Join Paul and me as we review the Japanese Grand Prix. We cover each team as they finished, each driver as they finished and each driver for their last race with a team. We discuss Ferrari’s woes, Lewis’s wins and Jo Jo go.

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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.
  • Paul KieferJr

    1. Ooooooookay. (Pulling out a line from “Simone”, I take it?)

    2. It would seem that Merc’s figured out its problems, but I’m wondering if the track itself played a factor in this. Other than this, it’s Hamilton’s championship to lose now.

    3. I think Ferrari’s chances of winning the title are done. I’m certain that Vettel’s chances are gone as well. Kinda says a lot about their engineers and mechanics, I’m afraid.

    4. Either we’re seeing a resurgence of Red Bull or they’re just seizing an opportunity when it presented itself.

    5. Speaking of Verstappen, did the stewards do anything regarding Alonso’s and Massa’s interference?

    6. It was my understanding that they did change the plug.

    7. Not to mention the fact that you’ve pretty much destroyed whatever good morale that you had….

    8. At least it wasn’t a total loss for Ferrari, given Raikkonen’s efforts.

    9. It seemed to me that the wheel was slightly bent and useless at the time Stroll went off.

    10. If you’re going with Newgarden, I might as well prop up Rossi at this point.

    11. McLaren: Chassis, yes. Engine, no.

    12. Hammers only work in NASCAR when you’re trying to take out the dents.

    13. Yes, what I’m hearing about Gasly and Kvyat as well.

    14. Pass goes to Verstappen over Bottas early in the race.

    15. Donkey goes to the Ferrari engineers and mechanics. They can’t put together an engine to save their lives.

    16. Drive to Raikkonen for his recovery effort.

    Note: I’m looking at putting together a tweet-up when the circus comes to Austin. I know that Todd isn’t able to make it. RSVP in the forum thread I created or let me know by Twitter at “@PKJRapierman” if you want to come. Fair warning: I don’t have a sound setup like Todd has. I just have this headphone-microphone combo and a laptop. Bring your own.

    • Schumi Toronto

      “Kinda says a lot about their engineers and mechanics, I’m afraid.” Really? What do Ferrari’s engineers and mechanics have to do with their spark plugs or turbo interconnectors (sorry – I can’t remember what they’re called)? It seems like suppliers to me – not Ferrari personnel.

  • p1ngu

    I suspect the spark plug issue is a little more complicated than you describe in the podacst!

    At the risk of boring everyone to death, the spark plug in an F1 car doesn’t really work the same way as it does in a road car or even in most race cars. It’s there to to ignite a very small amount of rich-mixture fuel vapour in a pre-chamber at the top of the main cylinder. When combusted, this creates lighting bolts that ignite the leaner mix in the main cylinder far more effectively.

    These lightning bolts – also known as jet ignition – allow more droplets of fuel to be burnt in one big bang than anything has before, giving more power. The downside is that it’s hugely tricky to manage and unless managed with incredibly good engine mapping and/or anti-knock additives will blow your engine sky-high. The additives in oil (not the oil itself) have been used by teams to manage knock and reduce cylinder head temperatures, and since the oil-burning limits have been reduced, it appears that some teams have dealt with this better than others.

    Did I mention that an absolute killer of spark plugs (and engines too, Mr Honda!) is the excess temperature caused by knock? My theory is that Ferrari have been impacted by the reduced oil-burn limits which has made them vulnerable to the seemingly-improbable spark-plug failure. This will have been compounded by their final power unit upgrade which, as Mattia Binotto pointed out at Spa this year, has been driven by different fuel and oil as well as additional boost. I think they’ve just pushed it all a tiny bit too far, and wouldn’t be even slightly surprised to see further failures from Ferrari in the final four.

    Then again, what are their options? Seb has to win every race AND Lewis has to have a couple of DNFs, so they might as well wind the engine up to max and go out in a blaze of glory.

    • Great info my friend. :)

      • p1ngu

        I think I just reached peak nerd. (puts bag on head and hides)

        • Paul Charsley

          great stuff! thanks

    • Paul KieferJr

      So, not quite the same as “diesel” fuel…but awful-damn close.

  • Schumi Toronto

    Regarding Vettel, the Sky guys eluded to the fact that the “jet ignition” (thanks p1ngu) is buried deep in the ICE and therefore, it’s impossible to replace on the grid with the few minutes available to them. Maybe they were just looking for loose wiring? Anyway it’s a shitty way to end what already was looking like a lost championship! Hammy whigned about his engine failure last year. He didn’t have 3 weekends in a row that Vettel has had and I don’t hear Sabastian bitching about it (in public).

    As for Stroll, again the Sky crew kept going on about the tire letting go or as Brundle said “maybe spinning on the rim”. It looked to me that a wheel bearing went (are there such a thing in F1 wheel assemblies? I don’t know.). I saw a flurry of sparks trailing his car when he first braked, which said to me that it was the wheel that let go. Why haven’t we heard the definative answer to this yet?

    • p1ngu

      You’re right that the plugs are buried deep in the engine. Of course, easy access to plugs used to be paramount, as you could easily foul them. As fuel injection came in and ECUs became the norm, so plug fouling and the need to change them disappeared, as did the need for easy access, so it got designed out. Teams took good ol’ spark plugs for granted ……… Sergio Marchionne has even said that the recent small failures, including this one, were “a problem we’ve probably ignored over time because it was never of much importance”. Except that small things matter.

      Hubris is what’s killing Ferrari’s season. Vettel had been ahead all year, they had it under control, there was a power boost…….relax guys, we’re going to win the title, no sweat. But this is always a game of Whack-A-Mole ….. you change one part of a racing car and it brings new stresses, even to things thought long-since sorted.

    • johnblair7

      Lewis did have more reliability issues than the engine blow up last year, and he was generally the only merc engine car getting them, so he was probably within his rights to complain, Seb would have been this year as well.

  • Alex Egeling

    First time listening to the podcast. The sound effects / audio clips during the conversation are insufferable.