50 things I don’t love about motor sport

50 things I don’t love about motor sport

Those who know me will be aware that I am not averse to a grizzle, a gripe or a groan. According to some I fit that Northern standard of dourness.

Certainly I will admit that my musical taste veers sharply towards Joy Division and The Smiths and away from George Formby and Gracie Fields, and that compulsory fun is anathema to me. This blog, therefore, should have been a breeze.

I’m pleased to report – more for my own sanity than for your benefit – that, despite my geographical typecasting, it was not.

In no particular order my selections are:

1. The 1926 French Grand Prix: three identical cars, 100 laps of a bland symmetrical circuit, one classified finisher. Jeez.

2. Drivers receiving a jumped-start penalty after they’ve lurched, pecked and been swamped. Natural justice.

3. Success ballast.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

4. Rory Byrne’s Toleman TG183: bristling with praiseworthy innovation but, boy, it was fugly.

5. Slow Italian drivers blessed with ‘fast’-sounding names. An unfair head start in the ‘entry list’ confidence stakes.

6. That teams at the highest level feel they cannot survive without paying drivers.

7. The politics – every last petty, niggly, self-serving scrap.

8. The precise moment I realised rallying’s rear-wheel-drive era was over: SS23 Witton Castle, 1981 RAC Rally. (Have just discovered that ‘Pondy’ in a Chevette HSR beat Mikkola’s quattro to that particular fastest stage time. Odd.)

9. That the World Rally Championship cannot find a place for the Safari Rally. Lack of ambition.

10. Run-off areas the size of a long-term car park at Heathrow.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

11. Modern NASCAR drivers who look as if they might be teetotal – or might not own a pet alligator/grizzly. I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.

12. NASCAR’s pinball-esque scoring system. Boggling.

13. Discovering that a celebrity of whom I am not fond is a fan of motor racing.

14. Discovering that a celebrity of whom I am not fond is not a fan of motor racing yet has been given access to the grid in Monaco and has the brass neck and televised opportunity to impart their ‘knowledge’ to those less fortunate.

15. Commentators musing on the next round while the current race has yet to conclude.

16. Turning vanes and all other aerodynamic bodywork flicks and tricks. Clever, yes, but a visual mess.

17. Dopey rally spectators who stand in stupid places and spoil it for everybody else in both the shorter and longer terms.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

18. Grooved slicks. Oxymoronic.

19. Early-1920s attempts at streamlining: the ‘beer barrel’ Ballot and Bugatti GP cars of 1922, and the latter’s ink blotter-shaped ‘Tank’ of ’23. (However, Gabriel Voisin’s Laboratoire, also a ’23 car, is to be applauded as a work of Bond-villain genius.)

20. When Scuderia Ferrari scarlet gave way to Marlboro hi-viz orange.

21. My morbid fear of spelling Ferrari Ferarri – particularly on a front cover. Nightmares.

22. Corners – especially challenging ones – being called Turn 1, Turn 2, etc. Lack of imagination and/or history. (Ovals are exempt from this criticism.)

23. Drivers referring to it as Turn 1, etc, even if said corner has a perfectly good long-established name. Cause? Too much acquisition of data and insufficient knowing of stuff.

24. ‘Marbles’.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

25. The long-received wisdom that ‘dirty air’ is inevitable and insurmountable.

26. That today’s backmarkers are expected to ‘disappear’ on demand.

27. Brooklands’ slogan ‘The Right Crowd and No Crowding’ – and that this ethos still holds true at F1’s epicentre. Aspirational, they call it.

28. Calling them John Player Specials – the thin end of the corporate wedge. Literally in the Lotus 72’s case.

29. John Watson’s twin-window Bell skid-lid. Looked silly.

30. That Archie Scott Brown was denied by prejudice the GP career his talent so obviously deserved. Juan Fangio thought him good enough and that’s good enough for me.

