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Our opinion piece on the 2024 Formula One season from our roving Editor in Chief John Morris who has just come back from a month in Europe.

As another year of Formula One testing has been run and done, our attention turns to Bahrain for the first foray into season 2024.

The recent F1 test saw Ferrari emerge with the fastest time, whilst Red Bull Oracle Racing sat close behind thanks to Sergio Perez. Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell noted improvements with their 2024 seats, while RB (formerly Alpha Tauri) recorded some equally impressive times.

McLaren encountered a few technical issues, though nothing in the order of 2023, Alpine struggled with some off-season weight gains in their car, while Williams recorded the fewest laps of all.

F1 Drivers 2024 – Photo: F1 FB

Cars took to the circuit throughout the test with substantial rakes attached, which somewhat resembled a more petite and less-rigid form of scaffolding.

New colour schemes were also often hidden by a modernistic art form with fluro paint streaked across the body for renders of air flow.

Despite the cutting edge technologies in a world increasingly reliant upon Ai, simulations and terms such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), it shows that physical testing, albeit in a much reduced capacity, is still vital.

That fact was highlighted by the explosive decompression of a door on a Boeing 737 Max 9 in June 2024. The incident brought the airline manufacturer’s computer based testing and development regime into question.

To the volunteers at the Brooklands Motoring Museum, it came as no surprise and would never have happened in their day.

Brooklands is all-to-often considered to be little more than a dilapidated slice of early British motoring history, a relic of almost ancient times.

I also held such an ill-informed and ignorant view. A brief soiree through the Brooklands website made mention an aircraft museum, which I simply viewed as an addendum, a side-show to the banked remains.

If anything, Brooklands history in the cutting edge development of aerodynamics is a relevant today as it was back in the early 1900s.

Through the work of Barnes Wallis and the Vickers Armstrong Aircraft company, the Brooklands based manufacturer became a world leader in the aerodynamics of aircraft design. From Wellington Bombers to the British Aircraft Corporation’s work on supersonic travel, Wallis and Brooklands became synonymous for its rigid testing regime.

The Barnes Wallis-designed “Stratosphere Chamber” was built in 1946 to investigate high-speed flight at very high altitudes. The chamber replicated air pressures on a plane’s fuselage at heights bordering on the edge of the stratosphere. It was considered the be the industry standard until the rise in prominence of the much faster and more cost effective computer aided design programs.

The immense structure housed full fuselages, not scale models, in much the same way in which the FIA conducts safety testing on modern F1 cars.

The volunteers at Brooklands were quick to quip that the near disaster with the Boeing Max 9 incident would never have happened had the Stratosphere Chamber been used.

In reality, these F1 testa are not too dissimilar to the Barnes’ chamber. Whilst not reaching the edge of the atmosphere, F1 cars are pushed to the edge of their physical capabilities, and sometimes beyond, in the search for an advantage.

For Ferrari, the honour of a fast time offered some hope to drivers, sponsors and the tifosi that 2024 would bring more than a solitary Grand Prix win.

There were less bells and whistles down at Red Bull Oracle Racing, with more concerns for the Christian Horner matter than the car itself

Such was the dominance of the Red Bull RB19, that few would expect anything less than another successful season.

Some may say that it was a case of flying under the radar.

It all becomes somewhat clearer in a mere day or so in Bahrain for Round 1.


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