Just Car Blog
|Formula 1 Brakes, Explained||
The average driver doesn’t think much about the brakes on his car; in fact, most are likely to ignore the braking system until they hear the metallic squeal of wear indicators dragging on brake rotors. Modern braking systems on passenger cars are very good at what they do, within reasonable limits (such as slowing a car from 70 miles per hour, or working effectively with cold rotors and brake pads). Braking systems for race cars, on the other hand, must have much higher limits.
Nowhere is that more true than with Formula 1 racing. The ideal brake rotor would be light (since unsprung weight is the enemy of handling) and able to withstand the temperatures generated by slowing a car from 200 miles per hour to take a first-gear corner. Carbon fiber is used for F1 brake rotors, because it blends light weight with extreme temperature resistance.
So why don’t production cars use carbon-ceramic brake rotors? First, they’re absurdly expensive, with replacement rotors and brake pads costing as much as $5,000 per corner, versus less than $100 per corner for conventional brake pads and cast-iron rotors. Next, they don’t last as long as cast iron rotors, so carbon ceramic braking systems require more frequent maintenance. Finally, for optimum performance, carbon ceramic systems require heat, more than you’d get from driving at highway speeds.
There are production cars, like the Corvette ZR-1 and the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, that can be equipped with carbon ceramic brakes from the factory. When buying a new car of this caliber, it’s good to make certain you can afford the care and feeding, not just the car payment.
|Sebastian Vettel Repeats As F1 World Champion||
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Red Bull Renault star Sebastian Vettel tied up his second world championship in two years with a third place finish in yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix. While the title race had been all but locked up for the past several events, it was still mathematically possible for McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button to grab the title at the start of yesterday’s race. To do so, however, Button would have needed a victory in every remaining race, with Vettel finishing in tenth spot or lower.
Mathematically possible and likely are two different things; Button did indeed take the victory in Japan, but Vettel’s third place finish assured his spot in history as the youngest driver to ever win two F1 championships. Watching the German drive this season, there’s no doubt that he earned the victory with talent that appears to be head and shoulders above the rest of the F1 grid. While the Red Bull Renault chassis is competitive, it’s far from flawless, and the mark of a truly great driver is his ability to overcome the shortcomings of any car he’s piloting. By that standard, Vettel is a truly great driver.
If you own Gran Turismo 5 for the PlayStation 3, Vettel’s win is a victory for you, too. In honor of his second championship, Polyphony Digital is giving away the Red Bull X2010 hypercar, for a very limited period of time. When you log in to the PlayStation network, head on over to the Community section to claim your free car, which you can then use in a special time trial event at the Suzuka circuit. A gold finish is worth 5,000,000 credits, so it’s certainly worth a little time and effort.
|Formula 1 Goes Green: Cars To Use Battery Power On Pit Lane||
The green movement may be in its infancy in the United States, land of the SUV and the open road, but it’s been a hot topic in Europe for years. Everything from political campaigns through Autobahn speed limits have been influenced by the Greens, and even the highest form of motor racing isn’t immune from their reach. In 2014, F1 will switch from the current 2.4-liter V-8 formula, with a redline of 18,000 RPM, to a 1.6-liter turbo V-6, limited to 15,000 RPM. Since forced induction is allowed, performance will likely remain on par with today’s cars. Other changes, though, take a turn for the weird.
Beginning in 2014, cars can only use battery power on pit row. Per the 2014 FIA rulebook, “The car must be run in electric mode (no ignition and no fuel supply to the engine) at all times when being driven in the pit lane.” The change will require cars to have on-board starters, and larger Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems will be needed to provide pit lane power. Other changes will allow teams to recover energy from exhaust gasses, although the methodology isn’t exactly clear.
Call me a cynic, but I see this as nothing more than “look at me” marketing hype for Formula 1. How much fuel will really be saved by requiring battery power on pit lane (which already has a reduced speed limit for safety)? How much greenhouse gas will the FIA keep out of the atmosphere by such an absurd rule?
In the end, this change will have very little impact on the environment, but it will have a big impact on the fans and the sport. No one wants to hear a multi-million dollar golf cart exit the pits, especially when there isn’t any tangible environmental gains to be had.
|Breaking News: Ecclestone Tells Local News Team Formula 1 Street Race Will Be Held In Cape Town In Two Years||
Eyewitness News has revealed that F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone has told them that Cape Town will host a Formula One street race in the next two years.
