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What Sets Formula One Apart

by F1Fan on May 11, 2010

What sets Formula One apart from other forms of Motor Sport?

You have to look no further than the last Race in Spain to find the answer. The Spanish Grand Prix has historically been one of the races during the season where the teams introduce a host of Modifications and aerodynamic upgrades and this year was no exception.

Continual Development throughout the season differentiates Formula One from most other formula racing series.

The cars starting out the season while still looking similar at first glance bear little resemblance to those competing in the final races. Every wing, diffuser, suspension component and chassis has been tweaked to increase down-force, reduce drag and minimize weight, sometimes to negative effect as in the case of Buemi’s Toro Rosso incident at the Chinese Grand Prix

If one particular team has developed a unique advantage that is within the rules then all of the front runners will develop their own version to remain competitive. A good example of this is the McLaren “F-Duct” a driver operated device that can stall the airflow over the rear wing, reducing downforce and drag for improved straight line speed. In the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari, Mercedes GP, Sauber & Williams were already running their versions of the same idea.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of work that is involved here is a partial list of the changes introduced last week in Barcelona.

Ferrari: Modified Engine to improve reliability; Driver Operated “F-Duct”; New Chassis
Force India: Various Aero Upgrades.
HRT Racing F1: Minor upgrades mainly for drivability.
Lotus Racing: New Front Wing; New Side Pods; New Rear Diffuser; New Brake Ducts; New Dampers and other Mechanical Changes.
McLaren: New Front and Rear Wings
Mercedes GP: Longer Wheelbase Chassis; New Aero Package; New Airbox and Vertical Fin Design; Latest Iteration of “F-Duct”.
Red Bull Racing: New Front & Rear Wings; New Vents at rear of Chassis to allow more airflow over the diffuser.
Renault: New Front Wing; New Rear Floor.
Sauber: Improved “F-Duct”; Various Aero Upgrades.
Toro Rosso: New Brake Ducts; New Engine Cover.
Virgin Racing: Longer Wheelbase Chassis to enable larger fuel tanks; various mechanical fixes to address reliability issues.
Williams F1: New Front Wing; New “F-Duct”; Various Aero Upgrades

These upgrades all had some impact, some were more successful than others, obviously the Red Bull Racing modifications worked well with both cars finishing on the podium. Lotus Racing at the other end of the grid had a different goal they wanted to close the gap to the front running cars by 1 second a massive improvement in F1 terms and from that perspective their changes to the car were a complete success.

Monaco is the next race this coming weekend, because of the tight corners on this classic road circuit the teams have a special set up just for this race. This type of continual development in the race to find that last tenth of a second improvement in lap times is what makes Formula One so expensive and in my mind so compelling to follow.

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