Join Paul, Mark and me as we discuss the Austrian Grand Prix. We cover each team as they finished and discuss why Lewis wasn’t able to make use of his resources he’d protected during the race. We chat about Williams and if their strategy was too conservative. We even discuss things like Where Vettel and Alonso will be next year and white lines, bulls with Mercedes logos and even mention a few awards in the process.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Having just watched the race, apologies if some observations already discussed here or other forums. Also, iPad typing while at gym, so probably horrifying grammar/typos:

    *Prefer this track to Monza; elevation and wind bring interesting dynamics to the layout, with the drivers being caught out constantly. No chicanes might limit some passing, but also gives a lovely flow. Also dig it’s narrowness. I prefer it to Monza.

    *Pit entry was odd; Davidson/Croft ruminated on shortening the entry line to the straight. Seems too short to me, but either way it’s length and proximity to T8 apex dangerous and damaging (e.g. JEV retiring compromising Massa)

    *Who said Hamilton’s Quali spin due to Harvesting stopping? Odd, I’d expect the opposite, increased harvesting causing the lockup, unless Hamilton increased brake pressure to compensate.

    *First glance, I think Merc’s “Strat 6” call was preventitive for ERS issues, not a hold-station situation. Radio calls throughout the race point to hybrid power and brake conservation. Coupled with electrical gremlins (Rossberg Pracetice 1 and Lewis Quali and mid-race), and I think Merc was assuring both cars finished. The steering wheel “Strat” Multi goes to 12; I’d assumed 6 is a mild harvest/mild energy mode. As MIE correctly points out to me, mass energy being converted and transferred aggressively is a failure recipe.

    *Williams strategy call v. missing the boat during pits. Data did point to massive degradation on the Primes. Coupled w/ Merc’s practice pace on said Primes, Smedley’s assertion has truth. However, I agree with Paul, track position means much, particularly on this track.

    *Is Mclaren a “low drag” car? It’s been towards the bottom of Merc-powered time traps all season. According to aero people, its outwash front wing and nose philosophy points to max downforce rather than front/rear balance. Low downforce ≠ low drag.

    *Poor, poor Vettel. He was lucky to avoid penalty by retiring, but his luck might be even worse than Webber’s. I’d like to see an extended Vettel v. Ricciardo battle. No idea if Vettel’s supposed strength out of the slow corners was due to adapting to the double, then blown diffusor, but anecdotal evidence this year points that way (big torque/non-linear power delivery plus less rear downforce= loss in form). He looked out of sorts all weekend; I’d like to see Vettel come back.

    *Alonso to Mclaren v. remaining @ Ferrari. Mclaren looks the (slightly) bigger mess to me. Both organizations IMO suffer organizational/operational problems more detrimental to performance than the cars, ultimately stemming from the top.
    -Will Ferrari improve inter-department communication regarding car development? Will J. Allen be given veto power/absolute authority on direction?
    -Mclaren, will it continue adopting, then binning abstract design solutions, essentially starting from scratch every year? U shaped side pods, long wheelbase pull rod car, the high drag wishbones, etc. Innovation great, but not when one dominant idea takes precedence over overall design (as has been rumored).
    Essentially, who’s more willing to change, R. Dennis or L. Montezemolo. Or, more likely, who has the pieces already in place to induce change?

    *ERS Braking issues. Remember that in order to simulate linear braking, the software must be mapped at as many data points as possible (pedal demand or position or raw percentage) while considering:
    -Constantly-changing -K harvesting percentage, modally AND transiently-variable
    -Brake wear (pad and disc thickness, temp)
    -There’s a discussion somewhere in this site’s commentaries about feel/feedback simulation; I think it was a Brembo brakes post. I vaguely remember talking about how goofy regen brakes feel on a road car, and how much more difficult it must be braking in a downforce car at racing speeds.

    Finally, the technical bent in this podcast pleasantly surprised me, but does bring up a question. I love this stuff, but can see where some fans might find the hoodoo either opaque or tedious. Do we feel F1’s doing a good job presenting the technical stuff clearly to fans? Media in the past erroneously referenced that past tech, which was okay as systems were typically isolated; motor, KERS, brakes, dampers, bodywork.

