BBC Sport formula1


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 09:45 UK

Martin Brundle answers your questions

Martin Brundle
BBC Formula 1 analyst Martin Brundle answers your questions

The BBC Formula 1 team will be answering your questions in a new series for the website this year.

This week, analyst and co-commentator Martin Brundle casts his expert eye over your queries. Thank you for all your e-mails, a selection of which Martin answers below.

So remind me, which of the pundits said Lewis Hamilton would outclass Jenson Button in 2010?
Peter W , Algarve

I was very consistent in my views pre-season that the Hamilton-Button battle would be much closer than many expected. I did state that I thought Lewis would edge the battle and, with only four of 19 races completed, I stand by that.

However, Button is doing a truly great job and it is such a pleasure to see him looking so relaxed and content both in and out of the car. He has a great bunch of people around him and is in a very good place in his life.

On the other hand, as we found out the week before the first race, Hamilton has had some fairly dramatic upheavals, especially by parting company with his long-time mentor and manager, not to mention his father, Anthony.

Jenson Button (right) and Lewis Hamilton on the podium in China
Button has out-scored McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton so far

Button has calmly out-smarted Hamilton so far but not out-paced him. It is also interesting that of the 39 competitive overtakes from the two McLarens, 32 of them were achieved by Hamilton, a couple of them on Button himself.

A counter argument would be that Button has avoided the need to have to make so many overtakes. Let's see how it goes but I am certainly enjoying having the two Brits going so well.

What are your thoughts on Fernando Alonso passing team-mate Felipe Massa on the way into the pits during the Chinese Grand Prix? Do you think this is the moment a garage war will start at Ferrari?
Paul from Bracknell

Massa v Alonso in the pit lane in China was in many respects very similar to Alonso pouncing on Massa in the opening lap of Bahrain to take the lead at Turn Two. It is just the kind of aggression and opportunistic move we expect from Alonso and which I am afraid leaves Massa looking a touch steady.

You have to remember that Alonso has spent the bulk of the season so far staring at Massa's gearbox, although he should not really have allowed himself to be there.

If I was running an F1 team right now Sebastian Vettel would be my number one target

I like the very lenient stewarding which has allowed for many great overtakes and thrilling moments such as the drivers charging towards the pit lane, although I do draw the line at argy-bargy down the pit lane itself when mechanics are at risk. If one of them were killed or seriously injured, over and above the human tragedy, this would have a very significant impact on F1 and needs to be addressed.

I believe the garage war at Ferrari started after Australia when they did not ease Alonso's path during the race. I sense quite a bit of tension around that relationship and I know that Massa was totally unimpressed by Alonso's pit-in move. Expect a reaction.

Why is it that McLaren are so quick in the wet despite the lack of downforce? Could it be how they work the tyres?
Peter Brito, London

For a car to be quick in the wet involves a number of aspects coming together in one package.

Hamilton and Button have always been very fast in damp and wet conditions and so this helps.

Engine driveability and power delivery is super-important because as the driver presses the throttle the engine mapping needs to deliver him a consistent and linear amount of power where possible. Gearshift quality, particularly on the downshift, is also important.

With regard to aerodynamics itself, it's not just the peak amount of downforce in the rain that matters but more the benign consistency with which the downforce is generated from the wings and under-body, regardless of rake and ride height.

Finally, the set-up of the suspension, in terms of its stiffness and keeping a consistent tyre contact patch, becomes ever more important.

There is lots of hype surrounding Sebastian Vettel but how good do you think he really is?
Beth, England

If I was running an F1 team right now Vettel would be my number one target. There are three real megastars out there in my view - Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel - and they are closely followed by a significant number of merely superstars.

At 22, Vettel is six years younger than Alonso and appears to have the speed and intellect to go with his media-friendly demeanour. He doesn't carry with him some of the baggage that employing Hamilton and Alonso brings, and he will only get better.

Michael Schumacher - lost it completely or just not found it yet?
Mark Emery, England

A good question. Schumacher definitely hasn't found it yet but I believe the old magic is still there. It is a question of whether he can pick it out and play it on a consistent basis.

