Tag Archives: f1

F1 1968 @Portland, USA

Modern F1 is probably facing its most serious existential crisis: the sport remains a formidable engineering laboratory, but the racing on track – or the perception of it – leaves much to be desired.

Seasoned viewers should be able to appreciate the underlying technology, and enjoy the constant showoff of amazing numbers, namely 200 kph to 300 kph in ~2 seconds, unbelievable short braking distances, body challenging G forces, and so on. F1, for example, is now the reference in applied IoT (Internet of Things), with hundreds of addressable sensors per car.

Yet, casual viewers, not knowing or not caring about the technology, and with no understanding of the history of the sport, will have no references, and see nothing but a small set of 20 cars going around boring wide tracks, designed for safety, difficult to capture on video, conveying a decent sense of speed.

The fact is that the “relative speed” of F1 is eventually at its lowest ever: cars might be regularly exceeding the once magical 300 kph mark, but 300 kph at an “airfield” is like 12 kph on a treadmill. Moreover, the understanding that the cars are safer to crash than ever, creates the perverse collateral effect of undervaluing the drivers’ effort: in the past, one mistake would literally break or kill you, so overwhelming respect was due to those daring to ride their fallible temperamental machines. After Senna’s death, in 1994, F1 changed enormously in terms of safety. The early 1990s cars were the last
machines to constantly challenge the drivers’ physical integrity, and even then, less than in the 1980s, the 1970s, and certainly the crazy 1960s.

I remember the day Jacques Laffite (JL) broke both his legs in what seemed like a slow accident: his car steered to the right, at the first corner of a chaotic first lap, to avoid other cars in trouble. His Ligier left the asphalt, and then just skidded “slowly” over the zero grip grass, until its “nose” hit the barriers. The absolute speed of the car upon the impact must have been “low” (~50 kph), but the car’s construction offered nearly no protection to the feet and legs. JL’s F1 career ended that afternoon.

Imagine higher speeds and even less modern cars, namely the machines from the 1960s and from the 1970s! Every event was a bit of a “circus”, such were the life threatening risks looming. Yet the “rewards”, for example measured in exhilaration and/or adrenaline, shared by both racers and spectators (which were crazy daring, placing themselves in unacceptable spots), is something unparalleled.

Today, somewhat bored with the F1 2020 cars, I decided to exercise my arms and legs, by virtually racing the “Matra” from the 1968 F1 season. I did some laps around the “new” Portland circuit, USA, a track for rFactor2, released this July. It was formidable! What a challenge! The Matra is a noisy, nervous, powerful car, capable of ~275 kph in such a short circuit! My best lap was a 01:14:8xx, half a second slower than the best adversary.
In real life, with this car, I imagine, if you put a wheel wrong, you will hurt yourself – instantaneously and seriously. The Matra is agile, nervous, very fast, but unstable. It accelerates much better than it can decelerate or turn, so be careful with what you request it to do!
The video that follows has two segments: first it captures my best 01:14:8xx lap, from the in-car camera (footage taken while I was driving the lap), then it features two other laps, from the “TV” camera perspective.

Enjoy and try it yourself. The “Portland” track and the 1968 F1 cars are both free.

F1 2020 at the Estoril circuit

This is a 01:14:xxx lap around the current (2020) layout of the “Estoril” circuit, @Portugal, Europe. The car is Esteban Ocon’s 2020 Renault F1, using “RFactor2” – the simulator selected for the first ever official “24 hours of Le Mans Virtual” (check https://www.studio-397.com/2020/06/celebrating-24h-lmv/).

Relatively to the layout that hosted real Formula1 / F1 races in the 1980s, and in the 1990s, the key changes are at turn #1 – now a ~90 degrees corner, instead of a pedal-to-the-metal right – and, by the end of the lap, at what was called “curva do tanque”, which also became slower, but not as slow as in the horrible version, used for some races, following Senna’s death, when there was a literal stop-and-go “S” segment.