    Now, the car stuff is intensely electronic, integrated, systemic, yet I still see pundits misrepresenting stuff, which leads to audience confusion, which leads to dismissal either of the regs or tech. IMO, THIS is where interactivity via expanded content can help F1; an official path those curious about tech or interviews or regs or sport history, broad at intro, inciting curiosity into the involved.

    Great race, some fireworks commingled with “strategery,” pretty venue, big updates on the cars, an ever-present fear of failures looming and occasionally rearing throughout the grid. Tempo and pace changing throughout the season. Good stuff.

    • Regarding Vettel and his driving, I’ve read somewhere (I think it was AMuS) that his unique strength has always been that he was able to brake slightly sideways into the corner whereas everyone else keeps the car as straight as possible under braking in order to keep it stable. The blown diffuser certainly helped there, but it’s not the deciding factor. More important is that you have a perfect feel for the brake. With the drive by wire system this year, Vettel has lost his edge in that regard as the car isn’t as reliable under braking and he has hence had to adapt his driving style.

      Hearing about how well Mercedes seems to have solved the issue, maybe he should apply there?

      • Trail braking? Interesting; I’ve always thought Vettel braked later and took much later turn-in’s into apexes, keeping minimum speeds up. What you describe looks like how I think Raikkonen drives, slower, earlier turn in on the brakes, slower minimum speed, but earlier on-gas and straighter through the exit. I’m no analyst nor driver, so would bet on the AMuS guys…:D

        RE: Engine modes, I’m still not sold team Merc confirmed max modes w/ “Strat 6.” Rossberg/Hamilton had gapped Bottas; there was no need to stress the PU’s. Both cars being directed to it conveyed no advantage to the other; in fact, P. Bonnigington-to-Hamilton’s radio call assuring both cars equal sounded like a reassurance neither driver would be allowed higher engine modes. Confirmation of “Overtake” usage IMO was Merc’s okay that the drivers still race each other, despite reduced settings.

        Either way, team kudos, allowing a fight.

        • the drivers seat

          a later turn in requires a slower minimum speed, as it requires a sharper steering angle but for less time.
          He was known for picking up throttle earlier enabling the blown exhaust to give rear end grip on exit

          • Thanks Paul. It looked to me like Vettel turned in abruptly and late, at higher speeds than others, trusting the car’s butt stay planted. Shows what I know; More valuable insight, here, in the podcast, anywhere is appreciated.

            How do you see Raikkonen, is my impression incorrect also? He seems to turn in earlier and at slower rate than say Vettel or Alonso, so I assumed he trail-braked to rotate at the apex, but your correction has me thinking untrue.

            If you and Todd ever do comment on Practice as hinted, it’d be a great listen.

          • the drivers seat

            jeff- I’d say it’s because he’s a little unsure of the rear end

          • I think this nicely fits in with the narrative from AMuS. If the rear brakes aren’t functioning as reliably and consistently as before, drivers who relied on their braking find themselves in a bit of a pickle.

      • Excuse my ignorance, what is AMuS?

        • Short for “Auto Motor und Sport” a German car magazine that has a pretty good motorsport section. They usually have very good technical and other scoops and a lot of the renderings of new car parts and stuff you find online ultimately come from them. They’re also well connected, particularly with the German and Italian speaking part of the grid, i.e. Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari, but also beyond.

    • Your wish is Bernies command:

      I suspect it is a ploy to get more money, but if it is true I think I finally stop watching formula 1. Enough is enough, not another race in a sandbox.

      Give me Monza above A1-ring anytime!

  • MIE

    Regarding the ‘strat 6’ call to both Mercedes drivers, I thought this was the max engine mode that both had independently used in earlier races against team orders. Both drivers were also told they could use the overtake button freely in the final laps. My understanding is that this allows additional energy to be recovered from the MGU-H to be fed to the MGU-K at the expense of fuel consumption.
    As to Lewis using less fuel than Nico, this has been consistent all season, so perhaps he is starting with less in the tank so he has an advantage at the start of the race?
    As to the track, it is interesting that it is now being praised for its ‘traditional’ layout, yet when it re-opened as the A1 Ring the track designer (Herman Tilke) was criticized for ruining the original circuit by removing the long flowing bends and replacing them with simple right angled corners. If it needs to be lengthened perhaps they could re-use the original track, just construct some more run off.

