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Testing times February 6, 2012

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Winter testing time is finally upon us at Jerez and the excitement is building amongst the fans! What will the new cars reveal? Will the step noses be better than the conventional nose? How will the drivers get on in comparison with each other? How will the new drivers fare? And will the Pirelli tyres have the grip and wear that the teams want? So many questions so little time!

So what really will the teams get from this testing session? Data, data, data is the short answer! Teams will analyse every aspect of the car and drivers performance and will take all this analysis back to their respective offices and study it. They will also study their competitors in fine detail to see if there is anything on their car which is showing promise and also for anything they can challenge regarding legality. As always there have been a number of changes to the regulations this year and this gives the teams a chance to test their changes and try new innovations. For the drivers it gives them a chance to get back behind The wheel of a F1 car after the winter break and for many a chance to get a feel for the new car that they will be driving next year.

What can we as F1 fans gain from the testing sessions then? Unfortunately not a lot that will be reliable, the teams will be running settings that we are not aware of so we won’t know what all the data means! It will not stop all the speculation on twitter when ‘driver X’ goes faster than ‘driver Y’ though. It does however give us the chance to see our favourite drivers out in a F1 car again and a chance to hear the magnificent noise of the engines screaming past! As can be seen in the running order above Marussia will not take part in the running at all, HRT will only take part in 2 days of testing and Mercedes in 3 days. Mercedes will be running last years car and will be using the testing session to evaluate the new Pirelli tyres. Interestingly Caterham are running their test driver one of the days with Jarno Trulli only having one day of testing compared to Heikki having 2 days!

So when will we know who is fastest? The only real answer to this is in Australia, during the first qualifying sessions! Everything up until then is just speculation but let’s face it, we all love a bit of speculation!

Running order via @F1Times

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What’s in a nose? February 3, 2012

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Today was the unveiling of the F2012 by Ferrari and the VJM05 by Force India both of which have the same ‘step’ or ‘Platypus’ noses as the Caterham so what is in a nose?

The FIA regulations have stipulated that the nose on the cars in 2012 can be no higher than 55cm from the ground, this is to help prevent a car flipping if in an accident and to give greater visibility to the drivers. With the drivers themselves having to fit in the car not far behind the nose this step concept seems to have been born!

So why doesn’t the McLaren have the step? According to an article written by @ScarbsF1 http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/launch-analysis-mclaren-mercedes-mp4-27/ which explains the technical specifications of the MP4-27 in more detail, the McLaren have a family history of low noses so much less alteration was needed.

Does this mean that McLaren has an advantage over the others? Only time, testing and racing will really answer that question. In my opinion though I don’t think there is any advantage! Any of the F1 teams have the opportunity to ‘copy’ innovations or existing parts from their competitors so would have been able to use the concepts from McLaren at any time however, so far, 3 teams have chosen to go with the step nose. After months of testing in a wind tunnel and simulations there must be some reason why this is the case and I think every F1 fan is now intrigued to see the results from testing and also what the other teams unveil! Personally I want to see what Red Bull (or should I say Adrian Newey) comes up with!

Does it matter then what the nose looks like? In an ideal world we would all like our teams to build cars that look nice at the same time as ‘going like stink’ and maybe McLaren are the team, so far, that have managed this but given a choice between a pretty car or one that is going to go faster, as a F1 fan, I would want the faster car! If this style of nose helps Ferrari, Force India and Caterham to improve their chances within the race then ‘bring on the ugly noses’ is what I say!

So what is in a nose? McLaren have gone for an aesthetically pleasing nose whereas Ferrari, Force India and Caterham have chosen the ‘uglier’ option, which is right? Only time will tell!


Reference and pictures via @ScarbsF1

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The launching of a F1 car February 2, 2012

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I have recently started using Twitter and have discovered a whole F1 world which I never knew existed. Drivers and Teams have all of a sudden become more accessible and I am now aware of aspects of the F1 world which I was mostly unaware of before, this includes the launching of an F1 car!

As a relative novice to F1 car launches (I knew they happened but hadn’t seen one as it happened) I was expecting big things when McLaren launched the MP4-27 yesterday. I’m afraid I was very disappointed! There was a lot of hype amongst the twitter based fans but it was little more than the lifting of a cloth and a couple of interviews! Even the car, to a novice like me, looked no different to last years.

I started to wonder whether this would be the case for the other car launches as well so started to look forward to the Ferrari launch on Friday only to find out today that it is cancelled due to the bad weather in Maranello. While I was disappointed regarding this I was greatly dismayed at the reaction of many McLaren fans! While gloating at the so called marvels of the McLaren launch they laughed and remarked ‘Fail’ at Ferrari for being unable to do their scheduled launch. This angered me, do they expect Ferrari to continue with the press conference and put many journalists and staff in danger? Powerful as Ferrari are, they are unable to control the weather and I totally respect the decision they have made to cancel the launch!

I would like to say that it is a small minority of fans who have reacted this way and most have been respectful of the decision Ferrari have made. I have many friends who support different F1 teams and we can have intelligent, respectful conversations without being derogatory towards each other. To the small minority who seem incapable of doing this, I am afraid you disappoint me!

Cartoon via @grandprixtoons

Ferrari picture via @InsideFerrari

Follow me on twitter @NicF1Fan