Inside Peak into F1 World with Red Bull
By Gayana Char
F1 Grand Prix of Austin has been held only since 2012, which is considered to be quite new to the F1 calendar. But it has attracted a massive amount of new fans since then, as well as gained huge popularity among long term F1 fans such as myself. When I found out Formula 1 is gracing us with an inside peak into its world here, in Los Angeles, California, I couldn’t miss it. Thanks to Michael Rapetti at the Motoring Club, I was able to come in, chat with Red Bull’s test team manager Anthony Burrows and watch the assembly of Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 car that will be shown during the F1 Hollywood Festival on October 29th and 30th.
Anthony’s Formula 1 years
Anthony Burrows started his Formula 1 journey in 1987, working with Sir Frank Williams, then with Jackie Stewart in Jaguar; this is where Tony shows us the picture from 1996 with Jackie Stewart, Princess Ann, Jos Verstappen (Max’s dad) and the entire team at the time that could fit into one photo! Later Jaguar was sold to Red Bull, where Mr. Burrows is now test team manager.
There are 21 races around the world in the 2019 F1 calendar. All of which take place in an 8 1/2-month period. Considering how massive and complex F1 bolides are it was enlightening to learn that they are being delivered by a truck or flown in 3 main structures: the body, the engine and the rear suspension. Each of those 3 parts are also stripped into pieces, the wings are shipped separately, the gearbox goes separately and all of these components are being assembled prior to each race. The race gas, which is now 103 Octane, is being delivered separately to each team to the track by the team’s supplier. For Red Bull, it is French multinational oil and gas company Total, Shell for Ferrari, Mercedes is with Petronas, other team suppliers are Mobil 1, Cepsa and PDVSA.
FIA and F1 Regulations
Anthony also shared that when it comes to the everchanging F1 regulations that the FIA imposes every few years, teams and constructors do have a chance to deliberate with the FIA and have an input on how regulations should be implemented. However, while there is an open conversation between the FIA and the F1 teams, at the end of the day the FIA has the last say. For example, for the 2020 F1 year we know that the FIA placed a $175M budget cap, which benefits some teams with lower budgets, but limits others, such as Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull that are investing more into development and design. Anthony mentions however that “there is always that fear that someone is going to find a loophole”.
Thus, while some teams may not be too happy about it and have to cut some of their personnel, it creates a more even playing field for other teams, which in turns makes this sport more competitive and exciting for fans. A similar effect was created with the elimination of MGU-H energy recovery system, that some teams such as Honda have struggled to perfect.
The FIA also has regulated fuel allowance that can be used per race, this in turn forces teams to work on the car’s fuel burning efficiency. Current F1 cars burn about twice less fuel per race than they used to 10 years ago, which drives the development of the engine’s efficiency. Recently that allowance has been slightly increased from 105kg to 110kg (231lbs to 242lbs) of fuel, which allows drivers to push harder and not worry about conserving fuel as much, which again makes this sport so thrilling for us to watch.
When it comes to new regulations that FIA imposes, teams get those updates way before we, the fans, hear about them. How much in advance? About a year. For example, for the 2019 season FIA released new dimensions of the front and rear wing, brake ducts as well as other small changes, but the whole car has to be redesigned as it affects its aerodynamics hence overall performance. Therefore, teams have to be presented with those changes at the end of the 2017 season, to work out the investment part and start on the design and development for the new bolide. As we’re coming to the end of the season, we, the fans, are dreading the excruciating 3 1/2-month break, but for the teams this winter break only entails an average of a 2-week vacation period; the rest of the time, the wheels keep spinning to ensure every party brings its best. As for the 2021 F1 year, meetings regarding regulations are currently taking place as we speak. And the 2021 season cars have been being built since July/August of 2019!
4 Cylinders in the future?
“No. I don’t think so. I hope not” - is the clear position of Anthony Burrows and we certainly agree with him. We want to hear those engines roar and the FIA hears us in turn, hence for 2021 while cars will still be running 6-cylinder engines, they will have a 3 thousand RPM higher engine running speed range to improve the sound.
Now, it’s time to gear up for the exciting F1 Hollywood Festival and pack our bags for the upcoming Austin Grand Prix! Will Lewis take the championship this weekend? We shall see!