This is an unprepared lap, done just to test the 2020 F1 cars and the circuit. For now, the cars sound bad and have much to improve in terms of credibility – I full-throttled the Renault at the exit of several slow corners and indeed got some wheel spin, but it was too easy to control. Nevertheless, a promising first version of these cars.

The video has four segments: from in-car, then two different from-halo angles, finally one lateral perspective.

F1’s shameful return – by FP2 F1TV was already down

F1’s shameful return – by FP2 F1TV was already down

Formula 1 / F1, is finally back, for its first race of the much delayed 2020 season, without spectators on the circuits and several other strong preventive measures in place, to minimize health risks.

One would expect that after the many technical issues that plagued the associated “F1TV” service, during its first season, this second round – the coverage of the 2020 season – would run more smoothly. Moreover, I suspect F1TV has become many fans’ primary channel to keep live contact with the sport.

Unfortunately, by the time of the “FP2” (Free Practice #2) event, the service was already down, with frustrating technical messages on display, no matter the device used, from mobile to desktop. It was a brutal failure, especially hurtful to an audience who has been getting persistently decreasing entertainment quality, over the recent years, with races that systematically reward the same racer(s), with rare natural overtakes, and boring tracks with no design features to highlight some sense of speed.

As I write (2020-07-03 1400), the URL
https://f1tv.formula1.com/en/current-season/austrian-grand-prix/2020-austrian-grand-prix-formula-1-practice-2
should be giving access to the FP2 live stream, to paying subscribers.

The pictures show what one was getting, instead.

In a tweet’s length (@my_dot_com – https://twitter.com/my_dot_com/): “Incredible! By FP2, @F1TV #F1TV #F1 already NOT working. That was fast. This should not be happening after such a long preparation and one full experimental season already factored in.”

https://twitter.com/my_dot_com/status/1279045286200070150



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    Oh, the violence! Nordschleife under 310 seconds! (IN CAR)

    This is a 05:09:9xx (5 minutes, 10 seconds) lap around the challenging Nordschleife track, in its most faithful digital laser scanned version, using the superb “rFactor 2” simulator, driving Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 2004.
    I do these laps just for fun, and as a form of physical exercise. To achieve these relatively fast times, one has to commit, mind and body! This particular lap was intense, hard, and great fun. Extremely demanding action, for 5+ straight minutes.

    Recently (May 2020), the Nordschleife track has become my testing playground. I have now tested Prost’s McLaren F1 1986, Montoya’s Williams F1 2004, and now Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 2004, always improving. Next on list is Grosjean’s Lotus F1 2012.

    Oh, the violence! Nordschleife under 310 seconds! (TV CAM)

    This is a 05:09:9xx (5 minutes, 10 seconds) lap around the challenging Nordschleife track, in its most faithful digital laser scanned version, using the superb “rFactor 2” simulator, driving Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 2004.
    I do these laps just for fun, and as a form of physical exercise. To achieve these relatively fast times, one has to commit, mind and body! This particular lap was intense, hard, and great fun. Extremely demanding action, for 5+ straight minutes.

    Recently (May 2020), the Nordschleife track has become my testing playground. I have now tested Prost’s McLaren F1 1986, Montoya’s Williams F1 2004, and now Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 2004, always improving. Next on list is Grosjean’s Lotus F1 2012.

    Nordschleife under 5 minutes is getting nearer – Juan Pablo Montoya, William BMW F1 2004

    This is a 05:12:xxx lap around the 20+ KM long Nordschleife track, @Germany, running Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2004 William BMW F1 car.

    This lap is 46 seconds faster (!!) than the one I did on Alain Prost’s 1986 McLaren F1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Fe6Q7qaXTo). This translates to a progress of ~2.5 seconds per year, in the 18 years of rules and technology changes that separate both cars.

    The 2004 Williams BMW F1 seemed easier to drive than the 1986 McLaren, which has sudden bursts of power and requires a very firm hand on any acceleration. The older car also produces less downforce and cannot handle corners with the impetuosity of the Williams, demanding an intelligent preparation of any corner.

