Whitmarsh disappointed by F-duct ban

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Martin Whitmarsh said he was “sad” the teams had decided to ban the F-duct for the 2011 season, a technology his team had pioneered.

Speaking in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in he said:

Inevitably the teams have got to consider range of technologies. The way in which FOTA works is we all have to make compromises.

Historically Formula 1 has had veto rights allowing a team to block virtually any change. That was attractive when you were defending your technology but you’ve got to be practical about it. It made it quite difficult for the sport to evolve in an age of the various challenges we have.

If you then accept a 70% voting majority on issues then you have to be bound by those decisions. From time to time there will be decisions you are less happy with. Overall I think this procedure is the right one.

Turning to the F-flap we’re very proud of the bright guys who thought of it. There’s lots of reasons why it’s good for the sport, it doesn’t have a high entry cost, it just needs a bit of ingenuity.

So personally I’m a little bit sad about that but we’ll continue to develop in that area for the rest of the season. I think some of the other teams are working quite hard in that area.
Martin Whitmarsh

Whitmarsh also revealed he supported splitting the qualifying session at Monaco – something three-quarters of F1 Fanatic readers said they opposed:

I think Q1 in Monaco will be very, very difficult and I think it’s difficult for all of the cars. We have to accept at the moment there are six cars out there and it’s very difficult to avoid them.

They’re in the order of six to seven seconds slower and even in terms of trying to open a gap with cars behind you, you can’t back off. It’s a circuit at which you’re very likely to catch cars and a circuit at which it’s very difficult for those cars to get out of the way, even if they want to.

So for the slower cars they’ll do a lap, presumably staring in their mirrors which I’m sure is distracting for them, even if they see something in their mirrors trying to respond to that will be very difficult, even if they’re on a slow lap.

By choice I would advocate that we had divided it up somehow either by splitting the field in half so you reduce he number of cars that have to fight for space on a very tight track.

Or you could have a session where, perhaps unkindly, the six slower cars were going to fight it out among themselves. They could have had the first five minutes, albeit then they would have missed the track evolution. But it would have been the same for all of them and they could have decided on their order of merit before the other guys went on the track.

It’s always been difficult but with more cars and a greater performance differential I think there will be controversy. There are those, and I’m not one of them, who feel that controversy and stewards’ hearings after the event are entertaining. I don’t share that view but that’s what some people think.
Martin Whitmarsh

Read more: Should Monaco qualifying be split? (Poll)

Whitmarsh is optimistic McLaren will continue their strong form at Monaco regardless of what the weather does this weekend:

I think if you ask drivers they’ll rather have a dry Monaco – it’s a pretty tight and scary place even without rain. But I think our drivers are pretty good in the rain.

Monaco is a unique circuit. We’ve got two drivers who are good there. McLaren has won Monaco 15 times, many more than any other team, and we’ll try to make it 16, whether it’s wet or dry or any combination.

The first corner at the bottom of the hill on the first lap is always a heart-stopping moment for all of us. The cars change in terms of balance and performance from qualifying to the race.

They will have 160 kilos [of fuel], cold-ish brakes and tyres heading into the first corner and that’s going to be very challenging. The really, really good drivers will manage it, some others will find it beyond their capability.
Martin Whitmarsh

He paid tribute to both his drivers, saying they each deserved to have scored more points in the season so far:

I think Lewis and Jenson have both driven brilliantly this year. They’ve had a bit of misfortune and both could have got better results than they have had.

Jenson has made some very good calls and has two wins to his name and leads the championship at the moment.

Lewis has driven just outstandingly. He had 32 competitive overtakes in the first four races which is unprecedented. Some of that is down to his brilliance and some of that is because of circumstances where he had to come through the field.

Clearly he had a fantastically deserved second place not quite achieved at the weekend. Had he had that I’m sure he would be slightly more content.
Martin Whitmarsh

Hamilton wasn’t the only driver to suffer technical problems in Spain as Whitmarsh explained:

In Jenson’s case there was failure in the steering wheel which took out his dash. The functionality of the knobs, switches and levers on the wheel was fine. That happened quite early and a check from the system showed that apart from the display everything was working.

