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[P]
The Longest Formula 1 Season In History

By jd in Op-Ed
Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 11:11:40 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

Pundits across the globe (with the possible exception of America) are discussing the latest Formula 1 Grand Prix racing season. Speculation is at fever-pitch over the impact of the latest rule-changes and the aging World Champion. Despite the efforts of some teams, this also looks like the most expensive racing season in history, with the Ferrari's gearbox costing more than most street cars.


For those new to Formula 1 racing, this is the championship's 58th year. This season will involve 19 races, between 20 drivers, over circuits of varying complexity. Turbochargers and superchargers have long-since been banned, but the three liter engines still manage around 970 bhp and the cars will reach speeds of over 220 miles per hour.

Many of the regulation changes have been in a bid to reduce speeds (for safety reasons) and increase competition. Typically, only one or two teams in a given year will do well, simply because the demands are so great. Any error in the design will result in a vehicle that underperforms at best. At worst, the car's innards will rip themselves to shreds under the strain.

The sole exception has been the reintroduction of refuelling and the elimination of maximum fuel loads. With refuelling permitted, it is entirely possible to have a miniscule fuel tank - and therefore negligable staring weight. A car just needs enough fuel to build up maybe 30 or 40 seconds of lead. After that, it can easily make a pitstop, refuel and leave, with little risk of being overtaken. (It takes about 20 seconds to come in, stop, and then accelerate away. Refuelling is at 12.1 liters per second.)

This year, tire changes are out. That's right - you stay on the same set of tires for qualifying and racing. This means that there will be intense pressure to produce tires that wear as little as possible, without sacrificing too much grip. The teams need results, and they need them before the other teams. Preferably before the Bridgestone/Ferrari coalition becomes too entrenched.

The idea behind the tire change rule seems to be that the increased wear on the tires will make for closer race finishes. Towards the end of the race, cars won't have nearly as much grip, so shouldn't be able to go as fast. That's the theory. In practice, it is likely to work the other way round, with cars that are struggling not attempting to catch up with those in front.

Another aspect of the tire rule is that it will reduce the risk of tire accidents. More than a few cars have shed tires at high speed, because the single restraining bolt has been put in too hurridly. (All four tires are changed in around 4-6 seconds. That puts enormous strain on the mechanics, who don't have time to do any kind of inspection.)

Also new this year, engines have to last two complete racing weekends. No modifications between races allowed, no replacements after qualifying (or you sacrifice whatever position you earned on the starting grid). A race can last up to two hours or 200 miles. A road car engine can handle such distances easily, but then road car engines are usually not jammed in seventh gear (F1 cars have 7 gears, plus reverse) running practically flat-out with very limited oxygen.

This modification does make a little more sense. Formula 1 engines are designed to survive only as long as necessary. This often resulted in engines that were regarded as little more than motorized hand-grenades. By forcing superior design, the quality of the engineering necessarily goes up. Again, it's an attempt to slow cars down, this time by reducing the internal stresses in the engine. In practice, it will take at most six months before the engines are more powerful than ever.

Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 racing tends to appear uneventful. There aren't many spectacular crashes, the cars aren't usually bunched together (except for the first quarter of a lap after the start), the complexity of the track makes it hard to see more than two or three cars at a time, and the drivers tend not to be television celebrities.

When you get into it, though, it is probably one of the most dangerous, certainly the most technically advanced and definitely the most intense motor sport since the days of the European city-to-city races.

One of my fondest memories of watching F1 was seeing Ayrton Senna (arguably one of the best drivers who ever lived) going head-to-head with Alain Prost down the start/finish straight. Absolutely level, less than an inch between the cars, at speeds in the range of 220-240 mph. Neither driver willing to back off, until the last possible split-second, when they reached the corner at the far end.

Another was at Silverstone, 1996. Nigel Mansell was trying to overtake Nelson Piquet on Hanger Straight. Both drivers had been duelling for several laps, but the dodging, swerving and blocking had become extreme. I don't recall if they still had titanium skid plates, but the sparks were furious. Mansell finally managed to duck past Piquet, barely. If he'd lost control, I don't think the catch-fences would have stopped him before he'd hit the stands. The scenes after the race were phenominal, with an all-out track invasion lasting over an hour.

How to describe the intensity of racing, at speeds vastly in excess of anything a normal car is capable of, where the driver has to be accurate not just to within a few feet, but maybe a few sixteenths of an inch, where the tougher venues like Monaco can turn a grid of twenty to thirty cars into less than half a dozen survivors at the end?

It is arguably not the all-out toughest racing in the world. That title belongs to European rally racing, where it is not uncommon for cars to fly off the edges of cliffs or get sliced in half by an unyielding tree.

There are endurance races which punish car and driver far more severely. The Le Mans 24 hour race is one of the longest survivors of the true endurance races, but early races regularly ran the lengths of several countries. Notorious for high fatalities, most such races vanished early on. Le Mans hasn't escaped unscathed, with a Mercedes in the 50s exploding, sending flying metal through spectators.

Formula 1 combines the dangers and the pressure with a drama that none of these can provide. Despite every effort to slow it down, the speeds have barely shifted. The cars today go as fast as the best turbocharged cars of the 80s and corner nearly as fast as the winged cars of the 70s.

Although the entire history of Formula 1 Grand Prix racing is beyond the scope of this article, it is worth mentioning two of the most ingenious inventions of the 70's/80's - one from Brabbam and the other by Lotus supremo Colin Chapman.

In motor sports, downforce is everything. Downforce is the reverse of an aircraft's lift, and pulls the car to the road. The more downforce a car has, the tighter it will grip the road and therefore the faster it can go around corners.

Brabbam's idea was to tilt the cooling fan on the car. Instead of pulling air in from the front, it pulled air in from underneath. This literally sucked the car to the road and became known as the "vaccuum cleaner car". It was banned after the first race for no other reason than nothing could come near it. It could navigate over oil slicks or tight corners as if they didn't exist. That was simply too much for the F1 ruling bosses.

Not long after, Colin Chapman came up with another way to improve downforce. This one lasted a few seasons. It was known as the "ground effect car". This was because the underneath of the car was an upside-down airfoil. The whole car was literally a single wing. (Those familiar with Niki Lauda's autobiography "To Hell And Back" will see it referred to as a "Wing Car".)

This would have caused a lot of drag on the straights, so he made another modification. The top and bottom halves of the car were attached by springs. When the car was going along a straight section of track, the bottom of the car was pulled up and there was negligable drag. On the other hand, when the driver approached a corner, they merely had to release the springs and the car would be locked tight. It was often talked of as "cornering on rails".

Over the years, other tricks have been tried. The front and back spoilers (often referred to as wings, but not in the same sense as the winged car) have been modified. Some teams have stacked spoilers vertically. Others have split them into two or three pieces, horizontally. For a long time, there was no restriction on their size, and gigantic spoilers would be used, which often fragmented and became a hazard for everyone in the vicinity.

In the 90s, a popular "toy" was the traction control system. This device was a computer system linked to thermal sensors in the tires, the car's speedometer and a few other sensors. It regulated power to the wheels, so that it was physically impossible for the driver to spin the wheels. This guaranteed that the power delivered was always the maximum that the tires could take.

Not all ideas have been so flash-in-the-pan, though. Formula 1 racing cars have had, for some time, carbon-fiber anti-lock disc brakes. These allowed drivers far better control over their car and reduced (but didn't eliminate) the risk of spinning out of control when braking too hard. This technology has, over the years, slowly migrated to road cars and, as a result, road cars are safer for it.

Modern Formula 1 cars are as far beyond this old technology as modern road cars are behind it. A modern Formula 1 car has a 9-12 cylinder engine, 7 gears, sensors monitoring every aspect, impact resistance capable of keeping the driver intact after a 200 mph shunt into a wall, tires that can withstand blistering temperatures when under stress but still provide grip when virtually cold.

The drivers are as unbelievable as the technology. At Silverstone, drivers experience 3g on many of the corners and an instantaneous 7g when slamming from one corner into the next, on some parts of the track. A driver is unlikely to win a decathlon any time soon, but if the world started looking for non-military astronauts, they'd make good candidates. Lightning reflexes, sharp eyes, an incredible "feel" for how a machine is behaving, and incredble gugs - those aren't attributes you'd find anywhere.

This leads me to Michael Schumacher - six times World Champion (making him one championship ahead of the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio. The modern Formula 1 driver is very different from the old-time greats. Cars handle very differently, the seasons aren't the same, the tracks aren't the same, the speeds aren't the same. One thing that is the same is the ability to turn a machine into a skillfully guided missile, capable of handling anything thrown at him.

Schumacher is getting old for this game - although some have raced into their forties. This may well be his last season, especially if the new rules disrupt his rhythm to the point where he simply can't remain competitive.

His skill and nerve are astonishing, but not unique. Fangio, as I mentioned, was certainly no less a driver. He came very close to winning seven championships, being beaten into second place in 1950 and 1953. Ayrton Senna, the flying Brazilian, won three World Championships and came close to a fourth, was an incredible driver to watch. His skill and daring in the rain, in particular, was unmatched. Unfortunately, so were his arrogance and temper. In an ideal world, we would have seen a "special" between him and Nigel Mansell - this was actually being debated, as the two drivers were so astonishingly quick but suffered too many technical misfortunes to ever be fairly compared.

Actually, the real ideal would have been the two of them and Michael Schumacher. Just the three of them, no other cars to obstruct the path. However, Schumacher was not then a celebrity and the Mansell/Senna race never happened for politicial reasons. Senna died, after his car left the track at the Italian Grand Prix, slamming into a concrete retaining wall at high speed. He survived the crash itself, to be killed by a wheel detatching and slamming into his head.

That race marked one of the worst outings for Formula 1 in a long time, with another driver - Roland Ratzenberger - dying in an accident during qualifying the previous day. Also during the race, several spectators were injured from debris thrown up by an accident at the start, and a pit crewman was injured by a wheel that came loose in the pit lane.

Given the unbelievable danger of racing, it is incredible how many drivers do survive their careers. Refuelling accidents, where cars are engulfed in flame, do happen. In one dramatic incident I watched, two cars collided on a tight corner at the Monaco Grand Prix, with one driver later revealing tire tracks across his helmet where the other car had literally driven over him. (If I remember correctly, that was Martin Brundle.)

Each generation has had one - or more - heros. There has never been a heroless time in Formula 1. Today, Michael Schumacher is undoubtably the hero of many German fans of this generation. The new McLaren line-up may present problems for him. Fresh and determined, they have something to prove. Schumacher, as mentioned before, may be retiring and his chief mechanic already has. The car has been built by a new group and that introduces a whole bunch of unknowns Schumacher may decide he's too old for.

Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Nicki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Alan Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell - Formula 1 success only lasts a short time. It isn't restricted specifically to an age group, to a country, to a personality type. Damon Hill won his championship at the age of 36 - the same age Schumacher is now. Fangio's final championship came at the age of 46.

(For that matter, the championship doesn't even depend on you being alive. Jochen Rindt died three races short of the end of the season, during practice at Monza. However, nobody was able to beat his score and so he won the 1970 world championship.)

This is a dramatic and sometimes deadly sport. Passions run high, but so does respect. Superstition is rife, but so is technical excellence. Formula 1 Grand Prix started off very much as a sport of gentlemen and has largely stayed that way, despite the vast sums of money being thrown around.

It is surprising that none of the women who compete in motor sports have reached Formula 1. They generally do well in rally and Formula 3. When they do break through, it can only solidify Formula 1 as the ultimate test of driving skill, without prejudice.

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The Longest Formula 1 Season In History | 189 comments (175 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Question (none / 0) (#1)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 08:38:31 PM EST

What kind of gas milage do these cars get? With 3 liters of displacement and 970 hp, I have to assume they consume huge amounts of gasoline - but that would make endurance races quite difficult.

So, what's the gas milage and how big are the gas tanks?


How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?

It's a kind of irrelevant question... (none / 1) (#22)
by shambles on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 10:11:41 AM EST

...as refueling is allowed at pit stops, so races can last as long as the car or driver can. Also, the teams guard that kind of information closely as it can allow other teams to predict their pit stop strategy.

As a ballpark figure, in current Formula One racecars, fuel consumption can reach about 190 litres in a 300 km race distance. That works out as 1.58 km/lt or 4.46 miles/us gallon.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]

yow. (none / 0) (#31)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 11:31:10 AM EST

Okay, that explains the bhp then. Thanks.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
Another explanation for the bhp (none / 0) (#39)
by flo on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:43:47 PM EST

19000 rpm.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Not surprising. (none / 0) (#174)
by Anonymous Hiro on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 01:00:18 AM EST

Given that power = energy/time and similar fuel
It's not that surprising e.g.
  1. -40mpg = 100bhp car
  2. mpg= 200bhp car
  3. mpg= 1000bhp car
The order of magnitudes are there. Any surprises would probably be in the details- efficiencies etc. e.g. why 4 mpg instead of 2 mpg or 8 mpg.

The rpms are probably because you have 3 litre engines - the only way to get convert fuel to 1000 bhp on those type and size of engines is to spin them that fast.


[ Parent ]

That is great mileage (none / 0) (#42)
by mpalczew on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:17:46 PM EST

4.46 miles/us gallon is incredible considering that these engines are redlined the whole time.  Few cars on the road today would get that mileage if driven to the limit 100% of the time.  Now consider the fact that these engines make almost 1000hp...
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
On the contrary (none / 0) (#73)
by mindstrm on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:32:16 PM EST

if modern cars were driven around and aorund a track at the optimal RPM 99% of the time, they would get much better mileage too.

[ Parent ]
Optimal for what (none / 0) (#79)
by mpalczew on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:50:20 PM EST

If I drove around a track redlining my car and keeping the foot on the accelerator floored except when braking, I guarantee that my mileage would be shitty, much shittier than it is now.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
That's because (none / 0) (#184)
by mindstrm on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 11:16:37 AM EST

the engine you are running in your car was not designed to be run at the redline.

Race cars like this are generally built to run flat out, they produce the most power per fuel unit or close to it at their cruising RPM.

You get better mileage without revving the engine up and down constantly through sub-optimal power bands.

[ Parent ]

they don't use gas (none / 0) (#26)
by demi on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 10:49:20 AM EST

they use methanol. So you can't really compare it to MPG because the energy density is about half that of gasoline.

[ Parent ]
Why methanol? (none / 0) (#32)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 11:31:42 AM EST

I'd think they'd be using something with a much higher energy density.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
safety (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by demi on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:35:26 PM EST

Methanol is miscible with water, so MeOH fires can be extinguised very easily. Of course alcohol fires are hard to see in daylight, so response time is slower.

[ Parent ]
"octane rating" (none / 0) (#141)
by Paul Jakma on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 10:29:07 AM EST

Methanol may have a lower specific calorific content, however methanol has significantly higher octane rating (a measure of how prone a fuel is to detonation compared to iso-octane) than petrol. So you can run far higher compression with methanol. So a methanol engine can actually do better than a petrol engine in terms of kW/L. (you do need to carry more fuel though ;) ).

