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Practice for the first race of the 2011 Formula One season starts tonight in Melbourne! With Mercedes-Benz engines powering 6 cars on the field and with 3 former world champions at the wheel we should have a lot to cheer for.
Among the many rules changes for this season the one that will be the most interesting to see used during a race will be the new movable rear wing. This replaces the movable front wings added to last year’s cars as an attempt to allow for more overtaking. The thing that makes this new rear wing adjustment a real unknown in the actual race are the rules governing when it can be used.
Race control will notify the driver (electronically) that they have the option to move the rear wing to its alternate position when that car is less than one second behind another car (on the same lap). This adjustment will only be available on parts of the track.
So in addition to basically playing a video game at 200 mph on a steering wheel with about 30 buttons, knobs, and displays, drivers will now have to make sure they are close enough going into a corner be allowed to use the rear wing while also shifting and activating the KERS.
This should be an interesting season! For a good Q&A about the new rules with Charlie Whiting check out this post on the Racecar Engineering blog.
The 2010 Chinese Grand Prix was a great race to watch. With light rain, no rain and then medium rain the teams’ choices for when to change from dry to wet tires made a huge difference. Pushing through the light rain on dry tires brought Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP-3rd) and Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes-1st) to the front while most of the other cars switched to wet weather tires. The rest of the field was able to catch up to them as a result of a few appearances of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Safety Car. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes-2nd) clawed his way up through the field and almost caught Button by the end of the race.
Okay, so they edited Shumacher in for the commercial version and I prefer the build up of the original longer form video but it’s still fun.
While manufacturers like BMW, Honda, Jaguar, and Toyota have abandoned Formula One, Mercedes has increased their efforts in the world’s most popular form of racing by purchasing the 2009 World Championship Team, Brawn GP, to create Mercedes GP Petronas. With the McLaren team keeping Lewis Hamilton and adding 2009 World Champion Jenson Button it looked like it was going to be an easy decision who to cheer for in March. Now it has been announced that 7 time World Champion Michael Schumacher is coming out of retirement and has signed a 3 year contract to drive for Mercedes GP. Between this and the debut of the new US F1 Team, 2010 is shaping up to be a very interesting season.
It has been a pretty bad year for the Mercedes-Benz factory Formula One team. Until now the only bright spot for Mercedes-Benz fans had been the performance of the Mercedes powered Brawn GP cars. With Lewis Hamilton’s dominating win in Hungary last weekend it looks like McLaren Mercedes is back on top. It’s a little late in the season but it looks like we’ll have a lot more to cheer for in the upcoming races
With the announcement that four time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais will be returning to the Toro Rosso team, 75% of the drivers for Red Bull’s two Formula One teams will now share the same name.
The changes to the rules for the 2009 season are the most significant in several years and as a result the cars will look quite a bit different. The largest change can be seen in the updated rear wing that appears to be about half the size of last years. The new rules limiting the aerodynamics of the cars have added an interesting new feature in that driver adjustable front wing flaps will be legal for 2009. While this brings F1 cars one step closer to the airplanes they share so much technology with, it will also provide one more area for an amazing driver like Lewis Hamilton to show off his skills.
2009 will also see the introduction of the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) to Formula One. These systems will store the energy used slow the car and then allow it to be used later for increased acceleration. The KERS device on the new McLaren Mercedes will be able to provide a boost of 80hp for 6.7 seconds per lap. Depending on the circuit this will decrease lap times by 0.3 to 0.5 seconds.
It’s only 67 days till the first race of the 2009 season in Melbourne, Australia. I can’t wait!