.
Paul has matured into a very good driver and in his third season with us we are confident he will deliver the results his talent warrants. He has gelled with the team perfectly and following a strong winter he is well prepared for a great season. Adrian and Paul make up the driver pairing that brought us to our best-ever Championship result in 2011 and there is no reason why we can’t have a similar result this year.
The VJM06 has shown excellent reliability in winter testing. The rules haven’t changed much from 2012 and everyone in the team is confident we can pick up where we left off at the end of last season.
The first race of the season on a track like Melbourne is always a lottery; if any of the front runners stumble, we will be ready to pounce.
Paul on Melbourne
Paul, you completed most of the team’s mileage during the winter. How well prepared do you feel for the new season?
It’s been a very positive winter – probably the best winter I can remember while I have been with the team – and I’ve done as much preparation as I can both on and off the track. It’s my third year as a race driver and I’ve got the same team around me so I think that consistency will be very important this year.
At the launch you did not want to set any goals. Has winter testing given you a better feel for the team’s competitiveness?
I think it’s only when we get to Melbourne that we will understand where we are compared to the other teams. You can look at the laptimes in testing, but everybody is focussed on their own programme so you can’t make any assumptions. What we can say is that we’re determined to push on from where we finished last season and the target for Melbourne has to be reaching Q3 and racing for points.
What has been the main focus over the winter?
I think understanding the tyres is where we’ve put a lot of our energy because Pirelli have kept us busy with their new 2013 compounds, which appear to be more aggressive than last year. We have stability in the technical office, which helps, and we’ve tried to build more consistency into the car. We’re as well prepared as we can be, but the first two races in Australia and Malaysia are two of the toughest of the year. The grid seems very closely matched so it’s going to be interesting to see how things shake out in Melbourne.
Adrian on Melbourne
Adrian, you’re back with Sahara Force India. Has it been easy to settle back into the team?
It’s all happened very quickly, but I’ve received a warm welcome and it’s good to see lots of happy and familiar faces once again. It’s clear the team has grown, but I am working with my old race engineer [Brad Joyce] and this team still feels like ‘home’. It’s a new beginning; my second chance in Formula One and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.
You’ve spent a year away from the sport. How easy is it to get back in the swing of Formula One?
2012 was an interesting year because I experienced life away from Formula One and in many ways it has given me a new perspective. I think it helped me grow as a person and I feel mentally stronger as a result. I feel fresh and energized, and ready for the season. When I was back in the car for the first time in Barcelona it felt natural – almost as if I had never been away. I was back on the pace and able to push hard straight away.
What targets do you have in mind for this weekend?
I’ve only spent three days in the car during testing, but already I’m feeling very comfortable. It’s very driveable and the balance is good. There is still a lot I need to understand, especially in terms of the tyres, but we’re in a good place already. It’s difficult to set a goal for this weekend, but my target for the season is to improve on my 2011 performance and aim for some podiums. So we need to start the year well, aim high and take our chances.
Australian GP Preview
- When: Friday 15th – Sunday 17th March, 2013
- Where: Melbourne, Australia
- Round: 1 of 19
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: We had a successful winter test and are continuing to look at all the data we gathered. Following this, we have some further aero tests planned for Friday with both drivers in Australia. The results so far have been interesting and so we’ll make our final decision on Friday evening as to what we will run over the weekend. In either case, we feel we have two strong aero packages, each with their own benefits, and so the nature of the circuit and temperatures we find will dictate which package we choose.
Melbourne is a high power sensitivity circuit, more so than Spa-Francorchamps which is quite surprising. Ambient temperatures can be very high, fuel consumption is high and there is increased brake wear. The ambient temperatures in Jerez and Barcelona are very different to what we expect to find in Australia, so we’ll be looking very closely at tyre degradation during practice on Friday. Overall, we are very much looking forward to the start of the season as we have confidence in the FW35.
Pastor Maldonado: We have been working extremely hard over the winter to improve the performance of the car and we have noticed good potential in the recent tests in Barcelona. I’ve been involved with the FW35 build since the start of the project in early 2012, working with the engineers, design office and the technicians in the wind tunnel to push for improvements on all fronts. Obviously we don’t know what other teams have done and you can only learn so much during testing, but we expect to be more competitive than last year. I like street circuits so I always enjoy coming to Australia and now I just want to start the season and find out where we stand.