[ Parent ]
Gasoline and gasoline (none / 0) (#162)
by joib on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 12:28:41 PM EST

Methanol (ron=133, mon=105) does have much higher octane than normal auto gasoline, that doesn't mean that it isn't possible to produce gasoline with higher octane than methanol. See e.g. racing gasoline or the old 115/145 AVGAS. Of course both of these rely on TEL as an octane booster, which is slowly but surely being phased out.

[ Parent ]
This is true (none / 0) (#164)
by jd on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 02:35:13 PM EST

And it is one reason that all performance boosters in Formula 1 fuels are banned. Even stuff you can buy in stores for street cars is out. The stuff they use is as close to regular pump fuel as you'll find anywhere other than at the pump.

[ Parent ]
Wrong, F1 is not Indy/Nascar (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by nkyad on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 11:36:27 AM EST

The American race circuits use methanol. Formula One uses petrol (gas):

"Formula One cars run on petrol, the specification of which is not that far removed from that used in regular road cars. Indeed, the FIA regulations state that the rules are "intended to ensure the use of fuels which are predominantly composed of compounds normally found in commercial fuels and to prohibit the use of specific power-boosting chemical compounds." [source]

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
whoops (none / 0) (#35)
by demi on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:27:49 PM EST

Sorry I was indeed wrong.

[ Parent ]
NASCAR uses gasoline (petrol) (none / 0) (#45)
by HardwareLust on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:34:04 PM EST

I know Champ cars still use methanol, but I don't recall what the IRL uses.


If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

[ Parent ]
IRL is changing to ethanol (none / 0) (#160)
by joib on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 11:02:16 AM EST

Previously they used methanol, but the ethanol industry lubricated the right people. See http://www.ethanolrfa.org/pr050303.html

[ Parent ]
I'm in two minds really (none / 1) (#2)
by GenerationY on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 09:18:04 PM EST

The utter dominance (bordering on a sort of sporting hegemony) of Schumacher the elder has rendered things rather dull for the last few seasons. This is not to say that there is no talent in the field with the likes of Montoya, Raikkonnen and Barichello around (even Jensen Button is good on his day). I'll be watching of course when things kick off at some ungodly hour in Melbourne, but another year of Ferrari strolling to the constructor's championship as they did last year (winning 13 out 18 races) could kill the sport. Even Barichello overtaking his team mate more often would help I think.

One of my strongest memories of Mansell is less glorious, the year he missed out on the championship in the last race of the year (Adelaide) with an exploding tire. I particularly remember he drove off the track onto the sand in a dead straight line and brough the car to a stop from a speed of 250 miles per hour. Not very glorious, but utterly incredible driving if you think about it. On sand. With three wheels.

I remember that incident well. (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by jd on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 11:36:35 PM EST

I was watching live on the BBC when it happened. His teammate had made a routine pitstop a few laps earlier and the Goodyear guys had decided that the wear and tear was small enough that Mansell could stay out a little longer.

It's still not clear whether the blow-out was caused by a mechanical failure, a puncture or some other factor. Goodyear ruled out virtually all the likely causes, but came to no definite conclusion as to what did cause the problem.

As for Mansell's driving - it was amazing. He'd just exited a corner, had absolutely wellied the gas pedal and was going all-out, even though he only had to reach a 5th place to win the championship. When the back tire blew, the car violently swung back and forth, with other cars going by. Too little or too much response, and he would either have gone completely out of control or been broadsided. Either would not have been good.

(For reference, Niki Lauda's car split in two at the Nurenbergring in 1976. The resulting fireball gave him first, second and third degree burns. His odds of survival were considered slim and it wasn't clear that - even if he did - he'd even have any kind of recognizable face. Impressively, he went on two win two more world championships and is now the owner of a fairly successful airline company.)

It must also be remembered that Mansell had suffered a bad accident some years prior, resulting in a severe spinal injury. He got back into racing too quickly and the injury never healed properly. He raced in a neck brace, but the risk of any accident being fatal for him was proportionately much greater than for other drivers.

[ Parent ]

The FIA don't want... (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by pwhysall on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:54:03 AM EST

...to accept that their fiddling around with the regulations hasn't improved the racing, but has, in fact, made it worse.

While the major component of grip is the aero package, the racing will suck. It's that simple.

A switch back to slick tyres for mondo mechanical grip will lead to more overtaking, for the simple reason it'll be possible again. In conjunction with this I'd also have some method of limiting the amount of downforce produced aerodynamically. How you'd enforce this, I have no idea.

At any rate, it's all-but-impossible, literally, to pull off the banzai overtaking manoeuvres of yore; the car physically won't let you in its current configuration of sod-all grip and humungous aerodynamic downforce.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

That one's easy. (3.00 / 4) (#14)
by jd on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 02:22:56 AM EST

If you reduced the size of the spoilers, say by half, you would reduce the aerodynamic assistance enormously. Add in the really soft compound slicks (which means you'd need 1-2 tire changes per race, and a set for each of the practice and qualifying sessions) and you'd start to get some real racing. Widening the tires would probably help, too.

Personally, I would like to see a split in Formula 1. One fork would take the path of racing at about the same speeds but with considerably more grip. Maybe a slight slow-down, from the spoiler reduction and the complexity of cornering. It would be a lot more wheel-to-wheel drama, though.

The second direction I'd like to see would be for increased speed. The aids would need to stay for that, the overtaking would come from the fact that human limitations would make idealized cornering impossible. You'd need much wider tracks and much gentler corners with suitable banking, but cars would be able to slingshot round each other by using the towing affect to increase their speed.

Instead of trying to produce a hybrid and pleasing nobody, wouldn't it make more sense to produce much more specialized formulae that could greatly please the audience they were aimed at?

[ Parent ]

Preach it, brother. (none / 1) (#15)
by pwhysall on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 03:02:53 AM EST

The mistake the FIA made was to try to reduce speed by reducing mechanical grip, in the mistaken belief that if the car was less stable in the corners the drivers would slow down and also that the teams wouldn't be able to make up the difference (in a straight line) with aero grip.

Drivers never slow down, and teams will always spend time in the wind tunnel.

I'd like to see less straight-line speed in favour of more "eat gravel!" style argy-bargy in the corners.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Yes, bring back real slicks. (none / 0) (#57)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 03:58:33 AM EST

And I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to let them have a turbocharger or two while we're at it. Or maybe that's going over the top.

I assume by limiting the downforce, you're refering to something other than limiting the size of the wings? I'm pretty sure they already do that. And yes, I have no idea how you'd do it otherwise without getting into subjective ruling.

[ Parent ]

The most exciting thing about F1 these days... (none / 0) (#56)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 03:46:27 AM EST

Is talking about the cars.

[ Parent ]
You vile hyporcrital pigs (1.37 / 8) (#3)
by godix on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 09:21:05 PM EST

The earth is heating up and it's all humans fault. So what do you do? You ride around in giant dick compensation devices burning natural resources and polluting the air. For gods sake, you're destroying the world just for cheap entertainment! Fucking first world arrogant elitist hypocritical assholes.

Sorry, recently I've been channeling Fernando Pereira, the greenpeace wacko the French murdered, and all of the above is him speaking.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

Football, Baseball, Basketball... (none / 1) (#6)
by killmepleez on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 10:44:30 PM EST

...routinely draw 40,000-100,000 fans, and their cars to stop-and-start idling for a couple hours both arriving to and leaving from the parking lot. With several hundred NFL, MLB, and NBA teams nationwide, and considering the type of old beater El Camino I see at football game parking lots, I'd think you could make a similar case for eliminating all major sporting events, Billy Graham Crusades, Cher Farewell Tours, and other such examples of man's struggle against nature.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
Well, in that case... (none / 0) (#7)
by jd on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 11:23:13 PM EST

The NHL has contributed greatly to the environment this year.

[ Parent ]
There are few "sports" more boring (1.50 / 4) (#8)
by fragmal on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 11:31:36 PM EST

I think, altogether, F1 is about on par with televised golf in terms of viewer excitement. I tried to get all enthusiastic about it because I like cars - I really did. But nothing happens. No passing, no NASCAR-style mayhem, not even an American driver to root for. Nothing. It utterly fails me as a spectator sport.

Then, as a student of mechanical engineering, I have to say it doesn't even impress me in this capacity. They develop large amounts of horsepower, yes, but it's all subject to totally arbitrary conditions designed to make the sport more interesting (Whoops! Guess they failed there.). Further, what are these people actually accomplishing by making faster cars? Woo, cars. Who gives a fuck? They're not putting anyone into space, they're not powering entire cities, they're not designing the next mode of mass transportation (efficient cars or trains or whathaveyou), they're not doing a goddamn thing to advance humanity. They're pouring millions of dollars down the tubes racing cars around a short, closed track. I am thoroughly unimpressed.


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huh? (2.50 / 4) (#10)
by gdanjo on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 11:57:47 PM EST

they're not doing a goddamn thing to advance humanity.
Where do you think ABS, traction control, semi-autos, impact zone mechanics, etc. came from (and are perfected)? Ask BMW whether any of the technology from their engines made it into the new V10 M5.

By your reasoning, we should not study philosophy, metaphisics, or even theoretical sub-atomic particle physics, 'cause it won't get us to the moon. You ignorant fool.

It utterly fails me as a spectator sport.
I'd be more inclined to say you utterly fail it as a spectator.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Um, hello? (2.00 / 2) (#23)
by fragmal on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 10:44:15 AM EST

Who cares about traction control and semi-automatic transmissions? My car has neither, and it works just fine. Those are fancy features for sports cars, a luxury item for the amusement of rich people. It's an incremental improvement on a field of technology that has long since passed the point where any real revolutions in thought are made.

Philosophy and metaphysics are absolutely fucking useless - it's endless speculation about bullshit that cannot be proved either way advanced by people who have a fetish for meaningless words. Sub-atomic particle physics is a perfectly valid pursuit because it will end up advancing humanity through concrete science - the discovery of hard and fast laws of nature - which will take us places. I never said the moon specifically. You ignorant fool.

I'd be more inclined to say you utterly fail it as a spectator.

It's not my job to be entertained. It is the sport's job to entertain me, which it fails to do. Moron.


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[ Parent ]

Traction control is a safty feature [nt] (none / 0) (#60)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:12:44 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yeah. (none / 0) (#94)
by gordonjcp on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 07:50:56 PM EST

My car has a bloody great big cast iron 2.2 litre four-pot up the front, that produces roughly half as much torque as a V10 Dodge Viper. It's coupled to a nice smooth 5-speed manual gearbox. It's all really simple.

Then, just to put the tin hat on it, it uses a suspension system that's not even *allowed* in single-seat racing. Sticks to the road like shit to a blanket. Great stuff. I can have more fun in a 15-year-old Citroën than most people manage in a brand new BMW, 'cos the fun just keeps coming when you hit the twisties.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#95)
by gdanjo on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 08:04:44 PM EST

Who cares about traction control and semi-automatic transmissions? My car has neither, and it works just fine.
I care about traction control and semi-autos. The question is, who cares about you? (mummy's don't count - they have to care)

It's not my job to be entertained. It is the sport's job to entertain me, which it fails to do.
It's not sport's job to entertain you. Sport doesn't have a job - it just is because people participate. The fact that it entertains some people is a bonus, for which the participants get richly rewarded.

The fact that you can't participate doesn't make it useless - it makes you useless. The same goes for philosophical inquiry and musings about metaphysics; when you don't understand something, you should assume that you're lacking the knowledge to understand and gain value out of it - not that "it" is completely lacking in value.

It's the ego that makes you think about the world in this topsy-turvy way. But don't worry, ego's are easily tamed once you know how. You keep trying, k?

Moron.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

You can buy a used Mustang for $2000 (none / 0) (#127)
by damiam on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 07:44:07 PM EST

You don't have to be rich to own a sports car.

[ Parent ]
Of course, (none / 0) (#129)
by ambrosen on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 11:35:46 PM EST

you have to be rich to have somewhere to drive it.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I'd call a Mustang a sports car. [nt] (none / 0) (#131)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 12:21:33 AM EST



[ Parent ]
There have been American drivers... (none / 1) (#12)
by GenerationY on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:04:46 AM EST

erm...Eddie Cheever? He wasn't very succesful though.

Townsend Bell (who you might know from IndyCar) keeps testing for F1 teams but never quite seems to manage to get them to call him back. As soon as you produce someone up to the task I dare say it will happen (thats not chauvanism on my part, I don't see how someone could turn it down, F1 drivers are the best paid sportsmen in the world as a group. Schumacher is around the Tiger Woods level depending on what Tiger actually wins in a given year. But note, Schumacher is on a salary of 40 million alone). Would Jacques Villeneuve do? He is from Canada...

[ Parent ]

He's French-Canadian, are you kidding me? (none / 0) (#24)
by fragmal on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 10:45:16 AM EST




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[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that would help (none / 0) (#25)
by demi on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 10:46:10 AM EST

I am sure that having an American F1 driver would be a great boon for both the sponsors and Ecclestone himself. Of course top money attracts top talent, as their come-on states:
For example, Michael Schumacher, current and 6 time world champion, who drives with Ferarri, is the highest paid athlete in the world. He earns upwards of $70 million in salary and endorsements in one season. His $700 million fortune is 3 times that of Tiger Woods.
I think a major part of the problem is that few if any F1 drivers have achieved celebrity status here. Mario Andretti is more or less a memory, and the foreign drivers that are/were familiar like Fittipaldi, Stewart, or Mansell weren't really public superstars on the level of what Jeff Gordon is now. Schumi might be revered among car enthusiasts but appreciation of the mastery of his art is pretty sparse. Perhaps a Lance Armstrong type would raise the profile of F1 here but only incrementally. I think we would need to start seeing more participation in the racing series that feed into directly F1, like F3, for major changes to occur.

[ Parent ]
Americans and F1 (none / 0) (#40)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:56:33 PM EST

I'm not seeing an American entering F1 any time soon, at least at the highest level. Most young American drivers simply follow the route of least resistance (and the money), which will lead them to NASCAR mostly, and even IRL or CART are more accessible to them. It takes a great deal of effort for a youngster to move to Europe (a virtual necessity) and compete there with many other aspiring young drivers.

A Jeff Gordon, with his new-found enthusiasm for F1 might do it, but he's probably already pushing it age wise. Even then, why would he give up what he currently has in NASCAR for an uncertain future?


Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]

age (none / 0) (#43)
by demi on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:22:31 PM EST

It's probably too late for Gordon to get started in F1, but I am sure it is tempting as a publicity stunt. It's too bad that he called sick in the last IROC event where he would have gone up against a (half-serious) Schumacher. But F1 pulls drivers from South America and other distant points of the globe, so I think it's more of a role model thing than difficulty or expense. A lot of the Americans that play Euro soccer are children of first-generation immigrants who grew up watching World Cup and Euro Cup and idolizing the players. The classes of US society that produce our great athletes by and large do not watch any soccer or motorsports.

