ergos's profile

Name: ergos
Member since: June 20, 2005
Last visit: July 03, 2005

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ok guys, got it - I'll refrain from posting here in the future. Have a great time.

posted by ergos at 09:24 AM on June 21, 2005


riffola - you really don't understand either the technical or political stuation. Or maybe you don't really want to?

posted by ergos at 07:59 AM on June 21, 2005


Why couldn't Michelin put their cars out and race to the limits of their equipment (ie slower into turns)? The built in telemetry could have been used by the teams to limit revs into corners and maintain safety limits with regard to the tire limitations. This is a good question. In practice though, I do not believe they could have limited the revs in just that one section (rules oppose active use of distance control of the engine with the "telemetry" and i don't think it is built in, as you can't have something built in that would enable you to cheqt even if you don't use it). They would have had to reduce the revs (w/o changing teh gearing) by a good 5 to 10% to obtain a meaningful reduction in speed, which would have resulted in massive power loss (probably 100 hp or more), and then teh gearing would have ben out of tune with the engine, with cars stalling and sputtering on the starting grid, and running maybe 10 to 20 secs slower a lap with comparatively less reduction in max speed (remember that contrary to Indy cars, F1 have plenty of power to spare for max speed and that in itself it is always compromized for better traction in slow curves). So yes, they could have tried that but I believe it would have made almost as much of a joke of the GP as it ended being. When Michelin shod teams were wiping out Ferrari in earlier races I never remember anyone asking for or offering a solution to "even the field" between the teams. Actually Luca de Montezemolo complained that the Championship was too much of a tire manufacturer championship and that started/compounded the drive by ax Mosley to have a unique manufacturer in 2006 (or 2008 depending on the interpretation). The president of the FIA is the one who went to the rescue of Ferrari to "even the field".