    • You might be right on the “Strat 6” rotary; I don’t recall media reporting the actual modes used in Bahrain/Spain. I still think PU preservation was Merc’s reasoning. Why would Merc allow max power at this point, for both drivers? It’s still a stalemate, and induces unnecessary component wear.

      IMO, this was the highest-demand Turbo and ERS circuit; minimal recharge time (-K braking, -H during VMax), elevation meaning higher turbine and compressor speeds (also limits -H harvesting). With the troubles Rosberg/Hamilton reported over the weekend, it makes sense that Merc limit power modes.

      Below is a pic of Rossberg’s wheel:

      Who knows, but I’d assume either “1” or “12” being the most aggressive setting. My understanding is the “Quali” mode is the 4MJ max -K power to ICE, powered from -H and ES, w/ further -H energy going to turbine spool i.e.; no consideration of the 2MJ recovery. Due to the discharge/harvesting disparity, the teams attempt running -K with -H as much as possible, minimalizing ES depletion and thus recharge demands from -H; this balance is pre-empted in “Quali” or “Overtake.”

    • Agreed. I also understood the strat-6 as them turning up the engine after being in a conservation mode before. Also, let’s not forget that there’s a fuel flow limit, so you really can’t turn up the engine at will. And even if you could, it wouldn’t help you as much as one would think, as the excess energy mostly goes into the battery pack, which is why the cars don’t rev as high as they could to begin with. So the only way to really benefit from being easier on the fuel is to start lighter. By now, I’d think Mercedes knows the fuel consumption habits of their drivers and lets Lewis start lighter, at least that’s what I’d do if I were Lewis.

  • Andreas

    Re the Merc “strat” setting: In the Sky broadcast, Crofty and Brundle said the dial goes from 1 to 12, with 1 being the richest/most powerful setting. I’d think it would make more sense to have the highest number the richest setting, but either way, strat 6 would still be a medium power setting. I too find it weird that they are so strict about both drivers using the same settings – if one of them is better at saving fuel, he should be allowed to use it. Unless the team doesn’t want them actually racing each other, and prefer to have them running a tight 1-2. Which is completely understandable – I would much rather have them running close, but not too close :-) But it does put a different perspective on the whole “we let them race – that’s what we owe the fans” bit…

    Pass of the race: Ricciardo on Hulk on the final lap. Honourable mention to Lewis for his pass on Massa right after the first stops – that was a dive bomb if I ever saw one :-)

    Donkey: I can’t decide here. My first choice would be to give it jointly to Renault and Red Bull for not managing to put together a power unit that works, and not being able to package it properly. The radio mishaps at Sauber were quite entertaining, though. I bet Sutil was a bit confused when he stopped on the start/finish straight, only to be told “no, not you!”. It’s a bit like when you’re on the phone while driving, and shout at another driver :-) But in the end, that probably didn’t end up costing Sutil too much, so I’ll go with Renault/Red Bull. Honourable mention to Bernie for the love message superimposed on the track – yuck.

    Drive or the race: Bottas.

  • I know some pundits think Hamilton’s fuel savings mean Merc can fuel him lighter, I don’t agree. The margins seem too tight. Whilst trailing, I recall Hamilton saving approx 1Kg at about 1/3 race distance over Rosberg. At Bahrain, again trailing, a graphic showed him again saving appox 1Kg, this time about 1/2 race distance. Have we seen end-of-race fuel usage?

    If the above examples are representative, Hamilton’s saving 2-3 kilos per race. An advantage to be sure, but maybe .05 at best? An advantage easily wiped out by race circumstance, how much Hamilton must battle during the event.

    His fuel savings, to me, means more fighting potential, should it be needed, during the race. I reserve the right to completely junk this supposition if data shows him saving more :D

    • I don’t think I agree. For one, Mercedes has a history of fueling their cars as little fuel as possible. I can remember more than one instance over the past years where Rosberg was told to save fuel, despite there being no limit imposed by the rules. In one instance, Mercedes gambled on a safety car and when it didn’t materialize, Rosberg had to go into a massive conservation mode.

