On the Way to Portugal GP: race schedule
Steiner points to the unknown, goodbye to Magnussen and Grosjean
The revolution in the Haas house began this morning with the farewell of Romain Grosjean and now continues with the greetings of Kevin Magnussen. Both drivers of the American team, in a fixed pair from 2017, will leave the team at the end of 2020 leaving room for a completely new line-up starting next season.
The real crossroads is this: relying on young drivers (and maybe paying) or experience (Hülkenberg, Perez)? Steiner has not yet decided, but from his words it is clear that he might lean towards the first option.
“I want to thank Grosjean and Magnussen for their hard work and commitment to Haas in recent seasons. Romain was a fundamental part of our group when, in the beginning, we were looking for a fast and experienced driver. His achievements in early 2016 were a fair reward, not only for his talent, but also for the huge effort the team had put in place to be on the starting grid in his first season. When Kevin joined the group the following season, we saw excellent growth, with both cars able to take home points. We have many good memories together, particularly in 2018 when we finished fifth in our third season. Romain and Kevin played a significant role in achieving that goal. Of course, there are still many races left in the 2020 season. It’s been a busy year, no doubt, but both drivers have made the most of the VF-20.”
“When you change, you have to make sure you have nothing to lose. And to be able to build something new. We are in this situation, we can only earn compared to 2020. There’s not much chance we’ll return to 2018 performance next year. So we might as well focus on a project that can bear fruit from 2022,” Steiner told The Race. “That will be the year we want to go back to higher levels. If in 2021 we have two newcomers? Anything is possible, maybe having two young guys is a good thing. We are considering the hypothesis, also because trying something different helps to learn. If we all stay in the status quo, we will never evolve.”
Basically his words can be summed up in – Steiner and the 2021 drivers: “I have nothing to lose”.
Raikkonen and Portimão, old school learning
“I just need a walking tour of the track to learn it”
Despite his 41 years Raikkonen has never tried the Portimão circuit, the scene of the last event of the season. Glacial, as usual, Iceman, in revealing the preparation for the weekend: “I don’t think we have this track at the simulator. Today I saw a ride of the Safety Car and took a lap of the track. And as for my future, no news. There are negotiations going on and we will see what happens.” Olympic calm, in short, by the record holder of F1 appearances. Who, joining Portimão, expressed himself positively on another historical circuit: “Which one I would like him to return to a stable plant in Formula 1? I’d say Donington.” Giovinazzi, on the other hand, opted for an exotic track: “It would perhaps be too dangerous for F1, but I would choose Macau”.
Race schedule (UTC+1)
Friday 23th October:
- Free Practise 1 12:00-13:30
- Free Practise 2 16:00-17:30
Saturday 24th October:
- Free Practise 3 12:00-13:00
- Qualifying session 15:00-16:00
Sunday 25th October:
- Race 14:10-16:10
The characteristics of the track – F1 Portugal GP
The Formula 1 World Championship debuts for the first time in Portimao, a track completed in 2008 but which by characteristics embodies the spirit of numerous historical tracks that have made the history of the category. The Portuguese racetrack in fact has high-speed sections alternating with blind curves and hairpin bends, which constitute a complete test on the competitiveness of the cars as well as the talent of the drivers. It is the succession of steep ups and downs and necks, however, that distinguish the track, which subject the pilots to significant vertical as well as lateral and longitudinal accelerations, causing air gaps and roller coaster sensations.
A ride in Portimao measures 4653 meters, to be covered 66 times in the race to reach the total distance of 308,826 kilometers. The layout chosen for the Grand Prix has 15 turns, 9 of which are to the right, a feature that will make the left side of the car the object of greatest concern in the race regarding tyre wear. The first simulations also predict an average lap speed of around 215 km/h, among the lowest values of the 2020 season so far.
Portimao presents itself as a particularly technical track, with curves of various types that require different characteristics from the layout. The presence of high-speed folds will lead the teams to adopt a medium-high load aerodynamic configuration, similar to that used at the Nurburgring. However, the recurring use of the third or even second gear in six curves of the track implies once again the need for an excellent mechanical grip, that is to say the adherence guaranteed by the adjustments of the suspension assembly, fundamental at low speeds. All this suggests that technicians will prefer softer adjustments to the rear, ensuring greater stability and improving traction, to allow the power of the power unit to be effectively discharged to the ground. Particularly demanding in this perspective appears curve 14, a long bend to the right where it will be decisive to go on the gas as soon as possible still in the travel phase.
Another distinctive aspect of Portimao is the large amount of ups and downs, characterized by steep slopes that, in addition to benefiting the show, constitute an additional difficulty in driving and fine-tunging the car. The slope in fact accentuates longitudinal load transfers, i.e. amplifies the movement of weights in acceleration and braking between the front and rear wheels. In the extreme working conditions of Formula 1 tyres, such transfers affect the overall level of grip, a variable that drivers will have to be able to handle both in detached and in low-speed restarts. This is the case, for example, of the exit from turn 3, in which the single-seater accelerates immediately facing an uphill leftward bend. The neck line placed immediately after the curve in fact suddenly shifts the weight on the front, causing a loss of grip of the rear tires, through which the single-seater discharges the horses of the engine to the ground.
