Crutchlow aiming for factory ride in 2014

Cal is hoping next year is the year he finally gets his hands on a factory MotoGP machine.

Cal is hoping next year is the year he finally gets his hands on a factory MotoGP machine.

Cal Crutchlow is hoping that next season is the season he finally gets his hands on an illusive factory MotoGP prototype machine.

Crutchlow, who is currently having his best season in MotoGP, with two podiums already this season, is entering the final year of his contract with the Yamaha Tech3 team, and the Brit isn’t going to take his next offer without careful consideration.

“As for my own future, whether I’ll be with Ducati, Yamaha or Honda is yet to be decided,” said Crutchlow in his BBC Sport blog.

“We’re in negotiations with them all and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will know what we’re doing.

“At the moment, my career seems to be on the up and I’m getting closer to the guys at the front and starting to challenge for wins. I don’t want to take a step back, so the next thing is to be in a factory team, but it has to be the one with the right machinery.”

Crutchlow has also expressed his dissapointment that Suzuki won’t be returning till 2015. The Brit had been rumoured to be at the top of Brivio’s wishlist, a chance Crutchlow would’ve undoubtedly jumped at.

“It’s a big disappointment for the championship, as it would have been nice to have another factory on the grid.”

There had been some rumours that Crutchlow could even end up in the factory Yamaha team, replacing Valentino Rossi. Rumours suggest Rossi will give careful consideration to his career if he continues as he is currently going, but Crutchlow isn’t even considering the chances of Rossi quitting just yet.

“If I do stay and Yamaha also bring in Pol Espargaro, then what will they do with Bradley Smith? It’s not fair on Bradley to have to give up his two-year deal. He’s not doing a bad job at the moment…the Tech 3 project for him was also for two years, so why should it be taken away from him?”

Rossi: ‘I’m looking forward to Assen’

That famous smile is back, with a newfound confidence after the Aragon test.

That famous smile is back, with a newfound confidence after the Aragon test.

Valentino Rossi is in a bullish mood ahead of this weekends Dutch TT in Assen.

The Doctor has struggled so far this season, facing particular difficulties with the new qualifying format. However after the recent tests in Aragon, Rossi has found a new set up, and now more confidence on the brakes, Rossi can’t wait to get back on track.

“I am very happy about the test in Aragon and I’m looking forward to going to Assen,” said the Doctor speaking ahead of this weekends race at the Cathedral of motorsport.

“The settings that we tested were positive and now I feel more feeling with the bike, especially when braking. For me it is an important step and I really want to try the new set-up in another track.”

Rossi is hoping that his new set up confidence will help him in qualifying too.

“I hope that this improvement will help me also to get a better starting position as it is so important to make the best qualification possible.”

The nine-times world champion’s new found confidence in his M1 has come at a great time for Valentino, who loves Assen.

“Assen is a great track, I love it and it brings to mind a lot of good memories. We’ll try to leave this good feeling with the track and the bike to improve our results.”

Olly Gavin at Le Mans

Olly Gavin at Le Mans

For all the wrong reasons, this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be one that’s hard to forget. The race is our biggest of the year in every sense, and – stretching over an entire week – it’s always physically and emotionally exhausting, but none of us expected to be racing in such sad circumstances.

oliver gavin le mans  Olly Gavin at Le Mans

As a driver, of course we know from the outset that racing is dangerous, but we try wherever possible to minimise the odds by racing well-designed cars, prepared and maintained by professional teams, and we use the best equipment available to protect ourselves. We keep ourselves fit and we call on all the experience we possess to safely get through 24 hours of hard racing.

Compared to our predecessors, we are very fortunate these days that sports car racing experiences very few fatalities. We’ve seen some shockingly huge accidents at Le Mans over the last few years, to Allan McNish, Mike Rockenfeller and Anthony Davidson particularly, and perhaps we’ve come to ‘expect’ that a driver will always come out of it relatively unscathed.

Sometimes those odds are stacked against you though, for whatever reason. We don’t know exactly what happened to cause Allan Simonsen’s accident in the No 95 Aston Martin and, having followed him into Tertre Rouge, I could see straight off it was serious. Everyone in the paddock felt his loss; he was a friend to all and a former team-mate of many, including my team-mate Richard Westbrook. It was hard to carry on, but Allan’s family wanted Aston Martin Racing’s other cars to continue and we owed it to them and our friends at AMR to give them someone to race against. Rest in peace Allan.

