September 28, 2003


Todayís US Grand Prix could deliver Michael Schumacherís sixth world Formula One title. Contrary to this report in The Daily Telegraph, it is possible for the German to claim the title with a second-place finish, so long as Kimi Raikkonen finishes no higher than fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya no higher than eighth. If Schumacher wins at Indy, he'll take the title if Raikkonen is third or lower, and Montoya is no better than sixth.

After qualifying, however, those results seem unlikely. Raikkonen is on pole and Montoya is fourth, with Schumacher way down in seventh. If they finish in those positions (they wonít) Raikkonen will carry a one-point lead into the final round at Suzuka, ahead of Montoya and Schumacher tied on 84 points.

The qualifying data from Indianapolis is intriguing. Montoya and BMW-Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher were the only two drivers to top 350 kmh (217 mph) on the long Indy straight yet were beaten for overall lap speed by Raikkonen (10 kmh slower on the straight), Rubens Barrichello (5 kmh slower) and Olivier Panis (16 kmh slower). This points to Williams using shallow wing angles, which might influence tyre wear during the race.

Of course, it also indicates the BMW engineís enormous power, something in excess of 900 bhp. Racefax has further details:

Also revealed is that the engine now revs as high as 19,200 rpm -- that's 320 crankshaft rotations and 160 spark plug firings per second -- but is held to 19,000 during races. The engine idles, if that's the term for it, at 4,000 rpm.

Power is a function of how much fuel and air can be usefully passed through an engine in a given period of †time, and the BMW P83 inhales nearly two cubic feet of air per second (0.554 cubic meter).

Maximum piston acceleration is 10,000 g's, and the peak piston speed is 131 feet per second. Consider that the collective mass of the piston, pin, connecting rod and crankshaft journal are not only accelerated at that rate and to that speed, but have to come to a complete, if momentary stop 640 times a second, when the piston reaches the top and bottom of its travel through the cylinder.

All this from an engine weighing less than 200 pounds/90 kilos, and displacing three liters, or 183 cubic inches. For those who remember the '60s, that's the equivalent of five cylinders in the venerable 283-inch Chevy small-block V8, which in its original form had a maximum engine speed little higher than the BMW's idle.

And produced about 700 fewer horsepower. Still, those small-blocks always sounded so cool.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 28, 2003 06:03 PM

I hope Schu doesn't win the title. Just to piss off the tifosi.

BTW, a high-school friend still prefers V8's over F1 cars because of their more "gutsy" engines

Posted by: Tex at September 28, 2003 at 08:04 PM

Considering how many different variables that can occur on race day, schu still has a decent chance even from 7th. Ferrari have absolutely perfected pit stops, so thats at least a second per stop he could gain.

Not to mention that no doubt SOMEONE will blow an engine or transmission and not be able to finish, Schu included.

If he won the campionship though, that officially makes him the greatest F1 driver ever, since he is already tied on 5 championships with Manuel Fangio

Posted by: Swift at September 28, 2003 at 08:24 PM


You have a bit to learn.
1. How do you improve the hopeless Channel 10 coverage? Get those turkeys off Crummy-dumb etc off the sreen before each race and show Euro races at a decent time not after some bullshit movie you wouldn't bothering watching even under heavy sedation.

2. The Indy circuit is all about compromises. The in field is almost Monaco like whereas the curved banking for the straight is just that. More of the lap is spent in mini-Monaco therefore it is much better to go around the corners faster. Anyways Kimi's machine was probably carrying less fuel than Franky boys nuts and bolts.

3. Ferrari have thrown their last dice, namely tyres. This worked for one race before the Michies worked out what to do.

4. Kimi doesn't deserve the C'ship unless he wins Indy and Suzuka - he has only won one race this year. He's good and has time on his side.

5. As for watching taxis race. Good heavens. I can do that with a good view of the Harbour Bridge!

6. Glad the Pies lost.

Posted by: TN at September 28, 2003 at 10:39 PM

OOH! How exciting, Schumacher and Ferrari trying to clinch another (yawn) F1 title. The only thing that could make F1 even more exciting is a little something called competition.

Posted by: renworm at September 29, 2003 at 12:37 AM

Does Raikkonen have a personality? I've seen dead fish act livelier.

Posted by: Tom at September 29, 2003 at 07:16 AM

BMW P83 inhales nearly two cubic feet of air per second (0.554 cubic meter).

Ah, the perils of converting to metric. I think he means 0.0554 cubic metres.

Posted by: Stephen Dawson at September 29, 2003 at 11:02 AM

What a fantastic race! Despite Webber's brain fade (sticking it off on his own, while in the lead) denying Jaguar a podium, the race had had plenty of good stuff - plenty of overtaking, some fantastic driving efforts (Alonso, Montoya to make up a ~35 second deficit, Schumacher), welcome brain fade (what were McLaren thinking with Coulthard on dry tyres despite them being 15s a lap slower?), and a big tyre battle. The tyre battle was the clincher though - such a massive difference between Bridgestone and Michelin intermediate and wets.

Its a pity Montoya won't get the chance to challenge for the title in Japan, but on yesterdays performace, he really didn't deserve to. Schumacher was clearly the dominant performer.

Oh, and good on Sauber - a blinder of a race to take 5th place in the constructors championship clear of BAR and Jaguar.

Posted by: Tortfeaser at September 29, 2003 at 11:49 AM

Oh, and good on Sauber - a blinder of a race to take 5th place in the constructors championship clear of BAR and Jaguar.

Posted by: Tortfeaser at September 29, 2003 at 11:50 AM