posted by ergos at 06:02 AM on June 21, 2005


riffola - a couple of comments: Fascinating comment ergos, although I do find it to be a bit biased towards the end Thanks. Bias is an arbitrary and somewhat dishonest preference. I don't have an axe to grind, I am just giving information based on many years of personal knowledge. If my information contradicts what you would like, it does not make it biased. Even Sir Frank Williams says Ferrari were totally innocent Frank is a master politician but if he said that it is clearly a joke and an attempt by Frank at positioning himself ahead of the hearings next week. A better way to put it is, Ferrari was entirely in their right in denying the request approved by all the other teams. The rules gave them the right to refuse. But here is how it worked out, once the tire situation was known after Friday: Bernie tried to break the "constructors' union" by forcing the issue, all the way till the end. He essentially decided he would not yield and try and find a pragmatic solution - even though many were suggested. In that regard, Ferrari was a tool for Bernie, and got repaid by a "victory" and points and the money associated. For those who believe there were no discussion of strategy between Bernie's folks and Luca's folks, I have some prime oceanfront property to sell in Arizona... Don't you think Bernie was not in absolute control, once the unfortunate Michelin situation was known, to: - allow a change of tire under the reason of safety as is stated in the regulation (remember all rules are worded vaguely on purpose so as to permit the FIA lots of leeway in interpreting them the way that serves them on a given day); instead he (or Charlie) threatened the Michelin teams that they would be found cheating and probably be suspended several races if they used a different tire - pressure Ferrari to accept the compromise on the chicane (in exchange for what the other teams had offered, i.e. to race from the back of the grid and to forfeit any points in advance); remember that a similar arrangement in the guise of safety was done (use of the safety car) in Brasil a couple of years ago to help Ferrari and Bridgestone under heavy rain after Bridgestone had neglected to take full rain tires to the track; also chicanes (I believe 3) were added to Imola in 1994 in the immediate aftermath of the Barrichello/Ratzenberger accidents, and again in Tamburello after Senna's death (for which Frank Williams probably also finds himself "completely innocent"); adding chicanes has been done dozens more times after accidents, such as in Watkins Glen (JD McDuffie), the tunnel/piscine complex in Monaco (Ascari?), Hockenheim (Clark); must we wait for drivers to be killed first for the chicanes to be added? - to delay the start/red lights once it was obvious the Michelin teams were not going to race (Charlie, the starter, is a Bernie guy and must absolutely have consulted with him in some form prior to letting the 6 cars go); such a delay would possibly have given time to agree a resolution such as the chicane with a penalty to the Michelin teams Bernie decided to force the issue. He thought he could break the union and when he failed he refused to lose face in a last minute compromize and decided to "go nuclear". So yes, Frank is right - Ferrari are innocent (if dishonest) tools - Bernie is guilty. the rest of the Michelin drivers were at Silverstone doing something else Agreed. Huge miscalculation on the part of the Michelin teams and Michelin. Stupid beginners mistake. But once that was known and the consequences demonstrated on Friday, there were many potential solutions. The FIA did not let them save whatever little remained to be saved. And that was all in Bernie's hands. it was learnt that up to 9 other Michelin tyres were close to failing. It had nothing to do with a single tyre compound or running on low pressure, Jarno Trulli of Toyota said that Zonta & Ralf were running different tyre compounds with pressure within the specified margins, which was confirmed by Dupasquier, the Michelin boss for F1. That is not quite it - the tires were not close to failing, but the safety margin was unknown after the Ralf accident could not be explained. Indeed it has nothing to do with compound (you wont find that listed in my explanations) but has much to do with tire pressure - the usually specified domain of pressure would not have worked. In any case that is beside teh point as nobody (and certainly not Michelin) disputes the mistake. The point you are missing is what could be done, and what should have been done afterwards, and who could do it. The problem with the tyres was rather apparent by Saturday after Practice, and it was not until Sunday morning that the Michelin teams tried to bully the FIA into changing rules for their sake to make up for Michelin & the 7 teams' screw up. That is not accurate. The request to bring replacement tires for safety was made on Friday. And no request was made to change rules, rather to interpret the rules as had been done in teh past (again, Imola and Interlagos). And the Michelin teams offered to forfeit points and grid position. Hardly a bullying. I, personally, doubt that the Michelin tyres could hold up for more than half distance even if the teams ducked into the pits every lap to avoid Turn 13 (Turn 1 in regular Indy 500). Your informed opinion mistakes physical phenomena. High speed failure is a catastrophic reaction that is not linked to mechanical endurance and wear; in other terms, the probablility of it is no different at any stage of wear, and it would actually have been more likely to occur when the cars were heaviest, i.e; in the first lap or just after refueling. But if you know something more, I can manage an introduction for you to Pierre Dupasquier and get you a job as tire developer (there might be an open position this week) ;-) Also a few people have said that Michelin were not even sure that the Barcelona tyres could handle the track I have read that but that does not seem to come from Michelin; in any case that is besides the point: Michelin were ready to certify these tires and race with them, and the teams were willing to forfeit the points and still race; nobody says it does not stretch some rules, but the safety rules (by which the Imola chicanes were added, and that explicitly permit tire replacement at will for safety reason subject to validation by the stewards) are more important than teh technical rules. Again, nobody argues with the screwup. The question is, why did the FIA refuse all potential solutions? no one went out of their way to help Ferrari at Barcelona earlier this year when they had tyre troubles Their troubles were not safety related, but performance related. And they did not ask for help, nor did they offer to forfeit any points. You can't compare teh situations.

