Autoview Motorsport & Motoring

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pirelli intend to spice up Formula 1 in 2012

Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery spoke to the BBC about the changes the company has made to the F1 tyres this year. He said: 'At the end of last year, if anything, we were being slightly criticised for being a bit conservative, which was strange after the start we had. So we had to make some changes to the slick tyre in particular. We've got three new compounds, new hard, medium and soft tyres, much more aggressive, softer in the direction of performance, a new profile, which gives a larger footprint. That means putting a lot more rubber on the track and allows us to use those softer compounds and hopefully (re)create some of that excitement from earlier in the season.' Hembery said the idea was to spice up the racing even more than in 2011. 'I think we'd all like to see closer racing at the front. The midfield battle was fascinating. If that could transform itself to the front, we're in for an exciting season because then the differences in tyres can come through in a much more determining fashion. They've got to work with the strategies, the drivers can have a big impact on the performance of the tyres, the degradation and the wear life.'"

Range Extended Electric vehicle becomes first to Finish Gruelling Dakar Rally

The Oscar eo in action

A Latvian Rally team has stunned the Motorsport world by conceiving, building and then finishing the most gruesome and gruelling of all the worlds motorsport events in an electric vehicle. 

The 5,600 miles between Mar del Plata in Argentina and Lima in Peru represent some of the most hostile terrain that any vehicle could face. 742 competitors started the Dakar this year, and with the OSCar eo finishing an impressive 77th place overall. Although, there isn't as yet a category for fuel efficiency, the OSCar would have surely won it!

A series hybrid configuration was chosen as the most appropriate for the rally. A single 235 kW / 800 Nm permanent magnet electric motor was coupled directly to a 6-speed transmission which produced enough torque to negotiate the huge sand dunes as well as allowing a satisfactory maximum speed of 120 km/h on off-road terrain. A 60 kW range extender was in constant operation during the rally to maintain the charge level of the 52 kWh Li-ion battery pack from Winston Battery. Range extender’s petrol tank was sized at 240 litres, giving the overall autonomy of up to 1000 km. The team recorded 50% reduction in fuel consumption relative to the conventionally powered rally-raid cars. A significant contributor to this economy was the regenerative braking function of the electric motor, operated by a dedicated hand-lever in the cockpit.

The eO team was thrilled to have completed the rally with no major electrical problems, despite the extensive and harsh loads and the ambient temperatures often in excess of +40C. The well-prepared and robust technologies allowed the crew to focus on the driving duties. Reaching the finish of each leg was indeed no mean feat as even the leading drivers noted that the organizers had laid out an exceptionally difficult route this year.

Finishing the last stage of the rally Māris Saukāns, the project initiator and OSCar eO pilot, said: “This is a great achievement for the whole team and is likely to have implications of a global scale. Motorsport has once again successfully demonstrated new applications of alternative energies and has identified new directions for development.”

Andris Dambis, the technical director and OSCar eO co-driver, agreed: “This is a new highlight in my motorsport engineering career. I am excited to be leading such a rapid development of the future technologies.”

The brand name Drive eO has earned its recognition during the Dakar rally and further public appearances are planned for the near future. The OSCar eO vehicle will showcase its technologies at motorsport, trade and public events. The company is also currently completing its first road-going electric vehicle conversions as part of a larger programme to develop and market electric drive solutions.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Force India VJM05 Launched - Caution may make you wince

Paul Di Resta Force India VJM05 - Silverstone
On Friday the 3rd February 2012 Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenburg launched the all-new Force india VJM05 in front of a selection of journalists and invited guests (click the title of this article to see video footage of the car from Silverstone).

The VJM05 (designated after Force India owner ViJay Mallya) is the latest car launched to follow the 'Platypus' nose trend, but this one looks quite cute fetching a rolled up carbon fibre newspaper in it's mouth - awww sweet. The sidepods look to have a more tightly curved lower edge and seem to be slightly shorter too, other than that the car is visually similar to last years VJM04.