    The 2004 Williams is greater fun! With my current setup, it is ~30 kph faster on the long straight. It can brake later and, more importantly, it does not immediately spin around, when subject to extreme – and bordering carelessness – direction changes. Overall, it tolerates a violent lap and it rewards the player with considerable brain and body stimulus. After a few minutes of trying to push this car, one gets tense, awaken and sweaty! True physical exercise. I adore it!

    This time of 05:12:xxx can surely be improved, but not by much. I doubt that I can make this car go sub 5 minutes, but I will try.

    Montoya vs Schumacher, Nordschleife, Williams BMW F1 2004

    During my attempts to perform a great lap around the Nordschleife 20+ KM track, racing the 2004 Williams BMW F1 car – which would culminate in a spectacular 05:12:xxx achievement as captured on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vReEBXMRxU
    -, there was one situation where the other Williams BMW, driven by Ralph Schumacher on the 2004 F1 season, got on the way and did not play clean at all.
    I managed to record the ~1 minute long sequence of “friction” between the cars, until a successful overtake finally happened.

    Racing Nico Hulkenberg's 2017 Renault F1 around Silverstone

    On 2019-07-13, during the 2019 Formula 1 Silverstone weekend, I decided to try the 2017 F1 cars around that circuit. I played rFactor2 for 30 minutes, racing Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, on soft tires. I am yet to learn how to activate the DRS, which is inexcusable, since I have played this mod before.
    It was fun, as always. I recorded this 01:32:xxx race lap, where I am in pursuit of Massa on a Williams, and being chased by Hamilton on a Mercedes. I managed to overtake Massa in a maneuver that from the next Sunday on, would be named a “Leclerc pass”, due to what happened in the real race.

    Team AM League since Austria

    I started a Formula 1 “Fantasy League” named “Team AM League since Austria.” I am quite late to this F1 fantasy thing, and I am not quite sure I understand it or its purpose. For example, I built my team ahead of today’s Austria GP, and my picks scored big (including the top 3: Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas), but last time I checked I had no points. Maybe that is because the results aren’t yet official, I don’t know.
    https://fantasy.formula1.com/leaderboards/league?league_id=158202

    I will not be sending emails, but anyone is welcome to join with the code 0ac53ce019. If you prefer, here is a direct link to subscribe:
    https://fantasy.formula1.com/join?league_code=0ac53ce019

    rFactor 2 is awesome

    If there is one gaming genre that can be unfair to those really pushing ahead, it is the “racing” genre. Regular gamers are used to absurdly unrealistic software, where vehicles respond like they’ve done since the ZX Spectrum days, meaning like indestructible spaceships that make good use of the surrounding structures to stay on course. The average gamer can’t be bothered to learn about precision driving and delicate handling, using proper input devices. Surprisingly, professional game critics usually adhere to the same shallow standards: the “F1” series from CodeMasters is a very good example of how ridiculously deceiving ratings and scores can be. The “F1” games score high in most specialized publications and have been celebrated in BAFTA events (!), but they are less interactive than playing with a toy train in rails.

    CodeMasters’ “F1” looks wonderful, but plays horribly, tricking the user to think that he/she is in control, when in fact, the player’s freedom is severely limited; it is literally like driving on rails with narrow margins for anything creative. It is disgusting because for casual racers and other outsiders it appears a worthy experience. It is not a worthy experience, and it is unfair that the true racing simulators must flourish in niches, under the shadow of such miserable titles.

    From my experience, one of the “true” simulators available today is “rFactor 2” (RF2).  RF2 is fun, demanding and reasonably realistic. If you ever drove a competition car, you’ll probably notice the extra care: for example, tires start cold, then get warmer; tires will get flat spots if you lock them under braking; and the car will get damaged, and respond accordingly, even if in very subtle ways, if & when you hit obstacles.

    RF2 tires’ physics is unique. I am not writing about different temperatures for each tire – I am writing about different temperatures across different regions of every tire! It feels “organic”, it feels true! The vehicles are responsive and the pedals truly analogue. It is literally a physical exercise to put consistent fast laps against 100% strong computer opponents: in fact, you’ll probably sweat and burn a significant amount of calories. For real!

    rfactor2_1