Race Blog
China 2009


The off-season, a few years back. Deep within their Japanese engine the BAR team are facing a problem: at high revs the crankshaft is moving in a way not desirable for optimum performance. So, what to do?

In such a situation teams only really have two options: ask the FIA for clarification or change course and try a different engineering solution. The BAR brass opted for the former and fired off a question to the governing body; could they, by using software and a little ingenuity, move the clutch to compensate for the crankshaft’s errant behaviour?

After a positive reply the team’s engineers played their joker – a centrifugal clutch.

A string of impressive starts ensued, and BAR’s secret remained just that until a team member jumped ship and informed a rival of their trickery.

The genius wasn’t in using 70-year-old technology; it was in the phrasing of the question. Fast-forward a few years and that’s exactly what Brawn and Williams did when seeking clarification on their cars’ design, specifically the oh-so-trick diffusers.

Toyota, apparently, merely employed a former Honda (Brawn) man who spilled the beans.

Formula 1 2009 is obsessed, completely besotted even. Up and down the press room and paddock all you hear is diffuser this and diffuser that.

“Who’s got one”, “who’s getting one”, “they’re flying one in”, “ they can’t make theirs work…”

Sure, the rear of the car is important, but everything on an F1 car works front-to-back. Just take a look at the brake ducts on the Brawn cars. They’re a work of art and surely have a significant part to play in the overall airflow.

For further evidence, check out the Red Bull machines and their stunning Shanghai pace. It’s in the package as a whole. A successful grand prix car is the sum of all its parts.

Close up, one can appreciate how beautifully designed – and finished – Adrian Newey’s latest charger is.

And it doesn’t even have a trick diffuser!

Please now take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix by clicking on the Formula 1 link at the top of the page.

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