Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Cars still feel “pretty awful” in turbulence – Norris

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In the round-up: Lando Norris says the 2020 F1 cars are still very sensitive to running in disturbed air.

What they say

[smr2020test]New regulations for the 2021 F1 season are aimed at reducing the cars’ sensitivity to turbulence. Norris explained how severe the problem is this year:

I don’t think I was ever following a car for more than half a lap. The only thing I learned was how much downforce you still lose in Formula 1 when you get within even three seconds, four seconds of a car.

I’m on my long run, a guy pulls out of the pits and I can hardly see him. I go around turn three and turn nine and the car’s all over the place because of a dirty air. So that still feels pretty awful.

It isn’t kind of a nice thing knowing that again, you always wants to be able to race close and everything, but as soon as I came up behind anyone the F1 car just feels terrible in dirty air.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Does Ferrari’s pre-season pace show they’ve learned their lesson from last year?

I just think Ferrari learned points aren’t scored pre-season.

Mercedes has been sandbagging for years and always turned out to be fast in Melbourne. Ferrari was fast in testing and then let the hypetrain derail immediately. in 2016, they didn’t even win a race, in 2017 and 18 they fell away over the season, and in 2019 they weren’t that competative either. I’m expecting them to show their true pace in Australia.
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  • 30 comments on “Cars still feel “pretty awful” in turbulence – Norris”

    1. I’m not sure why Lando was expecting anything different with regards to following closely in 2020 as there have been minimal changes to aero regs, and we already knew the tweaks in 2019 had minimal – if any – benefit to following.

      One hopes that the teams are similarly clustered close together in 2021 to actually benefit from these improvements. My fear – and that voiced by numerous other fans – is that with unchecked spending in 2020, teams aero advantages will spread them out, but then the budget cap will make it harder to change that spread until 2025.

      It could be fun if some laggard like Williams suddenly find themselves catapulted by a smart idea into the head of the midfield or better, and if some hotshot team like Red Bull make a misstep and suddenly find themselves fighting the same Williams. Even so, the depth of talent and resources will mean that it is easier for a team higher up on the 2019 WCC standings to course correct themselves out of a wrong turn in 2021, than for a team lower down in that pecking order.

      1. He probably wasn’t expecting anything different – he was likely just responding to a question someone asked him!

        1. Fair point :)

          1. @phylyp It is still interesting to hear confirmation yet again from a driver about the realities of today’s cars wrt aero downforce. More proof, as if we needed it, that the more aero downforce they pile on, the more negatively the car is affected in dirty air. So those who still think ‘the racing is good’ and ‘don’t change a thing’ should be mindful of the reality, although perhaps half the people or more who are against change are Mercedes fans who don’t want to see their domination threatened.

            I don’t share your concern regarding 2021 though. That the have teams are going to spend big sums on next years cars is nothing new, and I don’t see them coming up with gobs more money than a ground up restoration is already going to cost, just because they are about to be capped. I don’t think it is in the technical regs for 2021 that someone is going to end up with a vast aero advantage as you fear, let alone one that could last until 2025.

            As we roll towards 2025 the top teams will have been capped so it is not like they can just keep throwing excess money at any advantage they may have found for 2021. And the lesser teams will be getting a more balance amount of the year end take in the WCC standings. So that will help them catch up. Bottom line for me though, I think the regs, indeed the whole motif of the new chapter coming, is that no one team will have the luxury to dominate such as Mercedes has just done in the hybrid era, and in other chapters in the past. With teams closer together in budget and resources, and drivers able to make more of a difference, I just don’t see one team dominating, at least not for long.

            I think F1 is about to change such that we will not have the same circumstances again that would see one driver able to compile the numbers ala MS and LH. And the WDC(s) from 2021 onward will have been harder fought for and won. Thank goodness greatness isn’t just about numbers to most people.

            1. @robbie as other fans have pointed out over the course of recent years, the midfield pack has often seen a lot of battling and racing for position going on in the past few years.

              One of the chief complaints has been that, quite often, a fair chunk of that is missed out because the coverage tends to be biased towards the bigger teams, rather than showing a picture of the wider action within a race – see, for example, the complaints that the TV coverage of the Abu Dhabi GP missed the scrap between Norris and Perez in the closing laps of the race and the eventual pass that Perez made on the final lap.

              In fact, quite a few races have often seen the drivers in the midfield pack often quite close together and fighting for quite a bit of the race, resulting in very close finishes – to pick up again with Abu Dhabi, amongst the midfield pack, you ended up with six drivers finishing the race within about 8 seconds of each other. In the US, Ricciardo narrowly fended off Norris in the closing laps of the race, finishing just a few tenths ahead, whilst Japan saw the fighting in the closing laps between Perez, Hulkenberg and Gasly.