31. Benetton’s Option 13 and the gut-wrenching thought that Ayrton Senna entered Tamburello on May 1, 1994, convinced that the car hounding him as he did so was beyond the regulations.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

32. That there were accusations of cheating circulating the BTCC paddock at Snetterton the day that Senna died. Felt grubby.

33. That fiddling with qualifying’s formats and processes have cost pole position some of its potency as F1’s measure of pure speed.

34. When people insist that you cannot compare racing drivers from different eras. Of course you can. Is it possible to imagine Tazio Nuvolari and Senna climbing into a racing car of any type from any era and them not being sensationally quick in it? No further questions, m’lud.

35. The FIA World Touring Car Championship: halfway round the world for a couple of 12-lappers.

36. Midland – the dullest F1 constructor name.

37. The unseemly recent argument over the Lotus name. Not sure either team warranted the eventual honour.

38. BRM’s V16 up close. Too shrill. Echoing from the far side of a circuit, it’s spine-chilling. The ‘bagpipes of motor racing’.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

39. That my Corgi 1:32 Lotus 72 had an Emerson Fittipaldi figurine in it rather than a Ronnie Peterson one. Disgruntled six-year-old, straight out of the box.

40. That engine note and gear changes are rarely in sync with the image in early examples of onboard footage. Maddening.

41. The name Footwork. Terrible. No wonder that team never won nowt.

42. PR guff: ‘an encouraging 18th place’, etc.

43. Drivers who regularly alter their crash helmet’s design, i.e. more than once. Like my mum used to say in C&A: ‘Don’t worry, you’ll grow into it.’ She was talking physically, of course, whereas I’m talking psychologically.

44. Silverstone traffic jams.

45. That the Austrian national anthem is played every time Milton Keynes-based Red Bull Racing wins. Yes, yes, I know where its money comes from, but still…

I couldn’t think of 50 in the time I allotted for this process. But I reckon that’s a good thing – as is the fact that not all items listed stem from the past five years of the sport. Either my specs are not as rose-tinted as I thought they were or, heaven knows, I’m not as miserable as I – and others – thought I was.

racing history  50 things I dont love about motor sport

Motor Sport Magazine – The original motor racing magazine

Source: Motor Sport Mag

Red Bull at the 2013 Dakar Rally

Red Bull at the 2013 Dakar Rally

Red Bull-sponsored teams have claimed victory in the truck and bike categories during this year’s Dakar Rally.

Cyril Despres battled his way through the early stages of the 2013 event, in which buggy, bike, quad and lorry drivers took on 8500km of harsh terrain in South America, and managed to claim his fifth Dakar victory.

Riding a KTM, the Frenchman gained his second consecutive win in the rally, despite suffering a penalty after he was forced to change engines halfway through the race.

“Of course every win at the Dakar is special but this one stands out for me because it is the first time I have been able to defend my title. Winning the Dakar two years in a row is rare and nobody has done it since Fabrizio Meoni 10 years ago,” he said of the win.

rally  Red Bull at the 2013 Dakar Rally

Team Kamaz’s Eduard Nikolaev saw similar success in Dakar 2013, fending off all competition to win the truck category by more than 37 minutes. His victory was doubly special, as he is the first truck driver in the race’s history to win the competition without taking first place in any individual stages.

The Russian, whose career began as a mechanic, was joined by teammates Ayrat Mardeev in second place and Andrey Karginov in third.

Commenting on the win, Nikolaev claimed the full weight of the extraordinary feat has yet to sink in.

“All I have been concentrated on since we arrived in South America was fighting minute by minute over every kilometre I drove in our truck. To come out of that after such an intense fifteen days with the victory is something that I simply can’t put into words. It’s simply incredible and I’m on cloud nine right now,” he said.

South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers also managed an impressive performance, gaining second place in the buggy fixtures and finishing 43 minutes behind defending champion Stephane Peterhansel in his Toyota Hilux.