In February this year, the Cape Times reported that a local consortium had been invited to picth a racetrack to the FIA that was centred around the Waterfront, Greenpoint and even running through the Greenpoint stadium.
The proposal is apparently weeks away from being signed: ”I’m hoping we can make a decision as soon as our lawyers have a good look at them… within the next couple of weeks,” Ecclestone has been reported as saying.
EWN Reporter Jean Smyth, talking on 567 CapeTalk this afternoon, said he took a few weeks to get some time with Ecclestone. He added that Ecclestone was quite cagey with details, but was confident that the race will happen.
In the interview (recording posted below) a softly spoken Ecclestone said that as soon as there is a contract in place, things will happen within two years, in Cape Town.
Ecclestone would not be drawn on any further details about the track, or placement of the track. He said if the race could be organised in Johannesburg that would be good.
Reporter Smyth asks towards the end of the interview: “According to you, Cape Town has a real chance of holding an F1 Grand Prix in two years?” to which Ecclestone replies: “Yes”.
There is a tonne of paperwork, licensing and money that goes into staging an F1 Grand Prix, so there is much to iron out before this happens. But that sort of answer from that sort of person is good enough for me to get excited.
Listen to the interview here: Bernie Ecclestone on Cape Town Grand Prix
|Niki Lauda Biography To Be Directed By Ron Howard||
If you’ve never heard of Niki Lauda, you may want to brush up on your Formula 1 history before the release of “Rush,” an upcoming biopic to be directed by Ron Howard. Lauda was a Formula 1 star in the mid-70s, and his crusade for improved driver safety helped change a sport where fatalities were a regular occurrence. Perhaps only Jackie Stewart (another 1970’s F1 star) has done more to make the sport safer.
Leading the championship points battle in the 1976 season, Lauda attempted to lead a driver boycott of the German Grand Prix, then held at the Nürburgring circuit, on the grounds that the track was too dangerous for F1 racing. Unable to get sufficient driver support, Lauda entered the race but crashed on the second lap, a victim of suspension failure. His car was struck by another and burst into flames; Lauda was ultimately rescued, but not before receiving second and third degree burns over much of his head and face. His lungs were damaged by heat and toxic smoke, which also produced blood poisoning; despite his injuries, Lauda recovered and was back in the car just six weeks and two races later.
Perhaps his bravest moment came in the last race of the 1976 F1 season. Leading in points over rival James Hunt. Lauda defied team orders and parked his Ferrari in the pits when torrential rain made the track too dangerous to drive. Hunt stayed out, finished third and took the championship by a single point over Lauda. Lauda’s once strong relationship with Ferrari was irreparably damaged, and he quit the Ferrari team after winning the world championship in 1977.
Lauda’s career came at the height of F1’s glory days, when the sport truly was about wretched excess and life-or-death drama. Not to take away from current drivers like Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton, but it’s worth noting that they stand on the shoulders of giants like Lauda, Hunt and Stewart. With Ron Howard behind the project, “Rush” will be a must-see movie for racing fans when it hits theaters.
|Is NASCAR’s Tony Stewart Headed To F1?||
If you had to pick the two most diametrically opposed professional racing series in the world, chances are you’d go with NASCAR and F1. One series is the favorite of the blue collar, good ‘ol boy crowd, while the other is the darling of the uber-rich and beautiful. There’s no chance of finding caviar and foie gras in a NASCAR skybox, just as there’s no chance of finding pork rinds and corn dogs in Monaco. Even the style of racing is completely different, since NASCAR stockers are primitive, heavy beasts that require techniques like bump drafting to advance through the pack. Try bump drafting an F1 car, and your day will end in an expensive shower of carbon fiber.
That’s not enough to dissuade NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, who’s trading his Chevrolet Impala Sprint Cup car for a McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 (last year’s car). Likewise, McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will be jumping into Stewart’s Impala for a few hot laps at Watkins Glen, as part of an exhibition sponsored by Mobil 1. The event will take place on June 14, but it’s not yet clear if it will be televised (although I’m sure we’ll see an edited version on YouTube). I’d call this advantage: Stewart, since the two-time Sprint Cup champion has some prior experience racing open wheel cars in the Indy Racing League. That’s not nearly the same as Formula 1, but at least Stewart has track time in a car with no fenders. I’m guessing that it’s been a long time since Hamilton has driven anything with a carburetor.