      But even if they do add a liter or two as reserve, they do so on top of the calculated base fuel usage. So far, whenever we’ve seen fuel usage numbers in TV, Hamilton has always been leaner on his fuel than Rosberg, whether he was in front or behind. So even if we add a safety margin on top, Lewis would still need less than Rosberg. I’d therefore think that Lewis starts with less, giving him an advantage over the first half of the race.

      Starting with the same amount of fuel and having more in hand later on isn’t really helpful as you can’t just turn up the engine (see my post above) and only handicaps you during the final stages by additional weight.
      I also remember a pit call this year where Rosberg was advised to burn as much fuel as he can behind the safety car. Obviously this surplus fuel was no good for him during the race, so he had to get rid of it.

  • Ground Effect

    On the unsafe release penalty. Of the guy responsible for securing the wheel nut, the guy responsible for raising his hand that that wheel service is complete, the guy responsible for releasing the car when all the service is complete, and the driver, one or more of them was responsible for the unsafe release and there is video of th pit stop so it should not be hard to figure out. Perhaps race suspensions and fines for the person(s) who did not do their job safely is in order as well as the stop and go and perhaps a large team fine. Not a big fan of future race grid penalties. Marc’s suggestion not bad either, remove that car from that race immediately. All this assumes it is shown to be an unsafe release and not a component failure that cause the tire to not be/stay attached and all evidence on this one indicates is was an unsafe release.

  • I agree 100% with what Paul said about pitlane penalties. I’ve been thinking about this for a day now, and I have not been able to come up with a situation where it would be a competitive advantage to send a tricycle out on track. Since the deterrent aspect of a penalty is meant to keep teams from breaking rules in a way that gives them a competitive advantage is not applicable, that leaves the punishment as a totally punitive measure.

    Now, that’s all well and good, but it’s daft to impose that penalty on the driver. They are completely blameless in those instances; their eyes and focus is completely on the lolipop (or light) so that when the all-clear is given they GO.

    Consequently, I think there needs to be a re-think on pitlane infractions of the nature in question. Perhaps levy a steep financial penalty is appropriate for first offences, followed by docking Constructor points for subsequent violations. Obviously, that can be waived in situations where the driver is clearly at fault for a pitlane incident (Hamilton in Canada a few years ago comes to mind). But it just doesn’t seem fair to punish a driver for something that’s entirely beyond their control.

  • “Bounce the Box” Bwahahhahaha ROFL
    Dude…… phrasing !

  • Why are we not doing ‘phrasing’?!

  • rapierman

    1. I dunno…..I would have liked an extra kilometer or two….one maybe one or two more miles….plus a few extra curves….but that’s just me.

    2. Probably another idea to redo this track, maybe extend the front straight out so that the pit entrance can be safely put off to the side to allow for a safer entrance.

    3. At least they were consistent regarding penalties for going off the track.

    4. Just when they thought they had Mercedes number… they come. Outstanding job by Rosberg to fight his way to the top with some key passing, and Hamilton was no slouch, either.

    5. Nice job for Massa. Wish that they could have kept in the lead, but there you are.

    6. Yanno, I’m no gambler, so I’d probably go with conservation over “win it or bin it”, but that’s just me.

    7. So, we don’t write Ferrari off just yet.

    8. So, you think we’ll be seeing Alonso go somewhere else? (Honestly, I would think that Raikkonen might retire as well).

    9. I already left a post about some “Silly Season” predictions in another subject. ;-)

    10. Bad day for Red Bull, even for Ricciardo.

    11. Ummm…..”Bouncing the box”? Are you sure you should be saying that? I thought this was a family site. :-D

    12. So, Mark Webber is the goat that cursed the Chicago Cubs?

    13. Perez had his day in the sun. Too bad that Hulk didn’t have as good a day as he should have.

    14. Pass goes to Rosberg on Perez mid-race.

    15. Donkey goes to Vettel, with all his problems.

    16. Drive goes to Rosberg, with all those key passes, but honorable mention to Bottas for his first podium finish.