raymondu999 wrote:There's a great feature on Alonso vs Vettel vs Hamilton in terms of driving styles in the latest Autosport:
http://digitaledition.autosport.com/iss ... 042013.jpg
It's well worth to pop the money to buy the mag IMO.
Fernando Alonso - Making Understeer Interesting
Fernando is medium-hard on the brakes and with a bit of overlap between braking and cornering. Then as he’s coming fully off the brakes he applies a lot of lock very quickly, initially partly stalling the front tyre to give a sort of false understeer. Occasionally the front will bite better than he anticipates and with so much lock on that can induce the rear into suddenly stepping out – and it’s then you see him applying punches of oversteer to which he’s very attuned, as if he’s half-expecting it. More usually the understeer stays through most of the corner and the balance is maintained with more or less throttle.
It’s a less extreme version of the technique that was very evident in the rearward-heavy Renaults of 2003-’06. But it wasn’t invented for those cars, they simply allowed him to amplify it to good effect. “I’ve always driven like that – ever since karts,” he said back in 2003.
It’s a technique that allows him to take in enormous momentum, making the car very alive but without the hazard of too much oversteer. It lends itself to great repeatability, but puts a slightly low ceiling on ultimate peak grip. But it’s consistent, makes the car malleable in that crucial, early part of the corner and it keeps strain off the delicate rear tyres. It’s a great fighting technique, working over a wide variety of lines and grip levels as he uses the throttle to fine- hone the car’s placement.
It’s a bullying technique, dominating the car rather than going with its flow in the way, for example, Kimi Raikkonen would. It’s quite similar, in fact, to how Felipe Massa drives but is less aggressive on the brakes, slightly earlier and therefore more consistent, with fewer line-altering lock-ups. It was a technique that allowed Alonso to minimise the penalty of the trait of 2010 and ’11 Ferraris not bringing their front tyres up to temperature quickly enough.
Because he doesn’t actually need the ultimate front grip; so long as he gets some sort of turn-in he’s manipulating the angle with brakes and throttle, almost rally-style. It’s a long way removed from the minimal-input neutrality Michael Schumacher used to stretch the Ferrari elastic in the tyre-war days, but in the Pirelli era Alonso’s more physical technique is probably more effective. Michael was still trying to drive his way in the control-tyre era, using steering lock only grudgingly on his Mercedes, his brain hard-wired to feel that steering lock equalled momentum loss. But when the tyre cannot support the momentum, the car refuses to adopt a stance of sliding neutrality after just the slightest hint of steering lock. Thus the Alonso method is much more adaptable.
With the higher grip of the 2013 Pirellis it’s going to be interesting to see if that still applies. If it does not, expect Alonso to adapt, just as he did when going from Michelins to Bridgestones in 2007 – though it took him a few races.Sebastian Vettel - The Turn-in 'Rotation-meister'
Like Alonso, Vettel is medium-hard on the brakes but less brutal with the initial steering. He prefers the car to be quite nervous and pointy on entry and is ready to remove some of the initial lock once the front has gripped and caused the rear to step out. He has a great feel for pivoting the car in this way to quicken its direction change.
With the Red Bull’s exhaust-enhanced rear downforce he was the first to develop a counter- intuitive technique of taking what would normally be excessive speed in, getting the front in and then using the resultant oversteer to get him the direction change early in the corner.
Conventionally, this would be counter- productive; the slide would continue after you’d got the direction change, losing you momentum and more than losing what you’d just gained. But with exhaust-enhanced downforce like he had in 2011, he would at this point get back hard on the throttle and have the exhaust gas do its stuff by nailing the back end. So he’d get to have his cake and eat it.
It’s a very unnatural thing to do – with the tail threatening to slide too far, the last thing you feel you want to do is stand on the gas. But Seb proved brilliantly adept at it. When the 2012 regulations took most of the blown-diffuser effect away, the Red Bull initially was merely competitive – and into the bargain Vettel’s superiority over team-mate Mark Webber evaporated. But into the last third of the season Red Bull had not only got a significant chunk of exhaust-derived downforce back via re-shaping of the rear bodywork, but had also introduced a tweak in the rear suspension that gave the car a roll-oversteer characteristic into slow turns.
This got Seb back his quick direction change – and now with enough exhaust-enhanced rear downforce to tame that slide once he got back on the throttle. It loosely replicated the behaviour of the 2011 car, enough to allow Seb back what he termed “my tricks”. Watching the RB9 in action at Barcelona testing through the slow section at the end of the lap it’s very clear that the trait has been retained, maybe even enhanced.
The car positively rotates around itself as the rear rolls, nice and early into the corner, getting the car perfectly lined up with the apex and enabling the steering lock to be removed as he nails the throttle. It’s a beautiful case study of technology and technique developing together.
How much the impetus has come from Adrian Newey and the Red Bull vehicle dynamicists and how much from Vettel isn’t clear, but it isn’t important. It’s almost certainly been an organic development, a direction to follow that has allowed the driver to take full advantage of his strengths and perhaps leading the engineers in a direction they wouldn’t have otherwise thought to go. Why, after all, would you ordinarily want to introduce roll-oversteer into a car?Lewis Hamilton - Last of the Late Brakers
Lewis is a traditional late-braking, oversteer- loving driver in the lineage of Jochen Rindt, Ronnie Peterson, Keke Rosberg and Mika Hakkinen. He has a fantastic feel for how to modulate the brake pedal as the downforce bleeds away, reducing the pressure so as to keep the wheels just on the point of locking after a very heavy and late initial application when the car is smothered in aerodynamic grip.
Hamilton demands a lot of braking power. He will then take a geometrically perfect line, usually visibly later than Alonso into a slow corner, and will carry an audacious entry speed as he turns in, too much for the rear end to stay in line. But without the same degree of exhaust-type downforce as the Red Bull, typically that rear-end slide lasts longer and consumes more time than Vettel’s, forcing a lower mid-corner minimum speed. But his exquisite feel minimises the downsides of that; he’s onto it early and can carry way more momentum than anyone else in an oversteering state in a conventional car.
He’s very much a reactive driver in the sense that he’s prepared to deal with whatever consequences the car throws at him after he’s pointed it at the apex, not needing to build up to find a particular groove and rhythm.
He’s not dealing with the last finger-tip sensations of tyre grip through steering feel, but simply reacting to what the car does, confident that he can invariably deal with it. Although Paddy Lowe at the time reckoned Lewis’s ease with oversteer would probably lead McLaren down a development path of more aggressively pointy cars, not needing to have them as stable as with previous drivers, it didn’t really pan out that way. The arrival of Jenson Button maybe had something to do with this. Certainly there were traits about the 2010 car that Button didn’t care for and it was notable that he was much happier with the general neutrality of the 2011 and ’12 cars.
Hamilton meanwhile simply adapted to what he was given – and that’s the beauty of his preferred technique; it’s fantastically adaptable for all handling traits, tyre behaviour, grip levels and weather conditions. Only in changeable conditions, with grip varying from one corner tothenextlapbylap–suchaswesawfora time in Brazil last year – did Button’s finer- honed feel allow him to be faster.