Force India and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will be running F-Ducts in the practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend as they evaluate whether the air flow control mechanism is a worthy new technical advancement to their cars.
Vitantonio Liuzzi told reporters that the Force India team were very confident of their system, a system which is operated by the drivers wrist.
“We are really optimistic about it,” Liuzzi said. “You can never know. It might change tomorrow, but the team has done a big work in the wind tunnel for the last two weeks to test it and it seemed to work pretty well.
“Tomorrow we’ll get the confirmation because on track you never know, but we are pretty optimistic that it should be spot on.”
“We made a simple system with the wrist so we don’t have to take the hand off the steering wheel,” he added.
Meanwhile Red Bull Racing’s man of the moment Mark Webber told reporters in the pre-race press conference that Red Bull were to evaluate their own F-Duct system as they try and maintain their recent dominance.
“Yes, we will give the F-duct a go tomorrow,” Webber said during a pre-event press conference in Turkey. “We will give it a chance.”
Ferrari, who were one of the first teams to use the system are going to try a variation on the position of the hole that needs to be covered in order to stall the air during practice.
Formula One teams have agreed to a blanket ban on the F-Duct systems which were brought into Formula One by McLaren this season.
Combining an air vent on the front of the car with a long shark-fin style engine cover the system manipulates rear air flow, stalling it and allowing for a greater top speed. it can provide drivers with 9-10km/h more high end power, which is vital on circuits which long straights.
While McLaren came up with the idea, it has had various attempts of reincarnations of the idea by Sauber, Williams and Ferrari to differing levels of success. No-one knew how they were activated until Ferrari’s was spotted on an onboard camera this weekend as Fernando Alonso takes his left hand off the steering wheel to block the vent. Others may be operated by knees and even elbows.
Christian Horner of Red Bull, who do not have an F-Duct system, says safety is being compromised by the systems. “It is a clever piece of engineering and hats off to the guys who invented it, but some of the solutions this weekend look a bit marginal when you see drivers driving with finger tips and no hands,” he explained. “So I think there is a safety issue and a cost issue to take into account.” he said last night.
Nick Fry of Mercedes Benz who do not have an F-Duct either, but have been running a radical engine cover this weekend which has a central fin and side engine air inlets rather than a traditional roll bar, it itself being called potentially dangerous told the BBC: “The trouble with these devices is that most of the top teams, if not all the teams, will have an F-duct-type device before the end of the year”
“We’ll all have got it so we’ll have neutralised the advantage McLaren have currently got and therefore we’re just spending money on it.”
The outboard wing mirrors used by various teams including front runners Ferrari and Red Bull Racing are set to be banned from the Chinese Grand Prix onwards if an FIA source is to be believed.
The source told Autosport Magazine that the mirrors, which amny teams use to be able to incorporate outboard aerodynamic systems, will face a ban from the next round of racing after complaints from drivers about poor rearward vision. Many drivers were impeded during qualifying, a lot down to the shear number of cars on track now. Drivers including Michael Schumacher and Pedro de La Rosa have been particularly vocal about blocking in the last round in Australia.
The mirrors were an idea Ferrari brought to the table in 2005, and it was not until 2007 that other teams copied the designs. Now many cars carry the mirrors which will have to be moved to nearer the cockpit.
“Everyone has got a problem with mirrors,” said Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa in Australia. “The reality is that the mirrors on the sidepods, they give you very small vision of what is happening behind and they vibrate a lot so you see very little.
“So if you don’t have a lot of information coming from the radio, then you have a problem. You can see when you have a car straight behind okay, but when it is two seconds behind you have no idea where it is.
“Everyone has the same problem, but since the mirrors have gone outboard this is a problem – as they are aerodynamic devices now.”
Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who finished 3rd in the Australian Grand Prix says that he is quite happy with where his mirrors are located.
“I have no problem with my visibility,” he insisted. “So, if it is the same I prefer to keep what I have, but we will see how it is going to be. I hope we don’t lose anything moving the mirrors from one side to the other.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has announced that McLaren Autmotive Holdings have purchased back a significant amount of the shares owned by Mercedes Benz in the McLaren F1 Team.
Prior to buying Brawn GP and turning it into a works Mercedes Benz outfit, the German car manufacturer bought up a significant portion of the team during their close partnership between 1997 and 2009, approximately 40% of the team was owned by them at the end of last year.
Ron Dennis, the former team principal owns 15% and is now in charge of their road car division, which launched the eagerly anticipated MP4-12C yesterday, a 200mph supercar designed to compete with the Ferrari 458 Italia and Aston Martin DBS.
Mansour Ojjeh, a Saudi Arabian businessman owns another 15% portion, and Mumtalakat, a Bahrain investor owns 30%.
“I think it is about 11 per cent that is still owned by Mercedes, but it’s not an important or significant number,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Kimi Raikkonen is being touted as spending 2010 on the sidelines after contract talks with McLaren hit the rocks.
The Finn has been ousted from his seat with Ferrari a season early after the Italian car manufacturer opted to bring former two time world champion Fernando Alonso to the team.
If Raikkonen spends 2010 without a race seat, Ferrari are set to pay Raikkonen some €17million, but if he gets a seat they will pay him just €10million. The latter figure sounds a lot, and McLaren think so too with Raikkonen’s contract offer being at just €5million, it means he could spend the season on sabbatical and earn more than if he were driving.
With Raikkonen’s commitment to F1 at a low, he could spend the season out of racing or perhaps trying his hand at WRC, both Citroen Motorsport and Ford have expressed interest in the 2007 F1 Champion.
Whatever happens, McLaren are now looking for another potential driver now it looks like Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg will be forming a partnership at Brawn, as Mercedes Benz look set to pay the salaries.
Lewis Hamilton might be cut out of today’s testing completely in Jerez after he retired to the pits this morning with flames puring out of the back of his McLaren.
The British driver had completed just 7 laps of the circuit before he returned to the pitlane.
Mechanics were quick to put out the flames, but this is not the first time a Mercedes engine has given up during the pre-season tests with the 2009 MP4-24. Could McLaren be returning to the unreliability that plagued them between 2004-6?
Hamilton was quick to play down the incident…;
“We had an issue, but I think they’re fixing it and we’ll be back out as soon as possible,” he told reporters.
“But the car was good this morning. I didn’t get many laps, but I’m looking forward to getting back out.”
McLaren and Honda have both confirmed their attendance at a scheduled F1 test at a brand new circuit in the Algarve.
The test will take place from the dates December 15-17, on the track which will open November 2nd.
The circuit is one of the most advanced in the world, with multiple different track configurations, and a high tech water system which simulates wet track running.
The venue is hoping to get incorporated on the F1 calendar, and the test will be an opportunity to prove that it can host an F1 event. It would see Grand Prix return to Portugal after some years of absence.
Portugal’s deputy sports minister Laurentino Dias said: “The Government will do its best for Portugal to become part of the world’s main championships. This circuit is prepared to host a range of motor races, from the most modest to Formula One.”
Ferrari are also likely to announce their attendance at the test in the near future.