Daniel Ricciardio, HRT, Korea, 2011

Symonds: Exhaust-blown diffuser ban will help small teams

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Marussia’s Pat Synonds expects the F1 field to close up in 2012.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

New diffuser rules ‘help small teams’ (Autosport)

“For small teams like [Marussia] that is not a bad thing. It was difficult to understand and make work, and the new regulations make things a little bit easier.

Horner expects Webber revival (ESPN)

“Mark had a difficult start to the year but he adapted and he worked hard at it and he worked hard to understand the tyres in particular.”

Watson wants Kimi commitment (Sky)

“Tyres, aerodynamics and technology have moved on since Kimi [Raikkonen] was last in the sport in 2009, so it will be difficult. But Kimi is the kind of guy who is ostensibly laid-back, so will take it in his stride.”

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Comment of the day


The first-ever Caption Competition was certainly popular – we had over 100 suggestions by the end of the day.

Among my favourites were those from Thatscienceguy, PJ, Steven K, DavidS and Ben Spearpoint.

But my favourite of all was this beautifully simple effort from Calum which you can see on the image. Congratulations to our first Caption Competition winner – look out for a new one coming soon.

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  • 51 comments on “Symonds: Exhaust-blown diffuser ban will help small teams”

    1. Wouldn’t have been my choice of the best captions but I do love the simplicity!

      1. I thought it was the best.

        Most people seemed to forget that this was 2004, why would he be thinking about something related to Hamilton, Mclaren or Vettel back then?

        1. I think PM’s lower comment was meant to be a reply to this, and it sums up my views.

    2. The question of how much help it’ll be to the small teams, shall be answered only once the season starts.

      1. Not really, its a fact that it will help the slower teams, whether they take advantage of this or not is another matter

        1. A good punchline can transcend time and space.

        2. Very much true @the-last-pope! Let’s hope at least some of the team towards the back end of the grid do manage to grab that opportunity.

    3. I know I posted this comment on a previous thread but thought it relevant to the ban on blown diffuser issues helping the smaller teams.

      It is a real shame that ground effects were rejected. I can see the argument that it may be too much to introduce it at the same time as the new engine regs, but I feel it should have been deferred rather than shunned altogether. It would basically reduce the how problematic “dirty air” is on overtaking and allow the drivers to show their skill. Surely if a smaller team were able to find performance with ground effects, it would be good for the sport as it would provide the opportunity to find performance without said performance being solely reliant on large amounts of money. If the big teams were off the pace to begin with, they’ll have the resources to get onto the pace and so there could be more cars that are more evenly matched in the end, the recipe for great racing. On the other side of the coin, i have started to take a great interest in the technical side of the sport (thanks scarbsf1) and if the underside of the car played the largest part in performance then I have some worry that I will miss out on being able to see visually what’s making the cars so fast.

      I have to say that I think the advantage of ground effects far overrides the visual aspects. We’d just have to wait until a car crashed out and was craned off the track (a la mark webber last season) for us to see the magic that the underside of the car provides.

      If the ban on blown diffusers has the chance of levelling the playing field a little then we may have more races like china last year which was so exciting as we weren’t sure who was going to win. Perhaps a greater opportunity to see which drivers are performing the best without arguing whether glory is due to car or driver

      It’s always going to be difficult to balance though, as at the end of the day it’s a team sport and it’s important to still allow the engineers to flourish.

      1. can see the argument that it may be too much to introduce it at the same time as the new engine regs, but I feel it should have been deferred rather than shunned altogether.

        It has not been rejected outright. It has been rejected for now. Ground effects may return at some point in the future, but for now, the teams just don’t think they are feasible.

        It’s also very easy for us to judge what is best from the sport while we sit from our lounge chairs, desk chairs, inflatable pool chairs or whatever else we happen to be sitting in right now – but the fact is, we don’t really know what works. If we could somehow combine the energies of the 30,000-odd registered blog members, I still doubt that we could come up with a competitive car.

