Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Renault Sport F1 Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Photo dy circuit
(Renault Sport F1)

Renault Sport F1 head to the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka this weekend hoping to build on an extremely result last time out in Singapore which saw Infiniti Red Bull Racing take second and third place on the podium with reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel achieving his best result of the season so far in second place while his team mate Daniel Ricciardo finished the race in third place. 

Renault powered Toro Rosso's Jean Eric Vergne did a fantastic job under the lights in Singapore to finish the race in 6th place strengthening the Italian team's position in 7th place in the Constructors championship which sees them extend their lead over fellow Renault powered outfit the Lotus F1 Team to 19 points with five race's remaining this season.

The Enstone outfit finished the Singapore Grand Prix in 12th and 13th place respectively for Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean. 

Meanwhile Daniil Kvyat finished the race in 14th place in the second Toro Rosso. He will be joined on track in Japan on Friday by his new 2015 team mate Max Verstappen who will make his full test debut with the outfit in Free Practice One in Suzuka in place of Jean Eric Vergne.

Singapore was also a fantastic race for the Caterham F1 Team's Marcus Ericsson who ended the Grand Prix in 15th place which was the Swedish drivers best result since the Monaco Grand Prix back in May where he finished the race just outfit the points in 11th place. While Ericsson had a great race it was a disappointing race for his team mate Kamui Kobayashi as the Japanese driver retired from the race with a power unit failure.

The Japanese driver will be hoping for a strong result in front of his home crowd this weekend in Suzuka.

The Caterham F1 Team are hoping that they will be in a position to close the gap to the Lotus F1 Team and Sauber F1 Team this weekend. Speaking ahead of this weekend's race Renault Sport F1's Head of Track Operations Remi Taffin commented:

'Suzuka is one of the classic circuits on the calendar; a real rollercoaster of a circuit that challenges the drivers, engineers and strategists. Every part of the car needs to be optimized to deal with the high-speed turns, long periods of open throttle and tight hairpins, and a strong harmony between chassis and engine will really pay dividends.

With the risk of sounding like a cliché, the circuit really is a game of two halves. The majority of corners are found in the first part of the circuit, with the ‘power’ section coming in the last half. It’s therefore a circuit where each component of the Power Unit will get a work out and has to be on top of its game.

The first challenge of the lap is the Esses, a series of bends where the driver will dance with the throttle as he changes direction at high speed. Similar to Silverstone’s Maggotts and Becketts, the driver enters the complex at approximately 245kph and carries the speed through until the exit of the complex. He will spend approximately 15secs in fifth or sixth gear through this section. With plenty of quick lifts and changes of direction, a neutral handling car with good drive throughout the torque range is required. This section gives the MGU-H plenty of time to recover energy through the constant exhaust stream, while the MGU-K will also get a top up as the driver touches the brakes. The best opportunity for the K to recharge the battery, however, will be through the hairpin and then the chicane at the end of the lap.

The second part of the track will really tax the ICE and turbo. The distance from Turn 14 through the awesome 130R to the chicane is 1,250m and the driver will be at full throttle throughout. At full rpm that will take nearly 17secs, meaning the driver will cover 75m each sec. Inside the ICE the pistons will turn at an incredible 200 times per second, generating enormous internal forces.

Due to the strain on each part, we will, where possible, introduce new components for this race. Reliability will start to play a major role in results at this point in the season since every team and driver has had to mix and match as we have learnt more on the operation of the power unit. To keep aces in hand, we may even see teams run fewer miles in practice to save the engines for the rest of the year.

We are however fairly at ease on this front since we have committed ourselves to introduce a sixth power unit where needed. The picture is a lot clearer now and although not exactly ideal to have to introduce new parts and take penalties, we can do this at races where the impact will be minimised. We believe Suzuka will be a good challenge, but one that we are looking forward to with no worries.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

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