Valtteri Bottas: We have had a good winter at the factory and the car showed strong reliability and performance during testing. The FW35 feels like a new car in comparison to the FW34, behaving and responding differently around the track to the car I was driving on Friday mornings last year and I’m impressed with the improvements the team have made. The winter has seen me preparing hard for the demands of driving a full race which I haven’t done before in Formula One. However, I’ve always done a lot of fitness training and have driven a lot of miles over the past few years with the team, so I’m feeling fully prepared. The first Grand Prix of my career is a big thing for me and I can’t wait for the lights to go out in Melbourne and see how the FW35 performs against the competition.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: We are looking forward to this season, the final year of the V8. With no evolution of the engine regulations we have been able to fully focus on optimizing our existing systems and achieving zero faults. Albert Park is a tough place to start the season as it represents a hard challenge for engines. The average speed is towards the top of the table, while the percentage of the lap spent at full throttle is also one of the highest of the season. The short bursts of power between corners put the internals under intense pressure, while greatly increasing fuel consumption; in fact the fuel consumption per 100km is the second highest of the year.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: We’re bringing the P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Red Supersoft to Australia: the first time that we have nominated this particular combination for Melbourne. We’ve deliberately gone for a more extreme tyre choice than last year that delivers extra performance, but this should still result in between two and three pit stops per car: our target for the year. There was quite a lot of degradation in testing, but this will be reduced once we get to the warmer conditions of Melbourne, where the tyres should be operating within their intended working range. Albert Park is a temporary venue, so we would expect to find a very slippery and ‘green’ surface when we arrive, but the grip level will improve considerably once the track begins to rubber in over the course of the weekend.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
2013 Australian Grand Prix View
General Race Information
High average speed around the lap
Air/Track temp ( C): 21 / 31
Charles Pic, car #20: “I’m looking forward to returning to Melbourne, this time for my first race with Caterham F1 Team and I think it’s going to be a good weekend.
“Melbourne itself is a very nice city. It’s good to go from the end of the cold European winter to the hotter weather of Australia and even though the hours you spend flying mean you arrive feeling a bit destroyed, it’s the same for everyone and I’m feeling good physically and mentally so it won’t be an issue.
“The circuit itself is very cool. It’s quick but as it’s a temporary street circuit the cars run with high downforce and it’s a good challenge to get a really clean lap in. FP1 is always quiet as the track is very green for the early part of the session, but it evolves a lot over the weekend and you need to time your qualifying lap right to make the most of the rubber that’s being laid down.
“After the tests we’re definitely ready to start racing. We have a good idea of where we’re going to start out and I think we have a very interesting season ahead of us. Whatever happens, I’m enjoying myself in Caterham and it’s great to be part of a team that has such an exciting future ahead.”
Giedo van der Garde, car #21: “Honestly I can’t wait to get started. Melbourne will be my first Grand Prix start and, even though it’s taken a while to reach this point, I’m completely prepared and really looking forward to getting back to racing.
“Having spent a lot of time with the team last year nothing was new to me when I moved up to the Race Driver position, but it’s still a different world, being a Race Driver rather than a Reserve, but I’m enjoying every minute. I finished off 2012 with a win in Singapore, and, while we’re all realistic enough to know we’re not going to be fighting at that end of the grid, I also know I want to be in the right position to take advantage of anything that comes my way when the lights go out.
“Over the season, I know Spa is going to be a great race as it’s so close to home, but for me the most exciting moment of 2013 will be when the lights go out in Melbourne and everything I’ve dreamed of for so long comes true. I’ve worked hard all winter and in the tests to prepare myself and I’m ready, physically and mentally.
“Before it all gets serious in Australia I also want to take this chance to thank everyone who has helped me reach this stage of my career. McGregor have played a big role in helping me become and F1 driver, so thanks to everyone there, and thank you to all the people at Leafield. Caterham F1 Team is a family, a very cool group of people who have a long-term plan that will come true, and if I can help the whole team achieve its goals then that would be a good way of saying thanks.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal: “Australia will be a proud moment for the whole team. 2013 is our fourth year in F1, the first with our new livery and the first season start since we moved into Leafield
“On the surface it may look like we’re starting 2013 in a similar position to 2012, but inside the team it is very different. We have a base in Oxfordshire in which we now control all elements of the design and production in-house. The wind tunnel we use has been upgraded to meet our exact specifications and is now producing results that turn into definite improvements. We are continuing to improve the efficiencies and working practices within the team so we can compete both on track and as a viable business with a secure long-term future and we are bringing in talented people at all levels to keep pushing us forwards.
