Japanese GP 2001 round-up

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It is a nice tradition in Formula One to conclude the season with a race in Suzuka. Teams showing their last efforts to grab points or topteams to show off some new enhancements with the view already on the next season, where they hope to perform better, or in case of Ferrari, as good as  this year.

Although some small adjustments and modifications that we had already seen before, only Benetton showed something world smashing this season. It is their extremely good launch control.. (see further)

BAR midwingBAR for example was still using the small mid-wing on top of the air intaker, that they already had been using at Indianapolis. Apparently, they are missing some downforce. British American Racing made the 2001 season not as good as expected, and it seems like their chassis is not worth much. Therefore, is is said they have been developing an new chassis that was going to be introduced a little past halfway the season. Although, the new chassis seemed to be even more a disaster, and so BAR decided to  continue with the orinigal BAR 003 chassis.

Minardi aerodynamic flapMinardi on the other hand placed an extra air flap between the rear wheels on each side of the car. These little flaps can generate some extra downforce, but as little as it is, Minardi probably uses it because these flaps are a lot less air resistant that the rear wing. Better those litle flaps than 1 degree extra on the rear wing? Apparently it should help, otherwise they should be foolish to make use of it.

High engine exhausts at WilliamsBMW continued their work for next year with the pipe exhausts following the Ferrari example, so that  now only McLaren and Minardi drive with engine uotlets in the diffuser area. Those teams will probably also shift to the Ferrari type, as the advantages for the engine are more important than the aerodynamic advantages with the low exhausts. They have now found an alternative to the chimneys of McLaren, with the air outlets. Williams have now placed them besides of the engine exhausts.

Ferrari front wing at SuzukaRear wing end-plate: McLarenMcLaren curved its rear wing end plate a little t othe inside at the height of the wheels, allowing air to pass the rear wheels at the inside with less friction. Ferrari again altered a little to the front wing with a 3-flap wing and a small flip-up at the inside of the front wing end  plate.

Sauber has experimented with rear wheel flip-ups that  had been used on circuits before Suzuka. Both drivers used once again like in Indianapolis different front wings and flaps as can be seen on the pictures below.

Sauber 1Sauber 2

Finally, there is the launch control of the Benetton team. As we have seen for some Grand - Prix', both benetton cars are flying off the grid like rockets compared to the other cars. And why is it? Well some teams like BAR noticed they had a special system and tried to use it, but were not able to apply it as they had too few time.
There is a system that helps officials determine if a driver has jumped the start and is situated under the surface of the track. Incorporated into the lights sequence that allows the drivers to get the race underway, the system is activated as soon as the lights go on, sending a basic pulse type carrier frequency signal to race control. If a car moves whilst the system is activated the signal is automatically cut and race control knows which car moved and when. As soon as the lights go out, the signal is deactivated and cars are free to leave the grid. Therefore, so long as a car doesn't move before the lights go out, the system has no idea how quick they actually leave the grid.

Now, according to an inside source, Benetton have integrated the two systems. Each individual grid slot has it's own frequency, which can be picked up by any type of multi band receiver and Benetton then program this information into their launch control. When the lights go out, the car is automatically launched off the grid without the driver even needing to focus on the lights. By doing this, they have cut human reaction time down from about a quarter of a second to a millisecond, hence both Benetton's getting off to an absolute flying start from the Suzuka grid.