posted by ergos at 05:48 AM on June 21, 2005


The thread on "vibration modes" does not discuss the issues, it raises badly formulated questions without being able to answer them; so are you. I gave a precise description of what happens, not a vague list of uneducated questions with big words. As far as your list of questions on why the shit has not hit the fan yet, it can be answered in two ways - first in that to date Bernie and Max have had an absolute stranglehold on F1, to the point where rules are made at will to support their objectives - including supporting Ferrari over the past few years; the otehr teams are trying to resist but have to date done so less publicly by fear of punishment; is there "fuss" as you put it? Yes, but you simply are not aware of it. Second, that these same other teams have been trying for several years to create their own series and that in my opinion the battle has escalated to the point of non repair on Sunday. In many ways this is similar to the Don King management of heavy weight boxing. Everybody knows he manipulates it to his advantage and to that of his favorites but if you want a shot at the title within your lifetime you have no choice but getting along. A last comment - not seeing the truth does not make it "casually implausible". It just shows gullability, or a desire to believe in what ever nice story people are being fed. This is a real war, and (like the war in Iraq) it takes digging a bit more than what most news outlets are doing to understand what is really happening. I can't help it if you don't want to do that.

posted by ergos at 04:33 AM on June 21, 2005


One interesting theory I've heard is that the problem may have been caused by unpredicted vibration modes. LMAO. And you talk of "unsubstantiated bullshit"? Can you define a bit more what you mean by those mysterious "vibration modes"? For the rest of the serious crowd out there: the failure modes at high speed are well understood and based on stationary waves, the length of which is determined by the stiffness of the tire (that includes the structure and pressure) and dimensions, and the speed by the parameters I listed before. What is less known in advance (i.e. at the time the tires are built) and (apart from weather and track parameters) changes from car to car are (1) max speed (2) aerodynamic downforces (3) front to rear distribution of roll forces (4) camber and other alignment parameters (5) effects induced by torque, esp assymetrical effects (6) track surface condition and temperature (7) air temperature and most importantly (8) actual inflation pressure in tires. Those are enough to change the failure speed by more than 100 kph, so it's not trivial to guess right in advance. It's also why some cars might have felt they were not in danger with the Michelin - a slow car with low down force and no camber, and enough air in the tire, would be on teh safe side... As for the failure on Ralf's Toyota, it is probably a conjunction of a tire at the low end of the production distribution curve and of load conditions underestimated (esp. banking and aero load). Nothing mysterious here. But it could also very well be the result of a valve leak for example... The main problem was that there were no definite answers and the safety margin was hence put in question. As for Ferrari and cheaters - mosch obviously is not privy to how F1 really works. I'll leave it at that, so someone may still call it unsubstantiated. But it's most definitely not bullshit, I can assure you.

posted by ergos at 08:27 PM on June 20, 2005



posted by ergos at 07:01 PM on June 20, 2005

Sentence handed down in Cavagnoud death.

Separation of civil and penal does not exist in the same manner in France. Regine's parents would have logged a complaint for wrongful death (regardless of civil or penal). Then a special judge would have gathered facts prior to trial; on the face of these facts and based on laws the prosecutor decides what kind of sentence he is going to seek. A single judgment of guilty or not guilty will be passed and penalty will be determined to include both penal (jail and fines) and civil compensation (called "dommages et interets"). As far as I know, you can't get civil penalties unless you have broken the law in some (even minor) way so there would be penal penalties as well. In this case unvoluntary manslaughter was the judgment, and the penal penalties were handed - civil penalties typically are determined by experts afterwards.

posted by ergos at 06:31 PM on June 20, 2005

"You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas ... women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."

I am praying that he is indeed losing his marbles. He is apparently batting 0 for 2 this week end. On the subject of Danica Patrick however, I'd be very surprised if she could even get within 5 seconds from a leading driver in an F1. Not a gender based comment - it's just that the style of driving she does is much less challenging skills-wise (albeit possibly as or more challenging from a courage point of view). You need to experience the braking, the acceleration and the curve speeds of an F1 to understand the difference. That is why Michael Andretti never was really competitive in F1. The one American guy who looks like he might well have the talent to race - and win - in F1 is Scott Speed - product not of the ovals but of the European circuits. I look forward to seeing him in a BAR next year (well, maybe not if the love story between the US and F1 is dead before it hatched).