[ Parent ]
Well I think US doesn't need F1 (none / 0) (#46)
by GenerationY on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 02:31:47 PM EST

thats the crux of the matter. Its not just motor racing, its also being able to host an international  sporting event and have someone be a contender on the world stage. These are things the US does regularly and across the board (and there is an American Grand Prix anyway), but its a bit different for say, Belgium. I don't see that it could ever really capture the public imagination in the US as much as it does in other places for those reasons. Its a shame though because I like the internationalism of F1 (Chinese Grand Prix, theres an Indian driver this year etc. etc.) and does feel like there is someone rather notably missing from the party.

[ Parent ]
The problem with F1 superstars is.. (none / 0) (#76)
by tonyenkiducx on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:49:33 PM EST

..that they are always crap. Eddie Irvine was a bit like that, being in the news and on TV all the time, bragging about how great he was. Then we all learnt he was crap, so he left. I can't remember an F1 champion in modern history who has not been as dull as whale shit. It just comes with the job, spending 1/3 of your life driving a car around in repetative circles, concentrating on ever single second of it, requires that kind of mind.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Mario Andretti (none / 0) (#48)
by CanSpice on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 04:54:12 PM EST

He's American and was World Champion in 1978. Of all the Americans that have been in F1 (not many, albiet) you picked Cheever over Andretti? Oi.

[ Parent ]
I remember Cheever (none / 0) (#49)
by GenerationY on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 05:17:02 PM EST

thats why I mentioned him.

Being fair, in addition to Andretti, Phil Hill was an American (wasn't he?) and he won the championship in the early 1960s also.

Mario Andretti was a bit before my time. Although now your remind me...there was Michael Andretti but he only lasted the one season and got only one podium finish (which is poor if you were driving for McClaren in 1993). He gave way to Hakkinnen and the rest, as they say, is history. I seem to remember there was some stink involving Andretti Jnr, he seemed to piss a lot of people off in the team for some reason.

Keep an eye on the "Red Bull" team though, bringing an American driver through seems to be their mission statement. I understand they have American drivers in F3000 etc. for the very purpose of pulling them through.

[ Parent ]

So bobsledding is exciting then? (nt) (none / 0) (#66)
by ksandstr on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:43:50 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Bobsledding is exciting. But SKELETON... (none / 1) (#67)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 08:14:23 AM EST

...is fucking LETHAL. I love it. Where else can you see people sliding face-first down a tube at over a hundred miles an hour, centimetres from the ice that could end their life if they make just one mistake?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Heeeeheeee :) (none / 0) (#108)
by knurpsfloh on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 06:53:45 AM EST

> not even an American driver to root for That is because - American cars suck - Americans are used to crawl around at 70 mph, of course they don't appreciate high speed races

[ Parent ]
Could someone explain this to me... (2.75 / 8) (#16)
by givemegmail111 on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 03:18:04 AM EST

...because I honestly don't understand: What is the appeal of watching auto racing? I can sort of understand watching professional sports... Sort of. But auto racing? It's just a bunch of cars driving in circles. Yes they're driving fast and I'm sure it takes a lot skill, but why would someone sit down and watch it for hours? I'm really trying not to sound like a troll here, because I really am curious for an answer, but watching a car race seems only slightly less interesting than watching my hard drive defrag. And I have a large hard drive.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
Not circles (2.00 / 2) (#19)
by gordonjcp on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 08:23:51 AM EST

Indycar racing is just driving flat-out round an oval track. F1 has fairly complex circuits, all of which demand different things from the cars, drivers, and support teams.

What's so interesting about watching 22 grown men playing a children's game where they kick a ball about a grassy field?

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
It's all homeomorphic to the circle (none / 0) (#20)
by givemegmail111 on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 09:35:10 AM EST

They drive for a while and then they're back where they started. Repeat about a hundred times. It's the same thing over and over again. I get tired of playing a course in F-Zero by the fifth lap. I can't imagine doing a hundred. Or even worse: watching someone else do a hundred laps.

Incidently, I don't think team sports are all that interesting either, but there there's at least some variation to the game from time to time.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
[ Parent ]

Suzuka (none / 0) (#96)
by NotSoEvilGwyn on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 08:54:52 PM EST

is a figure 8 track. So there ;)

[ Parent ]
Well said! (none / 1) (#30)
by Mr.Surly on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 11:14:09 AM EST

What's so interesting about watching 22 grown men playing a children's game where they kick a ball about a grassy field?

Exactly.

[ Parent ]

That was true about the IRL, but... (none / 0) (#44)
by HardwareLust on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:31:46 PM EST

But now IndyCars (in other words, the IRL) will be adding road courses now, too.  I believe they are doing 2 road races this year.


If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

[ Parent ]
On Football and Racing (none / 1) (#119)
by frijolito on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 11:20:20 AM EST

What's so interesting about watching 22 grown men playing a children's game where they kick a ball about a grassy field?

Well, I guess you'd know if you had grown up playing the game. Not that I blame you: I didn't play it much as I grew up (not even in a country where it's the most popular thing ever). But after playing it a little, I know understand the appeal of watching it on TV (even if it still bores me to death).

But car racing? I think the appeal of watching sports is mostly because you know yourself the damn sport, and can relate to the people on the screen. After having played it, you now know how hard it is to do some of the things those people manage to do.

Come to think of it, I would understand watching car races if those who enjoy them had actually raced themselves.

[ Parent ]

I grew up... (none / 1) (#122)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 01:54:03 PM EST

... around people *obsessed* with football. Nearly everyone I grew up with is so incredibly into football, but I just can't muster up any enthusiasm for it.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Many want to, but it's expensive. (none / 1) (#132)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 12:25:53 AM EST

Motorsport is fucking expensive compard to most sports. I race RC cars, and even that gets very expensive.

[ Parent ]
The crashes (2.57 / 7) (#29)
by godix on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 11:13:13 AM EST

ever since Dale Earnhardt managed to kill himself I've taken to occasionally scanning the auto racing news just to see if there any clips of some moron driving into a wall at several hundred miles per hour. Every now and then you get really luck and someones car burst into flames then went rolling into the crowd. That's always good entertainment.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
No different to watching people throw balls around (none / 1) (#63)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:19:34 AM EST

To me, any ball game seems incredibly dull. What's so fun about watching people trying to get a ball between two posts? Or trying to get a ball in a hole? Hell, my dog can almost do those things. Cars on the other hand...

[ Parent ]
It's about the whole sport, not just the day. (2.00 / 2) (#68)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 08:22:21 AM EST

Unlike a game of soccer (shut up Brits, AFL is real footy!) where you can enjoy a game between 2 rival teams without knowing anything about them ("Go, Spain! Beat those nasty Tibetans, yeah!") car racing is something that takes an appreciation of the entire culture caught up in it to enjoy.

It's the crashes, the young stars making it against the old pros, the amazing technology, the sheer visceral thrill of hearing powerful engines rush past with your gut as much as your ears, the spoilsports trying to get races chucked out of their city, the celebrity races, the announcers giving us the context to appreciate what we're seeing...

It's toys, is what it is, but by God it's big fucking WONDERFUL toys.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

How can it be football? (none / 0) (#69)
by Have A Nice Day on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 11:35:13 AM EST

When you spend so much time using your hands?

/doesn't really care, hates all tribal groupthink-and-violence-encouraging sports.

--------------
Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
You're not allowed to use your hands in football.. (none / 0) (#80)
by givemegmail111 on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:50:29 PM EST

...at least in real football.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
[ Parent ]
You mean, the kind without the goalies? (none / 1) (#86)
by fluxrad on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:37:07 PM EST

nt.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
The appeal of F1 for me is (amongst other things): (none / 0) (#111)
by pwhysall on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 08:17:00 AM EST

Nineteen thousand revolutions per minute.

If you get it, you get it; if you don't, you won't.

vroom vroom
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Real football: rugger (none / 0) (#148)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 07:49:14 PM EST

Rugby is real football for real men.  They run an average of 12 miles per game, they don't take breaks every 15 seconds and they don't pansy around in protective clothing.

Of course, we all know the truth: real football is the game that involves the foot and the ball, not these upstarts who weren't imaginative to come up with their own name.

[ Parent ]

It's simple, really (none / 1) (#72)
by fluxrad on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:15:23 PM EST

the same as football, baseball, soccer, golf, poker, etc...

You want to watch these people that are the best in the world at what they do compete against eachother.

As to the "circle" comment, I agree with you that watching oval-track racing is pretty boring. That's why I don't watch NASCAR. But the tracks F1 races on are designed to prohibit them from just stomping on the gas and driving in a circle. The hairpins, chicanes, massive curves, and continuous elevation changes are designed to make these courses very difficult. As an example, check out the corkscrew at Laguna Seca.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
George Carlin's take (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by gavri on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:38:45 PM EST

"That's why I watch auto racing. That's the only reason I watch auto racing. I'm
waiting for some accidents, man. I wanna see some cars on fire. I don't care about
a bunch of red-neck jackoffs driving 500 miles in a circle. Five hundred miles in
a circle? Children can do that for christsakes. Doesn't impress me. I wanna see
some schmuck with his hair on fire running around punching his own head trying to
put it out. I want to see the pits explode. I wanna see a car doing a 200 mile an
hour cartwheel. Hey, where else besides auto racing am I gonna see a 23 car
collision and not be in the son-of-a-bitch? And if a car flies out of control,
lands in the stands, and kills 50 spectators, fine. Fuck 'em. Serves 'em right.
They paid to get in. Let 'em take their chances with everybody else. Just means
more fun for me, more fun for me. "

http://www.lexidh.net/theplanetisfine.html

Hmm....Actually, it's a lot funnier when you hear him say it. "MORE FUN FOR ME!! MORE FUN FOR ME!!!!"

--
Blog Of A Socially Well Adjusted Human Being

[ Parent ]

IInteresting thing... (none / 0) (#17)
by gordonjcp on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 03:55:39 AM EST

Self-levelling suspension, as developed by Citroën and adopted by Mercedes, Rolls-Royce and others, is not permitted in *any* single-seat racing class. The combination of really soft springing, heavy damping and constant ride height are, like Colin Chapman's cooling fans, just too much to compete with.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


And no word about the real reason (3.00 / 7) (#21)
by nkyad on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 09:55:43 AM EST

I am amazed that you would spend hundreds of words talking about the changes and never touch the real reason for the changes, namely Michael Schumacher.

For those who don't know, Michael Schumacher is arguably the best Formula One racer that ever lived  or at least one of two best Formula One racer that ever lived, the other one being Juan Manuel Fangio (who won five championships in the 50's - but then again Schumacher have already surpassed Fangio).

Some people like to credit Schumacher's vitories only to his car, forgetting he got two consecutive championships  in the Benetton team, before agreeing to move to a very weak Ferrari in 1996. He and the Ferrari team then started a 5 year quest to make the best car ever, resulting in five championships in a row for Schumacher from 2000 onward.

So, one of the main reasons we see desperate rule changes every year is that people (both the public and the other teams) are getting tired of seeing Schumacher win race after race without any apparent challenge.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


Ooooooo! Motor "sports" (1.28 / 7) (#28)
by Mr.Surly on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 11:12:22 AM EST



racing technology and F1's popularity (3.00 / 5) (#34)
by demi on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:25:53 PM EST

I thought it was (father of the McLaren F1 road car) Gordon Murray whose Brabham-Alfa BT46B "fan car" won the 1978 Swedish GP only to face an immediate ban. This and Colin Chapman's contribution to using ground effects in the Type 78 and Type 79 cars were predated by Jim Hall's Chapparals, raced in Can-Am starting in the '60s. Can-Am was also the stomping ground of the monstrous 1500-bhp twin-turbo Porsche 917/30 in 1973 (F1 didn't get turbos until 1977), whose reign ended just in time for the fuel crisis to put a damper on the growth of North American auto racing. Of course ground effects and turbocharging are now commonplace in consumer autos, thanks in large part to innovation in prototype racing from the sixties and seventies.

Because of the primary focus on victory, the top racing series is not really a place for experimentation. Until recently most of the far-out racing tech was tried out in "lesser" racing series first and then migrated into F1. With prototype racing these days being more formula-like than in the good ole days, the huge costs of building a team for F1 now include extensive factory-backed internal development and testing that would have been conducted in the proving ground series of the past. And ideas from the cars still migrate into road vehicles, most recently the availability of composite brake rotors and paddle shifted SMT gearboxes.

Here is my opinion of Formula One as an American car enthusiast. I think the sporting nature of F1 under Schumacher has gotten a bit tapped-out for new ideas and it would be good for the builders to focus on design motifs related a bit more to reliability and endurance. Those kind of priorities might be more interesting to the public than constant introductions of new restrictions designed to slow down one team or one driver in particular. Either that or concentrate on making the entertainment aspect more enjoyable and accessible as NASCAR has done (while today's Winston Cup cars are slower than they were in the 1970's, attending a race is affordable and still very exciting). From my viewpoint F1 fan enthusiasm is nationalism, marque tribalism, or a tifosi-like combination of both. Part of what makes NASCAR successful here, despite the comatose technology, is that fans often personally identify with the drivers, and that commentators and event handlers facilitate this to the maximum extent possible.

Prototype racing hit the driver safety wall decades ago, so there's not so much in the technology of F1 cars that interests me. You can't really allow the speeds to get too much higher (on today's circuits) without jeopardizing the lives of the drivers. Formula racing gives you the visual homogeneity of NASCAR without any of the human interest or drama. Perhaps Bernie and the sterile, clinical F1 commentators could take a few lessons from Vince McMahon and "Mean" Gene Okerlund.

Indeed (none / 0) (#38)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:43:41 PM EST

You thought correctly (you beat my post to it ;)).

Good points on F1 vs. NASCAR. Mind you, the low-brow nature of NASCAR is exactly what turns me off about it. Entertaining it may be, but it has little to do with sport. F1 may be boring, but at least there is a proper competition.


Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]

car & driver (none / 1) (#41)
by mpalczew on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:03:43 PM EST

I read an article in car & driver.  It suggested that all forms of downforce be banned.  Since the reason that cars can stop so fast before a corner is due to downforce.  This also prevents a car from following to closely as the cars approach a corner.   The argument was that without downforce cars could actually pass each other on corners.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
They are obviously idiots, or joking. (none / 1) (#64)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:38:18 AM EST

At 220mph, a certain amount of downforce is nessesary, simply for safty reasons. Loosing the ass of a car at those speeds is not a good thing.

They're better off keeping--or only slighy reducing--the downforce, and bringing back proper slicks.

[ Parent ]

not joking (none / 0) (#81)
by mpalczew on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:52:17 PM EST

No this really was their suggestion.  The said now wings and no (I forgot the name, the thing in front).  Do F1 cars reach really reach 220mph, regularly?  
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
They're both wings... (none / 0) (#99)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 09:54:12 PM EST

Or spoilers. The front one is just called a front wing/spoiler, AFAIK.

Well, they may not reach 220mph all the time. But even at 160mph, some downforce is important.

[ Parent ]

Honda Racing Land Speed record (none / 0) (#189)
by Paul Jakma on Sat Aug 19, 2006 at 09:47:07 PM EST

Rather interestingly, they removed the rear-wing completely (and ran with a minimal front).

So apparently that new-fangled "gravity effect" does work..


