Honda reveals behind-the-scenes shake-up

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Honda has made further staffing changes since problems with its F1 engine programme emerged during pre-season testing.

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Perhaps a change of language could improve the debate around ‘following’:

The problem is not ‘overtaking’, it is ‘following’. If a driver cannot get within spitting distance of his opponent for an overtake then one simply cannot happen.

Cars should be able to follow the car in front without the turbulent air which seems to have been a problem for around ten years.

I appreciate that part of the problem comes from the open wheel format (which can’t and shouldn’t be changed), but look at touring cars and how they can race almost glued to the rear bumper of the car in front. As soon as they can achieve this then overtaking opportunities will follow and DRS can finally be taken off the car.
Ben Needham (@Ben-n)

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70 comments on “Honda reveals behind-the-scenes shake-up”

  1. So sweet of Seb to incorporate Michael’s last win graphic in his helmet design

    1. Helmets don’t get much attention these days – does anyone know if Seb changes the “Pencil” Graphic on his helmet race to race?

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      5th April 2017, 19:34

      It’s an old helmet apparently – if you click on the picture, they’ve confirmed below. Thought he’d found a good way to get around the “visually similar” helmet rule…

      1. I still don’t buy the “casual fans identify F1 drivers based on their helmet” BS.

  2. re: COTD – it’s not a problem with open-wheel racing, per-se. It’s the fact that the FIA-mandated car design derives the majority of its downforce from the wings, specifically the large front wing, which sets up the airflow across the entire car. If the first part of the car that hits the dirty air is compromised and can’t condition the flow properly, the rest of the cars aero stops working efficiently. The high rear wings of the ’09 design worked by a) lifting some of the dirty air clear of the following car and b) allowed the following car to catch other higher, cleaner airflow.

    Really, the wider front wing was part of the stuipid plan to ‘make the cars look meaner’. What they should have done is taken the front wings back to the ’08 designs (like the rest of the aero shake up), with the smaller inboard front wings that didn’t have to direct all the air around the tyres.

    1. Its not as simple as bolting a smaller front wing. There is a lot of science behind it. The science behind overtaking is very complicated. The current f1 cars has a lot of multi element front wing. The purpose of the multi element front wing is to “divert the air away from the front tyres which helps with the downforce at the rear of the car such as the floor and the rear wing.” The problem with multi element front wing is that it need a clean air/laminar flow to create a vortices. If you check out Mercedes front wing elements, it has more vortex generator than the Ferrari front wing.
      But if the teams removes the multi element front wing, does it improve racing? The answer is “NO”. Super Formula have the same problem as F1 in 2017. Less overtaking even with a low degradation Yokohama tyres, a bigger diffuser, wider and simpler outwash front wing. I’ve been following Super Formula for 2016 to support Stoffel Vandoorne.
      But how about Indycar, they create great racing. They do create great racing but it is only on the oval instead of the street circuit.
      Can we bring back ground effect cars? Depends. The upwash from the rear wing of another car hurts the ground effect cars when they are following each other. Air still need to get under the car to create ground effect. You need a large volume of air to be squeeze under the car to create ground effect. The more volume of air being squeeze, the more the downforce generated. Bernoulli’s principle. According to Boyle’s law, P1V1 = P2V2. If V1 is big, and P1 is 14.7psi at atmospheric pressure, the pressure drop will be more with a fix v2 which is the inlet volume of air under the car.

      I think the best solution for now is a “Fan Car”.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        5th April 2017, 8:43

        Kulun this is just not true. You can dress it up with unrelated and pseudo science but your argument is flawed.

        Indycar produced good close racing on all types of circuit. They took a wrong step by adding more aero. For 2018 they will remove it. F1 needs to do the same.

        It is now beyond question that a car heavily dependant on aero cannot closely follow a similar car through corners. This together with reduced braking distances badly affects the amount of overtaking. Anyone who disputes this is ignoring the basic laws of physics.

        Less aero, much more power and mechanical grip is the only solution for close racing.

        As for the Fan Car idea, there is simply no need to add cost and complication when there are cheaper and simpler methods to achieve the same goals.