              Half the time it feels like the TV coverage of the midfield pack is more interested in crashes or breakdowns than the racing itself in that part of the grid. At least some of your complaints are, in some ways, more of an indictment of the poor quality of the coverage of the races and the lack of interest shown in battles further down the field in preference of showing more of the “big name” drivers.

            2. @anon While I don’t disagree with what you are saying about midfield teams and their closeness, and the lack of coverage that perhaps masks some close racing, that is not really the type of ‘closeness’ that is the issue.

              Bottom line is, and the problem is decades old, that when clean air dependent cars are in dirty air, the trailing driver loses all kinds of confidence in the car. Let’s counter your argument that more cars are racing closely than we know because of the coverage, with the fact that some of this closeness and some of the passes are simply because there is a button that opens their rear wing to aid them to be close.

              No the real solution is the change they are embarking on to get away from so much clean air dependence so that not only will cars be able to follow closely, but most importantly the trailing driver will have much more confidence in his car to attempt passes while in the (lesser) dirty air of the car in front.

              Put another way, when mid-fielder Norris says the car feels awful while trailing, stating that he can even feel the difference when he’s 3 or 4 seconds back, that has nothing to do with TV coverage.

      2. I understand this remark from Lando to be more of a reflection on what he learned / what surprised him in his rookie year @phylyp

    2. Re. Dieter’s tweet… what? No hand sanitizer and HEPA mask? :)

      The BBC’s article about FIA’s ruling on Ferrari is interesting. No matter what we fans moan about the FIA’s ruling, what has the ability to actually stir up the pot is how the competitors take it.

      And they’re not happy.

      They seem to be raising the same questions as that of fans:

      Teams believe fundamental questions are raised by the way the FIA has chosen to end the Ferrari investigation:
      – Does the lack of punitive action against Ferrari mean that the car was legal at all times in 2019?
      – If so, why not say so? Why the need for a “settlement”, and what was that settlement?
      – What confidence can teams have in F1 if the FIA is not able to conclude a technical investigation without saying whether the car in question was legal or not?

      I didn’t want the coronavirus to hamper the season, but now I really don’t want it overshadowing this controversy. Good fun, just like old times :)

      1. (@phylyp) to be fair, in legal terms at least, the benefit of the doubt applies. If the FIA cannot conclude that there was an advantage, they cannot penalize them. Maybe that settlement goes along the lines of “we cannot determine this is against the rules, but we’ll tighten control to keep track of the situation in the future” or something like that.

        1. @fer-no65 – I’m probably nitpicking (but if they’re phrasing this in legal terms I think it is fine to pick nits), wouldn’t that be phrased as an “agreement” not a “settlement”, and not involve sweeteners from Ferrari (eco initiatives)? And even there, it shouldn’t be an agreement with just one party (Ferrari), it would be a technical directive to all teams about tightened controls, wouldn’t it?

          In any case, my comment wasn’t to reopen discussion on what has been discussed in depth over the past days, it’s just to point out that teams are also having the very same questions that fans had, so it’s not us fans going off with armchair hypotheses, the teams are equally in the dark as to the meaning of the FIA’s statement.

          1. wouldn’t that be phrased as an “agreement” not a “settlement”

            Exactly @phylyp.
            I think there are only losers here.
            Ferrari, because they are now (even more) widely seen as cheaters.
            FIA, because they are now (oven more) widely seen as spineless.
            Fans and other teams because we don’t get to see the outcome of this investigation.

            Maybe we’ll get some tasty comments in next year’s Netflix series.

        2. Then the FIA should have just said that. Also if the FIA couldn’t prove anything then there would be no need for a “settlement”. Sorry, but it just doesn’t add up.

      2. @phylyp It would be a scandal were these questions go unanswered. I hope Dieter will confront Todt about it.

    3. A fundamental component of a sport is that all competitors know the rules and when a rule violation occurs all competitors know what it is, who did it and the reason for it.

    4. Well, now that there’s set to be three consecutive weekends without a race, there’d be more room to postpone the Vietnamese GP should the need for that arise, although I feel that this whole thing is a bit of an overreaction. This epidemic that duly came to light in the 2nd-half of January reminds me of the Swine influenza-epidemic back in early-2010, and no races got cancelled or postponed then.

      I agree with the COTD, though.

