I must admit- I had trouble getting to sleep last night. With the Formula1 season finally kicking off in Australia I was sorely tempted to watch Friday practce 2 live at 1:30AM this morning. Even with today off of work, which I thankfully have, staying up that late does set a tone for the weekend. So I quit looking at the Twitter feeds and tried to quit thinking about what was happening down-under.
Thanks to the DVR, we had a succesful recording waiting this morning. Great to see such a shuffling of drivers and results. Michael Schumacher finished atop the timesheets on the last lap of a drying session just edging out Hulkenberg. Of course, this is just practice.
The first televised session of the year is mostly about figuring out what has changed and where everyone stands. As mentioned previously there will be an increased focus here on Highdownforce.com on the rules which dominate any racing series. Speed's announcers did a great job of explaining the new regs. The most signifcant technical changes this year that affect the design of the car are:
Nose cone heights: The reason for the step is to lower the height of the nose. Over the last couple of years, the design of the noses across all teams tended higher as the engineers developed methods for optimizing the airflow. The concern is that in the event of an accident involving a side impact, the nose of a car could slip over the sidepod of the other car and spear the driver's helmet.
No blown diffusers: Now banned are double diffusers. I believe this innovation dates back to the 2009 season where Brawn GP's interpretation of the rules gave them a serious advantage in downforce for the first half of the season. As always, the other teams picked up best practices from the winning cars and the advantage decreases as teams redesign throughout the season. Early season results this year will likely related to how well the teams have been able to react to this major change in the design of the car. Steve Matchett said today that this year's cars have about half the downforce on the rear wheels as last year.
Seeing how nervous the cars were in practice reminded me of the movie Senna which focuses on the 1994 season when active suspension was banned by the FIA. Loose cars are fast, but scary.
Exhaust locations: No longer will we have forward facing exhaust that increases downforce both on and off the gas. FIA technical regulation 5.8.2 states:
"Engine exhaust systems may incorporate no more than two exits, both of which must be rearward facing tailpipes, through which all exhaust gases must pass."
All of the technical and sporting regulations for Formula1 can be found at the FIA's website: www.fia.com/en-GB/sport/regulations/Pages/FIAFormulaOneWorldChampionship.aspx