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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Why does Singapore throw a spanner within the works for F1’s ‘tremendous groups’?

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Because the RB19s rolled out for FP1 on Friday, it swiftly grew to become obvious that the automobiles had fallen out of their hitherto very vast working window. Max Verstappen called his ride “undrivable” as he lacked confidence when hitting the brakes solely to then flip in and discover wayward cornering stability.

With Crimson Bull lastly trying impeachable, comparisons had been quickly made to the 2015 go to to Marina Bay when the road circuit chewed up and spat out dominant power Mercedes. Again then, the crew that had received 10 of the primary 12 races amid its new-found 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid dominance departed the circuit with Nico Rosberg solely fourth and Lewis Hamilton having retired.

ANALYSIS: 10 things we learned at the 2023 F1 Singapore Grand Prix

Mercedes couldn’t definitively clarify its lack of competitiveness that weekend. Hamilton fell sufferer to a lift stress downside following a clamp failure however even earlier than then, each W06 machines struggled to generate tyre temperature. Of the remaining six races that season, the Silver Arrows scored a 1-2 in 5 of them. Singapore proved to be little greater than a weird blip.

Rosberg supposed that the issues had been circuit-specific. And the identical is predicted to be true for Crimson Bull, particularly given crew principal Christian Horner is adamant that two FIA Technical Directives clamping down on flexi-wings and flexi-floors hadn’t impact his cars at all.

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Requested to elucidate the dip, after Verstappen ran solely eleventh quickest in qualifying as Sergio Perez was thirteenth, Horner mentioned: “It is all engineering stuff. There aren’t any silver bullets on this enterprise. I do know all of you’ll like to blame the TD however sadly, we won’t even blame that. It is not modified a single part on our automobile… zero.”

As an alternative, it was Singapore’s outlier nature that threw a spanner within the works. The RB19 has proved so sturdy because of a capability to carry a predictable aerodynamic platform. This leads to constant behaviour via totally different nook profiles. The key to that is glorious experience management, whereby the automobile can run low at excessive pace to maximise the downforce-producing ground-effects.

However to deal with the bumpy Singapore avenue circuit, the primary sector of which was laid with new asphalt, and its tall kerbs, the automobiles needed to be raised. It’s understood that compensating for these extremes lifted the RB19s out of its vast working window.

Max Verstappen, Crimson Bull Racing RB19

Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

That tallies with Verstappen and Perez having to again off via Eau Rouge within the Belgian GP earlier this 12 months to keep away from bottoming out an excessive amount of. The automobile suffers at bumpier venues.

Crimson Bull was coy on its points. Chief engineer Paul Monaghan pointed to “inherent issues” with the chassis. However Dan Fallows, technical director of Aston Martin following his stint as Crimson Bull head of aerodynamics, supposed: “It’s a monitor the place you’ve fairly a novel model of corners. And even with the adjustments this 12 months, the place we have removed two of the chicanes, there are nonetheless plenty of corners that are fairly brief in length.

“It tends to be fairly bumpy in locations and likewise kerb-riding is kind of necessary in these automobiles. So, you are inclined to should run the automobiles perhaps larger than at different circuits as nicely. That has, prior to now, been an extremely distinctive problem for some automobiles. Definitely, I feel Crimson Bull are the obvious instance of that.”

For 2023, a revised lap configuration additionally served to upset the established order. Eradicating the fiddly Flip 16-19 chicanes eradicated key traction zones to shift the circuit additional in direction of Ferrari by mitigating its tyre degradation shortcomings, even when the crew has proven features of its personal on this space because the summer season break.

Singapore additionally upset Aston Martin. Whereas the Silverstone squad has fallen behind within the improvement race, and a few have linked this to the clamp down on flexi-parts, a turbulent race for Fifteenth-placed Fernando Alonso was worse than anticipated. The AMR23 had threatened to take pole place and victory in Monaco. However the automobile appeared misplaced at sea for the subsequent time F1 stopped at a avenue circuit.

Not like Aston, nonetheless, Crimson Bull did seem to resolve its points because the weekend wore on. Whereas parc ferme laws got here into impact after Q1, tyre stress and wing tweaks helped considerably come the race. Verstappen (finally fifth) and Perez’s (eighth) race tempo was behind solely the Mercedes drivers – who had been favoured on this respect by bolting on contemporary mediums for a fast last stint.

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As such, rivals are satisfied that Singapore was an off-weekend just for Crimson Bull. Because it was for Mercedes eight years in the past additionally. Toto Wolff mentioned: “For those who ask Crimson Bull why they didn’t get it proper, I’m certain they don’t know. It’s a variable of those ground-effect automobiles – they’re very troublesome to arrange [if] you fall out of the window of efficiency and that has occurred to us greater than we’ve received it proper.

“I feel Singapore has at all times been an outlier as a monitor. Simply because they dropped the ball right here doesn’t imply that going again to a traditional circuit, Suzuka particularly, it means there’s a reasonably good likelihood the conventional pecking order will come again.”

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