[ Parent ]

A fair amount of the time, yes (none / 0) (#116)
by jd on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 10:22:10 AM EST

On straights and curves they can take flat-out, they'll be either at top speed or getting there. Given their acceleration, it doesn't take a whole lot.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, but no.. (none / 0) (#140)
by Paul Jakma on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 10:18:52 AM EST

I don't think so.

For proof see MotoGP, where you have machines with *0* downforce, with far higher CoG than F1 cars, far less rubber on the road, going into corners just as fast (if not /slightly/ faster, the bikes hit nearly 240MPH on one or two of the tracks). And the mortality rate in MotoGP is *lower* than in F1 too. (Only one death that I can think of last 15 years).

So sorry, but your point is bull. :)

Anyway, MotoGP is *far* more exciting than F1. That this article must eulogise over a very few famous overtaking maneuvres says it all, in MotoGP they're going side by side into corners at 200+ *all* the time. The lead will many times, and often several times on the last few laps.


[ Parent ]

You're really going to compare a bike to a car? (none / 0) (#145)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 07:35:17 PM EST

In terms of set-ups and the effects that physics plays in their handling, they are totally different.

For starters, bikes don't really need downforce when going into a corner, because the entire bike is tilted. Not only does this lower the CoG of the bike, but it shifts it off-center to the inside of the corner. You can't do this in a car; a car's CoG is pretty much fixed.

If you think my point is bull, why don't you write to the Ferrari engineers and ask them if they'd like to drive a car at 220mph with no downforce?

[ Parent ]

your original comment wasnt about corners (none / 0) (#150)
by Paul Jakma on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 01:09:39 AM EST

It was about loosing the "ass" at 220mph. That means either on the straight, or at the end of a straight as you start to brake. For both cars and bikes that means perfectly upright.

So the peculiar tilting behaviour of bikes doesnt come into play at all.

Again, bikes can do 240mph down the straights, and brake (often with the rear wheel off the ground due to the braking) with 0 downforce. So cars could do it too surely, if designed properly.

If you think my point is bull, why don't you write to the Ferrari engineers and ask them if they'd like to drive a car at 220mph with no downforce?

Ehm, why don't you write to their colleagues in Ducati and ask them how come bikes can manage to do same (and faster) with no downforce?

(Clue: the downforce is primarily to aid grip through very fast corners. On the straights, the downforce is actually a hindrance).


[ Parent ]

You can loose the ass anywhere. (none / 0) (#152)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 03:07:24 AM EST

In reality, a car never really goes straight on the straight anyway.

Also, if a car managed to lift it's rear off the ground, then chances are it would go into a spin. In fact, the car's rear tyres are more likely to lock-up and put it into a spin before the tyres ever got off the ground.

I don't think you understand just how much the ability to change the CoG while driving affects how the vehicle handles.

Another example of how different cars are to bikes: Ever seen a car launch into the air and do a backward flip? It happens. Fat chance of it happening on a bike though (without a ramp). Because a bike is tall and skinny; hard to build up enough pressure underneath the bike. A car, on the other hand, has a much larger surface area underneath. Not to mention that your average car--even a F1--resembles an aerofoil much more than a bike does.

[ Parent ]

cog shifting not involved though... (none / 0) (#154)
by Paul Jakma on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 03:51:24 AM EST

In reality, a car never really goes straight on the straight anyway.

Nor does a bike then. Point?

I don't think you understand just how much the ability to change the CoG while driving affects how the vehicle handles.

I drive a car. I also ride a bike, more often than not at track days, so I have some idea. I've never personally driven a car at speed (not more than 110 or so), but I have been a passenger in a car at speed. Strangely enough the car managed to do 140mph odd without "loosing its ass" without any wings to create downforce (you've heard of gravity right, some guy called Newton invented it a while ago). 140mph isnt 220mph, but its still fast enough.

Anyway, the point is we're talking 240mph, for either F1 or MotoGP bike that must be straight line, hence the CoG shifting is not involved. At high speed the bike rider has to be tucked in  behind the bubble, and they are static on the bike - no CoG shifting involved.

Fat chance of it happening on a bike though (without a ramp).

Indeed. Though, actually if you do get the front wheel of the bike up at high speed, you can notice an aerodynamic effect on the 'underside' of the nose fairing trying to prevent the wheel coming back down.

Not to mention that your average car--even a F1--resembles an aerofoil much more than a bike does.

Sigh. Yes of course it does. That's sort of my point. A bike doesnt resemble an aerofoil at all, yet still manages to go at speed quite all right despite the lack of downforce. What the bike  cant do is corner as fast as the F1 car.

More to the point, I just watched the F1 qualifying this morning. Much talk about the new rules designed to reduce downforce and how this would reduce cornering speed. Downforce is there to aid cornering. An F1 car without downforce could go just as fast, indeed it would go faster on the straights, it'd just be much slower through the corners.

Anyway...


[ Parent ]

Still a stability issue. (none / 0) (#155)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 04:30:38 AM EST

Anyway, the point is we're talking 240mph, for either F1 or MotoGP bike that must be straight line, hence the CoG shifting is not involved.

But I'm not talking about theory here. I'm talking about the real world. In the real world, a F1 car is hardly ever going truly straight like a dragster. Hell even those funny cars and top-fuel dragsters can get sideways.

Besides, since when was this whole conversation ever restricted to straights only? I only mentioned speed. Even in a sharp corner, downforce gives stability that you can't get with tyres alone. An F1 car can still get up to some pretty high speeds on a shallow/high-speed curve, too.

Though, actually if you do get the front wheel of the bike up at high speed, you can notice an aerodynamic effect on the 'underside' of the nose fairing trying to prevent the wheel coming back down.

I never said that there was no effect. But it's effect is much less than on a car. The fact the bike can pull wheelies all the time and recover just goes to show this. Once the front of a car gets up in the air, there is much less chance of recovering.

A bike doesnt resemble an aerofoil at all, yet still manages to go at speed quite all right despite the lack of downforce.

I should have pointed out that a non-inverted aerofoil, like the shape of most cars, creates lift, not downforce. This is why cars tend to launch themselves into the air. In other words, the faster you go, the less downforce you will have. Unless you use wings or ground-effects/diffusers to counter this effect.

More to the point, I just watched the F1 qualifying this morning. Much talk about the new rules designed to reduce downforce and how this would reduce cornering speed. Downforce is there to aid cornering. An F1 car without downforce could go just as fast, indeed it would go faster on the straights, it'd just be much slower through the corners.

That is correct, but that doesn't make me incorrect. An F1 without downforce would go faster on the straights, but it would also be more unstable. And notice that they said reduced downforce, Not none. The set-up of a car is all about balance and compromise.

[ Parent ]

not required for safety though (none / 0) (#156)
by Paul Jakma on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 07:13:18 AM EST

But I'm not talking about theory here.

Theory? No theory: Watch MotoGP - 210 to 240mph, no downforce other than gravity, rider (mostly) static on the bike. What's theoretical??

Besides, since when was this whole conversation ever restricted to straights only?

You said downforce was needed for safety at 220mph, that kind of speed can only be "straight" line in F1.

I only mentioned speed. Even in a sharp corner, downforce gives stability that you can't get with tyres alone. An F1 car can still get up to some pretty high speeds on a shallow/high-speed curve, too.

Yes, downforce is what allows them to corner so fast.

However, you do not need downforce. You can do without it. You'll still go just as fast on the straights (faster even), you'll just not be able to go round the corners as fast.

Seriously, if you think downforce is required for safety reasons, you're deluded. They could pull all wings and other lift-generating aids off F1 cars altogether, and that's actually been suggested as a way to make F1 entertaining again. Further, all this downforce is relatively new. You realise it wasnt that long ago that F1 cars had nothing in the way of downforce other than gravity?

I never said that there was no effect.

Sorry, that was just a wee comment - nothing implied. The 'lift' is quite paltry.

I should have pointed out that a non-inverted aerofoil, like the shape of most cars, creates lift, not downforce. This is why cars tend to launch themselves into the air.

Cars that are designed with flat bottoms, yes. You get a ground effect - it's not an aerofoil though. (air is involved, but the car is not an aerofoil, least I hope race car designers would try to not design the car to as a positive lift aerofoil.).

That is correct, but that doesn't make me incorrect. An F1 without downforce would go faster on the straights, but it would also be more unstable. And notice that they said reduced downforce, Not none. The set-up of a car is all about balance and compromise.

Look, you said downforce was required for safety. You seem convinced of this because:

  1. cars which are designed to generate and make use downforce can sometimes flip.
  2. cars which are designed to be balanced with downforce would be unstable without
Ergo: 0 downforce race cars would be less safe

You've constructed a somewhat self-fulfilling argument though. Now try follow this rebuttal:

  • A 0 downforce race car would not be designed with a broad ground hugging flat bottom, which is what causes those 'flips'. You'd make it a roundish, non-ground-hugging shape.
  • Downforce allows cars to go significantly faster around tracks. Hence accidents occur at higher speeds and are more dangerous
  • There is at least one high-level class of single-seat racing where downforce is banned precisely to make the class slower and safer (also cheaper). The cars are perfectly stable, they just dont go around corners as quickly as they could with extra downforce. (and guess what, they have slimish, roundish, non-road-hugging bodies ;) ).
If anything, downforce makes things more dangerous because of the higher cornering speeds it allows.

Anyway, I think i've had enough of this argument. You are though deluded if you think downforce is "nessesary, simply for safty reasons (sic)".


[ Parent ]

Not officially required, no. (none / 0) (#157)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 08:15:51 AM EST

Further, all this downforce is relatively new. You realise it wasnt that long ago that F1 cars had nothing in the way of downforce other than gravity?

Cars are much faster since since the days when they had no wings, you know. They can also accelerate faster, and brake harder.

Cars that are designed with flat bottoms, yes. You get a ground effect - it's not an aerofoil though. (air is involved, but the car is not an aerofoil, least I hope race car designers would try to not design the car to as a positive lift aerofoil.).

No, you don't understand. Most cars are shaped like an aerofoil, from a LeMans car to a family sedan because this produces less drag while still being practical. The reason most race cars don't produce lift is because they are low to the ground, and designed to use ground effects. But, if the car hits a bump, or the front of the car is unloaded for some reason, and enough air gets underneath, this destroys the suction, the car become an aerofoil, and generates lift.

I have 2 videos of modern LeMans cars quite literally taking off and doing several back flips. These cars still generate quite a lot of downforce, possibly even more downforce than an F1. F1 cars are a totally different shape to a LeMans car, and aren't so prone to flying, but they are still experience the same effects, just to a lesser extent.

Downforce allows cars to go significantly faster around tracks. Hence accidents occur at higher speeds and are more dangerous

But downforce also helps keeps all the tyres on the road, therefore less chance of loosing control. BTW. Weren't you the on saying that cars will be faster on the straight without the wings (which is correct). So doesn't that mean that without wings, accidents are more dangerous because they are going faster? Accidents don't just happen on the corners, you know.

There is at least one high-level class of single-seat racing where downforce is banned precisely to make the class slower and safer (also cheaper). The cars are perfectly stable, they just dont go around corners as quickly as they could with extra downforce. (and guess what, they have slimish, roundish, non-road-hugging bodies ;) ).

And how fast do these things go? Not as fast as F1, I can assure you of that. Drag increases exponentially with speed. So logically, the faster a car goes, the more critical aerodynamics become.

[ Parent ]

yes... but... (none / 0) (#159)
by Paul Jakma on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 10:19:44 AM EST

Cars are much faster since since the days when they had no wings, you know. They can also accelerate faster, and brake harder.

Sigh, yes, because of engine and tyre developments and, of course, because of downforce for cornering speed. Again: you don't need to generate downforce for high speed, again: See motorbikes for one bleedingly obvious example.

No, you don't understand. Most cars are shaped like an aerofoil, from a LeMans car to a family sedan because this produces less drag while still being practical.

I don't know enough really, but I'd have my doubts  as to it being any kind of efficient aerofoil. But never mind.

But, if the car hits a bump, or the front of the car is unloaded for some reason, and enough air gets underneath, this destroys the suction, the car become an aerofoil, and generates lift.

Right, cause once the front gets lifted, for whatever reason (i'm sceptical positive lift from the body of the car would be the reason, but I dont know. I suspect the large rear spoilers exerting downforce on the rear of the car might have a greater part to play in creating rotational moment, should the ground effect 'suction' be lost for some reason (bump, whatever)), the flat bottom suddenly is at an angle to a high speed airflow and boom it gets blown over. It's that big flat bottom which is part of the problem, and it's not required to go fast (just downforce can help you go even faster.).

Weren't you the on saying that cars will be faster on the straight without the wings (which is correct). So doesn't that mean that without wings, accidents are more dangerous because they are going faster?

Yes they'd be going a bit faster on the straights, but not much faster. They'd have to go much slower round the corners though (and hence also brake earlier), particularly corners at speed, which high-downforce cars can fly round - which are the riskiest. So slightly higher speed on straights would be canceled out by lower lap times all round  and slower cornering.

Not as fast as F1, I can assure you of that.

Likely not. But again, you don't need downforce for speed - that's the only bone I'm trying to pick with you! :) They go fast enough btw, up to 150mph or so i think - i'd have to go google (and i cant even remember the classes, Formula Ford is one example of a "no wings, no ground effect" class. They seem to have various engine sizes, i dont know.).

Drag increases exponentially with speed. So logically, the faster a car goes, the more critical aerodynamics become.

Absolutely. Aerodynamic efficiency becomes critical at speed, however that does not imply use of aerofoils. GP bikes are wind tunnel tested to be aerodynamically efficient, but they are not aerofoils.

[ Parent ]

RE: yes... but... (none / 0) (#163)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 01:34:26 PM EST

I don't know enough really, but I'd have my doubts as to it being any kind of efficient aerofoil. But never mind.

I do know enough. I've read about this many times. Look an any modern car on the street. They are flat on the bottom, and round on the top. They may not be the perfect aerofoil, like a plane would have, but it is still bascially an aerofoil shape. It just seems to be easier to create an non-inverted aerofoil/dome shape, and deal with lift problem via ground effects or wings, that it is to design a car that is neutral, or creates negitive lift, or in other words, a car that looks like an eclipes or bowl (from the side).

Right, cause once the front gets lifted, for whatever reason (i'm sceptical positive lift from the body of the car would be the reason, but I dont know.

The body in the case of the LeMans cars would not be creating any lift untill after the seal is broken. Once the seal is broken, then the body acts like an aerofoil.

I suspect the large rear spoilers exerting downforce on the rear of the car might have a greater part to play in creating rotational moment

The rear spoiler would help the car do back-flips once it's in the air. But it wouldn't be the main cause in lifting the nose up.

the flat bottom suddenly is at an angle to a high speed airflow and boom it gets blown over.

That's certainly a big contributer in launching it off the ground. And this effect--a step angle of attack--would even happen in a car design with an inverted aerofoil shape, let alone a car designed to produce no downforce.
BTW. That big flat bottom is certinaly part of the problem. But those cars also produce less drag. The reason F1s are an open-wheel chassis is to do with the rules, not because they are the most effecient design.

Yes they'd be going a bit faster on the straights, but not much faster.

