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I'm Matthew Somerfield, a freelance journalist focused on the technical elements of Formula One. It has been a pleasure to provide content via this site for the last 5 years, which has led me to several paid freelancing jobs along the way. I'm currently plying my trade with Motorsport.com and working alongside the legend that is Giorgio Piola.

This has seen the content here diminish as a result and I'd like that to change. In order to accomplish this I need your financial support, as I need to break free of the shackles of doing this part time. If you like the content I've been producing and want more of it I'd ask that if you can spare some change each month it'd go a long way towards transforming this site into the technical behemoth I know it can be.

As such I've set up a 'tip jar' over on Patreon and will continue to set goals and rewards based on our success - www.patreon.com/SomersF1

14 Dec 2017
vLog: A re-run of the regulation changes made for 2017

The last episode of the Missed Apex podcast is being turned into a mini series of videos of which this is the first as I run through some of the basic regulation changes made by the FIA for 2017.



For reference here's the images we were using during the episode too.

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30 Nov 2017
Halo aero fairings tested in Abu Dhabi

And so it has begun, teams have already started to add fairings to their halo devices as they look to change the aerodynamic impact it'll have on the car....

The regulations (article 15.2.6) permit a fairing to be attached to the safety device provided it is bonded to the structure and made of prescribed laminate, a vanity panel as such, like the ones to bridge the step nose design first introduced in 2013. The fairing may be no more than 20mm from the structure, giving the designers quite a decent amount of freedom with which to mitigate the aerodynamic issues posed by the safety devices introduction.

If you follow the blog you may recall that back at the start of last year I mentioned that freedom for the designers might invoke some intricate designs, firstly to neutralise the aerodynamic effect but perhaps in the longer term even allow them to make gains. If you're not au fait with that article it can be found here: 'Halo' - Angelic or Fiendish?

Three teams tested aerodynamic fairings in Abu Dhabi, McLaren presenting the most complex iteration of the three on day one of the post GP test, the fairing incorporated three hooped winglets stacked one on top of the other. The three winglets were supported by a central mounting spar (red highlight) and a further two spars midships either side of it.
The MCL32 with a more intense aerodynamic fairing attached to the Halo
Toro Rosso entered the fray on day two of the test with a similar design to the one already used by McLaren, albeit with only a single winglet, again using 3 supports around the rim.

Haas tested theirs ahead of the GP and included a row of opposing vortex generators on the trailing edge of the main hoop, much like my original mockup, creating mini vortices to improve flow over the drivers helmet and onward toward the airbox and engine cover.

If this first showing is anything to go by I think we can safely assume that the complexity and look of each of the halo's will be very different when the teams line up on the grid in Australia.
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28 Nov 2017
Ross Brawn's Abu Dhabi in Five