Once again the Sahara Force India cars will be powered by the Mercedes 2.4 litre V8 engines with gearbox supplied by McLaren Applied Technologies. This will be the second season with the Mercedes KERS. Here's what the key team members had to say at the launch.

Paul Di Resta
“Seeing the new car built and complete for the first time is always an exciting moment. It’s when you realise that all the waiting is finally over and the season is beginning for real. I’ve had a good winter and I’ve recharged my batteries, but now I’m fully focussed on 2012 and looking forward to the start of testing. There’s a really positive feeling in the team, good stability and hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the end of last year.”

Nico Hulkenberg
“I saw the new car in the wind tunnel a few times and followed its progress during the winter. It looks aggressive and fast, but we won’t know where we stand until we get out there and compete against the others. Preparations for the new season have been full-on with simulator sessions and lots of fitness training. I feel ready to get back to racing and I’m excited to find out what the new car feels like next week.”

Otmar Szafnauer - Chief Operating Officer
“The new car has come together nicely over the winter. We don’t know what our competitors have done, but we’ve made some gains over the winter and believe we’re in reasonable shape. It’s going to be difficult in the midfield, but our focus is on starting strongly and improving our position from last season.”

Dr. Vijay Mallya - Team Principal and Managing Director
“We have set our sights on challenging for fifth place. To do so we will need to begin the new campaign by delivering the kind of form we showed in the second half of 2011. I believe this is a realistic goal and that we have the talent and determination to realise these ambitions.”

A Duck-billed platypus delivering it's carbon newspaper

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ferrari F2012 launched - Another hideous nose job!

2012 Ferrari F2012

Ferrari's launch was cancelled due to snow at Maranello, so instead they published these shots on their website. 

Personally, what with the Caterham being launched in F1 Racing magazine and now the Ferrari being launched on their website, I'm beginning to think that no want wants to see these cars in the flesh.... errr Carbon! Maybe I'm getting overexcited, perhaps these are the post-crash test photos? Even Ferrari are un-complimentary about their own car -  

"The nose has a step in it that is not aesthetically pleasing: with the requirement from the regulations to lower the front part, this was a way of raising the bottom part of the chassis as much as possible for aerodynamic reasons".

  Ok, they're here, they're (very) queer, we're going to have to get used to them, I guess.

Ferrari, say the F2012 is redesigned in virtually every area, with the front & rear wings and the engine being the components least changed. Visually, the rear of the car appears to taper less dramatically initially, then seems to be much more tightly packaged around the gearbox, and the side-pods have undergone a redesign. Ferrari aim to be at the first tests with the F2012, and then we will get some idea of the relative performance of all the challengers.

Who 'nose' what the 2012 season will bring, let's hope they all run into each other at the first corner and wipe off their ugly front ends! 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mclaren unveil 2012 Formula 1 car - It's still red & silver!

2012 Mclaren MP4-27

After last year's car arrived quite late and was then assembled in front of a live online and street audience in Berlin, Mclaren chose their own Mclaren Technology centre to reveal the MP4-27 to the world, and thankfully it doesn't have the hideous nose that Mike Gascoyne predicted we would see on all this years contenders!

The teams work hard every year trying to create the best performance package, and whilst it will be some time before we know who has done the best job on track this year, Mclaren seem to have once again created a good looking car. The rear bodywork is more tightly waisted around the engine and gearbox and the distinctive L-shaped sidepods from last year have gone, to be replaced with a flatter creation and the nose from certain angles seems to have a mini 'ski-slope' !

Mercedes-Benz 95kg 32 valve, 2.4 litre V8 will once again push the Mclaren forward. The car will make it's debut on the track at Jerez in spain for the first of the winter tests with Jenson Button behind the wheel on Tuesday the 7th February, with Lewis Hamilton getting his first taste of the new car on Thursday the 9th.

So does the lack of hideous carbuncle nose mean the Mclaren is going to be woefully off the pace? Are we going to see the two Caterhams fly off into the distance leaving the prettier, but ultimately nose-hampered Mclaren trailing? Let's wait and see what everybody else has come up with shall we?