Mercedes Use Remaining Tokens for Monza Engine Upgrades

Photo Credit: eMercedes Benz

If you thought Mercedes was fast before, think again. Mercedes introduced a new-spec power unit for the Italian Grand Prix this weekend. They spent their remaining seven tokens on this upgrade.

The specifics of the engine upgrade weren’t released but Mercedes did say it was meant as a “tactical” decision to speed up planned developments for the 2016 season. Mercedes are now using their 2016 engine to track test it for the rest of their year. Since there will be no winter testing (engines are homogenized in February, before testing begins), Mercedes are testing it out for the rest of the season.

Within a couple races, other teams not in the championship hunt will start to adopt a forward thinking mentality as well and introduce upgrades to test for 2016.

The upgraded engine relies on a new fuel from supplier Petronas to aid in combustion efficiency. Hopefully we’ll learn some more about this fuel-engine duo in the upcoming months.
There’s already evidence of this new power unit helping out Mercedes, too. In the second free practice session, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were seven tenths faster than third place. As this upgrade is only being used for the works team right now, Lotus, Force India, and Williams didn’t fair much better than the usual in practice. However, Will Buxton did report that Mercedes will make these engines available for the other teams by the end of the season.

Debris on Track Reason for Failures, Says Pirelli

Lewis Hamilton heads around track in his No. 44 machine. — Photo Credit: Mercedes

After conducting an investigation following the Belgian Grand Prix tire failures, Pirelli have concluded that debris on track caused the increase in tire cuts during the race weekend. They refuted the claim that their tires had structural integrity issues.

Pirelli said the “condition of the circuit” was pointed out to the FIA on Saturday and the track was cleaned. Even so, Pirelli said the FIA need to “evaluate the way in which circuits can be cleaned most effectively.”

Full press release

Following the recent technical analysis carried out on the tyres used at Spa, Pirelli concludes that:

1) The tests carried out by Pirelli on the tyres used at Spa have confirmed the absence of any structural problems. Pirelli has undertaken in-depth analysis on the materials and production processes used, utilising two different methods of tests and checks.

Microscopic analysis, carried out on a large number of the tyres after the second free practice session, showed no signs of fatigue or integrity issues. The same result was confirmed for the tyres used during the race, which were cross-sectioned and analysed in Milan. Some of the tyres used in the race were subjected to a further laboratory fatigue test, passing all the assessments conclusively and confirming that there was no structural degradation or problem on-track.

Since the start of 2015, 13,748 slick tyres have been used: including on especially severe tracks like Sepang, Barcelona and Silverstone. No problems have ever been discovered, underlining the fundamental solidity of the product.

2) The events of Spa can therefore be put down to external factors, linked with the prolonged use of the tyres on one of the most severe tracks of the championship.

The external factors are demonstrated by a total of 63 cuts found in the tread of the Formula One tyres used over the course of the Spa weekend, following numerous incidents that took place during the support races before the Formula One grand prix. In the previous 15 events (10 races and five test sessions) an average of only 1.2 cuts per event were noted. All this indicates an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa, with a consequent increased risk of encountering a foreign object.

If even a small piece of debris – made of carbon or any other particularly sharp material – penetrates and cuts the various structural parts of a tyre (which is obviously subject to high-speed use, and more susceptible if used for a prolonged period) without penetrating the actual structure, this can cause a failure that is different to that found in the event of a normal puncture, which is characterised by a loss of tyre pressure. And the former was the type of event seen on Sebastian Vettel’s tyre at Spa.

As for Nico Rosberg, in whose case the tyre usage was less, the tyre held up – as the footage clearly shows – and the failure was not instantaneous. For four corners previously, an element of the internal structure of the tyre was visible, coming out of the tread pattern. This highlighted the existence of the damage and the consequent start of the tyre’s attrition.

Throughout the Spa weekend (including practice, qualifying and the race) cuts caused by debris were found on the tyres of other drivers, which damaged the construction but did not cause any failures.

3) At the end of qualifying on Saturday at Spa, following the exceptional number of cuts noted to the tyres, Pirelli pointed out the condition of the circuit to the FIA and asked for it to be cleaned, as well as for the teams to be told. The FIA reacted promptly in arranging for the track to be cleaned and advising the teams.

Together with the FIA, Pirelli proposes a study to evaluate the way in which circuits can be cleaned most effectively.

Monza Engineering Guide

Fernando Alonso leads the pack around Monza, Italy. — Photo Credit: F1 Site

Formula One heads to Italy this weekend for the fastest race of the season. Teams need low downforce and high engine power to win. Let’s take a look at the Engineering Guide for Monza, the 12th round of the 2015 Formula One season.

Full Throttle Percentage: 76%
Distance: 3.6 miles
Laps: 53

Monza is all about high speed and low downforce for almost the entire lap. 76 percent of the lap is run under full throttle, benefiting the teams with Mercedes powered engines. The track starts with a 638m run from grid to turn one where teams have to navigate a tricky chicane. The cars then head around the bend, through another small chicane, and end up at the two Lesmos. These two turns are some of the trickiest, with teams running low downforce setups, it’s easy to run off if the car doesn’t have enough mechanical grip. After the rundown to Ascari, the track ends in Parabolica – a large hairpin turn that opens up onto the DRS enabled front straight.

The setup for this track is focused on getting the highest top speed you can while still keeping enough grip for the Lesmos. Front and rear wings will be low profile with less wing in them then we see at most tracks. Several teams will be introducing new wings entirely for this weekend. Even though teams will want as tight an aero package as possible, they still need to allow for proper brake ventilation. The stress on the brakes from going over 200 mph down to first gear lap after lap can cause brakes and engines to overheat. If drivers don’t manage the heat buildup, they could have a failure on track

This track has Mercedes written all over it. Rosberg and Hamilton battled it out for the victory last year and personally I don’t see how that would change this year. Their superior power unit and aero package has showed no real signs of slowing down. Lotus and Grosjean should have another good outing this weekend, and Sebastien Vettel may also be able to provide some early challenge to Mercedes. The Ferrari team introduced a new wing in Belgium that they will likely use again in Italy. The new wing design has one less flap than the previous design and is catered toward low downforce. 

Let me know who you think will win in the comments below. I’d love to hear!

Have a #TechF1 question? Tweet it to me @thesingleseater or let me know in the comments below!

Tech Link: Honda Says Engine is 25 Horsepower Ahead of Renault

Photo Credit: McLaren Formula One Team

In an interview with Autosport, Honda’s Chief of Motorsport Arai has said that he believes their engine has 25 more horsepower than the Renault engines. Arai cited the “size zero” aero package as the prime reason for McLaren’s woes this year. He also added that there’s less than a 30 horsepower gap to Ferrari and 40-50 horsepower separating McLaren from Mercedes.

You can read the full article on Autosport here.