Monday, September 30, 2013

Did Vettel's Red Bull have an illegal traction control device in Singapore?

Former F1 team owner, Giancarlo Minardi, has raised some doubts over Sebastian Vettel's sheer dominance that the German enjoyed over his rivals in Singapore just over one week ago.

Giancarlo Minardi, to save the team from folding in 2001, Australian Paul Stoddart, who ran the team for five years before selling it on to Red Bull in 2005 who renamed it Scuderia Toro Rosso. The team whose maiden and only victory to date was scored by just the man in question, Sebastian Vettel.

The 66 year old, who was trackside at the Singapore Grand Prix said, "Ahead of the Korean Grand Prix, the 14 the round of the 2013 Formula 1 Championship, I would like to bring back all the wonderful memories linked to my experience at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and make some remarks about my visit to the Singapore Grand Prix, which I’d like to share with you and try to find some answers.

"I will start by saying that I was enthralled by the Singapore background. It was a brand new experience, which was completely different from any other experience I was used to live (the circuit opens only in the afternoon and closes at late night). I had the chance to monitor all drivers’ on-track deeds from a suite located at the end of the pit’s straight (which leads to the first chicane). The monitor I used to watch the race displayed also all drivers’ lap times.

"Since I left Singapore, I’ve been keeping in my mind the 2.5 seconds advantage of Vettel over his teammate Webber and the other drivers.

"By this statement it’s not my intention to devalue Sebastian Vettel, who always manages his Red Bull the best way and I don’t want even to jab at anyone, I just want to tell what I personally saw and heard during that three-day-event.

"According to my experience, I think that a 2.5 seconds advantage each lap is really too much. It’s like a three-generation development gap, it’s a huge gap. Furthermore, the time gap between Vettel and Romain Grosjean in FP3 and the Red Bull’s driver and Rosberg in qualifying was only few tenths. The German driver could have played cat and mouse on Saturday, anyway, something is still not clear for me.

Doubt 1: From my suite, I chose some mainstays as a reference point in order to monitor and compare the drivers’ way of driving. My mainstays were the kerbstones located on the corner which leads to Republic Boulevard. Their function is to avoid passing on the kerb. I was impressed by Vettel’s neat way of driving on that stretch of the track. He was able to drive all that stretch without making any corrections, unlike all his rivals (also his teammate). His laptime was also remarkable in T3, which is the track’s sector with the highest concentration of corners.
Doubt 2: On the same stretch, Sebastian was able to speed up 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included. Whilst all the other drivers sped up on the same stretch, Vettel was able to speed up before them. The thing that surprised me the most was the RB9 engine’s output sound. Besides speeding up 50 metres before any other driver, the Renault engine of the German’s car grinded like no other French engines on track, neither like Mark’s. That sound was similar to the sound made by the engine when the traction control system got into action in the past seasons.

"Furthermore, that sound was only heard when Vettel chalked up his excellent performances. For example, after the Safety Car went off, he took a great re-start and chalked up many excellent laps, gaining a 32 seconds gap over Alonso, then he leveled off, taking precautions in the case he would have had to pit one more time. In those moments the Renault engine was more powerful than any other engines (Renault and other brands).

"These are some of the aspects:
Vettel’s very neat way of driving;
Vettel’s ability to accelerate 50 metres before the other drivers;
The abnormal sound of the RB9’s Renault engine;
Vettel’s more than 2 second advantage over the rivals.

"That make[s] me think and I would like to have some answers. All those doubts are even more serious if we consider that Webber wasn’t able to do that, since he’s a common human being…. I don’t want to blame anyone , I just would like to get into the depth of the matter." (Giancarlo Minardi)

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