        1. Well, I’m currently on the floor. Mild offense aside however, ground effect would be a huge paradigm shift for the sport, I think in reality the feasibility of making the change whilst keeping the sport competitive at the front, or at least relatively so is rather slim. I think this is an issue that would prove to be a sticking point later.

          1. I’m currently on the floor

            Is that because you’re trying out ground effect?

      2. ‘Ground effects’ is very different than just a blown diffuser. Actually, a blown diffuser makes overtaking even harder since it dirties the air coming out of the car.

        The ‘ground effect’ that your prob referring to, (1980’s F1 and GP2) mainly takes ‘effect’ in the midsection of the car. By creating a vacuum or lower pressure the car is sucked onto the track – the trick being to maintain that lower pressure people started using skirts.

        Please dont ever forget Senna isnt here with us today partly because of ground effects.

        1. Please dont ever forget Senna isnt here with us today partly because of ground effects.

          Senna died because he crashed. A piece of the suspension linkage pentrated his helmet. To suggest that he could have somehow be saved be saved by the reintroduction of ground effects is insulting, because of all the drivers on the grid in 1994, Senna was the most naturally-talented, and therefore the most-qualified to drive a car without ground effects. No cause of the crash has ever been identified, so it’s impossible to suggest that ground effects and ground effects alone would have saved him.

          1. Senna died because he went to the well too often believeing that he was superior to everybody and he lived way to close to the edge. Yes prisoner monkey the parts of the car killed him but that was only due to his self centered passion.

          2. I thought the cars had ground effects in ’94? I might be wrong but I think one of the theories floating around was that he lost his ground effects after hitting the bump at tamburello which sent him off the circuit.

          3. I guess you didnt understand exactly what I was saying.

            Senna’s accident was partly caused by his car bottoming out. i.e. BECAUSE of ground effects on the ’94 car the ride hide was kept unsafely low. If there was NO groundeffects, then his accident would not have happened.

        2. ‘Ground effects’ is very different than just a blown diffuser. Actually, a blown diffuser makes overtaking even harder since it dirties the air coming out of the car.

          Exactly. I am saying, that while we want engineers and “team sport” to flourish, narrowing the gap in performance between the big and small teams would result in closer battles on track, and ultimately better racing. Because it was hard to understand and develop a blown diffuser, the ban on blown diffusers has the potential to allow cars to follow each other more closely, and also prevent the HRTs, Virgins and Caterams from being as far off the pace of other teams. I hope that an introduction of ground effects would allow cars to follow each other more closely too. The amount of money that has to be put in to gain the performance will always be an unknown factor until it actually arrives though. 

        3. The flip side is with the removal of first the blown double diffuser and then the blown diffuser concept altogether, even more emphasis is place on the efficiency of the front wing, which is the first thing that hits that dirty air. They banned the wrong end of the car, basically. Simple wings and do whatever you like diffusers would promote overtaking a lot better (not as much as ground effects though). Instead we have these ugly front wings and are back to Square 1 on the overtaking front (DRS, KERS and Pirelli aside).

    4. The caption competition was good fun, it’s an honour to win F1 Fanatic’s first one! :D

      1. Congrats! great caption!

      2. It was a great caption :D

      3. It was my favourite too

      4. Love your caption @calum, simple but to the point. Congratulations on winning the first competiton with it.

    5. I just found this article on some of the quieter candidates for a 2012 race seat. I find this part particularly relevant:

      d’Ambrosio’s manager, Benjamin Mignot, confirmed that a decision will be taken sooner rather than later, to ensure that his client is in a position to make the most of pre-season testing when it begins.

      “A decision should be made within ten days in time for the start of winter testing at Jerez on 7 February,” he noted, “We are not spoken about much in the foreign press and that’s fine, but I can assure you that we are still in the frame and that doors are still open.

      “The situation is unchanged since Christmas. We have a reasonable budget for a F1 seat. I’m not talking about the amounts, but we consider Adrian Sutil the only real competitor.”

