Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Baku City Circuit, 2021

Alpine investigating race pace weakness

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In the round-up: Alpine say understanding why their car isn’t as competitive in race trim as it is in qualifying is a key goal ahead of their home race.

In brief

“Race pace deficit” is Alpine’s focus

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski says the team “have work to do to understand our race pace deficit” ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix.

“It’s something we’re actively investigating,” he said. “It’s clear the car is capable of good performances in qualifying, but on some circuits, we can’t seem to replicate that good pace in race conditions, and that’s something we need to get on top of to score bigger points in the championship.

“We hope that our findings so far will help us achieving a good result in France, on a full-time circuit more typical of what we normally see in Formula 1.”

Baku result the best we can expect – Steiner

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the team’s result in Baku is as good as it can reasonably expect at the moment.

“We know the limitations, but as we’ve always said we always try to get the best out of every situation, whatever that is,” he said.

“The whole team was happy with 13th and 14th as at the moment that’s the best we can get out of it on a good day. There’s always opportunity, you just need to be there with it arises, and that’s only achieved by working hard.”

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Comment of the day

What more needs to change to prevent the tyre failures seen in recent seasons?

If it was indeed a kerb, debris or something cutting the tires then were Stroll, Verstappen and Hamilton (whose tyre they also found a cut on apparently) running a radically different line somewhere to everyone else?

If it was a kerb then surely we would have seen more cars with damaged tires and if it was debris then surely somebody would have seen it or again more drivers would have hit it.

If they are going to fall back on the usual ‘debris’ excuse then they need to provide proof because frankly I don’t think I trust that they aren’t just using that as an excuse to cover up how unsuitable for F1 the tires are.

It is after all the only time in the sports history the sport has had to introduce regulations (mandated minimum pressures, camber levels and a ban of swapping) and even modify the cars (with the aero changes for this year) to get around the apparent deficiencies of the tires the so called pinnacle of the sport it been supplied with.

It is indeed embarrassing that the pinnacle of the sport has had the worst tires in the sport for a decade now.
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On this day in F1

Mansell took his fourth career win today in 1986
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  • 27 comments on “Alpine investigating race pace weakness”

    1. COTD, I fully agree that it is silly how much power Pirelli as the sole tire supplier has in the sport. They can apparently demand changes to the rule book at their will. In my mind they, or any other tire manufacturer for that matter, should simply supply tires. At the same time F1 should stop pretending that they can demand tires that operate in a certain way as if it was a computer game.
      I think a tire supplier should just present a range of compounds and a set of recommended operating windows in terms of pressures, loads, camber angles etc. The teams should then be free to use the tires as they wish during a race week. In fact, let them pick any combination out of all the compounds, as long as they stay under the maximum number of sets for a race week, and let them run with any pressures and cambers they think will be best for them. But if a tire fails it should not be blamed on the tire manufacturer if any setting was outside of the recommended windows, including running other compounds than recommended for the circuit.
      In general, I’m am for rules that give the teams more freedom to make the wrong choice.

      1. Robert, as a tyre supplier, Pirelli is also responsible (and liable) for delivering a safe product. The saga where teams were fitting cross threaded tyres and very low pressures in pursuit of performance showed that teams cannot be relied upon to keep safely within recommendations of the supplier.

        So then, the supplier is obliged to inform the FIA of risks they see and advice what to change to lower the risk. Until the FIA becomes as much of an expert as a tyre supplier (completely unrealistic) that guidance will form rules around running tyres safely.

        1. You have valid points there, in this world where lawyers, insurance firms and corporations are always laying the blame for anything unexpected on each other. What I’m saying is that unless the tire manufacturer is deliberately making a tire that fails they should never be liable for anyone else’s safety. The teams and drivers are responsible and fully aware of the risks they take every time they go racing. We should obviously keep trying to make things as safe as possible, but we have to stop putting the legal blame onto anyone in particular. How often do tires actually fail? A few times a season? Pushing mechanical components to the limit with 20 cars 20 times per season I would expect things to break several times per race, that is just physics. Otherwise F1 might as well use road cars, they are very safe and much slower too.
          Anyway, I’m just rambling now. What we all want is fast and entertaining racing, with safety within acceptable tolerances. Having rules, that even varies week to week, around tiny details like camber angles and tire pressures are not good for the sport. If those little tweaks are what crosses the line of safety into unacceptable territory then other things are fundamentally wrong. If we were talking about a form of racing where they all used the exact same cars then I would probably accept it. But there is no way that completely different cars are reacting the same way to these types of limitations.

