Malaysian GP and a Few Thoughts That Followed

raam shanker@raam_s13Contributor IApril 5, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 04:  Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and Brawn GP drives during qualifying for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on April 4, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The Malaysian GP ended up like an abandoned cricket match. Conditions leading to close of race were wet and dark. Wet, because of the rain, dark because of the time at which the race was held.

In an effort to woo the European audience, Bernie and Max decided to have the race towards the evening instead of the usual afternoon. Please note the fact that I have a lot of admiration for the two of them, but their decisions in the last few months have made me question their intentions.

On the one side, they want to expand the F1 season to go all over the world, to places like China, India, Bahrain, Dubai and so forth. On the other hand they want the races to be hosted at a time convenient for European audiences.

We see a contradiction here. The season opening Australian GP was held in the evening. One big disadvantage in hosting races in the evening or early morning is the position of the sun. The sun is directly hitting on your face and makes it difficult to view the track ahead.

Driving at 30 miles an hour, I have problems looking at the road ahead, into the sun; these lads are driving in excess of 150 miles an hour at least.

So what is the logic in talking about safety, expanding the race to other parts of the world but still favouring the European audiences while sacrificing interest from the rest of the world?

Why not make them night races, under floodlights or simply revert to normal, mid afternoon race starts? With the mid afternoon starts, even if it pours and there is a red flag, there will be enough time to decide whether or not to restart the race once the downpour stops.

We could hear Sebastian Bouradis saying on the radio that it was too difficult to see and the race needs to be stopped. In addition to this, the dipping evening temperatures make it difficult for tyres to do their job.

So, I’d like to conclude this section by saying we’re better off having mid day race starts or night races.

Now coming back on to the technical regulations, which I’ve been harping on about, in the last few weeks, I am going to focus on the rear wings and slicks. The idea was reduced aerodynamic grip and increased road grip under dry conditions.

I am sorry if I sound too technical in the next few lines.

The downforce depends to a certain extent on the wingspan or the width of the wings and is proportional to the square of velocity (speed). Now effectively by reducing the rear wingspan the downforce has been brought down significantly.

To compensate for that, The FIA have reintroduced slicks, which is an effort to increase the tyre grip.

However from the looks of it, the increase in tyre grip does not fully make up for the decrease in aerodynamic grip. Else we wouldn’t have those changes in place. But then this is good in dry weather conditions. However when it is raining or if the track is damp or wet, we have a problem.

The tyre grip gets greatly reduced, as the teams are not using slicks for fear of aquaplaning. Added to this, the cars are likely to run a lot slower due to the wet conditions, hence the aerodynamic grip also goes down to a great extent because of the velocity.

So where or how does it make cars any safer by reducing their aerodynamic grip and tyre grip? I fail to understand.