But it robbed the driver of the means of being told when to shift, the display of gears and other information.

When you’re behind another car your shift points change when you’re in the tow, you don’t have the lights telling you when you’ve got to adjust.

In terms of the pit stop this is what caused Jenson to come out behind Schumacher, otherwise he would have been in front.

He had no display to help him through pit stop sequence including revs. The car was then sat at slightly too high revs causing a little bit of clutch drag and spinning of the rear wheels. So in fact the crew did very well to cope with that and to make the wheel change.

The stop was delayed but through no fault of driver or pit crew. In light of that Jenson would have been in front of Michael were in not for the pit stop.
Martin Whitmarsh

With five races gone McLaren are leading both championship but Whitmarsh said the team are wary of the threat posed by other teams:

We go into the sixth race of the season with Jenson leading the championship and we’re leading the constructors’. But Red Bull have looked very strong in qualifying and Ferrari and Mercedes are quick as well.

It’s exactly as Formula 1 should be. It’s very, very difficult to win races and it’s a big challenge to win the world championship. That’s what we’re trying to do and both of our drivers have driven brilliantly and both of them deserve to have amassed slightly more points than they have so far.
Martin Whitmarsh

Read more: Whitmarsh: Rim failure put Hamilton out

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Whitmarsh disappointed by F-duct ban”

  1. Sad to see the F-duct go too – but apparently it makes slipstreaming harder, and only for that reason would I be consoled at its departure.

    1. Thats a good point. Kind of like Kers in that it only improves overtaking when half the teams have got it.

    2. from what I’ve heard I suspect the teams consider it something of a dead-end – not a piece of technology that’s like to lead to further innovation, really just a workaround of the rules. I’m not hugely disappointed to see it go.

      But the precedent is interesting, especially when you consider the double diffuser wasn’t banned for this year but 2011.

      1. If I thought everything was innocent, Which I won’t comment on, I would say the double diffuser is lasting another year due to the importance of that section and how much teams would have to developed to realistically remove it.

        But other than that I agree.

  2. Prisoner Monkeys
    11th May 2010, 13:38

    Of course Whitmarsh is disapointed by it – how much did McLaren invest in the system?

    1. possibly not a horrendous amount, it’s an idea that brings value in it’s simplicity getting rid of the F-Duct is just silly, it’s a fuel efficient cheap idea.

      More interesting though is when the teams are going to develop their own exhaust powered diffusers, the F-duct is a red herring, the Redbull Diffuser is what we should really be concentrating on.

      1. So following that reasoning, if only half the teams develop the exhaust diffusers, the other half will oppose it, and it will be banned later on too.

        1. Jarred Walmsley
          11th May 2010, 20:41

          No, it will require 70% of the teams not to run it and oppose it to get it banned, if it’s 50/50 then it will stay

  3. F1 needs to be relevant to car technology. I’m not sure how this would be relevant to a Renault Clio or Ford Fiesta

    1. Yes, Jonathan Legard pointed out the irony of a car requiring one hand off the wheel having a “Make Roads Safe” sticker on it!

      1. Especially when there are a number of people on the road who have to take one hand off the steering wheel to change gear!

    2. F1 should not have to be relevant to road cars, F1 is F1 if I waned to watch road cars I would watch british touring cars,

      1. Where do you think KERS technology on new cars derived from? Traction control? Improvements in aerodynamics? Increased fuel effiency?

        1. Formula 1 developed KERS used on road cars today? Oh please. Toyota began marketing the Prius in Japan in 1997. Honda introduced it’s Hybrid in 2002 as a 2003 model. Tell me again how Formula 1 developed today’s kinetic energy recovery systems, when Formula 1 introduced KERS for the 2009 season?

          The terms “Formula 1” and “fuel efficiency” don’t belong in the same sentence. Race fuel consumption rate is normally around 75 liters per 100 kilometers traveled (3.1 US mpg – 3.8 UK mpg – 1.3 km/l). Road cars have been far more fuel efficient for years.