posted by ergos at 06:08 PM on June 20, 2005


I am a former head of sports tires development at Michelin. I am no longer affiliated with them. These are just my opinions - informed opinion, including based on discussions with former colleagues of mine over the past few days. In my experience, what happened is very illustrative of both Michelin's and the FIA/Ecclestone's idiosyncrasies. In addition, it is very much to be situated in the ongoing struggls of the "constructors" against Bernie's squad. Michelin first. Security in tire development is not just a facade, it is an absolute imperative there. There is no "just win" at Michelin. Whether right or wrong, and both for street tires and racing ones, Michelin relies on time proven (often more than 50 years) tests and procedures to clear a tire. There are no short cuts. There is an unambiguous and long lasting belief in doing the right technical thing - that eventually it will lead to the right market reaction. I am not claiming that it's right or wrong but it is sacro-sanct. As a guideline: speed failure on a tire is a result of hysteresis in the rubber, and rise in temperature due to heat dissipated, due to stationary waves in the sidewall and belt of the tire. It is a physical phenomenon that is well known and that Michelin knows to control (aircraft tires for example are routinely able to withstand full load at more than 250 mph). But there is a compromize between other characteristics and speed resistance, so not all tires can be built to handle 250 mph and still have the other performances required. In addition, the failure is exponential with respect to speed, load and camber, and depends on external parameters such as road roughness and outside temperature. In the case of an F1, the amount of aerodynamic load at 200+ mph is typically 5 to 10 times the body weight, and is also very dependent on speed. And a banking can double up that load. Not easy stuff to model and - in many cases - very difficult to know what the actual safety margin is. It is most often learned after a failure occurs. When I was with Michelin in the mid '90s, I had a much similar (albeit less newsworthy or publicized) incident. My team had developed tires for the Testarossa. We had obtained approval (after much work) from the Ferrari test drivers and were finalizing paperwork to be the OEM tire on the car. In comes Ferrari marketing, with a stated intent of publishing a top speed of 200+ mph for the US, and requiring that Michelin certify the tire on the car for that speed. Now, during the entire development, we had been informed of top speed in the vicinity of 180 mph. To attempt to compensate for the usual Ferrari's chronic handling weaknesses (I won't go into that here but suffice to say that in my opinion these cars are sold on brand, not real performance) we lowered the rear axle pressure to levels unheard of which, together with the huge (and moronic) negative camber, put the tires to torture. When Ferrari asked for us to certify the tires for 200+ mph, we tested the tires on a special machine (invented and built by Michelin) in a series of normalized tests. The tests came back with an ambiguous response - basically, we could not, with Michelin's time proven safety procedure, certify the tire with our well known safety margin, but we had no reason to fear the tires would fail for sure. I refused to sign and escalated the matter to my hierarchy. While all were disappointed and bothered, none - to the highest level in the company - questioned my decision or tried to influence it. It was handled as a technical matter, even after our competitors (who we'd beaten out on the track) had agreed to sign the same request and hence received the commercial contract. The story did not end there. I agreed with Ferrari to go for a full day of testing to Nardo (South of Italy) where FIAT has a banked circular track 12 kilometers long and to run actual high speed tire tests on the car there. Ferrari brought 2 Testarossa - each on a competitor's tire, incl. one competitor which was on the track at Indy on Sunday. We started with a run on the competitor. My recollection is not complete on the actual speeds for each run but it is close enough in terms of order of magnitude. We had barely reached 170 mph and after maybe half a lap at that speed the competitor's tire started losing its thread. The same competitor that had signed for 200+ mph... But the story was not over by any mean - we started the runs on our tires, and we soon realized both cars were maxing out in speed far, very far from 200 mph. The tires were fine, but the cars were begging for help. We removed all external mirrors and appendages, taped hood and doors, ran as light as we could, with the heat on full inside the car in spite of a typical South Italian day weather - to no avail: the cars were topping up below 180 mph. And then we blew the engine of the first car - below 180 mph - and then of the second car - at the