“We also have two new drivers for 2013, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Both are young, determined to succeed and eager to help the team achieve its goals. At the end of 2012 we were a central part of the F1 show, and I have told both drivers to be ready to be part of the show in 2013, maybe not right at the start, but with what we have coming to the car during the season, we can be confident that we are going to attract interest in us, for the right reasons.
“We have the facilities, we have the people and we have the infrastructure we need to take the next step forwards. We will do that in a calm, measured way, one that is grounded in a realistic view of the highly competitive world in which we operate, but we will do it with the greatest possible level of energy, passion and enthusiasm. It feels like the 2012 season finished only yesterday, but we cannot wait to start racing again!”
Marussia F1 Team
Australian Grand Prix Preview: Melbourne 15-17 March 2013
FORMULA ONE SEASON IS GO WITH NEW RANGE OF PIRELLI TYRES
The 2013 Formula One season gets underway in Australia this weekend, with Pirelli supplying the new P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft compounds: the first time that such a nomination has been made by the Italian firm for the Albert Park circuit. This year’s compounds are generally softer and faster than their predecessors, but two to three pit stops are still expected per car on race day. Melbourne – which has opened the Formula One season since 1996 – is a semi-permanent facility that is well-known for its low levels of grip, which gradually improve over the course of the weekend as the surface rubbers in.
Pirelli’s motorsport director says:
Paul Hembery: “After 12 days of pre-season testing we finally get to go racing with our 2013 compounds. They were developed over the course of the last season in private testing and they are the most focussed and performance-orientated tyres we have ever made. Cold weather conditions during pre-season testing meant that we weren’t able to showcase them to the best of their abilities, but we are expecting a different story in Albert Park, with two to three pit stops per car. The start of any new season is always a very exciting time and from what we have observed during pre-season testing the field seems to be closer than ever: quite an achievement when you consider that we had seven different winners from the first seven races last year. All the compounds and constructions have changed for 2013, and the drivers should notice a wider working range and a bigger window of peak performance. The performance gaps between the compounds are also larger, which means that teams have a greater opportunity to use strategy to their advantage by exploiting the consequent speed differentials.”
Pirelli’s brand ambassador says:
Jean Alesi: “I’m delighted to become Pirelli’s brand ambassador at the start of what should be an extremely exciting season: especially if last year is anything to judge by. Albert Park was a circuit that I enjoyed as a driver – I competed there from its debut year after the grand prix moved from Adelaide – but it’s really not typical of anywhere else. You have some bits that are similar to a street circuit like Monaco and other places that are more like a permanent track such as Barcelona. So I probably wouldn’t read too much into the results from Melbourne, as it is so atypical of anywhere else and also because at the start of the season the teams are still learning a lot about their new cars and tyres. The tyres this year seem very interesting and in qualifying in particular I think a really attacking driver should be able to do something quite special. I would definitely have liked to use these tyres when I was driving!”
The tyre from a circuit point of view:
- With all the compounds having become softer this year, the medium and the supersoft were chosen in Australia to give the teams a challenge in terms of tyre management and strategy, in accordance with Pirelli’s brief from the teams themselves and Formula One’s promoters.
- The P Zero White medium tyre is ideal for circuits with lower ambient temperatures and not particularly aggressive asphalt, such as Melbourne. Its durability characteristics are very similar to those of last year’s soft tyre, resulting in lap times that are around 0.8s quicker than the 2012-specification medium.
- The P Zero Red supersoft has been designed to come up to temperature quickly and it is ideal when it comes to delivering maximum performance instantly on a twisty and slow-speed circuit.
- Last year, the medium and soft compounds were chosen for the Australian Grand Prix, with the top seven drivers adopting a two-stop strategy.
Technical tyre notes:
- Acceleration and braking are the keys to a good performance in Melbourne, with the longitudinal forces at work on the tyres being greater than the lateral forces. The improved combined traction of the P Zero tyres this year marks a significant step forward in this area.
- Melbourne has hosted a number of wet races in the past: last year’s Friday’s free practice sessions were held in wet weather. Pirelli is bringing a new-specification of Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyre to Australia, which has a redesigned construction to help improve traction and prevent snap oversteer.
- The left-rear tyre works hardest in Melbourne, with 10 right-hand corners and six left-hand corners.
