Besides trying out the proposed F1 course in NJ earlier this week, Vettel has revealed two very interesting things if you know where to look.
The first was in his standard pre race preview quotes given to Formula1.com when he suggested that part of the reason that Valencia sees so little passing has to do with the height of the walls around the track. He states that the walls prevent the air from properly dissipating after a car blasts through it. I imagine a narrow, high banked river. A boat’s wake in this situation will ricochet for much longer than if there was open space around it. This in turn makes it difficult for F1 cars to follow each other closely especially on these Pirelli tires. The result is high tire wear and a three stop strategy and relatively boring races.
I am surprised that this is the first I have heard of this sort of problem. One would imagine similar issues at Monaco, Montreal and Australia, the other three street circuits. Only Monaco, however, has similarly close walls which magnifies the affects. Recall that Monaco is a much lower energy track than Valencia so perhaps the affects are not as great. A lack of downforce at Monaco is negligible compared to a lack of mechanical grip or driver courage. Canada is similar in its stop start nature and thus requires less downforce and the cars feel the effects of this wall phenomena less.
The second thing of note comes when watching Seb’s pole lap at Montreal. Look closely at the front right wheel at the hairpin before the long straight to the wall of champions chicane. Not only does he lock up, forcing him wide, but the wheel does not come back into contact with the ground, even under power, until he straightens out. To me, this speaks of two things; how little suspension give there is and how soft they run the rear end at Canada to achieve the requisite traction. Just goes to show how little downforce can matter at the right track.