      1. Ambrogio Isgro
        1st March 2020, 21:58

        Well, yes there is an overreaction, especially here in Italy with people buying food and antibacterial gel for hands like crazy… but on the other side you can’t compare it with the swine flu for two reasons:
        1) swine flu was already a known virus, as some old people already had it decades ago, this corona virus is something new for us
        2) the swine flu death rate was less than the usual flu one (the latter is around 0.1-0.5%), while the corona virus death rate seems to be around 2%, that’s 4-20 times more than the normal flu that already kills about 8 thousands people every year in Italy alone. Even worst is the rate of people that need special medical treatments in hospital (we call it in Italy “intensive therapy”), that is around the 10%. So with about 4.000 thousands places in hospitals for this kind of therapy, if you got just 100.000 people (the normal flu usually hits around 8 million per year), you need more than the double places in hospitals. That means a collapse of the system, that’s the main concern about a virus that since is mutation in december, seems able to double the impact every 4 days.

        It’s not ebola, but it’s not just a normal flu.

    5. That goodie box isn’t going to make that track any more appealing, I’m afraid.

    6. On the corona front (virus, not beer, sadly):

      Ferrari may pull out of Australian GP without quarantine assurance

      Concerns about travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak may put Ferrari’s participation in next month’s Australian grand prix in doubt.

      The Italian giant has revealed it will seek assurances its staff will be allowed to travel, and not face quarantine restrictions, before heading to Melbourne for the March 15 season opener.

      [Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said] “If there are any medical screenings, we need to know about them. You need to know exactly what’s about. We need to understand what are the consequences in case of any problem.”

      Binotto said with Ferrari providing assistance to Haas and Alfa [Romeo] as well as their own [works] team, any problems getting staff to Albert Park would expand well beyond their own garage.

      1. @phylyp At this point only foreigners travelling from China and Iran have been stopped from entering Aus. I don’t think the Aus GP is in much danger of being effected E.G postponed.
        We had one poor bugger die today he was in his 70s, he was evacuated from the cruise ship in Japan.

        1. Most new infections in Western Europe are linked to travellers from Northern Italy, and there is already a tightened travel advice to that area.
          Wouldn’t be surprised if that gets extended and tightened soon.

          Maybe we should have the first race on Christmas Island ;)

          1. @coldfly

            Wouldn’t be surprised if that gets extended and tightened soon

            your right.
            Christmas Island? Hey why not, but how about Phillip Island just need restore it back to its original length.

    7. The summer box seems to be missing a fundamental ingredient…beer! It’s the law in Australia that beer MUST be consumed at any and all sporting events.

    8. BBC f1 is moribund these days. Benson rather than resort to pirelli’s c nomenclature, he resorts to ss m and so forth.

    9. I give up hoping F1 will figure out that aero is killing the racing. The smartest people in the world have come off as dumb as a box of rocks for a couple decades now. They refuse to acknowledge aero wash as the cause of the lack of racing. What makes it even dumber is that they only have 2 options, and they refuse to pick either one. Either tone the wings wayyy down, or make them movable. Since they are so in love with their wings and wind tunnels, they leave themselves with no choice but to make them movable so a following car can compensate for the loss of downforce. Else F1’s last legacy will be that of a racing league that died cause it had no racing to speak of.

      1. Jet Perhaps you have somehow missed the fact that your concerns have been addressed and are being enacted for 2021.

        As to the last few decades, and more, it is not that they refused to acknowledge that aero dependency is harmful to the racing, it is that the foxes (the teams) have been running the hen house, and these foxes love their aerodynamics and have spent billions on it over the years and haven’t wanted to have to shed themselves of all that R&D, while at the same time loving that the more disruptive they can make the air behind them, the better for them, and therefore who cares about the racing. Within the regs they have only, perhaps naturally so, looked out for themselves and not the overall health of the sport.

        Well now Liberty and Brawn are in charge and made it immediately apparent that they wanted off the aero addiction. Tune in for next year. It’s going to be a lot different.

      2. jet, whilst a lot of people complain about the wings, there have been researchers who have pointed out that is actually the wrong conclusion to make.

        People blame them because they’re visible, and there is a tendency to focus on what you can see, but generally it seems that the bigger problem has been stalling of the front of the floor of the cars, which tends to result in a larger balance shift (the performance loss from the front and rear wings tends to be similar, resulting in the handling balance of the cars remaining relatively unchanged, whereas the stalling floor tends to result in a rearward centre of pressure shift that causes the understeer that so many drivers complain about).

        1. Perfect comment to get my broken record out.
          DRS should be replaced with DRS, or a downforce recovery system. The following car can adjust the front wing to create more downforce when following another car.

        2. Very interesting info, thanks for correcting my earlier incorrect impressions about the cause, anon.

          1. Yet let’s not take that to mean the complex wings they have are not a big part of the problem. They are a huge factor as well, hence the simplification of them coming with the new regs and the emphasis on ground effects over wings so that more downforce is coming from the floor than the wings. Anyway, the floors are going to be way different, as will the wings, so let’s see what happens wrt floor stalling with the 2021 cars.

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