Top of the Flops

Clive Couldwell:

Well written summary of the current F1. Well said Joe.

Originally posted on joeblogsf1:

A while ago now, in the UK, there was a popular music chart television programme, made by the BBC, called Top of the Pops. It ran for 42 years. It was a countdown to find out what was the Number One that week. It drew a vast audience and every singer and every band wanted to be on it. Looking back now, in the age of whizzbangs and wonderment, it was all rather tame – and the clothing and hairdos were giggle-inducing – but it worked wonders for the pop music industry and kept the toothsome DJs amused with a constant stream of teenage girls, wanting to be in the audience, and willing to do whatever it took to get there… It worked because there was a structure, suspense and if some of the groups were awful (cue: The Bay City Rollers), there was always someone you liked. It was…

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‘F1 in Schools’ winner

A team of students from North Leamington School – Whittle Wonders - were jumping for joy yesterday after being crowned F1 in Schools UK National Champions 2014 and winning a place at the 2014 F1 in Schools World Finals in Abu Dhabi.

The UK Champions will not only have the experience of a lifetime in Abu Dhabi, they also receive tickets to the 2014 British GP at Silverstone, a Williams F1 team factory tour, an Arden Racing Academy presentation and the Codemasters F1 2013 game for each team member.

Whittle Wonders (L-R): Ryan McLaren, Tom Bradford, Thomas Govern, Harry Birch.

Whittle Wonders (L-R): Ryan McLaren, Tom Bradford, Thomas Govern, Harry Birch.

It’s been many months of hard work for the team of 15 and 16 year olds, who not only took victory overall but also won the Portfolio Award and Fastest F1 Car Award with their car racing along the F1 in Schools 20 metres race track in a time of 1.128 seconds.

Led by Team Manager, Thomas Bradford, 15, with fellow students Harry Birch, 16, Testing Engineer; Ryan McLaren, 15, Manufacturing Engineer and Thomas Govern, 15, Design Engineer, the team were on a well-deserved high following the Awards presentation at the event held at the Big Bang Science and Engineering Fair in Birmingham.

The team were presented with the National Champions trophy by F1 in Schools Patron and Williams F1 Team Head of Vehicle Performance, Rob Smedley. After receiving the trophy Team Manager, Thomas Bradford, said:

“We’re really pleased to have won. I think we had the best car today. It was the fastest and well engineered. We’ve been working on the car for a year, designing, evaluating and refining it. It’s going to be brilliant to go to Abu Dhabi and now we’ll continue with the work on our car. We already have some ideas of how we want to improve it for the World Finals and hopefully it’ll be even faster as well.”

The 2014 F1 in Schools National Finals pitted 30 winning F1 in Schools Regional Finals teams against each other, all vying for a trip to Abu Dhabi. The competition, with Formula One at its heart, challenges teams of between three and six students to form a Formula One team, designing, manufacturing, testing and racing an innovative F1 in Schools car, as well as producing a pit display and printed portfolio, and giving a verbal presentation of their work to a panel of judges.

16 awards were presented, rewarding the hard work and high standards of work produced by the teams of students. Runners-up to Whittle Wonders was a team of students from Robert Mays School, Odiham called Colossus F1 and this team also won the Verbal Presentation Award. The third placed team was Infinity from St John Payne School, Chelmsford and they also won the Best Engineered Car Award. The Best Rookie Team Award was presented to newcomers, Venom, from Strode College, Street.

The Team Identity Award was won by Infusion Racing from LSA Technology and Performing Arts College and the Sponsorship and Marketing Award was presented to Symscape Quantum Racing from The Crypt School, Gloucester. Surge Racing from Latymer High School, Hammersmith took the Innovative Thinking Award and the Judges Discretionary Award went to Rapid Input from Dunfermline High School.

Whittle Wonders' winning race car.

Whittle Wonders’ winning race car.

Red Dragon Racing from Connah’s Quay High School impressed the judges to win the Pit Display Award and the Research and Development Award was won by BCS Racing from Barry Comprehensive School. The FIA Women in Motorsport Award was given to the girls from Team Nero from Regent House Grammar School, Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

The exceptional support given to the students by their teachers was also recognised with the Teacher of the Year Award won by Gary Carleton, the tutor for Northern Ireland team, Ignition from Cookstown High School.