Racing with the brake on

It was one of the trickiest Le Mans races I’ve ever done, and a lot of that was because of the inconsistent and unpredictable weather conditions which contributed to 11 safety car periods. At Corvette Racing, however, the weather was only part of our woes as we really struggled to compete equally with the other GTE cars in the Pro category and even with some in the Am class.

oliver gavin le mans  Olly Gavin at Le Mans

We were missing a bit on straightline speed, and when you’re in that situation it can be a very hard race. When we first went out on Wednesday afternoon it felt as though we were driving with the brake on as we seemed to be passed by so many other cars on the straight! We worked through a lot of changes though, and got to understand the new Michelin tyres better – which our rivals from Aston, Ferrari and Porsche had a chance to use at the 6 Hours of Spa – and thought we’d almost cracked it by the time the weekend came around.

We managed to claw our way up the order a bit and managed to run some good lap in the dry and once the track had rubbered in, but the weather caught us out again. Richard had been forced off track after contact with a prototype and we had a broken exhaust as a result. I thought it would be okay during my stint but then I noticed my left arm was getting very hot in the car, followed by the side of the seat and I was struggling to continue because of fumes. In the end we had to give up fifth and settle for our eventual seventh place because the car wasn’t going to finish like that – it was either going to burn me or catch on fire so we had to park it for a couple of laps and make a basic adjustment to the exhaust system to last us through to the end.

It was massively frustrating but you learn lessons from these things. Next year we’ll have a brand new car, the C7R, and we’ll already have a 24 and 12 hour race under our belts so we should be reasonably well prepared. There’s plenty of water to run under the bridge before that though and now our attention is turning to Lime Rock Park – the fourth round of the ALMS next week. Hope to see you there!

Back to reality

oliver gavin le mans  Olly Gavin at Le Mans

My wife Helen and three children Lily, Isaac and Fergus, have come to Le Mans every year to support me and it’s really important to me. I spent some good time with them before the race on Friday, and they came to the paddock to see him on Saturday morning. The children were really excited and hadn’t slept much… a bit like the drivers the night before the race! They get treated to a fizzy drink in the Corvette Racing hospitality which is always a big treat, and it’s great to spend time with them and get a bit of real life rather than think about lap times, tyres, performance and so on.

This Tuesday I’ve taken part in the Henry Surtees Foundation charity karting race for a personal sponsor of mine, Brian Beach and his Phoenix Consulting company. It’s a fun event but the reason it’s held is also a sad one. Losing anyone before their time is hard, but losing a young driver in their prime puts everything else into perspective. And there we are again, back to the start of my column.

Click here to read more on Le Mans.

Click here to read more from Olly Gavin.

oliver gavin le mans  Olly Gavin at Le Mans

Motor Sport Magazine – The original motor racing magazine

Source: Motor Sport Mag

InDetail: Force India F-Duct


In 2010 the key technical development was the F-Duct, a legal driver controlled system that stalled the rear wing for more top speed. During the course of the season, as more of the system was uncovered by prying cameras in the pit garages, I attempted to cover the workings of the F-Duct in several posts. But just a couple of years later I was able to buy a Force India F-Duct assembly from one of the teams licensed parts sellers. With this complete F-Duct and some background from people at the team involved with the project, we are now able to explain the solution in more detail.

For many years the concept of reducing rear wing drag at speed had been a covert aim of many F1 teams. Rear wings produce a lot of drag and reducing this at higher speeds, when more downforce is not required, means the car can achieve a higher top speed. With bans on moveable aero, the teams had to rely on flexible wing elements, either reducing the wings angle of attack or closing slot gaps to stall the wing. Being visible from trackside or from onboard cameras, large gains from this flexibility was eventually stamped out by FIA deflection tests. But the aim of downforce producing wings for corners and low drag wings for straight bring a non linear downforce curve with speed, remained an objective for the aero depts.

The F-Ducts first test at Valencia 2010

The F-Ducts first test at Valencia 2010

During the first pre-season tests for the 2010 the appearance of the McLaren caught many people’s eyes. The MP4-25 had a number of details that each could be put down to simple explanations; the duct on the nose could be for driver cooling, the roll hoop inlet could be for oil cooling and the slot in the rear wing might just be tape. Some teams noticed it break cover at the first winter test, others were a bit slower on the uptake.