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher has struggled after deciding to return to F1 with Mercedes

I really do think it is too early to write him off after very limited testing and four 'fly-away' races in challenging conditions.

When he gets the Mercedes car nearer to his needs and can start to use his strengths then I believe Schumacher will be a much greater force.

Whether that proves to be good enough against the great quality and depth that he faces on the grid today remains to be seen.

The next race in Barcelona, with the much-feted new car package , will tell us much more.

How is it possible for some drivers to drive around a car problem, while others seem to give up and retire?
Paul Phillips, UK

Alonso's handling of his very slow downshift in Sepang was impressive to say the least. It reminded me of Schumacher in the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix when he coped with having only fifth gear available for a significant proportion of the race.

It really is all about a mindset and determination. It is something you learn in sportscar racing because so often you are nursing a car with problems towards the end of a long-distance event and it is always amazing how fast you can go providing the engine is still running and all four wheels are generally pointing in the same direction.

If you have a can-do attitude you can compensate and regain some speed as Vettel did in Bahrain this season when a spark plug failed. Others might just give up the fight, return to the pits and complain to the media about more reliability issues.

What is the issue with ride height for qualifying and why are teams pointing the finger at Red Bull?
Rhys, UK

Aerodynamically, single-seaters need to run as close to the track as possible because much of the downforce from the under-floor is generated by the relationship of the car to the track.

It also helps with the centre of gravity - think of a double-decker bus cornering versus a kart when considering how important that is.

In 2010 the teams can do final qualifying with minimal fuel for best performance but then must put in around 150kg of petrol for the race distance.

This is like adding two passengers and, given that the cars are mechanically sprung, inevitably they will ride lower.

I sense some frustration and unhappiness in the Ferrari camp around its drivers

Touching the ground heavily can slow the car down and, more importantly, can wear out the legality 'plank' underneath the car which would cause it to be excluded after the race. A lower ride height might be worth a quarter of a second per lap but the teams have to compromise.

It was generally noticed that the Red Bull occasionally skimmed the ground in qualifying yet seemed very fast and comfortable with full tanks, too.

It appears that they just have a very good set-up of rising-rate suspension which can accommodate this without making the car difficult to drive at the start of the race.

There remains debate on exactly how Red Bull do this but it does appear that the car is fully legal. Other teams were creating systems to help with ride-height adjustability after the end of qualifying but they have been banned.

In any event, teams are allowed to manually change the ride height during the race pit stops but with sub-four second stops it is difficult to do this accurately and without wasting further time. I am sure such systems will appear soon enough.

Can you see Ferrari dropping Felipe Massa in favour of Robert Kubica next year?
Stef O'Meara, England

For some reason, Massa has struggled with raw speed in the 2010 Ferrari, although of course he did lead the world championship after Malaysia having secured two podiums.

I sense that there is some frustration and unhappiness generally in the Ferrari camp around its drivers but most teams like to have continuity to build up a working relationship with drivers and to design new cars year-on-year which suit their size and driving style.

However, if a driver of Kubica's status is on the market the team would have to consider it very carefully and it is not out of the question that Kubica could be dressed in scarlet in 2011.

Like you, I too find it spooky seeing Bruno Senna with his visor open; it's just like looking at Ayrton. What's the general feeling in the know, has he got the speed to move up the pecking order?
Nick Wensley, UK

Hispania driver Bruno Senna
Bruno Senna has brought his uncle's famous name - and looks - back to F1

Senna is a fine young driver and seems a very good human being. His GP2 performance suggests that he is worthy of a chance in F1 but it is fair to say he doesn't appear to have the potential of his late uncle Ayrton.

Given the Hispania car that he is driving, it is virtually impossible to make any further judgement at this time.

Do you think it was a mistake for Lewis Hamilton to end his relationship with his dad as his manager? Since he does not have a manager now, who do you think is best to look after him?
Don Vuong, Australia

I thought the timing of Hamilton parting company with his Dad, just prior to the first race, was very strange, if indeed it was previously anticipated by them.