Not by much? What are you basing that on?

But again, you don't need downforce for speed - that's the only bone I'm trying to pick with you!

Of course not, downforce reduces speed on a straight, but helps keep the car more stable. And increases the speed in corners.

Absolutely. Aerodynamic efficiency becomes critical at speed, however that does not imply use of aerofoils. GP bikes are wind tunnel tested to be aerodynamically efficient, but they are not aerofoils.

Yes, efficiency becomes critical, and the other effects that play on the car also increase, wether it be lift or downforce. I think you have missed my point. Cars art not designed to be an aerofoil shape for the purpose of producing lift, that the whole problem. Is just happens to be that the most natural and aerodynamic design for a car, also happens to look like an aerofoil. And there is usually no problem with that, untill you start to go very fast, and have a lot of air passing under the car.

As for bikes, I thought I had made it obvious that it's comparing apples to oranges.

Here's a few links discussing cars getting airborne:

Merc and Le Mans
Not Good for Le Mans - Bentley crash
Airborne: F1 cars in the 70's?
Terrible accident in Le Mans
F1/LEMANS: Schumacher doubts Le Mans safety
Ferrari and Schumacher news
Front Wings

[ Parent ]

Downforce vs. tires (none / 0) (#165)
by joib on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 02:56:17 PM EST

Here's a few interesting links about downforce in Le Mans prototype cars. It seems that the new 2004 regulations significantly improve the situation.

http://www.mulsannescorner.com/lmpelleray.html

http://www.mulsannescorner.com/kieronsalterlmp12.html

http://www.mulsannescorner.com/aco2004.html

There's also the question about having rules that produce exciting races. Lots of downforce is problematic in this respect since passing other cars  becomes more difficult.

[ Parent ]

Reduction != none (none / 0) (#167)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 01:19:24 AM EST

None of those articles suggest that it is a good idea to create a car the produces no downforce at all. They talk about reducing downforce, and changing the way downforce is produced, but I don't see anywhere where they say the no downforce at all is the best idea. They seem to be concerned with reducing speed, and reliance on downforce.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the links... (none / 0) (#168)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 01:59:12 AM EST

Funnily enough, that site has the exact page I read a while ago, which I could not find before:

http://www.mulsannescorner.com/techarticle1.htm

As I said before, F1s wouldn't be as prone to this sort of thing, but the faster you go, the more aerodynamics become both an aid and a problem. And eliminating those problems is not really as simple as just creating a car the produces no downforce.

BTW, this whole aerofoil business is just one aspect of the issue.

[ Parent ]

bikes != cars, F1 != GT (none / 0) (#170)
by Paul Jakma on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 03:54:42 PM EST

The body in the case of the LeMans cars would not be creating any lift untill after the seal is broken. Once the seal is broken, then the body acts like an aerofoil.

Sigh. You berate me for pointing to bikes, and saying they're apples to the oranges of cars, and then you point to the design of GT prototype cars in a discussion ostensibly about F1 cars. In case you havn't noticed, F1 cars (and most single seaters) have a completely different body shape to the more wing-like GT protos. I'll grant you (after having looked at the links you posted) that the Le Man's style GT protos do appear to be very aerofoil like.

However, that's just one particular design of car. You don't have to make the body of your car be an aerofoil shape. The F1 car body's are not aerofoils, indeed it'd be a huge problem for F1 as the F1 rules try very much limit to ground-effect suction (It turned out to be dangerous - Mansell once had a huge crash on a very high-speed corner when his car went over a bump and decked out - the sudden loss of ground-effect sent him off the track. FIM introduced strict minimum ground clearance rules after that).

The reason F1s are an open-wheel chassis is to do with the rules, not because they are the most effecient design.

Yes indeed. However, they are faster than the GT prototype cars arent they? :)

Of course not, downforce reduces speed on a straight, but helps keep the car more stable.

Sigh. So? The car can be stable without that downforce - some adjustments in balance might be needed, but there is no need for that downforce to go fast safely in a straight line. Gravity is enough, presuming your car doesnt generate positive lift. (Which, despite your links about that GT protos do, I'm still extremely sceptical about wrt F1 and other cars).

Yes, efficiency becomes critical, and the other effects that play on the car also increase, wether it be lift or downforce. I think you have missed my point.

Actually, I think we're mostly talking past each other. You insist cars must have downforce, say that the bike example is irrelevant and then point at GT cars to aruge your own point - cars which are utterly different in body shape to F1 cars and many other single seaters. But anyway.

Is just happens to be that the most natural and aerodynamic design for a car, also happens to look like an aerofoil.

I don't agree with this. If this were true, and the most aerodynamic shape were an aerofoil, then the bodies of, eg, aeroplanes would be flat aerofoil shapes. They're not, they're thin tubes with pointy noses - shock horror, just like the front-end of some F1 cars.

Anyway, keep posting links to stuff about GT prototypes. I'm out of this argument.


[ Parent ]

You still don't get it. (none / 0) (#173)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:43:49 PM EST

An F1 is still more similar to a Le Mans car than a bike. Bikes are totaly different, not so much because of their lack of aerofoil shape, but because the chassis is so different and they only have 2 wheels. Anyway, as I said there's more going on here than aerofoils.

As the article pointed out, downforce it not dangerous. Infact downforce adds to stablity at high speed because it increases traction. It's the suddern lack of downforce that is dangerous.

So? The car can be stable without that downforce - some adjustments in balance might be needed, but there is no need for that downforce to go fast safely in a straight line. Gravity is enough, presuming your car doesnt generate positive lift. (Which, despite your links about that GT protos do, I'm still extremely sceptical about wrt F1 and other cars).

Yes, but a car with downforce will be even more stable. Gravity is only enough up to a certain speed. And BTW, if you had read some of those links, you would know that NASCAR install special flaps to prevent this lift problem when they get sideways or backwards.

I don't agree with this. If this were true, and the most aerodynamic shape were an aerofoil, then the bodies of, eg, aeroplanes would be flat aerofoil shapes. They're not, they're thin tubes with pointy noses - shock horror, just like the front-end of some F1 cars.

Please, go outside and look at some cars. They look like a dome; flat on the bottom, round on the top. And don't bring planes into this, because we're talking about cars. Cars travel along the ground. Planes fly in the air. BTW, Google "flying wing".

Forget the whole aerofoil thing, as you are obviously having trouble understanding it. And as I said before, lift created by an aerofoil shape is only one aspect here.

[ Parent ]

no i dont get it (none / 0) (#175)
by Paul Jakma on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 10:10:44 AM EST

You're right - I don't get how aerofoil shaped, to whatever degree, cars (saloons, GT's, etc..) are relevant to completely non-aerofoil shaped except for the sticky-outy-wings F1 cars.

About the only thing that comes into play with F1 is ground-effect, which doesn't require the whole shape to be much of an aerofoil btw, and the F1 rules already are designed to minimise that to an extent.

anyway.. enjoy.


[ Parent ]

As I said. (none / 0) (#177)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 06:30:21 PM EST

If you're having trouble with the whole aerofoil thing, then just forget it, as that is not the only issue. It's just one way that lift can be generated, which can cause the car to loose control.

Your simply not going to convince that F1s would be safer with absolutly no downforce, going at higher speeds than they already do.

[ Parent ]

Also... (none / 0) (#147)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 07:46:48 PM EST

They may have less rubber on the road, but that contact patch has a huge amount of force being applied to it. And since they're racing on a nice, smooth track, the chances of breaking traction because of the smaller contact patch is less of an issue.

Also, it's pretty silly to compare the death rates of the two sports, because they are too low to make any meaningful statistical comparison. And lets be realistic, bikes are much more dangerous. Are you really going to tell me that you'd rather be on a bike than in an F1 car if you were heading for a solid wall at 100mph?

[ Parent ]

right.. (none / 0) (#149)
by Paul Jakma on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 01:01:33 AM EST

They may have less rubber on the road, but that contact patch has a huge amount of force being applied to it.

Indeed. Apparently the GP bikes have been known to spin the rim inside the tyre ;).

Also, it's pretty silly to compare the death rates of the two sports, because they are too low to make any meaningful statistical comparison.

Yeah, that did occur to me ;).

And lets be realistic, bikes are much more dangerous.

Actually, I'd disagree. At least wrt danger of fatilities, for circuit racing. Danger in general, of injuries - I'd agree. But injuries I can live with.

Are you really going to tell me that you'd rather be on a bike than in an F1 car if you were heading for a solid wall at 100mph?

Yes. Because on the bike, I won't be on it as it crashes into the wall. The rider on the bike has a natural escape path, as he parts with the bike he also parts with 2/3 to 3/4 of the momemtum. The rider usually slides to a stop long before the bike which might hit the tyre wall at speed. The rider usually walks away, hopefully with no injuries or maybe a broken peripheral bone from tumbling over the road (breaks in fingers, wrists,   collar bone are quite common).

The car driver has to go with the car, all the way and just put up with some very high G.

I'd like to note that the only two fatalities I can think of (in my living memory of watching bike racing) at top flight both involved the rider getting ahead of the bike after a crash (which is rare) and being struck by the bike. Kato in GP, who was struck by his bike after he had slid into the tyre wall, he died two weeks later. And Nagai in Superbike, who fell on oil at Assen. His bike flipped itself into the air and then landed on him. There's a horrible picture of Nagai sliding down the road, he's half sitting up and obviously fine and just waiting to come to a stop so he can stand up and walk away, and in the air above him is his bike about to come down to injure him fatally. "Performance Bikes" magazine published it - a stunningly tragic and sad photo. He was a good rider too. But these kinds of accidents are freakishly rare.

So, no, I'd rather not be in the out of control F1 car. I'd rather be on the bike, where I can fall off, break a finger and/or collarbone before sliding down the road and coming to a gentle stop, while watching the bike, in the distance, mangle itself as it hits the tyres at 100mph. :) I dont want to hit the wall at all.

Broken bones are preferable to the risk of severe concussion, possibly brain damage or even death which come with the high-G impacts more common in F1 crashes.

Another point to back this up: Whereas the high-speed crashes (ie losing it at the end of the straight as you go on the brakes) tend to be most dangerous ones for cars, in motorcycle circuit racing they are usually the more innocious ones - the ones the rider nearly always walk even from (but the bike often will be destroyed). The most dangerous crashes in motorcycling race occur at mid to exit of corner as the riders get on the gas when the bikes can high-side and throw the riders into the air. It's the high-sides that cause the most injuries.

There is another class of motorcycle racing which is extremely dangerous: Road racing, eg the Isle of Man TT. It's the prevalent form of bike racing in Ireland (due to lack of circuits), and more often than not riders die at these races. Last year (iirc) even a safety marshall died while sighting the course on a bike.

[ Parent ]

Motor bikes (none / 0) (#151)
by jd on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 01:54:44 AM EST

There was one incident at Donnington, where a rider parted company with his bike (which was burning, IIRC). The injuries were bad, but survivable. He was hit by three or four other riders who failed to comply with race marshalls directing them away from the scene. That, in the end, is what killed him.

But, yes, I don't know of that many others. In Formula 1, it's a little grimmer. In recent years, Angelis died when his racing car flipped in France. The roll-bar didn't keep his head above the gravel and he sustained massive head injuries. It didn't help that the fire marshalls weren't equipt to deal with a burning Formula 1 car, but it's doubtful they would have been able to help even if they had been.

Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, I've mentioned elsewhere. Berger only narrowly escaped, when poorly designed fuel tanks exploded on his Ferrari after a wall impact. Crushing leg injuries didn't kill, but did seriously impede, Jaque Lafiette. I forget whose car literally blew into the air and crashed down - they were lucky to survive. Back injuries sustained from such crashes are usually fatal.

Isle of Mann TT races are probably the deadliest races anywhere in the world. I don't know what their worst years have been like, but I know the death rates I've seen reported have been between 10 and 30, depending on the year.

Isle of Mann racing is undoubtably some of the most exciting bike racing anywhere, but it is so fast, on roads so completely undesigned for such activity, with riders not necessarily up to the conditions, that casualties are inevitable.

Normally, in sport, I would argue that survival should not depend on random factors like mechanical endurance. Machines fail. Components fail. Sportsmen should not have to sacrifice their lives because of something totally out of their control. It helps nobody if the truly gifted perish because real-world components aren't perfect.

Nor does it really help anyone if ANY person dies in a totally preventable way, for reasons of nobody's choice, but because there were inadequate safety precautions.

On the other hand, if they drive dangerously and then die as a result, well, I'd still not be happy, but I can at least understand that they made the choice, they took the chance, what they did was with reasonable knowledge. That does make a difference. People should have the right to take risks with real consequences - my only concern is that it really is their choice. If it is, then that should be that.

I'd put TT racing in this last category. It is exceptionally dangerous. The riders know this in advance. They are there because it is such a famous race and because it is such a notoriously dangerous one. They've made the choice, in full knowledge, knowing there are plenty of other rallies they could go to.

(Formula 1 isn't like that. The next race is where Ecclestone says it is, and all drivers are in it - unless sick, injured or DNQ. Drivers who skip races can be kicked out of the championship. Sure, there's still room for free choice, but that's a hell of a lot of coercion, too.)

[ Parent ]

Safety (none / 0) (#153)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 03:15:42 AM EST

I guess it really depends, as you said, on where you're racing. Perhaps MotoGP may be safer than F1, but in general, bikes are much more dangerous.

[ Parent ]
Er (3.00 / 3) (#51)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 07:54:24 PM EST

First of all, if you look at Schumacher's lap times and then those of the other two you mention, Schumacher is about ten times as consistent as the other two ever were. He'd annihilate them on that alone in a long race, although over a few laps it'd be a harder sell.

Second, he shows no sign of weakening. You may WANT him to - you may be sick of him - but the facts don't justify a belief that it is happening.

Third, traction control is most definitely back. They gave up trying to ban it after realizing there are essentially infinite ways it can be implemented, not all of which can reasonably be banned.

Finally, I think I should point out that instantaneous g forces are really not a big deal. Look up the instantaneous g forces for a HALO jump sometime. Human beings have survived well over 50g instantaneous without even being bruised(one famous example was the guy who used himself to prove you could catch an object falling from orbit on a hook pushed out the door of an airplane.)

I like Formula one. Just thought you might want to do a bit more diligence on some of this. The facts back up the claim that Schumacher is the best Formula driver ever. He might not be the best if he were rallying or whatever, where consistency is a bit less vital, but in a Formula race, consistency is EVERYTHING.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

jesus (none / 1) (#54)
by WetherMan on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 01:38:58 AM EST

sometimes I think you may not even be human.
---
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs
[ Parent ]
In which case... (none / 1) (#55)
by jd on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 02:02:28 AM EST

...trhurler would probably make a damn good racing driver. :)

[ Parent ]
Why's that? (none / 1) (#104)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 02:32:51 AM EST

Admittedly, not many people have my combination of tenacity and typing skeels, but other than that?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
mostly the whole everything about everything part (none / 1) (#134)
by WetherMan on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 02:36:07 AM EST

nt
---
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs
[ Parent ]
-1, F-1 is like Nascar for Eurotrash. (1.00 / 9) (#52)
by thelizman on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 10:08:56 PM EST

Real men watch CART.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Real men race Group B rally cars. [nt] (none / 1) (#65)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:41:38 AM EST



[ Parent ]
IAWTP (none / 1) (#82)
by zrail on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:53:19 PM EST

Rally is so much more interesting than any high-speed track race, if only because there's always the chance a car will loose traction in a corner and fly into a crowd of spectators or crash into the stupid guy's who run out in front of the cars to get really awesome pictures.