Unfortunately, a valiant effort in this year’s Dakar Rally proved fruitless for the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team, who were forced to bow out of the competition early.

rally  Red Bull at the 2013 Dakar Rally

The early stages saw the buggy team gain and hold a triumphant lead over their competitors. Red Bull driver Carlos Sainz wasted no time in making his mark on this year’s rally, hitting the fastest time on the 13km opening stage in Pisco and overcoming navigational issues to beat the pack and claim victory on day two. However, teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah – winner of the 2011 rally – was not content to let Sainz have all the glory – securing his two consecutive stage wins on days three and four.

Technical troubles plagued the team throughout Dakar 2013, forcing two-time World Rally Championship winner Sainz to drop out on day six. He was shortly followed by teammate Al-Attiyah, who bowed out of the competition on day nine due to a broken water pump.

However, the duo were not cowed by the experience and vowed to return for the 2014 event with their sights set on victory.

“Despite having such a short period of time to prepare we still managed to win five of the eight stages we completed. What we achieved at the 2013 Dakar with the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team was really remarkable and I’m so proud to have been a part of it,” Al-Attiyah said.

Motor Sport Magazine – The original motor racing magazine

Source: Motor Sport Mag

Sauber: Rear Inboard Pull Rod Suspension


With the shift toward pull rod rear suspension, the teams’ mechanics are faced with a maintenance issue.  As the pull rod reaches down into the gearbox casing, access to the transmission is hindered by the inboard suspension inside the gear casing.  Most teams maintain their transmission by first having to remove parts of the inboard suspension.  However the Ferrari engined teams have each found a neater solution to this problem.  Sauber use the Ferrari gearbox and also follow a similar practice of using a separate module to mount the entire inboard suspension in between the engine and gearbox.


Pull rod suspension runs the pull rod from the outer end of the top wishbone down the bottom corner of the chassis.  For the rear suspension, the inner end of the pull rod set up is on the gearbox casing.  This mounts the inboard elements of the system low down on the gearbox, either inside entirely contained within the casing (which is more aerodynamic), or splits the elements inside and outside of the gearcase.  Both however will have heave and anti roll elements passing from one side of the gearbox to the other.  These parts sit ahead of the transmission inside the gear casing and will hinder access to it.

The inboard suspension is made up of: torsion bar springs, side dampers, anti roll bar and heave elements.  While the transmission consists of: gear cluster, clutch and hydraulics.  Although teams do not normally need to maintain the transmission or inboard suspension over the course of a race weekend, the transmission is regularly inspected in between sessions and this require access through the front of the gear casing.  With the inboard suspension in the way, most teams simply unbolt the heave elements, anti roll bar and if required the side dampers.  This is complex and takes time, which the teams can do without.

Toro Rosso Gearcase

Toro Rosso Gearcase removed from the car – via MotorsportGP.pl

For the Ferrari engined teams (Ferrari, Sauber and Toro Rosso) the inboard suspension is mounted in a separate assembly.  Although Toro Rosso do not use the Ferrari gearbox, they were in fact the innovators in this area.  Toro Rosso shifted towards pull rod suspension before Ferrari and have evolved a split gearbox casing with the transmission inside a short metal casing. This is then bolted to a separate carbon fibre casing, which contains the inboard suspension.  Bolting to the back of the engine, this suspension case is akin to a separate bell housing.  When the team need access to the transmission, they unbolt the front legs of the wishbones and pull rods, then split the metal gear casing from the carbon suspension case. This allows the gearbox and outer rear suspension to be wheeled away, with the carbon suspension case remaining undisturbed and still bolted to the back of the engine.  To keep the unbolted wishbone legs and pull rods supported, the team fit temporary mounts to the metal gearcase.


This split case design will have an inherent stiffnessweight penalty, although teams are able to simulate the assemblies stiffness against known load cases, so the Toro Rosso split case design does not imply that is any less stiff.  With the weight distribution now fixed and more rearwards biased than in previous times, any weight penalty to recover stiffness is not a problem.  No doubt making the suspension case a carbon fibre part helps with lowering the total weight of the design.  One further benefit is the suspension case and the inboard suspension are all made by the team itself, unlike a cast gearbox case, which has to be outsourced to an outside supplier. This means any changes to the suspension case or inboard suspension can be competed quickly and reliably by the team.  With suspension being a primary factor in tyre management, this equates to a strategic advantage for the team.