same speed. Our tires were pristine still. We found a commercial solution that pleased everyone: I signed a certicate for the tires on the cars at the car's maximal speed as tested. We left it to Ferrari's marketing to determine what that would translate into from a PR point of view (they still went ahead and lied on the car's speed), but we were clear on the technical one. And don't ask don't tll on the car's woes. Who was right, who was wrong? Tough to say. It could be that Michelin's safety margins are too large for such a car - after all, it does not seem there is a class action out there either against Ferrari for not delivering on the 200 mph advertised, or one against the competitor's tires for failing at 170 mph (which could most definitely have been encountered by customers duplicating our test). All of this could hav been very academic - cars sold to parade in Beverly Hills at 35 mph... so I was probably, from a pragmatic point of view, wrong for not letting it go - and in all likelihood so were the Michelin engineers in Indy. But that is missing the point. I can personally attest that not one tire bearing the Michelin name leaves the plant without those huge safety margins in all domains related to safety - and as far as I know from many years of competitive testing that is very unique to Michelin. That often includes standing up to car manuacturers with messages they don't want to hear. And, statistically, that is the reason why they are by far the safest on the road. The well-publicized Ford Expedition debacle for Firestone/Bridgestone/Goodyear is an example, but there are many that the general public is not aware of. Whatever the negative image created around Michelin on Sunday, there is one thing people should remember: Michelin will never take a chance with safety. Historically, the competitors seem to have no problem with that. That said, if I was in charge of racing at Michelin, there would be heads rolling - not for the ex-post technical management, but for taking a chance on the tires brought to Indy. It is obvious and well known that Indy is one of the most demanding tracks for tie maximal speed performance due to both the speeds and the banking. Clearly Michelin had tires with better max speed than the ones they brought, tires they thought would be just fin (the Barcelona build apparently) - someone somewhere made a huge mistake, a beginners' mistake, that should be paid for. The other domain in which heads should roll is in political and PR management. They should be on top of this and come out like heroes for having the courage to stand for the right thing (who wants a car flying into the stands and killing 100 people like 50 yers ago at Le Mans?) and instead they look like bandits robbing 100,000 of a GP. That is a piss-poor job of handling the press and the political dimensions of F1. Talking of which, that is exactly what is going on here. Politics and big bucks. No surprise that the line is drawn with Ferrari, the FIA and Bernie on one side and the big commercial car makers in the other. Toyota, Mercedes, Honda, Renault and BMW are more than tired to put up the big bucks and have no control, to pay ransom to Bernie and let him get all the financial return, to pay Ferrari (known cheaters btw but shhh). They have been trying to put up a "constructors' championship" for a couple of years now. Bernie is such a good politician, he has been able to exploit differences between them. Sunday he thought he could do the same - and lost, possibly for the first time - certainly in the most visible manner. This is not about tires or safety - that was just the visible pretext and excuse - this is war on control of F1, and the big constructors have just made a huge stride forward in their hope of defeating Bernie. Of course, the FIA is now going to have bilateral talks with each team and will try to break the union, but the teams may have now gotten a glimpse of their power and - unless they are too frightened by it - may not let themselves be bought off cheaply as was the case in the past. The other war going on, also linked to the previous one, and driven by Ferrari and the FIA, is for a single tire maker in F1 in 2006. This would enable Bridgestone to win the prize (by just buying its way in by paying Bernie), as Michelin has stated they are not interested in a non-competitive formula. And it would give Ferrari an "even playing field" were they would expect to win again (I use quotes because that is a joke of course - Bridgestone would continue to give them an advantage by developing for them more than for the others). And the audiences would see a less technologically advanced F1... Do you think (if they have a say) that the other racing teams would like that? So Bernie might just try to run Michelin out - by continuing to change the rules to remove technical advantage, and by exploiting the PR machine to point responsibility at Michelin.

posted by ergos at 05:46 PM on June 20, 2005