McLaren's initial knee operated control duct

McLaren’s initial knee operated control duct

I too was initially sceptical that anything else was going on. With Media banned from the pit lane for this test, none of us could get a close look at the car. When stories of a rear wing being stalled by the driver pressing his knee against a duct surfaced, I found it hard to take the rumours seriously. The knee control was later switched to hand control of the F-Duct, but this seemed so unlikely that teams hadn’t been thinking along these lines before the F-Duct, although I was reminded it’s not a new idea in motorsport to use the drivers anatomy to influence part of the car.

A classic example of this was Ferrari noticed that Michael Schumacher tipping his head to the side.  When he did this it created an unwanted area of airflow separation along the engine cover, upsetting flow to the rear wing.  But fortuitously this movement also increased pressure in the airbox for more speed.  Thus his famous tipped head along the straight actually drag reduction and engine power!

Of course, what since became known as the F-Duct dominated technical development for the year, by achieving the aerodynamicists’ nirvana of having non linear downforce with speed. Being able to run larger wings for the corners and then lose their drag once the car was in a straight-line had obvious performance benefits.
Understanding that it was legal at the first race was important.  FIF1 made an immediate response to the innovation, being particularly quick following their experience in 2009, when the teams that were quickest to copy the double diffuser had the greatest success with it.
Surprisingly the F-Duct was a relatively cheap development. The cost of the parts was minimal, the costs were mainly the DOWind TunnelCFD time to perfect the design. But for this minimal investment, the F-Duct has high return in terms of the performance it yielded.
Sauber were the first team to bring development parts to a race in a bid to catch up with the McLaren development. By the Spanish GP many teams had their first F-Ducts and the part remained on most cars throughout the season.
With the safety impact of the driver taking his hand off the wheel for the entire straight and even some fast turns, the FIA rightly agreed to rule many aspects of these systems illegal at the end of the year.
In their place was the legal and FIA controlled Drag Reduction System (DRS), which remains on the cars to this day.


As with many F1 parts the F-Duct is a relatively simple solution, with just four ducts emanating from an “X” shaped junction, allied to a slot machined into the rear wing. By altering the flow through the ducts via the switch, the slot in the rear wing would blow and stall the rear wing, reducing its drag.
It’s this junction of the ducts that’s key to making the F-Duct work, this is the fluidic switch. The switch changes the path of the airflow through the ducts, by means on a controlling duct. The fluidic switch is analogous to an electrical transistor, simply a switch operated by a control wire. The flow through the fluidic switch is controlled by simple aerodynamicfluid theory and is employed is other industries. Although the effect of blowing or altering the boundary layer was well understood, fluidic switches were new to F1 as far as I know.

The Fluid Switch up close

The Fluid Switch up close

Feeding the switch was the high pressure feed duct, this was typically set inside the roll hoop or in FIF1’s case from two inlets either side of the roll hoop. Trailing the switch are two ducts, one neutral duct which curves down to exit under the Y75 winglet (monkey seat). The other duct is the stalling duct; this passes straight out behind the switch to attach to the rear wing. Key in the systems operation is the neutral duct being larger in cross section than the stalling duct. Lastly the driver control of the switch is achieved by a control duct, this has its own high pressure feed, the duct then passes into the cockpit where is has an opening, then the duct routes up the bottom of the switch.

The hollow rear wing with the stalling duct feeding into it

The hollow rear wing with the stalling duct feeding into it

Copyright: Morio 7 October 2010, ”Suzuka Circuit”

The rear wing profile is hollow, the stalling duct attaches to the wing and the airflow can pass out through a thin slot spanning nearly the entire the width of the wing. The slot itself is at an oblique angle to the wings surface, rather than tangential to it, again this is key in to making the system work.

McLaren had the F-Duct idea in development for a few years. The decision to fit it to the MP4-25 meant that the packaging could be worked out, to fully integrate it into the design of the car. Thus McLarens version was neat and efficient. Other teams were stuck in a period of homologated monocoques and crash structures; simply making holes in the tub was not possible. So the teams playing catch up had to find packaging solutions to get the high pressure feed and control duct to pass through the tub.
Also we can see there’s a pressure sensor fitted to this F-Duct, this would be relatively easy to integrate into the cars loom and telemetry system.