        1. If you remove aero you end up with much slow cars…. F1 is meant to be the pinnacle, so you need to find another way then of replacing the “lost” downforce/speed.

        2. Shaun Robinson (@)
          5th April 2017, 10:20

          Trouble is, F1 needs the quickest cars in the world. Otherwise you can’t necessarily call it the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’. Take away the aero and you are in trouble of being slower than other series’.

          You mentioned ‘much more power and mechanical grip’. Power, yes, easy just strap in a bigger PU. Mechanical grip, however, can we really get much more than we do now?

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            5th April 2017, 11:12

            Yes strap on yet bigger and stickier tyres. Over a few years apply the principle to to other formulae.

            Beside there isn’t a rule that says F1 should be the pinnacle of speed in all scenarios. It would be nice, but if it gets in the way of close racing and is losing viewers then its not worth having anyway.

            If Indycars or LMP1 were faster I wouldn’t care so long as F1 was the most popular, the drivers were the best, the winner was the World Champion and along the way we had some excitement.

        3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk

          “It is now beyond question that a car heavily dependant on aero cannot closely follow a similar car through corners”

          LMP1 cars have similar levels of downforce to F1, and while they may still suffer some performance dropoff running in dirty air, it is certainly not the case that they can’t follow closely and have great battles.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            5th April 2017, 11:35

            This is true to a degree but there are some things to consider.
            LMP1 seems to be about 5 sec a lap slower, maybe more since the recent F1 aero changes. Most of this time is in the fast corners. They go slower in the corners so less dirty air effect. Its true they produce their down-force in a different way and perhaps F1 can learn from this (more under-body, less over-body aero). Other factors produce large performance differentials in sports cars (fuel weights and tyre performance), which will allow some cars to follow closely for some of the time. So just because there are some close battles this does not disprove my earlier argument.

            Unless you want to turn F1 cars into LMP1? But even then the problem will persist to a degree. Despite the apple to orange example comparisons, the philosophy holds true. The more a car relies on aero the more it is affected by dirty air.

          2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk

            You made a blanket statement that ALL aero dependent cars have trouble following. I was simply pointing out that this statement is wrong – LMP1 car are heavily dependent on aero and yet can race wheel to wheel and have good battles. Your statement is a massive oversimplification of reality.

            Actually in reality it is possible for cars to have a lot of downforce and still be balanced when following other cars; it takes a lot more careful thought and analysis to understand exactly why this is, and how that learning could be applied to Formula One to create a set of technical regulations which preserve the integrity of the sport (by ensuring that the cars remain open-wheeled and the fastest circuit racers in the world), while also facilitating close racing.

            This isn’t something which could be summed up in a sentence, a paragraph, or a poorly-thought out post on a fan forum by armchair experts. If there were a quick and easy solution to the problem then it would be the work of a moment to implement. This isn’t the case. In fact, depressingly the last time the powers-that-be undertook this kind of work, the result was actually very successful; the change to the aero regs in 2009 saw a massive increase in overtaking compared to previous years. But most of the development of the cars in the subsequent seasons saw this improvement eroded, until we have the changes for 2017 which have effectively undone all of this good work. Just compare pictures of 2009 cars to pictures of 2016 cars and see how radically the cars evolved, and how they went from relatively simple aero concepts to ones which sprouted dozens of elements on every possible surface, where even a small change in attitude resulted in a major compromise to aero efficiency.

          3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            5th April 2017, 20:20

            Well for the sake of F1 you are correct and there is a way to legislate for a high down-force F1 car that can follow closely but I fear this may be elusive.

            I’ve been involved in motor racing since the 70’s when my Dad worked in the Design department at Shadow. I raced in two open wheel series and and many saloon car classes, so I’m no armchair enthusiast.

            Yes I did over simplify my argument and there is certainly much research to be done before F1 aero can be so benign as to allow close racing. My point was, by removing aero we would have a simple sure-fire solution which will work now. As I said there are a number of factors which I think makes the LMP1 comparison unhelpful.

            Lets hope Ross Brawn takes us in the right direction.