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman, F1 in Schools summed up the F1 in Schools UK National Finals 2014 saying:

“We’ve enjoyed a very exciting National Finals this weekend. The level of work produced by the students is outstanding and is a credit to all the participants for the effort they put in to meeting the challenge presented by F1 in Schools. Our congratulations go to Whittle Wonders from North Leamington School. It is the third year of competition for the school and after improving each year, they have finally reaped the ultimate reward with a place at the National Finals and a trip to Abu Dhabi to represent the UK.”

The F1 in Schools UK National Finals 2014 took place with the support of The Institution of Engineering and Technology, Autodesk, Silverstone Circuit, Jaguar Land Rover, WNT, City University London, Tomorrow’s Engineers, FOM, Young Engineers, FIA Women in Motorsport, Edge Foundation and The College of Teachers.

Australian GP – Lotus



Romain Grosjean finished 16th and Pastor Maldonado 17th after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

Romain started from the pit lane and completed a pit stop before an MGU-K problem stopped his run. Pastor started from the back of the grid and also completed a pit stop before his run was cut short, also with an MGU-K issue.

Romain started from the pit lane on new soft tyres, changing to new soft tyres on lap 28. He completed a pit lane drive-through on lap 1 and exited the race on lap 44.

Pastor started with new soft tyres, changing to new soft tyres on lap 29. He exited the race on lap 29.

The new F1 racing year

This year’s season-opener has the added excitement of being the first race for the brand new 1.6-litre power units.

It’s sure to be an unpredictable weekend at Albert Park and one wonders how many cars will make the finish line on Sunday evening; when Melbourne first hosted the Australian Grand Prix in 1996, only 11 cars reached the chequered flag.

Irrespective of what happens on the track, the F1 circus loves racing in Australia. The laid back vibe, the passionate and knowledgeable fans and the chance of some sunshine after the European winter all add to its appeal. As for Melbourne: what a city!

Williams last won this race in 1996 and the team hopes to kick off its new partnership with Mercedes-Benz HPP with another strong result. Says Rod Nelson, Williams’ Chief Test and Support Engineer:

“It’s a street track so we expect a large increase in grip through the weekend as the Pirelli rubber goes down, and as we often see at other temporary tracks it’s also quite bumpy.

“There’s a high probability of a safety car in the race – usually it’s about a 50 per cent chance around here.

“The weather can also be quite changeable as it’s the end of the Australian summer, and with the circuit being less than 1 km from the sea this can have a large effect. The race also starts late in the afternoon so visibility can become an issue for the drivers as the sun goes down.”

It’s been a very busy winter for Sahara Force India. Adds Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya:

“It’s been a massive challenge, especially for a smaller team like ours. That was why we put so many plans in place early last year to be ready for what has become a very different Formula One. All the hard work has paid off, but it has been a very steep learning curve and a huge undertaking to get where we are today.

“It’s the first time for many years that Formula One has been properly aligned with the automotive industry. The prospect of Formula One driving forward technical advances for road cars is a very exciting one.”

According to Renault Sport F1′s track support leader, Cedrik Staudohar, the main challenges of Albert Park will be focused on the power units:

“The high number of low speed turns will put the focus on low speed driveability through correct turbo response. Heavy braking will also need effective engine braking from the ICE to support the new brake-by-wire system. Short bursts of acceleration between the turns compound the challenge, while massively increasing fuel consumption.

“Heavy braking will also give an opportunity for the MGU-K to recover energy, particularly in turns three and four and the last complex through turns 14, 15 and 16 coming back onto the straight.

“Recovering as much energy as possible here is crucial to minimising lap time. Short straights don’t give huge chances for the MGU-H to recover from the exhaust, but there are several of them so it should be sufficient to keep the battery charged.

“It’s one of the tougher races. Fuel consumption is the second highest of the year, and the mechanical challenges add to the difficulty – Melbourne is in the upper half of the table.”