[ Parent ]
I'd hate to drive a rally car for that reason. (none / 0) (#100)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 09:57:45 PM EST

I'd be too paranoid about hitting somone. It would just take all the enjoyment out of it, for me.

[ Parent ]
The new rules are racist!!! (none / 0) (#70)
by fluxrad on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 11:48:31 AM EST

Also new this year, engines have to last two complete racing weekends

Obviously, these rules are seriously racist towards the Japanese. If Takuma Sato can't be expected to go a single race with one engine, how can he possibly go two weekends?

BTW - I highly doubt this will be Schumaker's last year. He's consistently said he'll continue to race so long as he's having fun and remains competative. Given his skill and exuberance for the sport, I doubt either is going to change any time soon. That being said, I look forward to seeing Kimi Raikkonen win the driver's championship when Schuey's time is up.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
Er... facts? (2.50 / 4) (#71)
by beavix on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 11:59:33 AM EST

Modern Formula 1 cars are as far beyond this old technology as modern road cars are behind it. A modern Formula 1 car has a 9-12 cylinder engine, 7 gears, sensors monitoring every aspect, impact resistance capable of keeping the driver intact after a 200 mph shunt into a wall, tires that can withstand blistering temperatures when under stress but still provide grip when virtually cold.

If you can't bother to do at least the most cursory check into an essential fact, why even bother?

Every Formula 1 car has a 10-cylinder engine. They are all V10s, though different teams use different 'vee angles'. Every Formula 1 car engine displaces 3 litres.

Interesting... (2.00 / 2) (#85)
by Saeed al Sahaf on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:19:38 PM EST

Is that so... Hmmmm... Google of Ferrari says different. But hey, maybe you know something that Ferrari does not.

[ Parent ]
Check your facts (2.00 / 2) (#90)
by mshook on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 06:01:34 PM EST

Check again V10 engines are the only engines allowed in F1. If you don't know this, you don't know F1: http://www.fia.com/resources/documents/1368441606__2005F1TechnicalRegulations.pd f ARTICLE 5 : ENGINE 5.1 Engine specification : 5.1.1 Only 4-stroke engines with reciprocating pistons are permitted. 5.1.2 Engine capacity must not exceed 3000 cc. 5.1.3 Supercharging is forbidden. 5.1.4 All engines must have 10 cylinders and the normal section of each cylinder must be circular. 5.1.5 Engines may have no more than 5 valves per cylinder.

[ Parent ]
What is modern? (none / 1) (#88)
by MoebiusStreet on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:41:18 PM EST

It all depends on your definition of modern. Currently all cars are 10 cylinders (afaik). However, it wasn't all that long ago when 12 seemed to be the optimal number. I've never heard of a 9, though, and it's rather difficult to picture in a V configuration.

[ Parent ]
You get V5 engines (none / 0) (#93)
by gordonjcp on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 06:35:57 PM EST

VAG do them. Think of it as kind of like a 5-cylinder inline with alternate cylinders *slightly* offset. It's a very, very narrow V.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
V5s are horrible! (none / 0) (#117)
by PhadeRunner on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 10:33:20 AM EST

VAG do tham as did Lancia in the mid-80s although in my opinion they shouldn't have bothered.  They have nasty unbalanced 1st and 2nd order moments and need much in the way of contra-rotating balance shafts to make them anywhere near refined.  

IMHO they should have made a larger capacity inline 4 or smaller capacity inline 6.  These configurations, although slightly harder to package (in the inline 6 case), are much nicer having only unbalanced 2nd order forces (inline 4) or no unbalanced forces or moments (inline 6).  

As far as a V9 is concerned it would be totally ludicrous!  Racing engines tend to have much wider V-angles, in the order of 60-90 degrees between banks.  Chucking an extra cylinder on the end of a wide banked V8 would be a balancing and packaging nightmare for little or no increase in displacement, hence power (proportionally).  The fact you'd have to make different length camshafts for each bank and have a very beefy crankshaft to stop it breaking under the force of the unbalanced 9th cylinder would mean cost and weight wise it would also be unrealistic.  I could go on but the V9 idea is now making me laugh! :)

[ Parent ]

Inline 5s are good (none / 0) (#121)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 12:35:15 PM EST

Mercedes and VAG use 'em. Very smooth.

Still more a 90 degree odd-fire V6 fan myself, though.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Or a small VR6... (none / 0) (#126)
by smithmc on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 03:56:55 PM EST

IMHO they should have made a larger capacity inline 4 or smaller capacity inline 6.

I'm not sure why they didn't just do a smaller VR6, given that they already had lots of experience with that configuration. A 2.3L or 2.4L VR6 with 4-valve head would make 160-170 hp, and would've had that cool VR6 sound instead of being all lumpy and uneven.

[ Parent ]

Agree, but this is kind of what they did... (none / 0) (#161)
by PhadeRunner on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 12:24:11 PM EST

I'm not sure why they didn't just do a smaller VR6

I tend to agree with you here, I totally forgot about the VAG VR6 engine.  Very nice they are too.  

Of course this is what they actually did but rather than making a smaller VR6 by decreasing the overall displacement (the nice way) they made a smaller VR6  by chopping a cylinder off the end (the nasty way) and as a result creating the V5.

[ Parent ]

Nice, but... (none / 0) (#75)
by kzinti on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:48:23 PM EST

Thoroughly enjoyable article, tainted only by its overuse of superlatives such as "incredible" and "unbelievable". Nice job otherwise.

I like F1. but... (none / 1) (#77)
by Apreche on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 01:18:27 PM EST

I like F1 a lot. I love to hear the cars go vroom and watch them zoom about at ludicrous speed. It is the preimiere motorsport on earth, with the fastest cars that can turn both left and right. Rally comes in a close second in awesomeness. But it is no doubt in the midst of a crisis. What I would like to see, that will never happen, is the elimination of all rules about vehicle construction. Make anything you want. The requirements should be that your car has to make it around the track without changing parts other than fuel and tires. It also has to be driven by a person, not fly-by wire or computer controlled. The only other rules you need are common sense stuff. That way people don't make cars as wide as the track itself to prevent passing. Basically the car has to be such that it does not endanger the other cars on the track. So no weapons systems (although that would be very entertaining, it wouldn't last more than one race). Oh, and it has to have four wheels, no motorcycles or airplanes or anything. You get the idea. This will turn F1 into something useful. It will be a competition to invent the fastest and most technologically advanced motor vehicle that can be driven by human beings, turn left, turn right, stop and go. I believe that this ruleset will level the playing field in two ways. First, the field will be divided into cars that suck and cars that don't. Presently only the ferrari doesn't really suck. With no rules teams will either come up with and awesome car or not. Given few limitations I am confident that engineers working for all teams can come up with something competetive. Of the cars that have a chance to compete the competition will be purely one of driver skill. There wont be anything left to separate them from one another besides skill since all the competitive cars will be just about equal. To make it more interesting, let anyone race who wants to. With the stipulation that the car you qualify with is the car you must drive let anyone with a car try to qualify for a race. Then the top 20 qualifiers actually get into the race. This will generate tons of interest for the sport since engineers and drivers from all over will come to compete for the championship as opposed to the current system where only fantastically wealthy people can enter. Sure, the fantastically wealthy people have an advantage. But I bet there are some pretty good mechanics out there who are relatively unknown that have very powerful and competitive vehicles they would love to race. Hell, instead of turning F1 into this, which will never happen, someone can just start a racing league just like this from scratch. It would be awesome.

Ferrari doesn't suck? (none / 0) (#78)
by Norwegian Blue on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:42:06 PM EST

Personally I think the downforce on a Ferrari can match any of its competitors..

I recall they even made a publicity stunt about it. Something along the lines of "If you think your car really sucks, you haven't driven a Ferrari yet."

[ Parent ]

Agree, but (none / 0) (#89)
by MoebiusStreet on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:43:27 PM EST

I agree completely. Back in the seventies we had the vacuum car cited in the article, as well the 6-wheeled car (4 in front for aero reasons, I think it was a Tyrrell). That creativity made its own excitement.

Unfortunately, F1 seems to be going in the opposite direction, with proposals for enforced commonality going as far as a F1-provided ECU for all cars. Yuck.

[ Parent ]

Safety (none / 1) (#146)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 07:36:05 PM EST

There have to have regulations for safety reasons.  The cars today are as fast as the cars 15 years ago even though they have smaller engines, they're normally aspirated, are no longer on slick tyres, have increased ground clearance, restrictions on the amount of wing, etc etc.  Furthermore, there have to be additional regulations concerning the safety specs of the vehicles, e.g. cockpit construction, wheel tethers, etc.  It would be extremely foolish and incredibly dangerous to remove the restrictions.

Let's not also forget that KE = 0.5 m v^2.  This tells us that speed is the critical component in an accident.

I seem to remember a few years back that Cart was trying to expand and were boasting they were the were going to be the fastest racing cars in Europe.  What happened?  A horrific crash with Zanardi losing his legs.

Aside: maybe Cart cars can go faster in a straight line, but when put on the same circuit (Montréal) they take longer to go around.

[ Parent ]

Um, no. (2.00 / 3) (#83)
by brettd on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 04:54:46 PM EST

Not all ideas have been so flash-in-the-pan, though. Formula 1 racing cars have had, for some time, carbon-fiber anti-lock disc brakes. These allowed drivers far better control over their car and reduced (but didn't eliminate) the risk of spinning out of control when braking too hard. This technology has, over the years, slowly migrated to road cars and, as a result, road cars are safer for it.
  • Anti-lock brakes were developed for airplanes, not F1 cars, because in a tri-gear setup, if one wheel looses traction and the other keeps braking, the plane cartwheels and crashes. The significant risk to human life fueled its development. Bosch and others migrated the technology directly into passenger cars. F1 had nothing to do with it.
  • No serious race driver uses antilock, because it makes it removes control of the car in a skid. If the car skids, but is going in a favorable direction, ie, avoiding a wall, another car, etc...you want it to KEEP going in that direction, so you lock the brakes and the car goes in a straight line. Antilock, especially modern anti-lock, will make that impossible by keeping the wheels turning. That will put the car in an unpredictable path of motion, and eventually slingshot it in a particular direction when the tires get some purchase. Anti-lock is also somewhat worthless for absolute maximum stopping power, as razor's-edge-maximum-traction is at around 10% slip, depending upon the tire...and at 10% slip, ABS would already have kicked on.
  • Carbon fiber brakes are a relatively new (last few years) innovation. Not "for some time". Furthermore, their main advantage is that the carbon fiber rotor weighs a lot less, so it can be larger or make for less unsprung weight with the same rotor area as a metal rotor.

You may be an F1 fan, but you're clearly not very knowledgeable about driving or vehicle technology...I could have ripped most of your article to shreds, and I don't even know that much about F1. Your article had promise, but you tried to make it too all-reaching and didn't do enough research/fact checking for that scope.

ABS (none / 1) (#84)
by cbraga on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:18:46 PM EST

I take exception to your point that ABS removes control of the car. That simply isn't true. In any situation that the car is going in a longitudinal direction (ie, forwards or backwards) the driver has much more control of the car by letting the wheels spin. You forget that the car has a steering wheel which is effective even when the car is going in a spin and a professional driver is expected to be able to control the car in those situations. He can control the direction of the car much better with the steering wheel than by praying that his locked wheels would take him to safety.

Also, the ABS does not reduce maximum stopping power. That's a myth. A driver can practice treshold braking in a car with ABS or without. The difference is that in the car with ABS a mistake is much less dangerous. Think of ABS as a safety net.

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]

ABS is BETTER (none / 1) (#87)
by MoebiusStreet on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 05:38:32 PM EST

Anyone who claims their foot can do better than modern ABS is, frankly, full of crap.

The important thing is that you've got only one brake pedal, but the ABS computer has 4 separate ones. The computer can individually control the braking force to each wheel, allowing each to approach its maximum force individually.

A human, in contrast, can only compromise by finding the best brake pressure across all four wheels taken together. On any real-world surface the potential grip for each wheel differs, so at any given time some wheels may be above or below that threshold.



[ Parent ]
More often it's actually three... (none / 0) (#92)
by gordonjcp on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 06:34:16 PM EST

On most ABS setups, only the front wheels are modulated separately. The rear wheels are modulated as a pair.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
from my experience (none / 1) (#97)
by cbraga on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 09:23:03 PM EST

The car brakes sligthly more before the abs kicks in. It's a small difference but very noticeable in the two cars with abs that I've owned (opel astra and bmw m3), specially in the wet.

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]
you are insane (none / 0) (#128)
by codejack on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 11:32:57 PM EST

ABS is great... if you're a 15-year-old girl. Otherwise, learn to feather the break pedal and don't bother me with computerized systems that cost thousands to fix when they break (and they do).

Incidentally, I assure you that my foot can indeed do better thatn ABS at braking; Granted that in "real-world" surfaces (have you been braking in your head lately?), the potential grip of each wheel does differ, and being able to alter the braking force at each wheel will improve your braking (this is how yaw-control systems work, too), but at the cost of optimal recovery. To put it another way, ABS is better at stopping in a straight line on a variably slick surface, such as in the rain, and safer in braking through a corner, but inferior on dry surfaces and/or coming out of a corner at speed after braking, i.e. drifting. Safe but slow.


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
Panic Factor. (3.00 / 2) (#137)
by Ranieri on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 06:56:10 AM EST

If i'm driving and I decide to try out my braking skills, I do pretty well. Not sure if i do better than ABS, but I would give it a good run for its money. However, if something unexpected happens that kicks up the good old adrenalin, I just slam the brake pedal like a little girl. I know I shouldn't do it, and as soon as I'm conscious of the situation a split-second later I release it immediately and continue brakign like a sensible person. However it costs precious meters.
The big deal about ABS for me, is that it helps when you "panic".
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
not in a skid/spin (none / 0) (#186)
by brettd on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 09:01:47 PM EST

I take exception to your point that ABS removes control of the car. That simply isn't true. In any situation that the car is going in a longitudinal direction (ie, forwards or backwards) the driver has much more control of the car by letting the wheels spin.

Not for a racer or somewhat trained driver- being able to keep a vehicle in a skid or spin, where the vehicle is following a predictable trajectory, can save your bacon. When the wheels are locked, the car follows a predictable path in a skid or spin. Maybe that path keeps you on the pavement, or puts you between a gap in the armco, or doesn't send you into a wall or another car. Or, maybe it sends you on a path to hit something head-on instead of sideways or backwards- hitting something head-on is almost ALWAYS preferable, because all the safety features of your car work for you- crumple zones, airbags, seatbelts or harnesses, the whole 9 yards. Next to none of it works in a side impact.