      Of course, this is just his opinion, but I’ve been scouring the internet, looking for anything connectiong Adrian Sutil to the second HRT seat – and I’ve got nothing. What’s more, HRT’s Jack Eeckalaert says te following in the very same article:

      “We are looking more for a young driver with a lot of potential”

      Sutil has been in Formula 1 for five years, so he doesn’t really fit that description, and both Giedo van der Garde and Narain Karthikeyan are tipped as the front-runners for car #23. Finding anything linking Sutil to a third-driver role at any team is a lot harder, and while there is stuff out there, I can’t find anything substantial to it. The occasional rumour comes up, but dies very quickly – usually within a day.

      So I’m going to go out on a limb here (very tenuously, mind you) and suggest that Jerome d’Ambrosio could drive car #19 this year. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Virgin, he did quite well up against the highly-rated Timo Glock – he out-qualified Glock five times and out-raced him on occasion. And when Glock beat him in qualifyng and the race, d’Ambrosio was often very close behind (considerably closer than Lucas di Grassi had been). In fact, d’Ambrosio was classified ahead of Glock in the WDC, for picking up 14th place in Australia and Canada; Glock was never higher than 15th in the races. It’s very difficult to judge him because the car was so poor, but I think d’Ambrosio did enough to make a strong enough case for a second season. His problem is sponsorship; other drivers have considerably more. But if Williams is indeed working on a title sponsorship deal with Qtel, as is rumoured, that might free them up to get d’Ambrosio.

      1. I would be surprised if D’Ambrosio doesn’t end up as the 3rd driver for Lotus, considering his management links to the team.

        It’s not a bad option as who knows what could happen with Kimi and Romain.

        1. Well, I expect he’ll wind up in a test driver role, but I find Mignot’s comments fascinating because the second Williams seat is the only one Sutil has been conclusively connected to.

          1. Yes, I agree, it does make interesting reading. It’s not surprising that a manager claims his driver’s in with a shot of a drive, but to see him specifically mention Sutil is intriguing.

            I guess it could be HRT, it depends if Sutil feels that a full time drive there is better than a 3rd driver role at a bigger team.

            1. It could by HRT, but Jacky Eeckalaert’s comments suggest they’re looking for a young driver, and I cannot find anything that conclusively links Sutil to that seat.

      2. Very interesting. D’Ambrosio did indeed do a good job in his rookie season and it’s a shame he was replaced. It’d be nice to see him back, as he’s also a very likeable character. I don’t think any of us really considered him a favourite for any seat, so everyone might be surprised.

        What I find very unusual is Autosport saying Kevin Ceccon is among the contenders for the HRT seat. He’s definitely a talented driver, but he’s only 18 years of age and very unexperienced. Very strange.

        1. What I find very unusual is Autosport saying Kevin Ceccon is among the contenders for the HRT seat.

          Tonio Liuzzi is probably not going to race at HRT this year. And popular rumour places Vitaly Petrov in the seat currently held by Jarno Trulli. That means that there will be no Italian drivers on the grid, probably for the first time since the mid-1970s. Maybe for the first time in the history of the sport. I imagine that this would equal a national scandal in Italy, and that Italian businesses would move heaven and earth to make sure there was an Italian driver in Formula 1.

          1. Also, it’s worth noting that, until a week ago, Kevin Ceccon was contracted to drive for Coloni in GP2. An issue of The GP2 Insider quoted im directly as saying he would race for the team. But then, a week ago, Coloni signed Stefano Coletti and Fanio Onidi. No mention was made of Ceccon. Keith even commented on it:

            Coloni to run Stefano Coletti and Fabio Onidi (and not Kevin Ceccon, I guess)

            So either the Ceccon deal was misreported, or his contract was somehow terminated – possibly because HRT are looking to take him. I can’t imagine it would be terminated without a solid deal in place for 2012, but I think it’s more likely that wires got crossed and Ceccon was misreported as racing for Coloni.

            1. Very interesting, I guess there must be a chance for it, he also impressed in the young drivers’ test. Maybe even Ferrari might want to help him into F1.

