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Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team works with Dell to deliver success. Dell supports Caterham with high performance computing and trackside laptops for race days.

German GP Race Review

The hottest track temperature of any race for three years meant critical heat for the tires.

By Tom Clarkson

Hockenheim is no longer the high-speed challenge that it used to be. Its notoriously long straights were dug up in 2002 and replaced by a more benign stadium-style circuit, but this year’s race weekend proved as challenging as any German Grand Prix in history due to the fluctuating track temperatures.

Scorching conditions during practice and qualifying were replaced by cooler conditions for the race, sending strategists and engineers into analytical overdrive. How would Pirelli’s tires perform on the cooler track surface, both in terms of longevity and performance?

As ever, the Caterham F1 Team had its unassailable advantage over the opposition: the data processing capabilities of its Technology Partner, Dell. There is no better wingman in Formula One.

Here are the Critical Decisions that came into play during the German Grand Prix.

Critical decision 1: How many pitstops?

The options

Two stops or three? Pirelli took their two softest tire compounds, the soft and the super-soft, to Hockenheim. It was an aggressive choice, aimed at “spicing up the show”, according to Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery.

The considerations

The track temperature peaked at 57 degrees during qualifying on Saturday, which was hotter than at any race in the last three years. In these extreme conditions the super-soft tire lasted only 15 laps, before overheating (known in the trade as ‘degradation’) and losing performance.

Come Sunday, however, the clouds had moved in and the track temperature had dropped by 20 degrees. That generated a huge balance shift away from the rear tires, which were no longer over-heating, and the front tires became the limiting factor.

The Critical Decision was to predict the extent of that balance shift in order to protect the front tires and get them to last as long as possible.

The outcome

As predicted, the front tires – and the front-left in particular – took a pounding in the race. The super-soft tire was showing signs of heavy wear (known as graining) after just five laps on some cars and the longest stint managed by any driver on that rubber was 13 laps.

Race winner Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas in second managed to get to the flag on two stops, but the majority of the field was forced to stop three times.

Critical decision 2: What brake material to use?

The options

There are four brake material suppliers in Formula One and the teams swap between them from race-to-race, depending on the feel of the driver. But two manufacturers in particular came under the spotlight in Germany: Brembo and Carbon Industrie.

The considerations

Every driver requires a different level of feel through the brake pedal, and never more than in qualifying when they are seeking outright performance and driving on light fuel and new tires. The differences between the various brake discs available are small, but significant – and choosing the right one is the Critical Decision.

“It depends on the layout of the circuit,” says Gianluca Pisanello, Caterham’s Head of Trackside Engineering. “There are small changes between the different discs, particularly around the bite point when the driver first hits the pedal, and it’s a challenge to pick the right one.”

On Saturday morning Lewis Hamilton elected to swap from Carbon Industrie front discs to Brembo, while his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg stuck with CI front and rear. They’ve run different discs on many previous occasions, but never have the consequences been more significant than during qualifying at Hockenheim.

The outcome

Lewis had just set the fastest middle sector of anyone during Q1 when he stamped on the brake pedal on the approach to Turn 13, the Sachskurve. At that moment he had an instantaneous and catastrophic front right disc failure, at which point he became a passenger and slammed into the barriers at 100mph. Session over. The resultant impact damaged the rear end of his W05 and the subsequent gearbox change and five-place grid penalty dropped him to 20th on the grid.

Rosberg, for the record, started from pole position and raced unchallenged to the chequered flag.

Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

The tight and tortuous Hungaroring comes next. It’s the slowest permanent circuit on the F1 calendar, with an average speed of just 190km/h and four corners that are taken at less than 100km/h. Downforce and mechanical grip are at a premium, and it’s also necessary for the engineers to find a way of making the car perform on one of the bumpiest track surfaces of the year.

With limited overtaking opportunities around the lap, optimising a car’s qualifying performance will be crucial. At Caterham, Dell’s HPC system will be working flat-out to help the team make the right calls throughout the weekend.

F1: The man with the knowledge

Jody Egginton has had several roles at Caterham F1. Now as head of design and manufacturing, his job is simple: get as much performance to the CT05 as possible.