            Happy F1 watching

          4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            5th April 2017, 20:22


            Well for the sake of F1 I hope you are correct and there is a way to legislate for a high down-force F1 car

      2. “You need a large volume of air to be squeeze under the car to create ground effect. ”

        Eeeeh… No.
        Ground effect hasn’t got anything to do with ‘squeezing’ air. It’s the exact opposite resulting in low pressure under the car which in turn will cause the relatively higher pressure above the car to press the car against the road surface.

        1. @tychop You are incorrect.
          Ground effect occurs when air is forced to compress and speed up underneath the car so that it can exit the car at the same time as the air above the car. Compressed, faster flowing air has a lower pressure than uncompressed slower flowing air, so the car is sucked downwards.
          That is why it was a problem in the past when cars were being run so close to the ground to create ground effect, the floor could hit the ground, stopping the airflow under the car, suddenly the air above the car would be moving faster than the blocked air underneath the car, and actually create lift. That’s why the wooden plank rule came in ’94, and why f1 moved away from ultra low cars to today’s relatively high raked cars.

          1. GatorFallout
            6th April 2017, 16:52

            Compression implies a raise in density or pressure in scientific terms. The ground effect is the change in pressure caused by a decrease in area (the Venturi effect which is based on Bernoulli’s principle). As area goes down, speed of fluid goes up, therefore the conservation of energy implies pressure must drop for a given mass flow rate. The differential pressure created is what results in down force. Basically I’m just being a scientific grammar Nazi, sorry.

    2. @optimaximal, I don’t know what the solution is (beyond banning wings) but the COTD is spot on in highlighting the problem. I actually enjoyed the 1st 16 laps of the OzGP because Vettel was able to hang on to Hamilton and put sufficient pressure on him to cause an error (pitting too early), had the regulations and tyres allowed that battle to continue to the end of the race the result may or may not have been different but it sure would have been more interesting and tense than the bore-fest that followed that pit stop.

      I want to effectuate more exciting racing by effectuating a ban on the effectuativeness of pit stops during races.

    3. The reason for downforce is to counter the lifting effect open wheels have when rotating on flat surface at high speed.

      1. @drycrust, that and increasing both the size of the tyre/road contact patch and the force of friction (grip) generated by that contact.

    4. Wrong. F1 cars do not derive a “majority” of their DF from the front wing. If this were the case you’d have an unusable and undrivable car.

      Front wings do condition the air for the rest of the car, but the DF they produce is only enough to balance the DF produced at the rear, no more, no less.

      F1 cars are able to easily generate lots of DF with the diffuser and rear wing. Front wings must be worked as hard as possible to squeeze every pound of DF so that they can balance the rear. This has resulted in highly sensitive front wings.

      Also, the wider front wings were originally mandated because the rule makers thought there was cleaner more undisturbed air the wider you go. This was combined with the skinny rear wing and slim diffuser. It made sense on paper because at the time most teams ran 2-3 element FW.

      As designers found more and more downforce at the rear (blown diffusers, rake, etc) they needed more DF at the front to balance the car. This has resulted in the wings we have to day.

      There are PLENTY of ways to keep high DF cars that stay functional in dirty air – we just dont have a ruleset designed to achieve that.

      It’s painful to hear the F1 Parrots repeat the same lies over and over again. You CAN have high DF and good racing….

      1. There are PLENTY of ways to keep high DF cars that stay functional in dirty air – we just dont have a ruleset designed to achieve that.

        I’d like to see a reply from an aerodynamicist on this one. Laminar flow is assumed on the way in as far as I know as it’s predictable. You can’t cover all the cases of turbulence.

        They need smaller front wings with less Gillette razor elements, or else just run an actual practical test on old F1 cars… I’ve not seen anything done aside from that on paper.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          5th April 2017, 8:56


          The performance of non-moving aero devices will ALWAYS be affected to some extent by dirty air. The more down-force that is created, the more it will be affected. There is no such thing as a different type of down-force created by some other magical aero device which is not affected by dirty air and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

          The solution is to have very low down-force cars with much more power and mechanical grip.

      2. thepostalserviceisbroke (@thepostalserviceisbroke)
        5th April 2017, 15:40

        Front wings do condition the air for the rest of the car, but the DF they produce is only enough to balance the DF produced at the rear, no more, no less.