(The Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) which form an integral part of an F1 car’s power unit from 2014 take the concept of KERS to another level, combining twice the power with a performance effect around 10 times greater.

ERS comprise two energy recovery systems (Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) and Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H]), plus an Energy Store (ES) and control electronics.)

Williams runs Senna tribute

Since the tragic death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Williams has placed the iconic Senna double S logo on its racing cars as a mark of respect.

To commemorate 20 years since his passing and to celebrate his legacy, the Williams Mercedes FW36 will be adorned with the new 20th anniversary Senna logo for the 2014 season.

Traditionally placed on the front wing struts of each Williams car, the new logo will be placed on the left-hand side of the FW36′s nose cone and feature a picture of Ayrton alongside the words “Ayrton Senna Always”.

Designed by the Ayrton Senna Foundation, the logo will be present at a number of events organised by the Foundation this year to honour the life, legacy and values of the three times Formula One World Champion.

Speaking about the updated logo, Williams Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said:

“I was very close to Ayrton and the iconic double S logo has been a mainstay on our cars since his death 20 years ago. This new logo is our way of celebrating his achievements as a racing driver, and also the sterling work of his Foundation which is doing so much to promote educational opportunities in Brazil.”

Gene breakthrough

Zoologists and bioengineers from Trinity College Dublin have identified over 1,000 genes whose responses change markedly when embryos are not able to move freely in the womb.

The discovery will help scientists better understand how important tissues are programmed to develop in our bodies which could, in turn, suggest how stem cells can be primed for use in tissue engineering and regenerative therapies.

The collaborative research conducted in the School of Natural Sciences and Trinity Centre for Bioengineering is addressing how embryonic movement influences bone and joint development. This research also furthers understanding of the consequences of reduced movement and shows how we might guide desired differentiation of bone and cartilage from stem cells.

Says Developmental Biologist and Associate Professor in Zoology, Paula Murphy who is the study’s senior author of the study:

“Why do babies move about so much while they are developing in the womb, particularly flexing their arms and legs? We know that if they don’t move enough, they are born with skeletal problems such as thin, fragile bones.

“Highly regulated signalling systems are needed for Mother Nature to follow the complex ‘recipes’ of genetic expression that enable the development of normal skeletons. What often surprises people is that mechanical signals also feed in to these signalling systems, and it is the movement of an embryo that sparks these.”

By studying how animals move and develop, the zoologists and bioengineers have pinpointed which steps during skeleton formation require stimulation from movement. Additionally, by examining the patterns of all the genes in the genome, they have shown which specific genes and molecules are stimulated by movement.

Contracting muscles and cartilage rudiments of the skeleton develop at the same time in the embryo, and the movement of the muscles influences normal development of bone and cartilage. Highlighted in this 3D image is the developing limb skeleton (left), muscle (right, in orange) and tendon (right, in green).

Contracting muscles and cartilage rudiments of the skeleton develop at the same time in the embryo, and the movement of the muscles influences normal development of bone and cartilage. Highlighted in this 3D image is the developing limb skeleton (left), muscle (right, in orange) and tendon (right, in green).

Very little is known about how the mechanical signals are integrated into the biochemical signalling pathways. This could soon change, however, as these researchers home in on the 1,000-plus genes whose responses changed in mouse embryos that lacked muscles and therefore did not kick during development.

The research, just published in the BMC Genomics journal, featured Research Fellow at Trinity, Rebecca Rolfe, as the first author. It highlighted a number of genes already known to encode regulatory molecules that guide developmental decisions in the embryo.

It also highlighted genes that are involved in controlling cell shape changes and in aiding cell-to-cell communication. In particular, the research highlighted the ‘Wnt’ pathway which passes signals from the exterior to the interior of specific cells, as a potential point of integration of mechanical and molecular signalling.

Adds Associate Professor Murphy:

“If we can better understand the signalling processes involved, we might guide development of stable bone and cartilage tissues for use in regenerative therapies. We are now working to fill in the gaps in our knowledge around the combinations of mechanical and molecular signals that are needed to guide differentiation of stem cells for this purpose.”


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