Silver Arrows sign off in style.
Mercedes ended the 2017 campaign in fine style with a dominant performance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and with Valtteri Bottas winning from team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
On Friday, it seemed as though Ferrari and Red Bull had closed the gap slightly to the champions, but on Saturday and Sunday the Silver Arrows delivered an unequivocal response, with pole winner Bottas marginally ahead of Hamilton in qualifying but half a second clear off the third-placed Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, and victorious in the race almost 20 seconds of the German who was again third behind Hamilton.
Bottas ended his first year in a top team in the best possible way. The Finn had a strong start to the season, but after the summer break, his team-mate got the upper hand. Had Valtteri gone off the boil? Yes, but Lewis had stepped up a gear and, with the exception of qualifying at Interlagos a fortnight ago, from Spa onwards it was 'Hammer Time', the Englishman also seeming to develop a more mature driving style. For Mercedes, Sunday's result contributed to a season-total of 12 wins, 15 pole positions, 9 fastest race laps, 4 one-two finishes and 668 points – a simply amazing season. Once again, congratulations to them for a job well done.
 Ferrari step up
That's four years on the trot that Mercedes have been the grid's most potent force. This time, however, it had a worthy opponent in the shape of Ferrari. Vettel led the Drivers' classification for a long time, but then came a bad spell of three races – Singapore, Malaysia and Japan – that compromised the German's chances of taking the title fight to the wire.
That was a shame, as it would have been great to see a tight duel all the way to the end, just as it had been up until Monza.
The results didn't come even though the Maranello car was always competitive: proof of the good job done by Ferrari's Chief Technical Officer, Mattia Binotto and his team in preparing and developing the car over the course of the season. Now they need to dig deep to take the fight to Mercedes all the way to the end of 2018. Ferrari know what is required and I'm sure they will prepared right down to the smallest detail over the winter.
 Levelling the playing field
The Abu Dhabi race confirmed in no uncertain terms the huge gap between the top three teams (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull) and the rest of the grid. After 10 laps, seventh placed Nico Hulkenberg was already 19.170 seconds off the leader, which grew to 85s by the end of the race. And here we're talking about an exceptional driver and a factory team representing one of four major automotive manufacturers in Formula 1.
I think we have a duty to look at ways of making the championship more balanced, without resorting to artificial or improvised means. That's why, for several months, working first and foremost with the FIA and the teams, we have been looking at ideas to make the sport we all love, more interesting. That's what the fans want, as has been seen from the research we have carried out over the past few months and let's not forget that they are the sport's most important asset.
 Formula 1 makes a new mark
The Abu Dhabi paddock was the scene of two events, which one way or another, are symbolic for the sport. The first was the unveiling of the new Formula 1 logo, which came immediately after the podium ceremony. Over the past few days the question was asked as to whether the logo is really a major priority and the answer is yes. Apart from the commercial aspects, the new logo is much more flexible in terms of its use, especially when it comes to its application on merchandising and in the digital world. It has impact. The old logo was neither iconic or memorable. It was important to let Formula 1 fans see that we are entering a new era. Our sport is changing and must look to the future and also outside its own environment if it is to attract new fans, especially among the young. We believe this logo exemplifies this desire: in a world where visual communication is ever more important, we must also move in this direction.
 It's all in the game
And on the subject of getting more youngsters to follow Formula 1, the Yas Marina paddock hosted an amazing event, the final of the first ever F1 Esports Series, which featured 20 drivers going head-to-head to take the World Championship title. The winner was Brendon Leigh, an 18-year-old from England, who beat two other very young competitors, Chile's Fabrizio Donoso Delgado and Germany's Sven Zurner. I had the pleasure of meeting them on Sunday and I was struck by their enthusiasm, their youth and the passion they demonstrated for something we must now consider a real sport, which has in fact been recently recognised as such by the International Olympic Committee.
I must admit that, purely down to my age, I'm not a user of games consoles and that sort of thing, but I realise that younger generations live their sport through these new (to me!) methods.
At Formula 1 we strongly believe in esports and that's why we wanted to host the final title-deciding round of the 2017 season in the real paddock. And judging by the interest generated by the event it was the right decision.
On Saturday night, there were a lot of people in the paddock, including drivers and engineers, all watching the final on the giant screens and they clearly found it exciting, especially Leigh's last lap overtaking move, which saw him win the race and the title. How good would it have been to see something like that on the real track. Moves like that do sometimes happen for real – I'm thinking of the 2008 finale in Brazil – but wouldn't it be nice to see it happen more often?
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26 Nov 2017
Trumpets race review Abu Dhabi


Ambient 24° 
Track 31°
Humidity 47% 
Wind 1.2 m/s

Prelude

The winds of change howled through Yas Marina as night descended slowly over the desert. Social media was full of the last goodbyes (or perhaps au revoirs) as the NBC crew prepared for their last broadcast, future uncertain. Yet there was at the same time, a hint of fresh beginnings, as even last night Sean Bratches (he of the commercial side and ESPN facilitator) confirmed that there would be not one but TWO Over-The –Top digital offerings in place next year for digitally thirsty F1 fans. Details, as such were vague and not yet confirmed, but the thirst for fans to be able to consume races directly online, without intermediary of a provider, has been building to a howl that would rival the Ferrari V12’s  revved to insane RPM’s  that always seem to be dead center in every “glory days” recollection that dot the internet.

Also staggering in its immensity, is the not-confirmation confirmation (OK, to be fair, Dieter Rencken’s surmise) that Alonso might be running the better part of a full WEC season alongside his McRenault season for 2018. And the fact that there is exactly one grid penalty this weekend, the luckless Brendan Hartley of Toro Rosso being the recipient, also makes quite the change from the last few weekends. With P6 and over $6 million in prize money on the line, and only 4 points separating Renault from Toro Rosso, the progress of Hulkenberg and Sainz will be key,  as a P8 will be the minimum for Renault to seize the cash dangling in front of their face.