        I forgot who posted this in the comments section over the past few days, but Scarbs has a detailed write-up of what is going on with the current cars.

  3. That Fittipaldi article is awesome, well worth a read.
    Interesting that he didn’t really enjoy driving the ground effect cars, and says:

    Those cars had to be driven on rails because all the wings and fences and the underbody would lose a lot of downforce if the car was at an angle. The same rule applies to today’s Formula One and Indy cars…
    …After sliding skirts were banned the cars were much better. They are not as sensitive to pitch change as the fully skirted cars were and they give the driver good information and feedback for him to react, even at cornering speeds faster than 200 mph.

    1. @beneboy – I love reading Fittipaldi’s articles. He really has a way of getting his point across in a visual and interesting manner. Like, you are there. Great stories he has.

  4. Mark in Florida
    5th April 2017, 1:46

    It’s almost like Mclaren is dying from cancer. One more bad prognosis for the future. I know Honda is trying but this is a spectacular failure for their part. In America Honda only mentions the Indy racing tie in. You would not even know that they had an F1 program. I just think that by the time Honda gets the engine decently competitive the new motors will be coming. Honda will have wasted Alonsos best years and we will never really get to see what could have been. They need to dump Honda and get a Mercedes customer engine. Let Honda take the next couple of years to get ready for the newer simpler, cheaper motors,if that is what happens.That would give them time to get ahead of everyone else. McLaren with a Mercedes engine is better than being trapped in a bad partnership with Honda. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and swallow your pride.

    1. I listened to the sound of the new Honda engine recently and it sounded much better than last year’s engine, so I think Honda are on the right path. Also, the fact they are prepared to change personnel means they are taking this more seriously than in the past.
      I don’t know why Honda weren’t able to do the changes required last year, but now that the Token System has been abandoned and Zak Brown is in charge at McLaren Honda should be given a chance to show they can improve.

  5. “Honda Shakeup” – More an admission that the engine is not good than it is actually fixing the engine.

    You have to love the rather obvious nature of large corporations. When all else fails, shuffle the deck. If they knew how to fix the problem that is what they would do, not reshuffle. Well, maybe next year, if they start redesigning now…

    1. It’s hilarious how Honda is still asking Mclaren to be patient after 3 years of non stop failures and let downs.

      Sure, this shake up will really turn things around. All the great talent in Honda will finally be in it’s place and the responsibilities will be better assigned so there’s no need to play a blame game.

      The fact that Honda have still not tried to poach Illien or someone from either Ferrari or Mercedes shows their ridiculous levels of delusion in assuming they’ll get it right.

      1. @todfod – It is baffling to imagine how it has come to this. Honda does not lack experience, resources or even a racing pedigree. After 2015 it would have seemed like the worst was over and they were on track for better things. At this point it seems 2017 is already over for Honda/McLaren and where does the honest hope for 2018 materialize from?

        1. the racing pedigree is a stupid concept especially when that pedigree is defined by the 1980s. honda were rubbish in the 2000s – there’s a very strong argument that Brawn would not have been the title winning car that it was if it had used honda engines.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            5th April 2017, 19:39

            They nearly won a title recently. It was right there in front of them and …….. they gave the team to Ross Brawn instead. :D

    2. You misunderstood, @bullmello, @todfod. It is the engine that shook up both the cars and the whole plant with its vibrations :-P

      1. @bascb – Sure enough. That’s some bad vibrations!

      2. Rumours say that Honda will change its name to Hoffda.


      3. There are rumours it’s the McLaren gearbox causing the vibrations not the PU. Its in the McLaren car thread on another website. I know it’s rumours but it’s also a rumour the Honda PU is causing the vibrations.

        1. I’ve seen those too, but apparently it comes from something Hasegawa said!? People are trying to translate it. It seems they identified that the vibrations happen in up-shifting.

          I failed to found any article or news on the matter, so it is pretty unreliable info at the moment.