    2. COTD: I just read an article in which Pirelli may say that the tyre failures are pressure related. Though this article was written 3 days ago: https://www.gpblog.com/en/news/86443/italian-media-pirelli-not-to-blame-teams-play-with-low-tyre-pressures.html

      If the teams did run lower pressures on the tyres around Baku, I would not be surprised that punctures/ signs of punctures occurred because the lower pressure, the more surface contact that the tyres have, thereby causing more wear. Added that Baku being a heavily rear limited circuit, and I would not be surprised because Verstappen and Hamilton’s affected tyres were both on the rear left. However, thiswould not make sense that the rear left would be the tyre to wear down because Baku is a counter clockwise circuit. Stroll’s puncture was also on the rear left. So… I don’t know… The left side of the tyres will definitely be the one to hit the inside apexes and kerbs, which would make sense if Pirelli blame debris/ aggressive kerb riding.

      I don’t know… some things just feel weird, but I do hope that in reality it’s just debris because we can’t have tyres failing at such speeds. I remember Vettel’s puncture just after Eau Rouge at SPA in 2015.

      Reply moderated
    3. At Nurburgring 2005, Raikkonen’s flat spotted tyre caused his suspension to rip off. Schumacher drove his intermediate tyres through bone dry conditions at Hungary 2006 until his suspension gave way. Hamilton was basically driving on rims at China 2007.

      Those Michelin/Bridgestone tyres were seemingly indestructible. Meanwhile these Pirelli tyres explode while drivers are setting purple laps during the race.

      1. Indeed! Though cars were a lot lighter those days.

        1. LMP-cars are heavy too. Don’t know if they have problems..

          1. LMP cars are endurance cars, and therefore, have endurance tyres.

      2. Schumacher drove his intermediate tyres through bone dry conditions at Hungary 2006 until his suspension gave way.

        @kingshark The suspension broke because he made contact with Heidfeld.

        The thing that is often forgotten about Kimi’s flat spot & eventual suspension failure at Nurburgring in 2005 is that the severity of that flat spot wasn’t simply a result of 1 lockup. It started after a big lockup at the hairpin but he drove another what 15-20 laps on it & had a few more big lockups in that time & despite all that the tyre never failed.

    4. As it says in the video intro, Brabham is an enigma, but what’s even more strange is how he can be triple world champion and hardly get rated. Especially as he did one in a car he made himself. I wonder why history passes on Jack.

    5. Quite a statement from Alguersuari about the ‘resentment and hatred of Red Bull and the F1 system in general’, but IIRC he was quite open about his mental struggles at the time. Like Buemi, I felt he was making the next step, especially in qualifying and thought they were both prematurely dropped.

      1. @balue I always felt that the biggest problem was that Alguersuari was moved upto F1 before he was ready & with the ban on testing introduced that year he had no time to prepare & drove that year’s STR for the first time during FP1 in Hungary on his 1st race weekend.

        That final part of 2009 was basically him struggling because he wasn’t ready. 2010 was then him trying to recover from that & trying to get on top of F1. 2011 was him finally getting there & then they dropped him at the point when he’d finally made the breakthrough.

        1. @stefmeister Right. But maybe macho Marko didn’t have much sympathies for his mood swings.

    6. Helmut Marko says it wouldn’t make sense for Mercedes to leave Russell at Williams any longer…

      I agree, drivers go to Haas and Williams, and never show anything, despite some of them being very talented.

      Russel is slowly wasting his talent, unable to develop in to a top driver, because the car just isnt there.

      Meanwhile Bottas is just not fast enough.

      Perez will uncover all Mercedes HR issues when he starts to rake in constructors points.

