Auto Manifesto

March 30, 2009

F1 Season Opener

Sunday's F1 season opener in Melbourne, Australia was surprising and exciting. It seems the new regulations are having the intended effect of enabling the cars to run closer together. A narrow rear wing and a wide front wing seem to be a good combination to minimize air flow disruption between cars running one behind the other.

However, as witnessed by numerous on-track incidents it seems that because the drivers cannot see their front wings and as wide as those wings are, there may be a need to reduce the wing width and raise it slightly. Both of those moves would decrease front grip but that may actually enhance car balance as it appears there is a shortage of rear grip now.

On another note, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) will get better with development. Right now the weight vs. power trade off seems to favor not running KERS, as witnessed by the frontrunners until Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel took each other out. Eventually though the teams that develop KERS faster will have an advantage as it is required for next season.

There was also much talk about the diffuser controversy. Put it this way, there will be design convergence. My guess is the teams will all move toward the new diffuser-style (pending the FIA court of appeals decision) as well as toward KERS.

Other than the cars themselves the pitstops appear to be slower this year for some reason. Finally, due to the dominant performance of the Mercedes-powered Brawn (formerly Honda) cars, I'm wondering if someone in Japan is about to lose his job for giving up and selling the team at the proverbial bottom of the market.

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