Both sports will return to normal post-exhibition, so don’t look for Stewart at Monaco (or Hamilton at Talladega) any time soon. Expect a good show, and we promise to post the highlights as soon as they’re up.
|Video Round-Up: Insane Accidents From World Motorsport This Week||
There have been some stunning incidents this week, ranging from the hilarious video of a Formula 1 marshall rolling under Luizzi’s car in Malaysia, to this horrifying footage of a race car completely clearing the concrete barrier at Brands Hatch, UK. We’ve got a second video of that horror smash, in which both drivers walked away, as well as a few you might have missed, including Jason Plato’s high speed bender in the British Touring Car Championships.
Let’s start with that second angle from Brands Hatch. The accident occurred at an amateur one-make Toyota MR2 race at the infamous Brands Hatch circuit in the UK. The event was not televised so this spectator captured the only footage of the incident. Cars 1 and 55 come together, and the black MR2 gets squeezed over the barrier and into the parking lot, while the red MR2 does a spectacular series of end-to-end rotations against the catch fence. There’s an awesome stop-frame in this footage as well.
The next video features Jason Plato, a presenter on Discovery Channel’s Fifth Gear and BTCC Champion. The track is ex-F1 circuit Donington Park, also in the UK. Plato gets a nudge from behind just after the race starts and goes off during a flat-out corner. The commentator says that cars never go off their, so its a long slippery ride to the barriers. Incredibly the team rebuild the car in just a few hours, and had it on the grid for the next race, which brought Plato to tears. He said “Forget F1, this is the best team in the world.” The big girl. Plato eventually placed 6th and earned some valuable points.
In Nascar this week we saw Restrictor Plate racing at Talladega, one of the highlights of the calendar. If you’ve ever watched Nascar you might know that it involves going left and crashing. And weird sponsorship. That aside, Talladega is a rare 2.5 mile super-speedway, which means the drivers can literally drive flat-out for all 188 laps. To slow them down, a plate is welded below the accelerator (can you imagine that in F1) which holds them at about 180mph. To gain a speed advantage, rival drivers “bumpdraft” – they literally touch bumpers to cancel air resistance for the trailing car. This is incredible motor racing, but also incredibly dangerous, can you imagine somebody nudges you a little too hard at 300kmh? Well it happens, and this is the result:
And finally, during Friday free practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix, an in-car camera caught a hilarious moment when track marshals were pushing Antonio Luizzi’s broken-down car off of the track. Luizzi was out of the car when the incident happened. We’re only laughing because the marshal involved got up straight away. Sorry about the lame dubbed music, I searched Youtube long and hard for original audio but no luck.
|Jenson Button Is A Car Slut||
Let’s face it: some of us have no problem committing to a particular partner, but when it comes to cars, we can’t keep our hands off of new sheetmetal. Back when the economy was healthy and I worked in corporate America, I was a car slut, too. Nothing, it seemed, held my interest for long; I sold my Acura RSX Type S less than a year after I bought it, and even a 3 Series BMW only spent 2 years in my garage. In between, there was a string of VWs and Mazdas, to name but a few, and I don’t even want to think about the motorcycles. As a recovering car slut, it’s easy for me to recognize the signs in someone else, and I’m here to tell you that former F1 World Champ Jenson Button is a car slut, too.
As I type this, his 2010 Nissan GT-R is up for sale, just over one year after he bought it. I had no problem racking up miles in all my automotive one night stands, but Button’s only got 1,600 miles on the odometer of his GT-R, and that has to qualify as a crime against humanity. If you’ve got a spare £49,995 (U.S. $79,900), the matte-black-vinyl wrapped beast can be yours, because Button just doesn’t have the spare time to enjoy the car’s performance. Speaking just for myself, I’d find the time.
In recent years, Button has burned through a Bugatti Veyron (sold last year), a Ferrari Enzo and 550 Maranello, a Porsche Carrera GT and a Ford GT. There’s been a Mercedes CLK DTM AMG in there as well, but that may be a gift (or low cost lease) from team sponsor Mercedes-Benz. It’s never pretty to see a string of leftover sports cars tossed by the roadside, but when that list includes both a Ford GT and a Bugatti Veyron, that’s a serious cry for help.
Jenson, I’m here for you, brother. I’ve beaten the addiction, and I’m willing to help you beat it, too. It will require some lifestyle changes on your part, and I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but it really is for the best. Step one is to ship me all the remaining cars and bikes in your garage; I’ll look after them until you’re well enough to have them back. There’s no need to thank me, I’m just here to help you.
Source: Small World News Service