How it works


The high pressure flow from the roll hoop inlets pass into the fluid switch, this flow passes smoothly through the switch, tending to follow the floor of the switch via the coanda effect and out of the neutral duct. Air tends to flow into the neutral duct, rather than the stalling duct, as it has a larger cross section and a lower pressure area at its exit. Meanwhile flow passing into the control duct also follows the path of least resistance and vents into the cockpit. At this point no (or very little) air passes into the stalling duct and the flow around the rear wing remains attached to create downforce.

When the driver wants to reduce downforce and drag, his hand covers the control duct, the flow that was passing into cockpit, now passes up the control duct and into the bottom of the fluid switch. This trips up the boundary layer flow inside the switch and the splitter at the back of the switch helps send more flow into the stalling duct. This flow passes into the wing and out of the slot. This also affects the boundary flow, the flow under the wing separates from its surface and the flow stalls. This reduces downforce and unlike a stalled aircraft wing also reduces drag. As an F1 wing is so highly loaded, the majority of its drag is from trailing vortices, stalling the flow under the wing reduces these vortices and their inherent drag.

F-duct in Practice

Although simple in concept the reality was more difficult.  The biggest issue was sealing of the assembly due to its being constructed of single side moulded composites and added to a finished car. There were also issues of repeatability of operation due to the size of the control duct of the fluid switch. I was told about one occasion where a leaking assembly actually worked and a sealed one didn’t because the control flow was too weak.

These issues resolved, the F-Duct did offer a real performance gain. Today it’s probably easier to compare the F-Duct to the current DRS.  In the best cases it probably had about 65% of the effect of the DRS.  Presumably because you can’t lose the form drag of the flap as effectively.  DRS gains about 10-15Km/h and 0.5-0.7s/lap.
The other big factor in the exploitation of the F-Duct was the driver, I’m told the better drivers got the most from the system and were able to cope with the unusual aspects of driving with it. The FIF1 system didn’t require the hand to be fully off the wheel to activate and was ‘fail safe’ as opposed to some that required the driver to seal the activation duct in corners and open it on straights!
My greatest memory of the f-duct and one that perfectly encapsulates its purpose was at a wet Spa Grand Prix. In the race the McLaren drivers would exit a turn; spiralling vapour trails (tip vortices) were forming at the rear wing tips. As the car ran out to the exit kerbs and straightened up, the driver must have covered the control duct to stall the rear wing and these vapour trails stopped instantly. Showing how effective the F-Duct was at reducing the drag inducing tip vortices.

Over the winter new rules banned driver controlled aero (excluding DRS), slots in the rear wing and bodywork connecting to the rear wing. Although these approaches banned the driver operated F-Duct, the fluid switch and stalling concepts remain valid and the current un-raced generation of Drag Reducing Devices (commonly termed DRD or passive DRS) feature many of the components and concepts of the F-Duct. Hopefully later this year we will see these DRD’s get to race.

The F-Ducts twin inlets flanking the airbox inlet

The F-Ducts twin inlets flanking the airbox inlet

The duct work up close

The duct work up close



The control duct, more pipework from the cockpit joins to this fitting

The control duct, more pipework from the cockpit joins to this fitting

The stalling duct outlet fitting

The stalling duct outlet fitting

The neutral duct outlets

The neutral duct outlets

An F-Duct trial fitted to Seat Leon

An F-Duct trial fitted to Seat Leon!


Williams to Celebrate 600th GP with Special Livery

Williams will use a special livery for this weekend’s British Grand Prix marking their 600th race start.
The FW35s will carry the number ’600′ on their sidepods and carry the names of 691 employees who work for the Williams Group.
Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2013“For an independent team like Williams to reach 600 races at the pinnacle of motorsport is a remarkable achievement,” said team founder Frank Williams.
“Seventy-eight teams have come and gone or changed ownership since our foundation and our longevity is a testament to the thousands of people who have sacrificed so much to keep us here. It seems only right to mark this milestone at the home of British motorsport alongside our loyal British fans.”
Williams scored their first F1 victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1979. Clay Regazzoni won after team mate Alan Jones retired from the lead.
They went on to amass a total of 114 wins and 297 podium appearances. They’ve won the constructors’ championship nine times and their drivers have won the drivers’ title on seven occasions.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “Williams has never been an organisation to dwell on what has gone before, but this weekend we will be rightly celebrating our heritage and reflecting on some of our defining moments over the past 36 years.”
“This is also an opportunity for us to take stock and look ahead to the future, making sure that we have the necessary pieces in place to make our next 600 races just as memorable.”
Only Ferrari (858) and McLaren (730) have started more races than Williams.