The time to have done that would have been at the end of last season and so we have to assume there is an element of antagonism involved. It is so hard to beat the other drivers on the grid without any distractions of your own.

Hamilton is in a team which has the best driver support infrastructure in F1 by some margin. However, much sooner than later, he will need somebody fighting his corner at McLaren and on the commercial front.

It is imperative that he has somebody who he can trust and relate to and who has deep knowledge of and creditability within F1. One of the external large sports agencies would be a disaster because of the structure of F1 in general and McLaren in particular.

Do you have faith that Hermann Tilke will ever design a circuit that's good for racing or should another designer be brought in?
Dave C, Cheshire

I know Hermann Tilke well. He drives race cars from time to time and he has a business that has enormous experience in delivering turnkey F1 venues in a short time-frame on all over the world.

I would imagine he gets pushed from pillar to post with regard to all aspects of a new venue, especially budgeting.

I think he does a solid job in making a new circuit relevant to its surroundings, local style and traditions. We must remember that he has significant FIA constraints with regard to contour changes, visibility, and run-off areas compared with older circuits which already have established corners.

New circuits must also be suitable for the television feed and clearly Bernie Ecclestone trusts him to deliver.

However, the circuits can end up all looking very similar, especially with identical kerbing and those awful supermarket car-park run offs. He has an impossible task in many ways to keep everyone happy.

Fundamentally I think Hermann does a good job but a bit more competition would be healthy.

I was always bemused as to why you never landed a really front-running car for the majority of your career, when your performances seemed to warrant one. If you were to have your career again, would you do anything differently?
Tim F, UK

Given that I matched the three great drivers of my generation - Senna, Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen - in the same cars on the same day, it is clear I underperformed my potential as an F1 driver.

Martin Brundle crashes during the 1996 Australian Grand Prix
Brundle survived a spectacular crash in a Jordan in Australia in 1996

There are a few reasons. Smashing my legs up in 1984 derailed my career progress, fundamentally compromised my fitness training programme and, most importantly, prevented me from left-foot braking when it was virtually essential in F1.

I am also guilty of not having had a 100% focus on F1 at all times and I should have engaged a more aggressive manager.

I have to balance that with my achievements with 10 podiums and clearly somebody felt I was worth employing and paying over a 12-year period. I was also lucky to survive three crashes where my chances were pretty slim. All in all I guess I wouldn't change anything in that respect.

I have been watching F1 since 1985 and have noticed that the drivers are getting younger coming into the sport and also winning races and championships. Do you think it's far easier now than when you where racing F1?
Sean Hayes, UK

It is inevitable that F1 drivers will get younger. They start at the age of eight in karts and so have hundreds of races behind them by their mid-teens when they begin jumping in track cars.

They are groomed mentally and physically, along with receiving media training, for the job from a very early age.

With the advent of data acquisition and copious amounts of information to support setting up a car, experience has become less relevant in this data driven age. For those reasons 20 year-olds really can get in the car now and get the job done.

What is it like to see your son following you through the junior ranks and if he makes it to F1 how do you think it will feel watching him from the commentary box?
Simon Lancey, UK

If Alex makes it to F1 I will be immensely proud. I would be watching him from an appropriate distance on the sidelines trying desperately not to be a racing dad.

I hope he is lucky enough to experience the pleasures of driving a variety of race cars all around the globe as I have been.

Do you think you're a better racing driver or commentator?
Lee Willmore, Birmingham

I am not sure that it is really for me to say, although I think I have received more compliments and plaudits for my commentary work than my driving, although of course that is my more recent career phase.

More importantly, I don't actually think of myself as a commentator but more a racing driver who shares his knowledge and experiences from the commentary box.

Print Sponsor

see also
Button pips Hamilton to China win
18 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber Q&A
30 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Jonathan Legard Q&A
10 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Jake Humphrey Q&A
02 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
David Coulthard Q&A
29 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Eddie Jordan Q&A
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.