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May 24, 2009

Monaco Grand Prix Tech Thoughts

Gearboxes and tire degradation were two technical items of interest in the race (which itself was pretty good).

SpeedTV's RPM segment (Racing Per Matchett) with Steve Matchett looked at a 7 speed Red Bull gearbox. The first gear cogs were much thicker than the subsequent 6 gears, the reason being that much more torque is transmitted in the lower ratios, so
the gears must be stronger.

Conversely, reverse gear was much less stout. Even the gear teeth were hollowed out to reduce weight and rotating inertia. And while the ratio for reverse gear is likely even lower than first gear (and therefore transmits even more torque) it
doesn't need to be as stout because no driver is going to do a full power launch in reverse. There's also likely to be electronic controls to prevent such action. So the gear can be made lighter.

The other item is the issue of the requirement to run both tire compounds at some point during the race. This rule should be eliminated. Depending on the track conditions and the available compounds, the rule has often resulted in artificially mixing up the lap times.

For instance, in today's race we saw the Brawns start on the softer compound and the Ferraris on the harder compound. Not a dozen laps into the race the Brawn cars already had tire degradation issues and were losing large amounts of time (over a second/lap) to the cars behind on the harder tires, until they made their first pit stops and changed to the harder compound. Yet the teams that chose to start on the harder tires had to use the softer tires in the closing stages, thus losing time at that part of the race.

Teams and drivers should be allowed to run whichever available compound they want in order to make the best possible racing. The FIA should not try to artificially make the racing more exciting with this rule.

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