              He’s almost a year younger than Alguersuari was when he debuted, so Kevin would be the youngest ever F1 driver, by a big margin – he’s only 18 years and around 6 months old. It’d be interesting to see someone very talented try F1 with so little experience.

            2. Well, I’m not prepared to read too much into it. I cannot find the issue of The GP2 Insider that first reported Ceccon going to Coloni, so I have no idea if he was ever actually signed on to them in the first place.

          2. @prisoner-monkeys but doesn’t trulli have a contract for next year with caterham? i thought they were keeping the same lineup.

            1. Gascoyne said that a few days ago:

              What I can say on Jarno is that he does have a contract with the team that is concrete for next year and he will be part of the team next year

              Apparently they’re not confirming whether he’ll be racing or not, and he could be replaced by Vitaly Petrov.

            2. I agree with @enigma – they’ve never actually said Trulli would be racing in 2012. Even when he first signed the deal. Popular rumour has it that Trulli was asking for too much for a one-year deal at the start of 2011, but the team felt that it was a resonable amount for two years: 2011 and an option on 2012. They chose to pick up that option, but apparently that seat could be yours by paying the outstanding balance on Trulli’s salary.

              And while Trulli might have a contract with Caterham for 2012, Vitaly Petrov had a contract wth Renault for 2012 …

      3. Very interesting stuff. I would like to see Jerome stay in F1, certainly more than Sutil, so fingers crossed.

        1. Agreed. Very likable guy and I think he did a great job in his first season in Formula 1. Everyone seems to be talking about Perez and Di Resta, but their cars had a whole lot more to offer to impress the audience. Meanwhile, D’Ambrosio’s car was even worse than Maldonado’s but I think the former made a better impression on most people than the latter did, which counts for something too.

      4. You always bring us such curious content @prisoner-monkeys! I had no idea D’Ambrosio was being considered for a seat at Williams. It may all be speculation, but I like the uncertainity!

        1. @Fixy – this is hardly confirmation that d’Ambrosio is being considered at Williams. He is working on a seat, and that seat is implied to be Williams because he and his manager consider Adrian Sutil to be their biggest contender. Since the Williams seat is the only one Sutil has been linked to, then that suggests d’Ambrosio is bidding for that Williams seat. But at the same time, Sutil (and by virtue of Mignot’s comments, d’Ambrosio) could be looking at a thrid driver role somewhere and I have missed it. It’s a lot more difficult to keep track of the third-driver market than it is the regular silly season.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys @fixy If Sutil and D’Ambrosio are in contention for a third driver role, where would that be? Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Williams, Ferrari, Force India and Marussia are all very unlikely, and I doubt they’d want HRT’s third seat. Which leaves McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus, Caterham.

            I don’t think McLaren would want D’Ambrosio. He could be at Lotus, but I doubt they like Sutil too much – and he probably wouldn’t want to be a reserve at Caterham. That leaves Mercedes, but that seems unlikely for some reason.

            So, my conclusion is that I have absolutely no idea what might be happening.

            1. I concur. I thiink that of all the teams, Mercedes and Lotus are probably the most likely to take Sutil and/or d’Ambrosio as a third driver.

          2. Sure @prisoner-monkeys, but I didn’t think D’Ambrosio was even thinking of a seat for next year, as there are better candidates still waiting.

    6. Thanks for the birthday mention, Keith!

      1. Happy Birthday @ed24f1, make it a grand party!

      2. I hope you enjoyed it @ed24f1!

      3. Hope you had a good one, @ed24f1

      4. Thanks guys! It was a good day!

    7. I hope Webber manages to get the tyres working for himself this year. Actually, perhaps I should rephrase that; I hope he gets them working when it matters.

      Clearly the guy still ‘has it’. The record for the greatest number of fastest laps shouldn’t go unnoticed. If he can just get his qualifying and starts up to scratch I think he could be back to 2010 form, if not better, from the off.

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