        2. the up-shift noise that the car makes is a bi-product of this apparent issue (again, rumours)

        3. lol, the gearbox can’t cause the vibrations, is the way the engine behaves after certain gears but that doesn’t mean is the gearbox. It is still the engine that seems to have an issue when reaching certain rpm.

      4. Almost spat out my orange juice, God dammit ! nice one

    3. @bullmello, so, let me get this straight – up until now, everybody was lashing out at Honda for being too stubborn to change their philosophy and not changing their work culture, and now that they have been making efforts to change their working culture, they are being mocked for making the changes that people demanded that they make?

      1. @anon – Not sure what everybody or anybody else have been demanding or lashing out about.

        I sincerely would like to see Honda and McLaren be successful together.

        What do you think their best course is for the rest of 2017 and preparing for 2018?

  6. Sviatoslav (@)
    5th April 2017, 5:21

    Regarding the comment of the day, this line specifically:

    Cars should be able to follow the car in front without the turbulent air which seems to have been a problem for around ten years.

    I watched a 2010 race in Silverstone last week. What I saw was drivers following each other quite easily. Overtaking still wasn’t easy, but drivers did push like hell and could follow each other. I didn’t see an overtake each lap, but the fights were great.

    1. @sviat Drivers were able to follow pretty closely during the 2010 season as although they would lose some downforce, the Bridgestones would be able to hold up pretty well. But Silverstone has always been a track where people have been able to follow a car very closely. Remember the 2015 race where Bottas was able to follow Massa closely, or the 2011 where we saw great racing.

      1. They had a double diffuser that gave tremendous dirty air downforce, and were using it well by 2010. No DRS, hard tyres, the best year of F1 in the 30 I’ve watched.

    2. Yes that is true, close car racing has fans, I’ve seen lots of classic videos of F1 on Youtube where the car behind was spending all the time behind the car in front, yet it looked superb. And these videos have millions of views.

      There is something satisfying about watching how small or big the gap becomes in each laps.

  7. COTD is spot on. The modern F1 car can’t naturally get itself into position to overtake naturally. They use DRS to paper over the cracks.

    I do think the issue has been around since about 1983 though, not 10 years, it’s just getting worse and worse. Over 30 years of tubulence destroying the ability to follow. It’s so bad that they have redefined circuits, and modify corners etc etc. When all they have to do is fix the actual cause! FFS!!

    That this issue has never been directly addressed is a disgrace.

    1. I was a big supporter of DRS when I first heard about it. I’m pretty sure the original idea was to use it as a slipstream to give drivers a chance of making an overtake.

      The biggest issue I have with DRS is it stays on for the entire DRS zone.

      What I’ve proposed since a few races in (in 2011) is for the flap to open wide initially, and to gradually close either in response to the proximity of the car in front, or perhaps just over the course of the DRS zone.

      It’d definitely help to replicate the slipstream effect, rather than help a car breeze past another as it does now.

  8. “Honda calls for patience”

    Funny much :’)
    You have to admit they got some nerve to still call for patience.

  9. PAL and $troll should consider to buy their own mediahouse – they really need it with all their articles filled with excuses…

  10. Ayayay… Palmer again… After 3.3s quali gap atleast he should be moddest. Gutierez last year was the same… Look at him now.

    Stroll? Crashes 3-4 times already, looks like an accident in proggress yet claims he wont change his approach one bit.

    I miss some humility from these guys. Do your smack talk on the track.

    1. Actually Stroll WILL change his approach to China, but not in the way you might wish/expect ;)

      I am going to change my approach a bit as it is a little more forgiving with the large run off areas.


    2. Palmer’s been quite vocal recently, I can’t judge his reasons behind these very direct & bold comments. But it’d probably be better to make statements after he’s got the better of Hulk. As you said, better to prove your worth on the track.

      I imagined Ericsson to be the weakest driver in current grid but Palmer’s increasingly becoming the one to take that spot.

      1. Statements are all well and good but timing is poor. Best would be after he does really well in a race.

  11. No Palmer you weren’t blown away but the stats show you were reasonably well beaten. The only decent race you were having at Hungary you blew all on your own. This will be his last season unless a) he has a lot more funding available or b) he shows some real, genuine progress.

