Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Why Audi won at Silverstone

The gap between the winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro and the second placed Toyota TS030 at the Silverstone Six hours was just over 55 seconds at the chequered flag. Both the Audi and Toyota had faultless runs during the six hour race - only a stop/go penalty for the Audi meant that it lost 27 or 28 seconds on that lap.

The following tables are hopefully self-explanatory, if not please let me know.

First for Audi number 1 of André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler, which had eight driving stints separated by seven pitstops.

Stint Driver From time To time Laps Notes
1 Lotterer 12:00:00 12:46:21 26 Plus lap to grid and FL
2 Lotterer 12:47:15 13:35:34 27
3 Tréluyer 13:36:53 14:32:07 29 Incl 3 behind SC
4 Tréluyer 14:33:01 15:10:35 21
5 Tréluyer 15:11:11 15:23:43 7
6 Fässler 15:25:00 16:15:02 28
7 Fässler 16:15:56 17:11:01 29 Incl 3 behind SC
8 Lotterer 17:12:18 18:00:39 27 To finish

Note stints four and five, which should really be counted as a single stint, since the pitstop which separated them was the stop/go penalty.

Now here are the details for each pit stop:

Pit Stop Activity Time in pit lane Fuel added
1 Fuel only 54.3s 56.20 litres
2 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 18.3s 56.10 litres
3 Fuel only 54.6s 56.09 litres
4 Stop & Go 35.3s
5 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 17.1s 56.65 litres
6 Fuel only 54.0s 57.03 litres
7 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 17.5s 55.88 litres

For the number 7 Toyota, driven by Alexander Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Nicolas Lapierre, here are the same tables. Compare them yourself.

Stint Driver From time To time Laps Notes
1 Wurz 12:00:00 12:39:01 22 Plus lap to grid and FL
2 Wurz 12:40:01 13:20:51 23
3 Nakajima 13:22:19 14:10:36 25 Incl 3 behind SC
4 Nakajima 14:11:37 14:54:18 24
5 Lapierre 14:55:44 15:36:51 23
6 Lapierre 15:37:51 16:18:51 23
7 Wurz 16:20:16 17:04:34 23 Incl 3 behind SC
8 Wurz 17:05:32 17:32:17 15
9 Wurz 17:33:02 18:01:35 16 To finish

Pit Stop Activity Time in pit lane Fuel added
1 Fuel only 59.7s 68.68 litres
2 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 27.6s 68.74 litres
3 Fuel only 1m 00.6s 70.12 litres
4 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 25.7s 69.84 litres
5 Fuel only 59.6s 66.81 litres
6 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 24.2s 65.77 litres
7 Fuel only 58.1s 63.96 litres
8 Fuel only 44.8s 32.45 litres

I'm not going to offer any further comment (here), but the Toyota's faster average lap time and the Audi's faster (and fewer) pitstops provided a tremendous race at Silverstone and promises much for Brazil, Bahrain, Japan and China.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Getting the juices flowing

I have been a busy boy with all manner of things in recent weeks, both related to racing, and nothing to do with it. As a result, I have found little time (and, I’ll confess, little motivation) for writing on this blog.

Consequently, I feel certain twinges of disappointment about this, as I enjoy reading people’s comments, and enjoy seeing, among other things, the geographical spread of my readership.

The trouble is, that many of the areas that I feel worthy of comment are areas that you, dear reader, can read elsewhere on the internet or on the printed page. Why should you be interested in the things that I either agree or disagree with? Why should you come to this blog to read what you can perfectly well read elsewhere? What I would like to offer you, as members of a pretty exclusive group of folk who read this, is something unique; something that you cannot read elsewhere: something that is, to coin a phrase, trussers-esque.

One thing I love to do is to look back and compare the past to the present day. Sometimes this gives a great insight into the inevitability of events that unfold; other times you get completely surprised by what happens. Economists in the world of financial affairs always seem to be falling into the trap of suggesting that things will turn out the way they did the last time things were like this and yet, somehow things don’t quite fall out as expected.

In the world of motor racing, I was surprised recently on re-reading Stirling Moss’s account of the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race at what a big topic the subject of slower drivers was: Moss’s dislike of the race is well-known, but here’s part of what he has to say on the matter:

“I think the whole race is far too dangerous, simply because of the slow cars involved, plus the inexperienced drivers. And I think the latter are by far the greatest problem of all.” He goes on to say: “This matter of inexperience in driving doesn’t really involve the total amount of racing a man has done. What counts is the amount he has learned while he has been doing it. That and his general level of ability and intelligence. A man can race every week-end for years and still come in the category of ‘inexperienced’. We have several of them around now who have put in a tremendous number of hours on circuits all over the place, and they still can’t drive a nail. It’s difficult to know what can be done about it. Really, in races like Le Mans, drivers who haven’t had so much experience in terms of numbers of races, but who have learned quickly, should have preference over those who could race till kingdom come and never learn.”

In the book, Moss also asks the winning drivers Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby for their views, after the race is over. This is Salvadori: “I had difficulties passing other cars lots of times this year. Mostly with the small French cars. They won’t look in their mirrors and they won’t move over. I’m afraid they just haven’t the same consideration for the faster cars that most of our British drivers have.

“I don’t think the inexperienced drivers are necessarily the most blameworthy. In fact, I noticed that some of the worst baulking was done by very experienced drivers in some of the Panhards. I think some of it was absolutely intentional. No doubt about it. They saw you in their mirrors and still baulked you.”

And Shelby: “The inexperienced drivers in small cars seem to get in your way more. Inexperienced drivers in large cars seem to try to stay out of your way. The first-timers in the little cars give you more trouble for some reason.”

Moss then presents an inspired idea: “What to do about the problem I really don’t know. But one solution does occur to me. If Le Mans was a double-twelve-hour race instead of a single twenty-four, you could drive the thing single-handed. That would halve the driver difficulties immediately. Instead of having two dozen top drivers for the twelve top cars, you would only need one dozen, so there would be a reasonable number of experienced men to distribute amongst the other entries.”

Such lovely fifties’ prose - who says that our language doesn’t evolve? Even if rules of grammar are maintained, style develops - no-one writes like that in 2012. But aside from the style of the matter, I wonder if Moss would be surprised that, more than fifty years later, the same problem exists with slower cars today. In fact you could argue that the problem is worse, since we now have three drivers per car, increasing still further the number of drivers required. Today, drivers take more care in ‘not saying the wrong thing’, but essentially, to my mind, it has nothing to do with sponsorship, regulations or even nationality. It is part of the race, part of racing itself, and as one LMP1 driver said to me recently, it is actually part of the attraction, to be overtaking so many cars per lap.

After this year’s race, I did some analysis and estimate that the winning car made more than 1,500 overtaking moves over the duration of the race. That’s cars actually overtaken on the track - not cars stopped in the pits. I then extended this analysis to each car, and reached a total of more than 10,000 overtaking moves in the race altogether. It’s inevitable that some of these will have been easier than others, but the trick must surely be to ensure that each of one is completed safely and successfully.

And if that’s not “Trussers-esque”, then please tell me what is!