Ferrari gearcase

Ferrari shifted to Rear Pull Rod suspension for 2012, this necessitated a new gearbox casing.  No doubt the Toro Rosso solution inspired Ferrari approach to their powertrain design.  They were perhaps also mindful of the stiffnessweight challenge of split case, so their design is a progression from Toro Rosso’s.  With the access benefits of a separate inboard suspension module, but not by employing a split case.


The Ferrari gearbox case is made from carbon fibre and as is conventional, it is a single structure from the rear of the engine back to the differential.  This makes the structure as efficient as possible from a stiffness perspective.  But if otherwise conventional, this would present the same access issues.  So Ferrari have cutaway a small section at the bottom front of the casing (yellow).  This allows the pullrod to reach the inboard suspension, but rather than the springs and dampers being mounted to a bellhousing-like separate case, or mounted directly inside the case, Ferrari have mounted everything on a separate plate.



The other design difference to the Toro Rosso is that the wishbones remain bolted to the gearcase and do not have to be disturbed, which makes splitting the gearcase from the suspension module even easier.

Sauber Suspension module


I have been lucky enough to have a photo of the Sauber Suspension module sent to me, by a ScarbsF1 fan at the 2012 Airtel Indian GP.  In this image we can see the machined metal module, which mounts the entire inboard suspension.  This assembly bolts to the back of the engine, with the clutch passing through the opening in the middle of the module.  As with the Toro Rosso solution the gearbox can be removed, by unbolting the pull rod ends and the gearcase from the engine.  This leaves the suspension still bolted to the engine and the outer rear suspension attached to the gearcase.    The potential for the enginegearcase interface to lose is possible as the apparently unbridged gap at the lower front of the case appears to be left open.  But the gearcase bolts through the suspension module and into the back of the engine, restoring stiffness to the unbridged section.  As with the Toro Rosso split case solution, this makes revisions to the inboard suspension easier.  However for Ferrari the suspension module is far simpler than Toro Rosso’s casing, so FerrariSauber would find altering their suspension module even easier.


As Sauber use the entire Ferrari powertrain (EngineGearboxKERS), they also employ the unique Ferrari gearcase shape.  Although they do not necessarily employ exactly the same layout on the suspension module, as each team is responsible for their own suspension design.


Unfortunately the Sauber suspension module photo does not include the dampers, so we will have to speculate on the position and purposes for each bell crank on the rockers.  Each Rocker (grey) is operated by the pullrod, which pulls on the lowest of the bell cranks emerging from the rocker.   Inside the rockers are the torsion bars (yellow) which are mounted in a near vertical position and act as the side springs for each wheel.  There appears to be three other bell cranks mounted to the rocker.  I’d suggest the lower pair are used for the Heave spring (blue), while the middle pair operate the Anti roll Bar (ARB) by a set of connecting links.  Barely visible behind the anti roll bar, are the last pair of bell cranks, which probably operate the side dampers (red) with their inner ends mount to the structure supporting the ARB.  In the Sauber set up, there does not appear to be a separate roll damper or interlinked heave element.  I know that many teams do run separate roll dampers, Ferrari had one included as part of their 2011 rear suspension.  While the front and rear suspensions could still be linked, if the heave element was a hydraulic device, as well as a sprung device.

With these set ups, all three teams appear to have found a small operational advantage and perhaps even a strategic benefit as they can alter the inboard suspension layout with resorting to a completely new gearcase.  It’s strange it’s solely the Ferrari engine teams that have found this solution, no other gearcase I have seen powered by another engine manufacturer have seen this as a solution, despite some teams having run rear pull rod suspension since 2009.  Perhaps we will see some different solutions from the other teams in 2013?


Source: Scarbs F1