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f1formula onegraham bengekersmclaren

F1 – wheels within wheels

So the launches and the first round of testing in less than sunny Valencia are ended and next week the circus gets down to more serious set up work in Jerez, the sunnier end of Spain. With the new McLaren the very last to appear – today – what do we know so far. The new cars are all longer – due to the need to add the packaging for the new KERS systems, taller due to the need to improve the airflow to the new driver adjustable rear wing and have more complex aerodynamics everywhere for the same reason, especially the “up periscope” sides on the McLaren.
Aside from the usual set up niggles for most of the teams, hydraulic failures, overheating, etc etc the new Pirelli tyres have so far been a major talking point the consensus view is that changes to the compounds may still be necessary, the super softs are barely lasting one lap, the softs are graining rapidly whereas the medium compound is both quick and durable and a useful baseline for the engineers and drivers.
The other major discussion – nay, grumble – among the drivers is how busy they are in the cockpit and how the new steering wheels are just too complex, take last years £30-40,000 wheel and add at least two more constantly monitored buttons for KERS and the rear wing and you hugely increase the drivers work rate. Some team bosses seem to be saying tough, get on with it, that’s what we pay you for, some smarter managers might already realise the 2011 championship could just be won or lost on the ergonomics of the steering wheel.
Graham Benge
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