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Ask Bob: Edition 3 2005

Apr 8, 2005

Hello Bob,
I understand that Bernie Eccelstone has a contract that requires a minimum of 10 teams to be present at every race. Could you please tell me why backmarker teams like Minardi, Jordan and Sauber try to mingle with the "big boys"? They are so dramatically under funded compared to teams like Toyota, Ferrari, Williams etc and will never be able to win or without a great deal of good fortune set a foot on a podium. They can't sell cars or get direct revenue back to sponsors as a result of a high placing. Also do they not deserve more TV coverage? As an example in Malaysia, Saubers home race, they would have been on TV for less than 10 seconds throughout the entire race. Many thanks, Rene

Dear Rene,
I think I may have answered this question, or similar ones, many times before. The fact is that by simply existing, those teams that you mention are making money as any business should. They are advertising billboards and as such are being paid to carry ads on global TV. Don't forget that Jordan won a Grand Prix not so long ago and is now owned by an individual with apparently enormous resources willing to do what it takes to get to the top. Sauber are a team with the occasional flash of inspiration and could come up with points quite regularly. Minardi are the permanent backmarkers but even Paul Stoddart would not be in the game if he did not think it financially worthwhile.
Williams were minnows once, as were BAR and look what has happened to them over the last few years.

There will always be backmarkers. If there were no Minardi, Jordan or Sauber then, on current form, it would be Red Bull, BAR perhaps even McLaren .
The teams you mention mingle with the "big boys" in the perennial hope that they will join the "big boy" ranks and long may they be they're trying as hard as they can. Formula 1 needs them no matter how irritating they may sometimes be. Bob

How is it that you talk about the cars going offline on the cool-down lap to pick up tyre marbles for weight in purposes but at Bahrain I saw the drivers being given water bottles by marshalling stewards in parc ferme and also in the drivers' weigh-in area before they actually got weighed? Is this legal as I thought minimum all-up weight was driver as well as car. Kerry Wood

Dear "Woodduck",
I have watched the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix again and I think you may be wrong in your assumptions. As far as I am aware the rules still state that the driver must not take on any weight until after he is weighed at the end of the race, or words to that effect. I saw Herbie Blash of the FIA ushering the drivers from their cars into the weighing area as soon as they arrived outside parc ferme and he was holding two, maybe three bottles of water. He didn't actually give any water to the drivers but kept them in his hand.

The drivers were next seen in the ante room waiting to go on to the podium and they had already weighed-in, as they do that on the official scales just inside the garage doors in the parc ferme area. It appeared that Trulli, arriving after the others, did step on some scales but I am sure these were not the official weighing scales as he already had his baseball cap on. It was only then that the pictures showed the drivers drinking from water bottles, or Coke in Alonso's case.

I believe that Herbie had the water in case a driver had a major and urgent problem but nobody claimed it and he did not actually give it to anybody. Look at the pictures again and you will see. You are correct in stating that the weight of 600 kgs is the minimum weight of the car including driver. Bob

I was wondering how it is that the 2005 F1 cars are lapping circuits faster then the previous models given the new rules on aerodynamic downforce, which presumably require them to use more caution when cornering. Regards, Dan

Dear Dan,
You are wrong I am afraid. The rule changes brought in over the winter were designed to slow the cars and they have. Just look at the comparison I have made below. Undoubtedly the engineers in the teams will overcome those new rules and produce faster cars but for now the rules have worked.

2004 Melbourne F.Lap 1.24.125 M. Schumacher
2005 Melbourne F.Lap 1.25.683 F. Alonso

2004 Malaysia F.Lap 1.34.223 J.P. Montoya
2005 Malaysia F.Lap 1.35.483 K. Raikkonen

2004 Bahrain F.Lap 1.30.252 M Schumacher
2005 Bahrain F.Lap 1.31.447 P. de la Rosa


Hello Bob,
My question is as follows: As most of the F1 cars have video cameras fitted to show us viewers great footage of the race, why do we not get to hear the Formula 1 cars when in full flight? It would be awesome to hear the whine of the engine or the exhaust during the race. See you on Sunday for the Bahrain F1 GP. Zareer Darukhanawalla

Dear Zareer,
One of the most magical things about a Formula 1 car is the sound of a V10 on full noise and I fear that it will change things enormously if and when the V8 engines come along. A V8 sounds great and it has a special sound that growls like nothing else but it is obviously a V8. A V10 has a sound like no other and has to be heard to be believed, as I am sure those people who have actually attended a Grand Prix will tell you.

Occasionally the TV Director allows us to hear brief moments of a muted engine but I fear that the noise would be too much for an onboard microphone to accurately transmit. I am really not sure of the technical reasons why we cannot hear an engine but I guess there are plenty. Then again, it would be nothing like the real thing, so I guess you are going to have to go to a race to experience it. Bob

Is it possible for the aerodynamics on an F1 car to be automatically adjustable? That is, adjustable for each section of the race track, low downforce for the straights, then automatically self-adjusting (hydraulically or electronically) to give more downfroce for cornering, or is this not allowable in accordance with current rules? Speaking of rules, is there a website, or some other way, to see all the rules?

Dear Ken or Tracey,
This often asked, and answered, question is easily answered with a simple "not possible" answer. Against the rules I am afraid. Since you ask about a rules website you can look up the exact FIA version on their very own site at Go to Formula 1 and sporting regulations (or technical regs) and all will be revealed. Bob

Hi Bob,
What are the benefits of the 'Bull horns' on the new McLaren? Does this have any advantage over the other teams? Thanks, Troy Bell

Dear Troy,
I guess that McLaren must think so or they would not have them. Virtually all the teams have some sort of wing on the air box to try and claw back some of the downforce lost in the new regulations. Some teams like Ferrari have simple straight wings and then at the other end of the spectrum there is McLaren with their Boeing 747 wing tip look alikes. Who knows what is best?

Presumably the aerodynamicists working away and spending millions in wind tunnels have a good idea and who am I to second guess them? The aero package on a modern Formula 1 car is an incredibly black art and it is the total package that is effective rather than just one element. The 2005 McLaren is obviously very quick so one must assume the horns work but I guess the real confirmation will come if you see other teams start to imitate them. Bob

Hi Bob,
My question is what happened to the rumour that Lamborghini was to enter Formula 1 again? I heard this rumour back in about 2000 but haven't heard much since. Have you heard of any plans for the Volkswagon-Audi Group to enter a marquee in Formula 1 - it would be great to see a Bugatti back in the hunt don't you think?! Jon Foulkes

Dear Jon,
I am not sure that most of the population would know what the heck a Bugatti was! I wonder too if it would be a Bugatti in the sense that it would be anything that the major manufacturer wanted it to be. Skoda, Golf, Bentley who knows?

The rumour regarding Lambourghini just sort of faded away I think. We at McLaren tested a car with a Lambo engine some years back, 1993 I think, and although quite powerful it was thirsty and heavy and although parent company Chrysler seemed to be committed to making a go of it, Peugeot became the preferred option for 1994. Frankly with hindsight I am not sure that the Lambo could have been any worse! Rumours persist to this day that the VAG will enter Formula 1 again but as yet they show no signs of wanting to rush in. Bob
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