Example- you're on an icy highway. You spin. You put your foot on the brake and the wheels locked. For the most part, because the wheels are always sliding, they don't get much traction in any particular direction than another, and you keep going straight. Maybe if you're good, when you're getting lined up again in the right way, you start to let up, the wheels start spinning again, you get traction, you pull over to the side of the road, sit there, and think, "holy fuck".

If you have ABS (particularly the kind that can sense simultaneous lockup), ABS will keep the wheels spinning, which means that if you hit a non-icy patch, the wheel gets a purchase, and you'd damn well better hope you're pointed in the right direction, because otherwise, you're going into a ditch, or for some lawnmowing which can be even worse. If you hit dirt/turf sideways, or a curb, your wheels dig in, and the car rolls (yes, even cars). I've seen this happen several times at track events. Hitting something head-on is much better than a side-impact or a rollover.

For most people, ABS is wonderful and it's a great tool for teaching threshold braking. It is also wonderful at helping prevent braking-induced spins on uneven traction surfaces, yes. It is horrendous with braking distances, or once you're IN a spin (say, for reasons other than braking) at allowing you some control over the car.

[ Parent ]

The real reason for carbon-fiber brakes (none / 1) (#102)
by Gerhard on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 01:29:00 AM EST

Carbon-fiber brakes have a lot more stopping power than conventional brakes. As heat increases on a conventional braking system, clamping power decreases. As heat increases in carbon-fiber brakes, the braking performance gets better. The weight advantage is insignificant.

[ Parent ]
True (n/t) (none / 0) (#109)
by lens flare on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 06:57:38 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Argh! (none / 1) (#107)
by knurpsfloh on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 06:43:52 AM EST

> I could have ripped most of your article to > shreds, and I don't even know that much about F1. Sure. I bet you could get a girlfriend, too.

[ Parent ]
Carbon fibre brakes (none / 0) (#115)
by jd on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 10:17:52 AM EST

Niki Lauda used them over several seasons, and he hasn't been racing "in the last few years".

[ Parent ]
Great write up! (none / 0) (#91)
by easilyodd on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 06:13:12 PM EST

I live in the Southeastern U.S. and hardly anyone I come across knows the history, passion or excitement of F1 like you expressed here.

I've been getting worked up about this upcoming season. A lot of people say it's boring to watch Schumi run away from everyone. It's still thrills me to see him need to stretch out 25 seconds more of a lead so he can squeeze a 4th pit stop in.  I still marvel at the forces of a right turn so strong that it flat out breaks the hub out of the left rear wheel of Truli's Renault. Stunning.

Thanks for the post.  Will you be doing a Moto GP write up?  I'm of the opinion when it comes to racing, Moto GP tops all aothers for a pure hour of no blinking excitement.

Back to checking facts... (none / 0) (#98)
by craigwb on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 09:34:55 PM EST

Not sure what you were thinking about with the re-fueling comments - they've had refueling reinstated in F1 since 1994.

This year there is no minimum required fuel load. (none / 0) (#101)
by Gerhard on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 12:53:37 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Formula what? (none / 1) (#103)
by abegetchell on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 01:32:15 AM EST

If it doesn't involve rednecks driving around in a circle five-hundred times, I don't want to hear about it. Damn foreigners ruining the place for everyone.

--
Every time you "2" a comment, god kills a kitten.
Formula 1 vs NASCAR (none / 0) (#105)
by andr0meda on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 04:47:32 AM EST

To start out with, I was a huge fan of Ayrton Senna, and I watched him and Prost race themselves out of the race in the very first corner at Francorchamps in pure awe.  I saw Senna doing magical things at Monaco when Benneton started to overpower the white red McLaren's.  Lately I even enjoyed the fins for a while.  But I don`t enjoy Schumacher`s racing that much anymore.  He is undoubtedly the driver who knows like no one else how to steer an engeneering team and get the best out of a car design in a particular race.  His first seasons and championships were extremely exciting, but once Ferrari got it`s act together and Jean Todd started running the show, everything became a calculation.  The ghost of racing has been telemetered out of the sport.  And I`m sure you`ll agree that Schumi became arrogant in his overtaking drifts.

When I look at NASCAR, I can feel the excitement of close edge faced paced and strategic overtaking several hours on end..  I still think Formula 1 is the top car racing act, because the technology has to be so much more advanced and the budgets and spectator numbers are (and have always been) simply decadent. I like LeMans, I like Paris Dackar, I like what our boys are doing in Rally racing, and I like the newspaper fights between the various racedrivers, but it saddens me to say that NASCAR is still more exciting to watch.. except for most of those oval  circuit layouts of course..

Speaking about circuits, what track do you like to watch the most?

Otherwise, very nice read! Cheers!

Do not be afraid of the void my friend, is it not merely the logical next step?

Corny but True (none / 0) (#110)
by pwhysall on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 08:09:12 AM EST

Spa-Francorchamps is The One True Circuit.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Skirts on fast cars (none / 1) (#106)
by grinder on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 06:21:14 AM EST

There was a third important technical innovation in Formula 1 that is worth mentioning. In the late 1980s, Alan Jones' engineers came up with the idea of ceramic spring-loaded skirts along the side of the car, between the front and back wheels.

The idea again was to create a partial vacuum under the car and increase downforce. Alan Jones was unbeatable that year.

The authorities banned it on the grounds that if the skirts failed and and car experienced a sudden loss of downforce it could literally flip away into the air. Not a nice thing to happen if you're cornering at high speed.

There was a TV documentary on this subject many years ago, called "Gentlemen, lift your skirts". Very interesting to watch, if one could ever track it down these days.



Senna's Accident (none / 0) (#112)
by Ranieri on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 08:35:53 AM EST

I'd like to pick a nit with the location of Senna's fatal accident. While it took indeed place in Italy, at the Imola racing track, it was not strictly speaking the "Italian Grand Prix".
The Italian Grand Prix is held at Monza. At Imola it's called the "Grand Prix of San Marino", which an independent principate (about the size of a small city) that is completely surrounded by Italian territory.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
And.. (none / 0) (#113)
by andr0meda on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 08:45:10 AM EST


..very beautifull / expensive, too!  Actually, besides the racing track, there`s not much left except for the steep climb to the pitoresque shops in the castle :)

Do not be afraid of the void my friend, is it not merely the logical next step?
[ Parent ]
Gugs?? (none / 1) (#114)
by Gallowglass on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 09:51:19 AM EST

"Lightning reflexes, sharp eyes, an incredible 'feel' for how a machine is behaving, and incredble gugs - those aren't attributes you'd find anywhere."

I'm sorry, what are gugs?

Gugs? (none / 0) (#118)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 10:42:05 AM EST

Lovecraftian horrors that live in a darkened world under the enchanted forest. They are several times the height of a man and their mouths open horizontally. They hunt ghasts in the nightmare vaults of Zin.

See "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" for more details.

--------------
Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
Improving F1 (none / 1) (#120)
by joib on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 12:09:00 PM EST

I haven't followed F1 closely lately, it's a bit boring when Schumi is almost certain to win.

Anyway, I think they have gone the wrong way lately trying to reduce the speed of the cars. Were I supreme ruler of the F1 universe (i.e. Bernie Ecclestone or whatever his name is), I'd look long and hard at something like:

1) Reduce cornering speeds by limiting downforce, not by legislating narrower tires. Too much reliance on downforce can be dangerous, hit a small bump or get into a slip and the downforce might suddenly be reduced a lot. This makes the car dangerous to drive, as the driver really can't anticipate these things. So how to reduce downforce? Well, increasing ride height is one thing (e.g. by mandating a thicker plank on the bottom), and the other obvious way is to reduce the size of the spoilers. Not to mention that much downforce makes passing other cars very difficult since there is much less downforce behind the other car, thus reducing downforce would lead to more exciting races as well.

As far as the tires go, I guess the new rules specifying only one set of tires are a way to keep expenses under control, but get rid of those radial dry weather tires and bring back real slicks. Those radial tires look ridiculous! Also, when reducing downforce one could compensate by allowing wider tires instead.

2) Trying to reduce engine power by limiting the displacement leads to very expensive engines, and reducing the displacement is politically difficult since the developing a new engine is really expensive (see the opposition by manufacturers to the new 2.5L V8 rules) and timing the introduction is difficult (the timetable never suits all the manufacturers). So I'd propose eliminating the displacement limit and instead limit the maximum fuel flow. This would allow innovation in the engine area and also provide an incentive to make more fuel efficient engines which at some point might benefit "civilian" engines, as the only way to increase maximum power would be to increase the efficiency of the engine. So, wan't to use a 2 liter turbocharged engine doing 30000 rpm, or a lumbering 10 liter engine? Both would be fine, as long as they stay within the maximum fuel flow limit. Or why limit yourself to piston engines, use a friggin gas turbine or fuel cell if you like, as long as the maximum fuel flow is within limits. Not that I'm the first to propose this, it was already proposed by Cosworth in the 70'ies, although sadly it wasn't acted upon.

By limiting the fuel flow reducing the speed of the cars, when they as always get ever faster, would be as easy as reducing the maximum fuel flow limit. No expensive changes required either to the engines or to the aerodynamics of the cars.

Restrict the air intake. (none / 0) (#133)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 12:40:54 AM EST

Isn't this what they do on Indy/CART cars? Seems much easier than trying to limit fuel flow, just make a maximum intake size, or reduce it if they already have a limit.

[ Parent ]
Not CART but plenty of others (none / 1) (#144)
by joib on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 12:40:27 PM EST

CART has no air intake restrictor, though there is a pop valve that prevents excessive turbo boost.

As for restrictor plates, at least NASCAR (some races only), Le Mans proto cars, WRC (world rally car), and probably plenty others use them. I agree that restrictor plates are a relatively cheap and low tech way to limit power.

However, it's expensive for the teams. Optimizing an engine for use with a restrictor plate is difficult and expensive, and leads to an engine that is pretty different from a non-restricted engine. Not to mention that a restrictor plate reduces the efficiency of the engine drastically, and forces you to use a very rich mixture if you want to get any significant power out (lots of unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust). That's not good if you want to encourage fuel efficient engines. Also, air restrictors might preclude some interesting engines, for example gas turbines need to suck a huge amount of air for cooling purposes.

Finally, it's not as if a fuel flow limiter is some extremely expensive piece of high tech gear either. See e.g. This report for some options about how one might limit fuel flow.

[ Parent ]

mix it up (none / 1) (#123)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 02:44:02 PM EST

They should mix the variables up like this every year. Not only would this keep the sport fresh and interesting for viewers (and possibly even interest someone like me, who has absolutely no interest in it until just now), but it would actually be a better assessment of multiple factors:

  • actual driver prowess/competency - This would require the drivers to not only be good at the specific track type with a specific car variety, but it would require them to be more diverse in their driving ability.
  • increase the innovation of F1 cars - engineers would need to work on multiple aspects of automotives, making advances which might be more applicable than other, more consumer-grade improvements
  • make the sport more complex in the eyes of viewers than simply "driving around a track fast" - once again, this would probably increase interest for those not currently in the F1/nascar/etc. demographic

    Personally, I think it would be incredible fun to watch if it became more of a "Robot Wars" type affair, were there was more freedom in design and allowed for more unique racing implimentations (sharper turns? road slicks? gravel? hills?  courses where large amounts of acceleration/deacceleration are needed? ironman competition? heat-seaking missles?).

    This might just be my ignorance speaking, but concerning "performance" cars, I see performance being a lot more than simply how fast the car can go. There are a lot more aspects, such as the vehicle's (and driver's) ability to handle diverse environments.
    --

    Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

  • somewhat offensive... (1.33 / 3) (#124)
    by CAIMLAS on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 03:32:01 PM EST

    Each generation has had one - or more - heros.

    I take slight offense of your use of the word "hero" here. While it's technically correct, a more appropriate word would've been "celebrity", as that's what these men (women? can women do this?) are.

    he·ro
    n. pl. he·roes
       1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
       2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: soldiers and nurses who were heroes in an unpopular war.
       3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.

    While the first definition is valid, I personally feel it applies today to this situation. Heroes of yore were not sportsmen; they were warriors and rulers, and often both. Thus, definition #3 would apply.

    Such as in definition #2, they would do heroic things often for principle, passion for others, and a just cause. Modern day financial gain doesn't come close to those epic feats, regardless of potential loss of life and limb. If these guys are heroes, then so are boxers (Mike Tyson, for instance), tournament martial artists, and others of the same ilk.

    None of these feats require the necessary strong personal character (nobility) that is necessitated by a heroic act. You yourself mentioned that one of these "heroes" had a bad temper and was a disagreeable person - not a noble trait. In short, these people are and were sportsmen and celebrities.

    I find it offensive, because it compares people with extraordinary skills who make copious amounts of money from those skills with people - whether particularly skilled in their feat or not - who risk their life for a noble cause. Real heroes are  like the NFL player (who's name I've forgotten and can't find on froogle) who left his star position and all its associated pay and joined the army (Rangers?) so as to help liberate a people at the cost of his own life. He went into the situation knowing this, but did so in order to improve the lives of others. (Don't even start with me about "not a just war" nonsense - that's not what I'm talking about at all.) Heroes are normal people, even people of under-average ability, just as often (if not more so) than people that have been gifted with ability.

    Real heroes are the brave men and women who stand up in the face of adversity and threat to life so as to propigate the gold standards of quality life: peace, freedom, and the repression from tyrany.
    --

    Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

    I object to your post (none / 0) (#125)
    by inkieminstrel on Thu Mar 03, 2005 at 03:37:30 PM EST

    As it assumes that money is not a noble cause.

    [ Parent ]
    Oh, and (none / 1) (#142)
    by jd on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 11:29:28 AM EST

    ....it also assumes Iraq is. Personally, I find nothing heroic or noble about fighting for a cause that doesn't exist, at the expense of 1,502 American lives (+/- 12, as the press don't agree with the Pentagon) and a few hundred thousand Iraqis.

    Danger? Yes, there's danger. Provoking a wild animal until it attacks is also dangerous. That doesn't make it heroic. It makes it stupid.

    For Formula 1 drivers, definition 1 is by far the best. These are people who are celebrated for extraordinary deeds, for pushing themselves to the absolute limits of the human frame, who live life as a roaring fire, rather than a damp squib. And, yes, given the level of superstition in the sport, the glamour, the randomness of disaster and even death, I would argue that the Schumachers and the Sennas of the world are far more on-par with Hercules and Jason of the Argonauts than some footpad of the American military.

    [ Parent ]

    ridiculous (none / 0) (#171)
    by NotALamer on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 05:28:43 PM EST

    It is quite possible to support the troops without agreeing with what they are made to do. I don't understand why people can't see this. I personally don't agree with the war in Iraq, but I still have a lot of respect for the troops that put their lives in jeopardy to protect our country. Just because you don't agree with the policy of the people making the decisions doesn't mean you should disparage the people that carry out that policy. Claiming that someone who races cars for fun/money/fame is more of a hero than someone that risks their life for the benefit of others is absurd.

    [ Parent ]
    Personally... (none / 0) (#172)
    by jd on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 05:41:48 PM EST

    I equate bravery and heroism with having total freedom of choice in the matter, and choosing to do something against your personal best interests anyway.