By Hans Seeberg

Jack of all trades, master of most of them: That just about sums up Jody Egginton, Caterham F1’s head of design and manufacturing.

“I was a designer many moons ago,” Egginton says. “I’ve been a race engineer and a chief engineer, I’ve been head of operations and I’ve controlled budgets as well,” he laughs. “I’m very good on Excel and PowerPoint too!” Yet his variety of experience makes him ideally placed, because as head of design and manufacturing, he’s required to have a knowledge about all the departments that contribute to make a Formula One™ car. As Egginton himself says, “You’ve got to know something about everything.”

Turning design into reality

Egginton’s job requires him to be part designer, part organizer. “I’m responsible for the design process, from initial concept through to parts being delivered to the car,” he says. “Somebody else is responsible for the performance aspect including ideas and concepts – my role is heading up the group of people who turn that into reality. For example, if the aero or CFD [computational fluid dynamics] department have come up with a development that has proved its worth in either CFD or the wind tunnel, then we take that design and turn it into a full-size, usable part.”

The suspicion is always that because aerodynamics is where the biggest performance gains are to be made on Caterham F1′s CT05 racing car, that department will always get its way in the designing of parts. Egginton says that’s broadly true – to a point.

“If the aero team find some performance that’s considered sufficient to put on the car and is within budget, my role is about making sure that it’s designed and manufactured how aero intended, and that it’s robust enough, or not too light or heavy,” he says. “If aero come up with a great idea but we can’t get it onto the car with the correct mass, any time you find aerodynamically might be lost due to the weight of the part. I’m the reality check to whether a part is worth doing or not.”

Preparing for Austria

Given that all F1 teams rely on a strict schedules and tight organization, Egginton is involved when the teams are preparing for a race – and his experience has never been more crucial than in the run-up to the Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull Ring, or A1-Ring as it used to be known, has not hosted an F1 race since 2003, meaning that Caterham F1 – like several teams on the current grid – have never raced there. Yet it’s not as much of an issue as you’d think.

“It’s amazing how much data you can gather from other teams that have run there,” says Egginton. “For example, when this team was set up in 2010 we didn’t have data for any tracks. But we set up relationships with a number of GP2 and Formula 3 teams for data exchange, so they would send us a speed trace, which is a useful bit of information to have to start conducting your simulation work, regardless of what car it came from. So even now with the Red Bull Ring, we know the Tarmac type, we know the circuit characteristics, we have all the data on whether it’s a longitudinal or latitudinal circuit, how long the straights are, the elevations and the altitude changes, and the nature of the corners. It shouldn’t be a major issue.”

The drivers have also been able to practice for Austria in the simulator, which is another vital tool to help the team prepare for the race. “These runs aren’t based on historic data because we don’t have any,” says Egginton, “so they’re based on the usual things: We’ll have to decide how to get the most out of the tire compounds chosen for the race; we’ll configure the basics of our car; then once we’re there it’s about the drivers learning the circuit and fine-tuning the setup.”

Performance is a priority

It might seem like everyone in a F1 team sits around analyzing data, but Egginton isn’t one of them. “My days of sitting in the operations room and poring over data are long gone!” he laughs. “My priority now is that we’re working on the rights parts, because we only have a finite amount of resource. There’s a lot of simulator work involved – we’re currently getting our 2015 model together – but ultimately my job is about helping to get as much performance to the car as possible.”

The Dell kit Egginton uses

“Up until three weeks ago I had the same Dell Precision mobile workstation I was issued in January 2010 when I joined the team! It was amazing. Egginton says. “But because I don’t spend my days doing simulations or looking at huge files, I’ve got a Latitude laptop now. When I was trackside I’d have six or seven bits of heavy-duty software open at once; now I mainly use Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook – when I’m not running around with bits of paper!”

IDC: Dell & Caterham F1

It has a television audience of around 450 million viewers for each of the 19 races, putting it right up there with the Olympic Games and the FIFA soccer world cup as a global event.

Television revenues are in the billions of dollars. Racing teams are major enterprises, with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars... and ICT plays a key role their success. This IDC document reviews the importance of ICT in Formula 1 by focusing on the role of Dell as Technology Partner of the Caterham F1 Team.