    1. Nah, he’d be having neither. I said before, can’t see Palmer being anything other than a stop-gap solution for Renault. He’d have to look for a seat elsewhere for 2018. No way Renault will settle for a mediocre driver like him in the longer-term.

      Probably the only reason he held onto this seat because Kevin left for Haas abruptly.

      1. @praxis, mind you, it wasn’t exactly as if Magnussen performed that much better in Australia either – he was also error prone, miles off the pace of his team mate in qualifying and ended up tangling with Ericsson on the first lap.

  12. Regarding the lack of passing, another factor I think is that the cars overall lap performance seems more strung out this year, qualifying did such a good job of sorting the grid order that there were few cars behind slower ones. Plus less pit stops to undercut drivers on tyre conservation mode, and more durable tyres, which mean teams can carry the quail performance into the race and we have a situation where there was obviously going to be less overtaking.

    1. How about a F1 racing format where you get points for qualifying well. This should stop sandbagging for the next part which is the race. Cars line up in the order of cars eliminated in Q3 qualifying first, in the order they qualified. After them the cars which were eliminated in Q2 in the order they qualified and lastly the Q1 cars in the order they qualified in. So the grid order is first the Q3 cars, after them the Q2 cars and lastly the Q1 cars. In each “group” the fastest car in the group is first in the starting order. This way you will have an incentive to qualify well as you will then start first in your “group”. Faster car will have to make their way past the slower cars while defending from cars just a little bit slower than themselves at the same time. I would guess that the points for qualifying first and winning the race should be equal.

  13. I disagree strongly with COTD. I really would hate to see F1 cars going round the track nose to tail almost touching like some other series, I find that really boring, like watching bumper cars, please anything but that.

    1. So you find the start/safety car restart and first lap of an f1 race to be the most boring part? You must love watching paint dry.

  14. Breaking news: F1Fanatics Round-up now includes team staff itineraries :p

  15. I’m praying the best all-round driver on the grid gets a car worthy of his talent before he retires.

    1. John Toad (@)
      5th April 2017, 21:10

      But Max has already got a pretty good car.

  16. Many fans often always bring up ground effects as the solution to the ‘following/overtaking problem’, However I recall a conversation I had with Frank Dernie around 2005 in which I brought up ground effects & he came back with the reply that ground effects is not the magic bullet that those on the outside often believe.

    He went on to talk about how ground effect cars produce just as much dirty air as a non-ground effects car & that they are still affected by that dirty air. He also raised the point that ground effect cars introduce problems in other areas as they are affected a lot more by things like bumps, kerbs & sudden pitch changes such as in high speed spins or sudden changes of direction.

    He ended saying that if you were to go to a more ground effects formula you would still need wings & would still need a decent level of top level generated downforce to not just maintain current levels of performance but also help balance the car against some of the negative aspects seen in a more primarily ground effects formula.

    I also spoke with an Indycar engineer once who worked in F1 in the past that told me that many of the belief’s that those on the outside have regarding aerodynamics, ground effects etc.. are actually incorrect & that when you are able to split fact from fiction it’s easier to understand why things are as they are & why they have remained broadly the same for as long as they have.

    1. @gt-racer

      I guess (because I don’t know, but if things are as they are for long periods of time then usually that is for a good reason, obviously there are exceptions) that you are too right with this unfortunately..

    2. @gt-racer probably that misconception comes from the name itself ground-effect car. The main principle that makes it work is the difference in pressure between the bottom of the car and the top. It isn’t only related to what happens between the bottom of the car and the ground.

      Reducing the distance between the car and the ground makes the air run faster underneath it, and therefore lowers the pressure (Bernoulli theory I believe). At the top the air pressure pushes the car to the ground, but because dirty-air is not as dense (I don’t think dense is the word I am looking for but I don’t remember anything else) it does not generate the same energy, this decreases the difference in pressure between the bottom and top of the car compared to a run in “clean” air, making a ground effect car less efficient. So yes, it is not the magic trick that would solve the problem.

      Maybe a mix of principles would work? No idea…

      1. I don’t remember this all too well, so if I said something really stupid, please feel free to insult me

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