    I equate the military with obeying orders, in a strict heirarchy, with zero tolerence for any kind of disobedience or questioning.

    The guys who stood up against their superiors, in the matter of driving unarmored fuel tankers through hot zones, comes to mind. The view of the superior officers was not that questioning stupidity would raise standards and therefore morale. Their view was that questioning ANYTHING was bordering on treason and should be punished severely.

    Now, I would regard those who stood up as heros, because they exercised free will, in the full knowledge that - in a time of war - they could literally be placed in front of a firing squad for it.

    In general, though, the military has made such questioning impossible, which makes free will impossible, which makes heroism of any kind impossible.

    [ Parent ]

    free will (none / 0) (#178)
    by NotALamer on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 11:51:35 PM EST

    While they don't have much choice after they join, they still made the choice to join in the first place. The military wouldn't be able to function if every single member did what they wanted.

    [ Parent ]
    True, in a way (none / 0) (#181)
    by jd on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 11:37:14 AM EST

    But I'm not sure those in the Reserves signed up in the knowledge that they'd be used as cheap labor in a warzone like Iraq. Also, in many States, "Selective Service" (essentially military service) is compulsary if you want to go to college. In the rest, the military offer all kinds of offers to pay for college, etc. In a day and age where a degree is NOT optional, if you want a well-paid job, the only way out of the poverty trap is the military trap.

    "Free will" is bandied around a lot, but is given no protection in America.

    [ Parent ]

    It's really simple (2.50 / 4) (#130)
    by codejack on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 12:17:26 AM EST

    If you want to make F1 exciting again, just follow Codejack's Guide to Improving Formula One Racing(tm):
    • Remove all engine restrictions; That's right, if these guys want to drop a 10-liter super-turbo V-18 producing 5000hp into their car, let 'em
    • Remove all restrictions on downforce; Let them have the wing car, or the vacuum cleaner, or those goofy rear wings that would angle down when they went into a corner, whatever
    • Add the following restrictions: All cars must use styrofoam for the outer shell, brake rotors must be steel and no more than 6" in diameter, brakes pads must be made of rubber, tires cannot be more than 6" wide and must be used for the entire racing season, wheels must be no more than 12" in diameter, all suspensions must be non-transverse leaf-springs with no shock or coil-spring attachments, the car itself may be no more than 4' wide, and the driver must be seated upside-down in the car



    Please read before posting.

    My idea, (none / 1) (#135)
    by bowdie on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 03:57:00 AM EST

    to help F1 is rotate drivers. Make last season's winner drive for an up and coming team. That way, he (yeah - how come there arn't any female drivers?) gets to pass on all his tech knowledge to the team.

    Then the driver slowly works his way back up to the top, keeping fresh faces on podiums, and we'd soon see how much of a win is down to superior car tech.

    That way, everyone gets an improvement, for cheap too. I would think many of these cars could be tweaked by someone like Schumi to get the best out of what you've got.

    Women drivers in F1 (2.50 / 2) (#136)
    by Riktov on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 06:34:45 AM EST

    I don't know about women racers in other classes, but it seems that at the F1 level, women's physique could be a real limitation. If you look at the current cars, they are phenomenally tight. The forward body and seat of Shumacher's car is literally custom-fitted to his ass, thighs, shoulders, etc. Barichello and Shumi would have a hard time fitting in each other's Ferraris. Steering wheels are detachable because otherwise the drivers wouldn't be able to fit in the cockpit.

    Under such conditions, broad hips and breasts would be a definite liability in terms of weight and body design (and as a consequence aerodynamics).

    Google say no mony being made... (1.00 / 3) (#138)
    by Nick W on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 07:55:36 AM EST

    Im sorry i dont have time to read every comment so i hope im not repeating anyone too much :)

    Did anyone mention yet that Bezos is a Google shareholder, and has been since before the IPO? Google may not be making any money, but there is certainly a vested interested in giving amazon links...
    http://www.Threadwatch.org
    [ Parent ]

    The Steering Wheel (none / 1) (#139)
    by philstaite on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 09:05:38 AM EST

    I don't think anything better illustrates just how technical, and hard, this sport is than a picture of a steering wheel

    Controls everything from brake balance to the fuel mix. The drivers alter these settings whilst racing, not because the car is poorly set-up to start with, but because each corner will have different requirement.

    F1 no longer interests me (none / 1) (#143)
    by starrynight on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 12:21:09 PM EST

    Yeah, the cars are examples of bleeding-edge engineering, but the Schumacher hegemony that's turned every track date into a Ferrari benefit race has made it BORING. Especially when his strategy is essentially this: Qualify fastest, get on the poll, get the hole-shot (or whatever they call it in F1), pull away by about a second a lap. I mean, yeah, it's impressive that he's so dominant, and if he's not the best ever one wonders exactly who IS, but that doesn't change the fact that every F1 race, unless you're rooting for one of the backmarkers, is a complete snorefest.

    Now, you want off-the-charts tech AND crazy racing action? Try MotoGP -- the motorcycle analogue of F1. They recently changed the rules to allow 1000cc four-stroke engines (instead of the traditional 500cc two-strokes) and it's crazy. They get 250+ horsepower out of a liter of displacement, and since the idea of "traction control" is meaningless on a motorcycle, getting that power to the track it is purely a test of rider skill.

    This season has been awesome. Valentino Rossi (another best-racer-ever candidate) went to the Yamama team after last year, from Honda. This is significant because Honda is generally recognized as having the best bike in the field. Their V-5 is just ridiculously fast, and Rossi won the champion chip on it last season. But if you win on the Honda, there's always going to be the suspicion that anybody could win on that bike. So Rossi voluntarily quits Honda and goes to Yamaha... and goes on to continue winning, in races that are ridiculously thrilling displays of skill. It's not a Rossi-only show, but he's clearly the best rider in the field, NOT riding the best bike, but making up the difference anyway.

    THAT, my friends, is racing. I'm not suggesting that Schumi leave Ferrari just to prove a point -- but over in MotoGP, his counterpart did just that, and it's been brilliant racing.

    What is "the car racing" you speak of? (none / 1) (#166)
    by nlscb on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 06:25:25 PM EST

    I have absolutely no idea what is involved in car racing except a few words like Nascar, "Indy 500", Gran Prix whatever, or Formula 1. What the is the difference between all of them? I know Nascar is derided as the sport where "you just keep making a left turn".

    As well, what is the fun in watching it? I've race go-carts, and that is a blast. But watching it is just tedious (minus a good car crash). How do you learn to appreciate what is going on?

    Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

    A run-down of the types of motor sport (3.00 / 4) (#169)
    by jd on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 02:46:38 AM EST

    NASCAR is saloon-car racing. You have a normal (yeah, whatever) road car, which you race on oval tracks under conditions that bunch the cars up a lot but which don't make for an actual race. Lots of crashes, but not much else.

    Indycar is much the same, only in single-seater go-carts with shells. There are a few road circuits with Indycar, but it is routinely derided by Europeans as more of a circus event.

    European Rally-car racing - actual normal road cars, but on dirt tracks, gravel tracks and other severe off-road conditions, often in woods or over twisty mountainsides. Unlike other forms of racing, this is about sheer guts and a navigator who can read a map when being bounced around a mobile tin can dangling over the edge of a precipice.

    Formula Ford is the most basic of the cart formulae in Europe. It is always on roads and complex circuits. Usually a LOT of accicents, as the drivers are frequently novices. The cars aren't horribly powerful, which is just as well. As a learning event, it is highly regarded, as it drills people in the basics without being excessively dangerous.

    Formula 3/Formula 3000 is a step up from Formula Ford. Much more powerful, just about as many accidents, not so highly regarded. However, you have to win at it, in order to get a "superlicense" which is required to enter Formula 1 racing.

    Formula 2 you don't hear much about, these days. Not sure where things are with it.

    Formula 1 is the premiere cart racing series, and the drivers show it. It itakes a lot to get this far, so most of the drivers have worked out any need they had for high-speed crashes. Rather, here you see some spectacular driving. There's no shortage of daring, but it has the skill to back it up.

    There are also many historic races - the Brighton Run involves cars built in the 1930s or before - but those are less about the racing and much more about seeing cars of those eras actually working, rather than rusting in some poorly-maintained museum.

    The thrill of a real motor race is in the skills, in the same way that watching an air display team is. I've been on the edge of my seat, watching two drivers duel it out on some incredible circuits. There's comedy in watching some newcomer driver in an under-powered car out-manoever some of the greats in their top-of-the-line machines, because they were paying attention and placed the car where it needed to be.

    On a circuit like Brands Hatch, there is nothing quite like hearing a building roar and - moments later - see 26 cars blast past you from round a blind corner, down a dip, and round yet more sharp bends. The suddenness, the sheer power of the engine only feet away, the knowledge that what keeps you from being flattened is not a concrete wall but a chain-link fence and their reflexes...

    Because these are cars that can go from 0-100 in under 2 seconds, and because they can brake maybe two or three times faster than they can accelerate, the circuit builders have had a field day in making the tracks incredibly convoluted.

    In turn, this means you see phenominal manoevering and tactics that would have had Fieldmarshal Rommel green with envy. On an oval, it doesn't matter where you are, you see exactly the same thing. At circuits like Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Donnington Park, Snetterton, Aintree, etc, the variation is huge. Get tired of one view? Move a little and get a totally different one.

    I've seen a few accidents - I was at Brands Hatch, when Jaque Lafytte was cut out of his car, after a starting accident. Took half an hour to get him free. I've seen less serious accidents at Silverstone, where drivers bounce off the tire walls and fill the air with debris. Not really that interesting to me.

    To me, there's much more thrill in seeing cars duck and weave, in desperate bids to keep or take places. If there is an accident, I'm far more taken by a gutsy driver going full-pelt on three wheels with their spoilers wrecked so that they can pit, get repaired, and be out without losing too much ground.

    Yes, it is the skill that I enjoy watching. The skill, unadulterated by aids designed to cram everyone onto a TV picture or by "safety features" more likely to be lethal than to actually help.

    [ Parent ]

    couple of corrections (none / 1) (#176)
    by spyderfx on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 12:08:51 PM EST

    Another aspect of the tire rule is that it will reduce the risk of tire accidents

    Sorry but I have to disagree on that point, in modern times catastrophic tyre failures resulting in accidents have been far more common than wheels falling off as a whole, and they are more likely with the new regs.

    This would have caused a lot of drag on the straights, so he made another modification. The top and bottom halves of the car were attached by springs. When the car was going along a straight section of track, the bottom of the car was pulled up and there was negligable drag. On the other hand, when the driver approached a corner, they merely had to release the springs and the car would be locked tight.

    I take it here your refering to the Lotus 88, the "double chassis" was intended to get around the regulations banning ground effect cars by stipulating a measurable ground clearance.. in the pits at least. (btw the 88 never raced as it was deemed to break other rules) other teams got round the problem with hydraulic suspension which raised and lowered the entire car (like lowriders in the states).

    Safety (none / 0) (#179)
    by chroma on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 09:40:25 AM EST

    It occurs to me that it's possible with modern technology to change auto racing so that all vehicles are controlled remotely. This would be a great advance in the field of safety. The driver could never be hurt. This would allow teams to make the cars as fast as they wanted to and use any sort of crazy new designs that they could think up.

    But people don't think it's interesting unless there's a risk that someone will get hurt or killed.

    They already do! (none / 0) (#180)
    by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 05:22:02 AM EST

    But they're just a we bit smaller that a full-size car.

    On a serious note though, the safety measures are also there for the crowds safety, too. Exibit A.

    People are more interesting in mangled cars, rather than dead drivers. Getting killed is still farily rare in motorsport. I don't think the death risk is a big draw card in terms of viewership.

    [ Parent ]

    RC Cars (none / 0) (#182)
    by chroma on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:04:09 PM EST

    People follow motorsport partly because they empathize with the driver. Most fans drive a car regularly. Give the drivers state of the art remote control, and the fans will no longer feel the same connection to the sport.

    It would make the sport 100% safe for the drivers.

    As far as fan safety: drivers are far more likely to be hurt these days than fans. Where's the giant wire fence to protect the people in the stands from flying debris? Anyway, the small risk of being hurt is a thrill for the fans as well.

    [ Parent ]

    Free Will in America (none / 0) (#183)
    by mk1gti on Sun Mar 13, 2005 at 09:46:00 PM EST

    There is no such thing: Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists. Sound familiar? As far as heroes go, let's think about those who shirked their duty in Vietnam by joining the champagne air force in Texas . . . 'Nuf said there. Commenting on heroes in F1 vs. heroes in this country's current wars; heroes in F1 aren't running around killing innocent thousands of innocent people in a fictitious 'war on terror'(or War on Drugs). They *are* risking their lives in the service of furthering automobile safety and efficiency. I mean really, that's what F1 is supposed to be all about: what lessons from automotive engineering and testing can be applied to mainstream automobiles to make them safer, more fuel efficient and faster. In that sense, by all means all F1 drivers, and all race drivers out there are heroes. Whether it's some go-carter or some guy struggling to put together a car for regional pro-rally, they are all heroes. The guys over in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrghistan, whatever-stan? They are this nations poor and disenfranchised trying to eke out a living, and failing to do so, taking out their pyschotic vengeance on another nation's poor. Nothing heroic there. Just sad and pathetic. The only heroic thing that could come from their deeds is to come back to the country that birthed them and work to change things to a more equitable system that rewards all instead of the priveleged of nobel (inbred) birth.

    driver not celebrities? (none / 0) (#185)
    by Delirium on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 09:53:49 AM EST

    What in the world do you call Michael Schumaker, if not a celebrity?

    There has been at least one woman in F1 (none / 0) (#187)
    by LodeRunner on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 06:46:28 PM EST

    She wasn't in one of the leading teams, though, so never made it big. She was italian, and if my memory serves me well, was called Giovanna, can't recall the last name (over ten years ago?).

    Oh, silly me... why not just google for it? There you go! Giovanna Amati! 1992!

    Now I'm surprised with my own memory...

    ---
    "dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner

    Erk! You are correct, and there were more. (none / 0) (#188)
    by jd on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:41:41 AM EST

    After doing some more research, I came up with the following information:

    Maria Theresa de Fillipis (1958-1959), Lella Lombardi (1975, finished 6th in one race), Olympic skier Divina Galica (1976-1978) and Desire Wilson (1978, one race at Brands Hatch) all raced in Formula 1.

    Of these, Lella was the most successful, being the only woman with a top 6 place, but she lost her sponsorship the following year. Desire Wilson seems to have been the outright worst, with just one race.

    Giovanna Amati is accused on many of the F1 sites as buying her way into F1, as Brabham were pretty much flat-broke at the time. There is much less written about the others, so it isn't that clear what the consensus is there. Divina Galica seems to have been highly multi-talented, though, since she's listed as an Olympic skier and you don't get into the Olympics if you're second-best.

    Maybe I'll need to do more research, when I post a story as popular as this. :)

    [ Parent ]

    The Longest Formula 1 Season In History | 189 comments (175 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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