Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda, Interlagos, 2023

AlphaTauri floor update caught Hamilton’s eye

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton describes his efforts to help boost Mercedes’ competitiveness during their win-less 2023 campaign.

In brief

Hamilton keeping an eye on rivals’ technical innovations

Hamilton says he has kept a close eye on their rivals’ technical innovations to ensure Mercedes miss nothing in their bid to improve their car.

“I’m in touch with the head of aerodynamics and I’m just checking up on him every week like: ‘How are we doing? What have you tried? Where’s the progress? Have you tried this?’,” Hamilton told Channel 4.

“I take snapshots of every car. I saw underneath the AlphaTauri the other day, and then I went back and I was like ‘hey, they’ve got these things on their floor!’. You’re just trying to find everything that you can pass on. But they know most of the stuff anyway.”

Mercedes expected to lead Las Vegas GP before Sainz clash

Hamilton’s first-corner collision with Carlos Sainz Jnr in Las Vegas derailed a strategic gamble which would have seen him lead the race, Mercedes believe. The team put hard tyres on his car, meaning he was poised to benefit when those ahead who started on mediums pitted.

“We tried both the medium and the hard tyre on the laps to the grid,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin in a video issued by the team. “Lewis found that they were both quite low-grip, both difficult for warm-up so he was happy to go on the hard.

“There was a bit more risk, it’s a bit worse off the line but what it allows you to do is to offset to the whole field. Now, he obviously lost additional places. Carlos bumped into him at turn one and spun him, but had it not been for that, he would have been in a strong position again to take the lead on the road, running a completely offset strategy and then able to fight through the field in the end.”

However Shovlin acknowledged the timing of a later Safety Car period was always going to leave Hamilton with a difficult long stint on the medium tyre compound at the end of the race.

Haas “took a step back” in 2023

“Hopefully we can take a step forward next year” – Steiner
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner admitted the team’s progress reversed in 2023, as they enter the final round of the season last in the standings.

“I would say the start of the season was pretty good, it was looking promising. Getting Nico [Hulkenberg] in the team, we got exactly what we wanted with his experience, but we hit a wall with the development of the car, we couldn’t find further performance and others did,” he said. “We took a step back so hopefully we can take a step forward next year.”

Haas have scored 12 points compared to 37 last year, when they ended the season in eighth place. Only the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, under F1’s previous technical rules, were less competitive for the team, when they scored three points and zero respectively.

Yas Marina Circuit changes haven’t aided passing – Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo reckons the changes that Yas Marina Circuit made ahead of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have not improved the racing at the track, as F1 returns there this weekend to end its 2023 season.

“They changed the track layout a couple of years ago, and generally, although it’s made the driving experience a little better than before, I don’t feel it has affected overtaking opportunities, so it hasn’t improved the actual racing,” said the AlphaTauri driver.

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Comment of the day

Is Red Bull’s approach to the junior driver practice sessions unnecessarily risky?

I don’t understand Red Bull’s novel approach as the only team to leave both requirements until the very last minute as that has some risks, for example, if one of them happened to become sick shortly before FP1, although in that case, they could use Iwasa instead.

Additionally, yes, first practice is rather useless for qualifying and race, but still, not having either full-time driver participating in that session hands a marginal advantage to their closest rivals with at least one in all three sessions acclimatisation-wise, i.e., finding the limits with current-spec car on a particular track, setup options, etc.

Hopefully, next season all teams will use earlier viable opportunities rather than leaving everything in the late-season phase, especially in a place like Montmelo, which surprisingly no team used this season despite being season two for technical regulations cycle rather than season one like 12 months or so earlier.

Happy birthday!

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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21 comments on “AlphaTauri floor update caught Hamilton’s eye”

  1. …but we hit a wall with the development of the car, we couldn’t find further performance and others did.

    Yep, totally agree. This team is a joke; Haas will bail on it when he stops making money, although with the jump in team ‘value’ he can sell it for a pretty nice profit. Not Andrea Moda level, but trying.

    1. The thing about supposed value is that someone has to pay whatever that is. You can say Aston Martin value has gone up from Stroll’s recent sell-off but that is a different case because there’s been actual physical investment from him in the new facility. You can see with McLaren showing that in itself has value as they were able to rent it out or sell it off on its own.

      HAAS has none of that, and the smallest amount of infrastructure on the grid, running essentially the track operations and the smallest amount of engineers they need to design/assemble the car they can get from Dallara/Ferrari/3rd parties.

      If you read between the lines in the press they and Williams (who also have questionable facilities) have been trying to get the Andretti entry to buy them out. But obviously Andretti aren’t willing to pay this supposed improved value of these teams. So there’s a bit of a disconnect somewhere between what these teams suppose their value is and what they can actually sell it for (at least to Andretti.)

      1. @tristan
        I agree with everything you said. Additionally, the Haas and Williams brands are known for being poor performers. Andretti would be paying a premium for these teams and then be known as the team formally known as Haas or Williams.

    2. This team is a joke; Haas

      I don’t know why people see it that way. Haas is the best value for money team in F1 and the most sensible business of the lot.
      They aren’t trying to win everything from a sporting perspective – they are in it primarily to make money. Every team in F1 is there to make profit. Haas are succeeding in that aspect. Why waste (hundreds of) $millions on R&D when it’s worth literally nothing?
      Haas makes CNC machines – not cars. F1 is not their business – it is their marketing. The team exists to be a mobile billboard. Again, the same is true for every other team in F1 – whether to advertise themselves or to sell that space to a third party for profit.

