Mercedes AMG Petronas Featured This Week: Race Starts and statistics

Mercedes AMG Petronas Featured This Week: Race Starts and statistics

11.04.2016: 2016 Chinese Grand Prix Preview Shanghai International Circuit

2016 Chinese Grand Prix Preview
Shanghai International Circuit




Starts have been a big talking point after the first couple of races. What is the main challenge for teams when it comes to making a clean getaway?



Ever since standing starts were implemented in Formula One, they have been extremely variable. The big challenge for teams is not simply to have the best starts on the grid - but to reduce that variability as much as possible.
 



How does the team measure a race start? And who has fared best thus far in 2016?


At Mercedes, we measure a race start in terms of distance covered in the first four seconds. Most teams will use a similar metric. According to that metric, on average, the Silver Arrows had the best starts on the grid in 2015.


The problem is that, despite a strong average, variability meant that several of those starts were poor and resulted in a loss of position. Of the two races so far in 2016, Nico had the sixth best start on the grid in Melbourne - and the best in Bahrain.


Conversely, of the five drivers who got a better launch than Nico in Melbourne, four were the worst starters in Bahrain - the exception being Vettel, who didn't take the start at all.


 So, taking this sample of two races, you couldn't have a better illustration of that variability. The best start in Melbourne was actually Pascal Wehrlein - a rookie on his Grand Prix debut, driving for the second least-experienced team on the grid!
 


What is the most challenging aspect of a race start inside the cockpit?


One of the main challenges for the drivers comes in the mid-phase of the launch, when they're controlling the torque before reaching the power-limited phase.


The team can help to a limited extent with the clutch, which controls the initial phase of the getaway. But once they drop the clutch, in the mid-phase, the driver is trying to balance on a pinnacle of perfect tyre slip.


Drop one way, and they've got wheel spin. Drop the other, and they're bogging down. With all the noise and activity of the other cars around them at this point, it's very tricky to resolve the difference.
 



Rules governing clutch configurations have recently been amended. How big an impact has this had?


Variability has been deliberately increased by restrictions introduced during 2015 and extended for 2016. These restrictions have forced race starts to be more fully controlled by the driver himself, making them as close to fully 'manual' as possible.


To be more specific, the team cannot instruct or coach the driver via radio communication - and the driver must control the clutch manually with only one lever.


Performance now depends more than ever on driver skill - but not entirely. It is still up to the team to provide powerful and consistent equipment.


This has added an extra dimension to the task at hand for all parties concerned, so it should come as no surprise to see even more variation across the grid this season.
 


So have the changes to the regulations achieved their objective?


These regulations have been introduced to make races more unpredictable. If race starts are more variable, then more drivers will find themselves out of position relative to their grid position and more interesting races will result.


This is what happened in Melbourne and Bahrain, so the conclusion can reasonably be made that the regulations have been successful thus far.


 If "mixed-up grids" are the objective, then this is a much fairer way to achieve it, since the result is ultimately still achieved on the merit of team and driver. A more complete conclusion can be formed after half a season with a settled set of regulations.
 


Can the teams take measures to counter the variability of race starts?



Whatever the regulations might be, variability is simply part of the nature of race starts. It's something that, despite decades of intensive research, development and practice, nobody has perfected.


As a sport, Formula One has achieved a lot of very difficult and impressive things over the years, so if the entire technical competence of the paddock has failed to crack it, it must be pretty difficult!
 


So, it's a case of accepting the inevitable and focusing on other things, then?


Teams will never give up the fight when it comes to a technical challenge. Everyone is constantly looking to improve - and there will be lessons learned from the first two races under these new rules that will have kicked off that process already.


There doesn't seem to be a magic solution on the horizon that will simply eliminate variability. But the real question is whether that's necessarily a bad thing.


 On the basis of the first lap entertainment in Melbourne and Bahrain, one could argue it makes for a better spectacle...
 
 
What's New in China: "Enjoy the Future Now" with Qualcomm

 

Throughout the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix weekend, the front wing end plates of both Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid Formula One cars will carry special branding to celebrate a shared passion for innovation between China and Official Team Partner Qualcomm.
 

The Chinese characters translate directly as "Enjoy the Future Now" - illustrating the ambition of both China and Qualcomm to bring the future forward faster as essential accelerators of progress, unlocking what's next for the entire mobile tech industry.
 
 
 


 
2016 Chinese Grand Prix Timetable


 
Session          Local Time (CST)          Brackley (BST)          Stuttgart (CEST)

Practice 1          10:00 - 11:30          03:00 - 04:30          04:00 - 05:30

Practice 2          14:00 - 15:30          07:00 - 08:30          08:00 - 09:30

Practice 3          12:00 - 13:00          05:00 - 09:00          06:00 - 07:00

Qualifying          15:00 - 16:00          08:00 - 09:00          09:00 - 10:00

Race          14:00 - 16:00          07:00 - 09:00          08:00 - 10:00

 
Weather.com Forecast (Accurate as of Monday 11 April)

 

Day          Temperature          Conditions          Precipitation          Wind          Humidity
Thu          14 - 26°C          Partly Cloudy          0%          14mph SSE          64%
Fri          16 - 20°C          AM Clouds,
PM Sun          20%          25mph SE          64%
Sat          14 - 25°C          Light Rain          70%          21mph SW          74%
Sun          13 - 22°C          Mostly Sunny          20%          16mph N          59%

 
 
Dates for your Diary

 
Monday 11/04/16          •    Event: Preview day! Much excitement!

Tuesday 12/04/16          •    Event: Time to fly...

Wednesday 13/04/16          •    Anniversary: Lewis Hamilton's first pole position / front row start for the Silver Arrows

•    Birthday: Mercedes-Benz Star Christian Lautenschlager (1877)


Thursday 14/04/16          •    Anniversary: Nico Rosberg's first Formula One pole position (China 2012)


•    Anniversary: Lewis Hamilton's first Formula One front row start (Bahrain 2007)
•    Anniversary: 25th Formula One podium for the Silver Arrows (China 2013)



Friday 15/04/16          •    Event: FP1, FP2

•    Anniversary: Nico Rosberg's first Formula One pole victory (China 2012)
•    Anniversary: First Formula One victory of the modern Silver Arrows era (China 2012)


Saturday 16/04/16          •    Event: FP3, Qualifying

•    Birthday: Mercedes-AMG DTM driver Paul di Resta (1986)


Sunday 17/04/16          •    Event: Race day!

•    Anniversary: The inaugural Pacific Grand Prix (1994)

 
 
Bradley Lord     - photos Mercedes

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11.04.2016 / MaP

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