Poles apart Sebastian Vettel’s 15th
pole position of 2011 in Brazil broke
Nigel Mansell’s single-season F1 record,
which had held since 1992. Mansell
scored his 14 in fewer races, though.
Robert Wickens tries out
F1 is hard enough at the best of times without having to wonder what level of performance you will get from corner to corner, as Button had to cope with in Abu Dhabi.
BOTH A BLESSING AND A KERS
At Abu Dhabi, Jenson Button explored the limits of
Formula 1 machinery when their go-fast tech goes bad
BURNING THE WICK
AT BOTH ENDS
not one, but two F1 cars
F1’s annual “young driver test”
following the grand prix at at Abu Dhabi
sparked some controversy for the
number of paying drivers on hand, but
still provided golden opportunities. This
was especially true for Canada’s Robert
Wickens (BELOW), who got to test not
one, but two different grand prix cars.
The 22-year-old, who won this year’s
Formula Renault 3. 5 title, ran with
Marussia Virgin Racing in practice for
the Abu Dhabi GP. At the subsequent
test, he moved on to Lotus Renault GP,
and wound up third fastest of the day
behind the man he beat for the FR3.5
crown, Jean-Eric Vergne (who had the
significant advantage of driving a Red
Bull) and Jules Bianchi (in a Ferrari) in
his first time out in the Renault. The
Canadian later tested again for Virgin.
Wickens still harbors hopes of an F1
seat next year, but there were plenty of
others on hand in Abu Dhabi with similar
ambitions – and larger budgets.
While McLaren was obviously thrilled by Lewis
Hamilton’s decisive victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand
“We should not underestimate the job that Jenson did,”
noted team prinicipal Martin Whitmarsh. “Early in the race he
had a KERS failure and he spent about 20 laps without it, so for
the rest of the race we were trying to reset it to get it going. But
then it would fail again.
“During all that time – and these were times when he was
trying to keep rhythm, keep pace, defending position, getting
through traffic – his brake balance was swinging wildly with
the failure of KERS…or not.”
Button explained that the issue was
not so much the KERS failure itself, but
the inconsistency of it, which affected
multiple facets of performance.
F1’S TUBE STAKES
Exhaust talk comes to blows again
Formula 1 teams will be unable to use
off-throttle blowing of exhausts next
season after a bid to allow the practice
was blocked by Ferrari, Sauber and HRT.
A move to ban blown diffusers in
2012 through the mandatory use of
periscope exhausts had not been
enough to quell fears that some teams
could still make use of hot gases to help
boost the aerodynamic performance of
their cars, perhaps by blowing air over
suspension components or wings.
Those suspicions resulted in the FIA
informing teams that there will be
severe limitations on engine mapping
next year to minimize the possibilities
of off-throttle blowing.
Coincidentally (?) Sebastian Vettel
suffered a mysteriously punctured
right-rear tire on the opening lap of the
race in Abu Dhabi which could not be
traced to any structural failure of the
tire. Red Bull Racing denied suggestions
that hot exhaust air was the culprit.