      The only difference with Haas is how much they outsource – and you can’t blame them for doing exactly what the rules say they can do.
      Maybe direct your attention to the manufacturer teams who pushed the regulators for new rules allowing them to sell the parts they spent their R&D money on – to make some profit from it…

  2. My Swedish is not very good (non existent), but I guess RF refers to ‘Riksidrottsförbundet’ which Google translates as ‘National Sports Confederation’.
    Now the title/article makes more sense ;)

    1. You are correct – Ericsson & Rosenqvist are referring to Riksidrottsförbundet.
      The correct English term is “Swedish Sports Confederation” (Google almost gets it).
      They are not talking about the Swedish automobile club.

      What’s happened here is that the Swedish Sports Confederation has decided that motorsports (any sport involving engines) should get zero state support. Sweden is a very “state-heavy” country and the Swedish Sports Confederation is excluding motorsports from state/taxpayer support because motorsports are seen as ‘commercial’.

      Football, handball, ice hockey, skiing etc. usually gets the most money.

      This is the Swedish Sports Confederation/Riksidrottsförbundet (this is indeed the organisation that Ericsson & Rosenqvist are referring to):

      For anyone interested, here is the Wiki link for the Royal Automobile Club of Sweden (KAK – Kungliga Automobilklubben, founded in 1903):

      (PS. I am a native Swedish speaker.)

  3. Hard times for Mercedes. Hamilton taking photos of parts on the 2nd slowest car on the grid, to give his engineers new ‘ideas’ for their car.

    1. Every idea can be explored – no team bring an update that they don’t think will make them faster. If it makes an AT faster, maybe the same principle can be applied at Mercedes.

      Every idea is worth exploring in a pros/cons kind of way. Maybe it won’t work at all, maybe it will work if adapted, maybe it’s a genius solution they had missed because they were focusing on other areas.

      You don’t know until you know why it’s there and what it’s doing to the airflow.

      1. Every idea can be explored – no team bring an update that they don’t think will make them faster. If it makes an AT faster, maybe the same principle can be applied at Mercedes.

        Good engineers study other engineers designs.
        Almost everyone reading this will have seen photos and videos of Adrian Newey examining various cars on the grid, including the “zero sidepod” Mercedes. In some people’s minds this would equate to AN being stupid, which is about as far from truth as you will ever get.

    2. @todfod by that token, did you say that it was “hard times for Red Bull” when Newey copied the exhaust system of the Sauber C31 back in 2012?

      1. The Sauber in 2012 was a strong midfield car. They were the 4th quickest car before Barcelona, and were even in contention for a win at Malaysia. That is starkly different from choosing to copy a car which has probably been the slowest car on the grid for the 2023 season.

        1. Still, it was Red Bull copying Sauber.
          Good ideas can come from anywhere.

        2. @todfod but you still seem to give the impression that you think that taking inspiration from any car that is slower than you must mean you are lost – an attitude that would have served Red Bull quite badly in that instance. As Edvaldo points out, good ideas can come from anywhere on the grid – the side impact protection structures that eventually became the standard design for the teams came from Marussia, for example.

          Asides from that, we also know from the homologation sheets that the Alpha Tauri car is using components taken directly from the RB19 – the Singapore upgrade package that Alpha Tauri introduced included the rear suspension of the RB19, for example – and the team have explicitly stated that their planned upgrade packages for this year included more components being taken from the RB19.

    3. I’m sure many of the drivers and engineers do it. Teams used to be paranoid about covering up the cars as much as they could to prevent journalist and TV crews photographing the, knowing that other teams would pour over any pictures looking for any clue they could, and nowadays with everyone carrying around decent cameras in their phones, I’m sure many of the drivers and all the engineers appreciate the value of grabbing photos of the wings and the undersides of cars.

    4. Lewis is quite a challenging person, in the nicest way, and this is him putting energy into the aeros, teasing and appreciating and energising them. Tho he does have access they might not have doesn’t he, so you never know. And his phone won’t be last year’s. But mostly, it’s about relationships I bet

  4. Ricciardo is right that the 2021 alterations didn’t necessarily improve overtaking or racing quality, not that I even expected beforehand.
    Lap flow definitely improved & thus, the circuit became more enjoyable to drive, which is enough as a bare minimum.

    Merely adding ‘In addition to that, we also need to be communicating in the following 10 ways’ to a statement doesn’t sacrifice anything else.
    Just a few more words to type.

    I didn’t expect to get a COTD nomination after a little while.

  5. ooof even harder times for Mercedes aerodynamicists..
    Second hand cringe

  6. Also: good to see Ocon on the podium in Las Vegas! He pulled a great move on LeClerc

  7. GB3 now has 3 European races. I guess this shows strong growth, but I do worry, given how the origi

    1. …original British F3 died a death, partly due to budgets and too many overseas jaunts.

  8. I don’t think Las Vegas is a particularly good track but on the wake.of all the hate (which I fully agree with) something needs to be said every year about Abu Dhabi, a track that is absolutely disgusting even with the tweaks, and they didn’t have to fit it inside a city. They had a clean sheet in the form of a desert and they designed a t.urd from the start.

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