09/06/2012

Friday Sweep-up

So a great performance for our drivers today, particularly for the two Sahara Force India boys.

 (Canadian GP pit signs)
Note: Narain Karthikeyan's is from 2011, the 2012 one was unavailable

Let's review the positions:
Note: SS = Super-soft, S = Soft

FP1: Hulkenberg 6th (SS), di Resta 11th (S), Karthikeyan 22nd (SS)
FP2: di Resta 5th (SS), Hulkenberg 8th (S), Karthikeyan 23rd (SS)

Clearly these positions are pretty impressive for the Sahara Force India drivers - better than usual at this stage of the weekend, but why?

Well, let's take a look at speed trap data. For those of you who don't know the speed trap measures the speed of each car, every lap, on the fastest part of the circuit. For FP2; Hulkenberg was 4th and di Resta was 5th through the speed trap.

What is worth noting is that straight line speed and downforce are opposites and on a very basic level downforce makes you quick round corners and straight line speed (obviously) makes you quick on the straights. For most tracks, downforce is more important however on certain tracks (with long straights and few corners) straight-line speed is more important. Canada is one of these tracks.

All teams this season have similar pace which indicates they all have similar levels of downforce available. This means that how they setup the car (% ratio of downforce to straight-line speed)* will be crucial this weekend. As Sahara Force India were quick straight from the very start of FP1 it means they have a very good baseline setup for the Canadian track. This has only been improved on during the practice sessions too.

So far then things look very promising! So promising infact that i will be placing a little bet on Sahara Force India to grab a podium - you never know your luck, it's worth the risk i feel.

Track conditions will be different tomorrow, that could be a potential pitfall for the team as the efficiency of a setup does depend on track conditions (grip level, track temperature etc.) to a certain extent - but hopefully the team will not find it a major problem, any setup change required shouldn't be too drastic :-)

The thing that does really play into the teams' hands is that there is still more pace in the car. Of the two quick times each driver set today (Hulkenberg in FP1 & di Resta in FP2), neither of them had personal bests in all three sectors - infact both could have been as much as 0.2s quicker which is very exciting heading into FP3 and qualifying!

For Narain Karthikeyan meanwhile, that HRT car does appear to have made a huge step forward this weekend. The Indian driver will be praying for no reliability issues during the race as beating the Marussia's on Sunday is a real possibility! We wish him the best of luck.

Here are the post-Friday quotes, enjoy!

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver)
"The weather was a bit of a worry today with the constant threat of rain so we had a very busy morning and probably did more laps in FP1 than we normally would. The initial baseline of the car was good and we worked on improving things further with each run. By the end of the day I was very happy with the feel of the car in terms of balance. Of course the ambient conditions are expected to change overnight and we need to see how that impacts us tomorrow, but based on today's performance I think we can target Q3 if everything comes together"

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver)
"I enjoyed both sessions and ended the day with a very positive feeling. The balance of the car is where we want it to be and the changes we made to during the lunch break seemed to take us in the right direction. There is still a lot of homework to do this evening and room to improve things further, but it’s been a good start to the weekend".

Jakob Andreasen (Sahara Force India chief engineer)
"A busy and productive day of practice in Montreal as we worked hard to dial the cars into this challenging circuit. Conditions were overcast all day with the threat of rain keeping us on our toes and forcing us to adapt our programme to make sure we came away with the data we needed. That was why Nico ran the super-soft tyres this morning, just in case the afternoon turned out to be wet, while Paul focused on the softs. In the end the rain held off and we were able to run through a complete dry tyre programme with both cars. Another priority was to understand the brake and engine cooling requirements to make sure the solutions we have in place are adequate. So far we’ve been encouraged by our pace and the drivers' feedback suggests the changes we made to the cars between the sessions have been positive".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver)
"Today wasn't a bad day, we made some changes to the car and it responded quite well. We improved a lot from the morning to the afternoon and we got the most out of what we had but we still have to improve tomorrow. I had a problem with the front left brake which didn’t allow me to do a heavy fuel run so we’ll have to work on that for tomorrow".

*It's not actually as simple as % ratio, but it makes it easier to explain and is based upon similar principles. It's essentially a compromise; mega straight-line speed and you'd be dreadful while cornering, awesome cornering ability and you'd be slower down the straights.

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