          This flap from everyone this last year or so about how Formula 1 should be the world leader in green technologies and be road car relevant is simply ridiculous. This all harks back to the efforts of Mosley in his lat year as FiA President. Max must be laughing himself silly, looking at Formula 1 trying to pass itself off as road relevant. What a beautifully twisted sense of humour Mosley has.

          Formula 1 is supposed to be motorsport, that is to say racing. Competion. By definition this has little relevance or similarity to everyday driving.

          A Formula 1 racetrack should be about racing not about being a laboratory for road car developement. If maufacturers discovered that certain technologies naturally adapted to road cars, fine, they would make use of it. If manufacturers felt Formula 1 was the best place to develope road car technologies, I’m certain there would be more of them still participating in Formula 1.

          As I said recently in another thread, Formula 1 needs to remember that in the word motorsport, sport is equal to or greater than motor. FiA needs to take care of the racing, everything else will take care of itself.

          1. Well in your opinion they may not belong in the same sentence, but it is something which you’ll have to get used to. Even now the teams are thinking about fuel efficiency in races, to try and eek out as much performance they can from the 160 kilos the cars carry (less in Renault powered engines). Although even so, fuel efficiency has been a key subject in F1 for a long time. For much of 2008 and 2009 I can remember the conversations being about how much fuel there is on board, whether driver A could get one more lap in before pitting. The fuel in which the cars will be using will probably have a much higher bio-fuel presence, as well. In a standard litre of petrol in the UK, on average a litre of petrol will have approximately 5% ethenol content from biological fuels. This number is set to increase in the future.

            Come 2013 when the new Formula shall be in effect, the cars will most likely run off tanks with only 75 litres, albeit with a Turbo and/or KERS system of some sort.

            In a world where we’re expected to be using more environmentally friendly, using alternative fuels and alternative methods to propel our motors, F1 cannot afford to be exempt from it, and nor can the manufacturers which power the engies. It would be mindless for Fiat, Damalar, Mclaren and Renault to chuck millions into an F1 project if it is not relevant to the cars they are building. If this was the case, these suppliers probably wouldnt be racing today.

            One final point, James Allen, as well as other authors, pointed out that F1 cars are actually highly efficient. When you consider the speeds, rapid acceleration and tempertature the engines operate at. The engiese themselves are top of the field. It is the aerodynamics of a car which drags down the efficiency

        2. bernification
          11th May 2010, 23:40

          Anti lock brakes, active suspension

    3. It could be relevant to a high performance car with a spoiler. If the system was machanised, then when a car is travelling in a straight line the wing can be stalled, improving speed/efficiency a bit.

  4. damonsmedley
    11th May 2010, 14:06

    Good riddance I say. Especially after seeing that onboard of Alonso with both hands off the steering wheel…

    1. I suspect if one of the Ferrari drivers is doing that and they have a crash involving another car they could get in a bit of trouble.

    2. BOTH hands? Whoa, I never saw that. I only saw him using his left hand to operate it.

      Either way I dont think its that big a deal if a driver has to take one hand off the wheel to operate it. It used to be that drivers had to take a hand off the wheel to shift gears…

      1. In the final corner at Barcelona, I saw an onboard with Jenson where his left hand was off of the steering wheel, presumably using his elbow to block the vent. It’s not as noticable as the Ferrari system though, and when the wheel is straight it enables the driver to have both hands on the wheel as opposed to one in Ferrari’s case. I really don’t see it as an issue.

        1. they use their knee not their elbow in the mclaren car

          1. It was believed to be the knee, but in free practise on friday someone (can’t remember who) mentioned that it wasn’t the knee, and you could clearly see Jenson with his left arm jammed against the side of the cockpit while going round the final turn at Catalunya which leads me to belive that it is elbow operated.

      2. Even a lot of us mortals outside racing and the USA do that quite often :O

      3. It’s not as bad as there 1st attempt with Alonso trying to direct extra air onto the rear wing to stall it :)


      4. > BOTH hands? Whoa, I never saw that

        The onboard camera at Catalunya showed Alonso pressing the back of his left hand against the left hand side of the cockpit, then moving his right hand over to operate another control (brake bias?) by his left knee. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he probably only had his left thumb on the steering wheel. (Apparently his thumbs are insured for 9 million Euro!)

