You may or may not know that this week is National Motorsport Week in the UK (I wonder why they didn't mention it at the Isle of Wight Speedway last night???), Over on GoMotorsport the UK-based F1 teams have been taking it in turns to run a daily competition, and I think I may have picked up one of the spots on the Virgin Racing factory tour (not sure if I replied to the email invite quickly enough)...:-)
Anyway, on the off chance that I do have a place on the tour, I thought I'd do a bit of prepping around some questions I might ask... The obvious thing that comes to mind relates to the role of High Performance Computing and the use of CFD in the design of the Virgin car, as well some of the reasons why CFD might not be able to deliver all that wind tunnel testing does...
The visit is a factory tour, though, so I guess something about materials and maybe the use of 3D printing in prototyping may be appropriate?
The extent to which on-track captured telemetry data is used to replay stresses and strains on various bits of the car in various test rigs is something else I'd like to ask about (I assume this does go on...), as well as the role of the strategist over the race weekend...
But something else that's been niggling at me lately, and that I may get a chance to ask about (if I've got the place, and if the opportunity arises), is this: what goes on during practice, how is that information used to plan out race strategy, and is there anything in the publicly available practice timing data that the armchair strategist can draw on to tryi to figure out what might happen during the race itself?
To ground the question, here's a snapshot of Car 25's fast laptime data over the practice sessions from the 2011 European Grand Prix weekend:
The symbols denote stint and the colours practice session.
To pick apart the possible experiments I think there are several different sorts of regime that may be worth clarifying in terms of what we might guess is going on.
Here's the second practice session, and in particular the latter two stints:
So my questions would be these:
- does the first of those example stints provide us with a tyre model (for which tyre? Can we identify tyres from the practice timing sheets?
- in the second example stint, is there an experiment going on that accounts for the +0.6s delta in the fourth and seventh laptimes (diamond symbol)?
Looking at data from the (other) Spanish Grand Prix, we see similar signatures:
In the third stint, the crosses show a couple of "but one" tours that are a delta of 1 second or so off the pace - what's going on here? Is it the same sort of test? (Maybe not using KERS or DRS on the lap?)
And for the last couple of stints in this session:
do we again get information here that the armchair strategist can put into a crude tyre model?
As ever, any and all comments appreciated:-)
PS Bah - a gremlin in my config files means the fuel corrected laptimes are off - i was using settings for Monaco:-(