- The 5.303-kilometre Albert Park circuit is not used outside of the Australian Grand Prix, which means that it is extremely ‘green’ and slippery on Friday in particular. But the faster warm-up time of Pirelli’s 2013 tyres should help drivers find grip more quickly.
The tyre choices so far:
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Orange|
Meet the Pirelli F1 Team: Paul Hembery, Motorsport Director
Paul, an Englishman in Milan, takes overall responsibility for all of Pirelli’s motorsport programmes. These range from Formula One to GP2, GP3, GT, rally and one-make championships: more than 250 different series worldwide in total, which are split between single-make tyre supplies (like Formula One) and open tyre competition. Paul’s role ranges from representing Pirelli at press conferences and other corporate functions to negotiating commercial agreements and defining future strategy. He divides his time between Milan and his home in England, but is most often found travelling around the world at a wide variety of motorsport events. In his rare moments of free time he enjoys supporting his beloved football team – Bristol City FC – driving classic cars, listening to Italian opera, and impersonating his alter ego, British comedian Ricky Gervais.
Pirelli in Australia:
- Pirelli has been present in Australia since 1971. The company is based in Sydney, employing more than 30 full-time staff.
- Pirelli’s results throughout 2012 in Australia have recorded a year on year growth of 8.3% in total sales and 45% in the premium segment.
- Australian models have frequently featured in the world-renowned Pirelli calendar. In 2010, Miranda Kerr from Sydney, Catherine McNeil from Brisbane and Abbey Lee Kershaw from Melbourne all starred in the calendar.
- Pirelli Australia is also the official supplier for the 2013 Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup Australia.
Other news from Pirelli:
The latest GP2 test of the season – the Formula One feeder series that is also supplied by Pirelli – ended in Barcelona the week before the Australian Grand Prix. Rapax driver Stefano Coletti was fastest with a time of 1m29.055s on the latest generation of Pirelli’s GP2 tyres.
The GP3 Series, equipped by Pirelli, has also embarked on its pre-season testing programme with a brand new car for this year. At the latest test in Estoril, Carlos Sainz Junior went fastest with a time of 1m26.816s, again on the latest Pirelli tyres.
In fact, it’s been a successful few weeks for the Sainz family and Pirelli. Carlos Sainz Senior, a two-time world rally champion who won both his titles in 1990 and 1992 on Pirelli tyres, won the Rallye de Espana Historico in a Porsche 911 equipped with the Pirelli P7 Corsa Classic: a historic rally tyre that combines modern technology with a classic design.
Pirelli showcased some of its latest road car products at the Geneva Motor Show, which took place in Switzerland the week leading up to the Australian Grand Prix. Bespoke P Zero tyres for the latest Ferrari – the successor to the Enzo – were presented, along with unique P Zero products for the Lamborghini Aventador, Maserati Quattroporte and McLaren P1.
Renault Sport F1
Australian Grand Prix Technical Feature
The 2013 Australian Grand Prix will be the final time Albert Park reverberates to the sound of V8 Formula 1 engines. Used since 2006, the V8 will have been in service for eight years by the end of the 2013 season.
We caught up with Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director, Rob White, to discuss the life of the V8, its evolutions and its potential performance, engine freeze notwithstanding. In future technical features we’ll then look at key elements of the V8 in detail.
What have been the key evolutions of the V8 since 2006?
The easy thought is to say that there can be no evolutions during an engine freeze! However there have still been several notable changes in the use and requirements for engines in the V8 era. In fact, almost every year there has been a change. The first, for 2007, was homologation or freeze of the major parts and introduction of a rev limit. Then for 2008, the homologation perimeter was extended, the rev limit was reduced from 19,000rpm to 18,000rpm and the limit of 8 engines per driver per season introduced. More recently, we have also had successive clarifications on engine mapping and usage. With F1 being what it is, the challenge has been to produce the best car performance under each new set of constraints. In parallel, we have had to adapt to a much more complicated engine lifecycle. In previous times, it was possible to fit engines at will: you could fit a new engine for a race and then replace for the next round. This meant you could push it to the absolute limits without taking account of any future usage. The limit of eight engines per season, means some engines must be used for three races. We have therefore learned a lot about increasing engine and component life, without any major technology change or performance penalty. As a result engines can now run for up to 2,500km without any significant power drop off. In the past engine life was just over 350km, so we are running to more than seven times the distance of ten years ago.