    3. when i saw that, i thought it was a early development version, not the finished thing ready for racing. I would hope they improve on the handling of it before something happens.
      But apparently the Ferrari KERS system was also a handfull to operate last year, so they might leave it as it is.
      On the other hand, the drivers do whole loads of stuff during driving.

      1. “on the other hand…”

        Loving the play on words :)

  5. I am not bothered about the banning of f-duct either. But the precedent is sort of worrying. So if a team brings a clever piece of technology(say j-dampers, active suspension), their rivals can just ban it next year. That is a shame, where is the competitive spirit? Apparently some teams think of their cars as billboards to make money instead of you know, racing cars.
    If all cars become equal(spec engines, standart gearbox etc), I’ll just watch gp2. At least they can overtake eachother.

    Speaking of F-duct, when are Mercedes and RedBull getting theirs. They will be in serious trouble in Canada if they dont have F-duct system.

    1. Red Bull could suffer in Canada anyway – it’s notoriously heavy on brakes, and after Webber’s retirement in Singapore last year and Vettel’s two brake/wheel related problems this year it could be an issue.

      1. My guess on Vettel this year is that due to his adjustable front wing failure the wing was stuck in up position whicking air away from the minimal break ducts used at Catalunya. So as a side effect of limited cooling to the break pads the temperature rose a lot on the breaks and carbon breaks are very sensitive to be in the right temperature range. If they get to hot they start to literally melt of during usage. On a track like Catalunya that is not supposed to be hard on the breaks they use as small break ducts they can get away with and the smallest and most light weight break pads and disks to minimize the unsprung weight of the car. So when the cooling isn’t there to keep the temperature right the breaks goes poof.

        As for the f-duct it isn’t that a great technology. Just a trick to get around regulations and really don’t help out much. Just look at Button he could never get close enough to overtake Schum in Spain. If you look at the speed trap the fastest cars did not have the fastest lap times. Becuase it’s more important to have good speed through the corners and get a better average speed to get a fast lap then straight line speed. If straight line speed was measure of a winning car then last year Force India should been running in the fight for title because they tended to have the best straight line speed but the only track that helped them at was Spa.

        1. i think the small brake duct size is more of an aerodynamic consideration than a weight one.

          also, the f-duct advantage ought to be in it allowing teams to run more rear wing and then stalling it on the straight. if the f-duct system is efficient then it should allow the car to run more wing AND get a higher straightline speed. the fact that the mclarens and ferraris are slower than the red bulls overall is because they lack overall downforce ie. there is only so much the f-duct can do.
          they question is, if they didn’t have it, how slow would they be?

  6. An active rear-wing would be more fuel efficient, so it’s not really worth pursuing on environmental grounds or anything like that.

    Sad to see it go though, these low cost (despite what Nick Fry moans on about) innovations are great.

    Clever design can come from anyone in a team – this was a bright spark and not the result of millions of $ of research – that’s why I’m sad to see it banned.

    1. totally agree with you there about it being a clever design

    2. It’s something they’d been trying to do for a couple of years, CFD helped them get it right and, of course, they needed a shark fin they were happy with as well.

  7. I’m a little surprised that McLaren aren’t making more of the fact that they have the last 2 Monaco winners driving more them…

  8. Shame they continue to ban innovative technology on a costs basis. They don’t want a spec series, but it kinda looks like they want the FIA to make a blue print for the car they can then all build there own version of.

  9. This F-duct banning to me seems more like a McClaren- Red Bull battle that has seemed to take shape this year. Starting with the investigation by McClaren on Red Bull’s “Active suspension” followed by the clarification to the ruling that stopped McClaren from creating one of their own. To then Red Bull leading the rants and raves about the F-duct being unsafe and un found technology.

    To me it seems like a game that Whitmarsh and Horner are playing to see who can get away with the most. Surely Red Bull’s focus is on Mcclaren as the most realistic team to stop them from winning the championship.

  10. The schoolboy in me loves that Whitmarsh is quoted calling it the F-Flap.

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