The Young and the Techless – F1 Vol. 1 Preview

In an effort to apprise ya’ll readers of the off-track action from around the world, I bring you my new weekly column: The Young and the Techless.  With just about every racing series worldwide moving to ever more restrictive regulations in an effort to make racing more competitive, I figured the title would be fitting (1. And you folks are car people… 2. Yes, I did jack the title idea from Ross, but he approved!)

FIA Formula One World Championship – Rules Changes and Off-Season Testing Update

Certainly the biggest story this F1 off-season has been the rule change the FIA enacted to lower the cars’ noses to make them safer in a nose-to-side impact.  The trend since the early 2000s has been to continuously raise the height of the cars’ noses to aid in under-car airflow.  This trend necessitated massive compromises in suspension geometry (lending us to the suspension arms having more anhedral than a Harrier – good God I’m a nerd…) and also necessitated nose-cones being almost at level with the top of the monocoque (and hence the drivers’ heads).

Under pressure from the designers, the FIA kept the rule for height of the monocoque at 625mm but mandated that maximum nose height not exceed 550mm causing most teams to design a horrid step in the nose:

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Thankfully, Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes have gone with a gently curving nose, which is far more aesthetically pleasing:

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The pre-season testing has been rather uneventful, save for two major storylines:

Lotus-Renault F1 Team had to pull out of the second testing session at Barcelona because of defective front suspension mounts.  They discovered at the first test in Jerez (with chassis 1)that the car’s handling wasn’t responding as expected, then with the higher loads of Barcelona’s corners the front suspension on chassis 2 failed.  They immediately pulled out of the test and went back to their factory at Enstone, England and set about a redesign to rectify the problem.

Another bombshell (read: sarcasm): The token backmarker-reject team HRT (Hispania Racing) had its new 2012 chassis pass 17 out of 18 FIA crash tests, thereby failing homologation and not being allowed to attend the first two tests.  Just last week the HRT finally passed the 18th crash test and was homologated.  HRT hope to debut their new crapwagon car this Sunday.

Testing times amongst the other teams have been just as sporadic as they always are in testing (small teams running on low-fuel just to post fast times to attract sponsorship money).  General consensus is that Reb Bull Racing will still be the team to beat (read: another Vettle championship), but many pundits are saying McLaren’s “radical” non-stepped nose car might pose a challenge to Reb Bull at the hands of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

Stay tuned later today for TYatT V8 Edition, and also a look at the new World Endurance Championship.

OMG CRASH!!

 

Watch this video from the running of the 24 Hours of LeMans.   As many of you know, I love the AUDI LeMans team and Allan McNish is my favorite Audi driver – so I really glad to see he was not hurt.

The new R18 car was trying to pass a slow car when he made contact and sailed across the gravel trap – it didn’t seem to slow him down at all.  He hit the barrier and the car desintigrated – and some magical force pushed the car from clearing the wall – it is amazing none of the photographers were injured either.

Corvette Racing boss Doug Fehan confirms new 5.5L V8 for Sebring debut

gt2-vette-race-leadBack in August when General Motors introduced the all-new GT2 class Corvette C6.R, it ran downsized 6.0-liter version of the 7.0-liter V8 from the long-dominant GT1 car. At the launch, Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan told us the 6.0-liter was just an interim engine. With revised GT rules on tap for 2010, GM was already planning a brand-new engine for its race Vette.

Unlike the 6.0/7.0, which is a ground-up race engine that only shares basic architectural dimensions with the production small block, the 2010 C6.R’s V8 is a new 5.5-liter unit that will indeed be derived from the production engine found in roadgoing Corvettes. In fact, the 5.5-liter race engine will be built at GM’s Performance Build Center alongside ZR1 and Z06 V8s.

Fehan has confirmed that the 5.5 is running on the dyno and will make its race debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. We don’t have any additional details on the new engine yet, although we were told earlier that it is based on the next-generation production small-block, which we expect to see in the Corvette soon.