      1. Enough reliable sources have indicated George is in the Merc next year to convince me it is already a done deal. Putting aside its the right move at the right time for George and Mercedes, George is out of contract at the end of the year and Mercedes can’t afford to lose him to the opposition.
        And as regards Bottas to Williams, I don’t think that’s a bad move for either the driver or the team. Out of the bottom four teams Williams with their money and ambition look a good prospect for someone looking to lead the team as the No 1 driver. Particularly if Bottas can turn his performance round over the remaining races.

      2. Well @jureo. As much as I like reading Dr. Marko trying to upset his competition (both Mercedes/Wolff and Bottas) and Russel by poking a bit (or the opposite when Wolf throws alike at Red Bull a few days back), I will ignore it as more or less irrelevant for now.

        Yes, Russel has to move on. But Bottas is not doing all that bad this year. Yes, there have been lacklustre races. But the car is not as great as recent years. And Hamilton was lucky (Imola) not to have 3 races where he ultimately underperformed too (showing it really is a bit hard to get the car to work right) – remember only 1 race ago, Bottas was the one starting from the front and running second when the team then took days to get off his wheel. Bottas has also had far more technical things going wrong for him recently than Hamilton had.

        1. I completely agree with Marko and have literally worded it the same way. It makes no sense for Mercedes to not replace VB with GR for next year. VB has had his time and now they need to bring in the new heir apparent to LH while LH is there and can teach him and the team can mould GR to themselves. This is not at all about VB doing just a sufficient job and not being in LH’s way. It is far bigger than that and they have to think long term.

          1. And its also an opportunity for Bottas to move on from a No2 and lead a lesser team. Seems he was talked about as a possible Alpine driver last year as the team rate him highly.

          2. Now that take I actually agree with @robbie.

            The point is not Bottas doing great, doing just fine, or being rubbish, but about securing the future after Lewis as well as keeping Russel.

        2. @bascb

          “ But Bottas is not doing all that bad this year.”

          But he is, and he is been doing so since he arrived at Mercedes because in all these years, apart from qualifying, I cannot think of a single race where it was Bottas making the difference.

          Yes, he was bringing in the points, yes he was being a proper teammate (hence I understand Mercedes keeping him) but it was 99% car which is becoming clear now that Mercedes’ advantage is almost nullified.

          Like all F1 drivers, he is a class act, but he is an act without race skills and he is better equipped for endurance racing.

    7. Alpine. What a team. Hard to understand why Renault/Nissan management supports this hobby. I think its time to throw in the towel, dont you think fellas?

      1. It’s like Horner said, Renault is interested in the marketing aspect of F1, not the sporting aspect.

        Reply moderated
    8. RE COTD: One of the things Pirelli mentioned in yesterday’s article was that the kerbs might have been indirectly causing tyre problems, not by cutting the tires, but by breaking bodywork off the cars that would then go on to cut the tires. Whether this is true I’m not completely convinced, but there was a lot of debris (the tree branch on lap 2, and smaller debris after Stroll’s crash) on track over the weekend, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

      1. Ah, right, I was wondering about that one @randommallard, thanks for making that clear.

        I do think that they have a point when they mention the sheer amount of debris on track during the whole weekend. We had so many crashes both in F1 and in F2, yeah, and that branch, might also be interesting to get info on the state of the F2 tyres.

        Looks like a solution will have to be a more regular sweep of the track? Or maybe teams building cars that do not shed pieces when running over kerbs :-)

        1. @bascb More regular track sweeping is probably a good solution. The thing about Baku, especially the main straight, is that it is very, very wide, meaning that spotting and retrieving debris can be very difficult. And the fact that the speeds involved mean that it would be impossible to do without at the very least a VSC, but probably a full SC. I think in hindsight they should have red flagged the race after Stroll’s crash just to make sure they could clean up the debris.

          In terms of your other solution, that is definitely an idea. If I remember correctly, I believe next year’s cars are supposed to have a gel membrane around parts of the car that fall off most frequently, so that they are less likely to cause punctures. I’m sure I heard this at some point, although I can’t remember where from now.

    9. Re Alpine: “Bring Renault back” then? Because of the team colors being Too Much Blue?
      Re Steiner: Best result, for now…And P9 from the Imola advantage, for now…
      Re Marko: I agree with him on this one.
      Re Alguersuari: Truth About Red Bull’s Management – Always known since 2005!

      1. (P9 is about the Constructors’ Championship)

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