Challenges for tyres and brakes
Not having much information in view of the Portuguese trip, Pirelli decided to adopt a conservative strategy, bringing the hardest compounds in the range available, namely C1, C2 and C3. Instead, the allocation of tires is changing compared to the rest of the season, with teams ing three hard trains compared to the traditional two and seven sets of soft tires against the usual eight, an aspect that could lead to a slight review of work schedules in free practice.
On the other hand, the minimum inflation pressures, equal to 23.0 psi at the front and 19.5 psi at the rear, as well as the recommended parameters of camber, i.e. the inclination of the wheels relative to the ground, equal once again to -3.25° to the front and -2.00° to the rear, remain almost unchanged from the previous race.
Despite the autumn season, ambient temperatures in Portimao can reach a peak of 25°C. The risk of the recurring of cold-related problems, such as tyre graining observed at the Nurburgring, therefore seems to have been averted.
Finally, Pirelli pointed out that the long turn 15, which enters the starting straight as well as the long drs activation zone, transfers a large amount of energy to the tires, a factor that can become critical for wear in the race.
Brembo’s technicians ranked the F1 Portugal GP track with a severity of 3 out of 5 for the braking system, the lowest value of the Grand Prix held in the last two months. While at the Nurburgring in eight of the nine detached circuit were exceeded 4.3 g of deceleration, in Portimao this happens in only two of the seven braking of the circuit. Teams will therefore have to adopt a brake disc configuration with a different cooling capacity, being able to go down among the options made available by Brembo.
The brakes are used for about 14 seconds, equal to 17% of the lap time. The most demanding detached is the one that precedes Turn 5 where, as described by Brembo, the cars decelerate from 318 km/h to 84 km/h in the space of 122 meters and in just 2.72 seconds. The rider also exerts a force equivalent to 135 kg on the brake pedal, thus reaching the deceleration peak of 5.1 g.
The first detached is also somewhat insidious, where single-seater cars climb just two gears before entering at over 200 km/h on turn 1. It will therefore be necessary to be able to count on a great responsiveness and precision of the car, in order to go to the rope point without ruinously hitting the deterrence placed inside.
Stroll confirms positivity to Covid-19
The legitimate suspicion that Lance Stroll’s sudden lump sum for the Eifel Grand Prix at nurburgring was linked to coronavirus in a season marked by the pandemic turned out to be well founded. The Canadian pilot through a Stories on his Instagram profile has in fact announced that on Monday 12 October he received the result of the tampon that certified the then positivity to Covid-19. Stroll on Saturday morning felt the first symptoms and Racing Point summoned Nico Hulkenberg at the last moment to replace the 1998 class. In addition to Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll also had to skip a race due to coronavirus. Racing Point drivers are the only ones to have fallen under the blows of the pandemic so far.
The Canadian will be regularly on track this weekend in Portugal.
Ferrari, in Portimão new updates
After the small innovations introduced first in Sochi and then at the Nürburgring, Ferrari continues to work intensively on the SF1000 trying to improve the development of the next single-seater, the last before the new technological era that will start in 2022. For the ‘first’ of Portimão the Cavallino will bring new updates to the track, which will focus mainly on the diffuser area.
“I am giving my best and I feel like I have improved – explained the Principality driver in a sort of self-analysis compared to last season – but the results are definitely worse than last year. In 2019 we fought regularly for victories. But that’s the way it is. We’ve accepted it as a team since the beginning of the season.”
We are working step by step to get back to where we want to be – highlighted the youngest GP winner in the history of the redhead, who next year will be joined by Carlos Sainz – this does not make me less motivated. I’m extremely motivated. Now it’s three races where we see some improvements, going in the right direction. This gives me hope for the future.”
“We agree that the car is not easy to drive. And we certainly live it differently, because I know I’m leaving the team soon. This has to be said, though: Leclerc regularly manages to bring out 100% of the car’s potential. I sometimes struggle. However, I want to end the season by going back to doing what I know I can achieve. Ferrari will always have a special place in my heart, thanks to its history, thanks to Michael Schumacher. I’m going to close this chapter at the end of the season but I want to do it right.”
“I think the circuit is really exciting. There are so many slope changes, so many turns. In terms of preparation I tried to find some on-board, but there is a very limited amount of them, at least taking into account rather fast cars. I’ve been to the simulator, I think this can help me, then we’ll see. I think it’s nice to race in a new circuit, I personally have never raced in Portugal in Formula 1. I think I’ve never even raced in Portugal in my career, I’ve been to Estoril but without competing, so I’m excited to be here.