News that Liberty specifically want street races in Copenhagen, London and New York hit the papers big time in Denmark, with reports of a private investor only meeting this week for those interested in the Danish race. Although the rumours have been in circulation for a while, confirmation came in the form of a strategy document obtained by the press, giving some extra substance to Liberty’s plans.

As the anthem rang throughout the circuit, and the stunning fly by from Etihad painted the sky with brilliant colours, the race at the front looked to be Mercedes v Mercedes, with Ricciardo v Raikkonen as possibly the most interesting tilt, the race in the midfield beckoned. With the Force India’s free to race, Renault desperate to pick up a P8 and Alonso ready to play spoiler, the midfield was the place to be for true race fans as lights out approached…


Summary

Lights Out!!!! It was a banging start from  Bottas and a lock up from Vettel opened the door for Ricciardo. Sainz twitchy and Magnussen off, with Alonso the only mover, getting in front of Massa. Raikkonen all over Ricciardo but the Aussie held his ground as the first lap rocked into the books.

Lap 2 saw Massa back around Alonso and into the last points paying position. Stroll managed a good start and was up to P13, making up the most places, along with Vandoorne and Grosjean.

Hulkenberg came under investigation for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, a fact that Perez immediately took to team radio to complain about.  It took the stewards little time to ding Nico for the violation and it was a 5 second time penalty as lap 4 rolled by.
At the sharp end, the cars very quickly settled into 1-2 second gaps typical of the long game being played.  Vandoorne reported a lack of rear grip, a fact which was observed in the telemetry but lacking an easy solution.

Lap 6 saw an actual overtake, Grosjean on Stroll, beggars choosers and all that and Stroll easily swapped back as he hit the second DRS zone. Sainz on Alonso was the only other battle at the moment, the Renault loitering half a second or so astern of the McLaren.  At the front, a pattern began to appear with Hamilton being quicker through the first 2 sectors, then Bottas making up the difference in sector 3. With lap 10 done, the main action on track was still the battle between Grosjean and Stroll, thankfully enough for the telly, but the promise of action to come crackled over team radio as Ferrari released Raikkonen to have a go at Ricciardo ahead of the first round of stops.

Lap 12 Grosjean was by again with Stroll waiting for the 2nd DRS but this time Grosjean was very late on the brakes and though the Williams was briefly able to fight back, Romain eventually hung it round the outside through the chicane and seized P13 for HAAS, as Stroll headed for the pits. Out on a set of Supers, he was going to be a useful data point for the rest of the teams as he rejoined the scrum.

Stroll wasn’t the only Williams struggling with tyres, as Massa was now well within the wheelhouse of Alonso, who was setting a personal best on lap 14 as he carved away chunks of time on the turns, and Massa stole as much back on the straights as he could. This left Alonso roughly 0.5s behind with no clear way by the wily Brazilian.

Verstappen was the first of the front runners in,  his impatience at being behind Raikkonen making him the perfect guinea pig for Red Bull. Vandoorne, too, was in and out for a new set of Supers, the long run tyre of choice as the dominos began to fall.  Raikkonen answered the following lap, and easily was out ahead of Verstappen, who somehow managed to wind up behind Ocon as he came back onto the track.
In the meantime, Hulkenberg had edged out a nearly 9 second gap, making his 5 second penalty meaningless. Perez was boxed as a result and Hulkenberg answered on lap 18.  He STILL was out 2 seconds or so ahead of Sergio, despite a balky wheel change and as the race progressed, it looked that Renault had the pace on Force India.  Gasly had a spin that provided a bit for the highlight reel, but was only a brief yellow

Lap 20 and Ricciardo was in an Grosjean was told to make life difficult for Hulkenberg, and he seized the job with elan, making a rather remarkable pass into T1 to retake P11. Ricciardo was on the radio immediately after his stop to say something felt weird and lap 21 was the end of  his race, with hydraulic issues. Bottas took advantage of the Double Waved Yellows to run to the pits, out on a set of Supers as Hamilton stayed on track. Ricciardo, meanwhile, having left his stricken ride, wandered back over to help the marshals out, before hopping a scooter back to the garage.