Without the engine freeze and limit on rpm, what would these engines be capable of?
Without the rev limit we would have continued to pursue greater rpm until we became limited by the physics of the combustion process and diminishing returns due to increased friction with increasing rotational speed. Without any other new regulatory constraint, I imagine we would have reached over 22,000 rpm by now and would have found a further 75 horsepower (ie +10%), equivalent to a lap time gain of around 1.5 sec at Monza.
Without doing the development work, it is difficult to judge the level at which engine performance would have converged at the limit of the technical regulations. The same effects that have been pursued in the frozen era (exhausts, mapping etc) would have been of interest, but the priorities may have been different.
How different are the engines fielded by different manufacturers now?
Many people assume that the engines are similar since the specification has been frozen, however they are all very different as the specifications were frozen at a point in time where the V8 was relatively immature. The technical regulations are strict and there are some common characteristics including the bore size and rpm limit, but there are many thousands of design decisions that are not fixed in the regulations. Perhaps it is not obvious but, in an unfrozen environment there is more opportunity to converge on common solutions between engine suppliers. The engine contribution to car performance is just as important now under a frozen set of rules; even if frozen in performance, the impact on the car remains as important as it ever has been.
What have been the most difficult parts to optimize, or maintain, in the current V8s?
There are no easy subjects in a Formula One engine. All of the systems and parts require a great deal of attention, care and maintenance. However the most difficult parts to maintain are the perennial stressed parts such as the pistons, connecting rods and bearings that the power travels through. For example the pistons are stressed to more than 8,000 times the force of gravity. The actual weight of a piston is only 250g but when the engine revs to its maximum limit of 18,000rpm (that’s 300 revs per second!) the acceleration exerts a force of 2 tonnes on the piston and conrod.
There must now be some pretty impressive statistics for the engine…
The engine can produce over 750bhp and top speed is over 330kph – not far off the cruising speed of a light private aircraft. Acceleration from 0 – 60kph can be done in 1.6 seconds, approximately the same as an F16 fighter plane. It can do 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.5 seconds, 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 5.1 seconds and 0 to 300 km/h (186 mph) in 12.0 seconds, dependent on aerodynamic setup and gearing. This is notwithstanding a weight of just 95kg, less than the weight of a slightly overweight man. The heat produced by the engine is also such that the exhausts of the RS27 will reach up to 1,000°C. To give you an idea of this unimaginable temperature, volcanic lava is between 700°C and 1,200°C!
Mark’s previews the 2013 Australian Grand Prix
After many months of car development and 12 days of winter testing, the 2013 Formula One season finally gets underway in Melbourne this weekend. The race will be Mark’s 12th Australian Grand Prix and he’s clear about his objectives.
“I’ve never finished on the podium at home,” he says. “I finished fourth last year and I’d like to go at least one place better on Sunday. I love racing at home and to stand on the podium and spray some bubbly in front of the Australian crowd would be fantastic.”
Form is particularly difficult to predict going into this first race weekend. Several teams showed good pace in testing, but it’s only when the action gets underway in Melbourne that we’ll start to get a true indication of the pecking order.
“We think we have a good car,” says Mark, “but it’s hard to know where we are because we don’t know what other people have been doing in testing. Several teams turned in some quick times in Spain, but we don’t know what fuel levels they were running. We haven’t got to wait long to find out, but there are definitely a few pre-match nerves; I think that’s the same up and down the grid.”
The build-up to Mark’s home event has been busy and one of the highlights came last weekend when he drove Red Bull Racing’s show car at Eastern Creek near Sydney. He smashed the lap record by 5.5s.
“That was a bit of fun,” said Mark. “I last drove there in ’95 and it was nice to go back, although we could have lowered the mark by a few more seconds if we’d had KERS and the latest tyres. The rules only permit you to use demonstration tyres at PR events and they don’t give as much grip as the race tyres.”
Looking ahead to the race weekend, the weather is scheduled to be a bit cooler in Melbourne than of recent. The city has enjoyed a record run of nine consecutive days above 30 degrees, but the ambient is expected to drop into the low 20s for the on-track action and there’s even the chance of rain on Saturday.
“You never know what the weather’s going to do in Melbourne,” says Mark. “But cooler temperatures would be welcome, particularly from a tyre point of view. What’s going to be important is to have a smooth weekend and to maximise the performance of the car. That’s the aim and we’ll then see where we are when the chequered flag drops.”