On team radio, Lewis was told that another 4 or 5 laps at his current pace might give him the exceedingly rare overcut. Alonso, meanwhile, had finally worried his way around Massa, McLaren having kicked things off with the undercut and Williams responding.  It did the job and Lap 24 Alonso was by, with Massa now chasing his longtime nemesis.

During that drama, Lewis was in and out, Mercedes having decided with backmarkers looming discretion was the better part of valor, and it was Hamilton out and immediately taking chunks of time out of the 2 second gap that he started with. Lap 26 and he was into DRS on his teammate and Bottas was warned “you should be aware, Hamilton is pushing. Bottas responded and it was by thousandths that he staved off DRS, but the gloves were clearly off.

The following go round and again it was Bottas putting in the work, gaining roughly 0.2 seconds for his safety margin. With night full on, track temps below 30°C and the wind picking up, the changing conditions perhaps were playing their part.

Or not, as Lewis lit it up and bang!!  under DRS time again he went as backmarkers  ahead of Bottas offered up an irresistible opportunity. DRS on the way to T11 as Bottas  emptied the battery to stay ahead. And just like that Hamilton ran wide and the gap was reset to 1.5 seconds.   

Stroll was in for another set of tyres during the drama, back to the ultras with 25 laps to go. Sainz, who had gone ultra long, was told to push and had managed to evict both Alonso and Ocon from his pit window. Ocon answered and then DISASTER!!! One of the wheels didn’t make it all the way on and it was day over. $6.5 million dollar mistake?? Not exactly as P6 was still enough to give Renault the championship position and Sainz’ retirement promoted his teammate.
On replay it was the front left that was the troublemaker, with the car released before the wheelman even got the gun onto the wheelnut.
Stroll was having issues, and the fact that Ericsson wandered by him was indicative of something having gone terribly wrong with his race. Lap time’s 5 seconds off the rest of the field also confirmed this observation.

18 laps to go and Hamilton was on the march, rocking up with purple sectors  and winnowing the gap ever closer to the DRS mark. Stroll pitted for the 3rd time as Verstappen began to put pressure on Raikkonen, inside of 2 seconds.  Sector 3 continued to be the only ray of hope for Bottas, as he was consistently several tenths quicker than his teammate there. Magnussen, seeking redemption for his early spin, rocked by Wehrlein and set sail in pursuit of Vandoorne and P12.

Lap 41 and Magnussen was caught napping, with Wehrlein getting round him into the chicane. Incensed, the Dane fought back with a vicious move across the bow as the Sauber suddenly appeared rather racy in the German’s hands. Meanwhile, Hamilton appeared to be caught in a thermal trap, on the radio saying that the hot air coming off Bottas’ car was making it impossible for him to get close enough to overtake.

Still, not enough to convince Lewis to give up and after letting the gap out to 1.7 seconds, he reeled it back in to 1.3 seconds with 10 laps left in the race and the slow burn to the end of the race commenced.  Ericsson v Gasly and Wehrlein v Magnussen were the only battles in DRS as it seemed that the rest of the field save Mercedes were just walking it in.

The delivery of muffins having been the most exciting development for laps, Hamilton had been waiting and on lap 49 he pounced. A lock up into T5 ended the momentary drama, which had, predictably been brought on by a previous error from Bottas.

Momentarily Vettel was the fastest thing on track, and then lap 52 Bottas dropped it into the 40’s for the first time in the race, apparently having been given permission to turn up the engine and have a go. And that was pretty much that. Hamilton dropped back  and the rest of the field settled down to wait for the checquers. Bottas, Hamilton and lonely, lonely Vettel accounted for the podium spots, with Raikkonen and Verstappen rounding out the top 5 as they awaited the denouement of the race. Hulkenberg and Renault were gifted P6 with the loss of Ricciardo, which was cold comfort to Toro Rosso, who had officially lost their P6 in the championship and if you thought Mexico had poisoned the atmosphere, no doubt that was a passing fit in comparison to what was being said behind closed doors in Faenza at the end of the race.  It was a donut fest by Bottas as the fireworks lit up the sky, and even Massa got in on the act, parking up on the straight alongside the race winners as they smoked up the night.  Boring as the race may have been, the season itself has been the most competitive we have seen for some time, hopefully a harbinger for things to come. ..

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

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As a note from me, Somers, keep your eye on the site as whilst Formula One has finished for another year a rebranded F1 comes to you in just 17 weeks!
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