The Anonymous Widower

Could Hamilton’s 55-Place Penalty Be Good For The World?

If you want a good explanation of how Lewis Hamilton ended up with a 55-place penalty in a 22-car race, then this article on the BBC, which is entitled Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalties explained.

It does what it says in the title.

This extract, which describes the new technology in Formula One, is significant.

Governing body the FIA realised that the turbo-hybrid engines were highly complex pieces of kit, as well as introducing revolutionary new technology.

How revolutionary? A road-car petrol engine has a thermal efficiency – its ability to convert fuel-energy into usable power – of about 29%, a figure they have been stuck at for decades. A road-going turbo-diesel can be as efficient as about 35-40%.

Modern F1 engines, the best of which produce more than 950bhp, are approaching 50% thermal efficiency – and exceed it when the hybrid system is on full energy deployment.

It is a truly amazing step forward in technology in such a short amount of time, and these advances will soon filter down to road cars, which was the whole point of introducing them into F1.

So that means that if your vehicle does say 29 mpg, then in perhaps a decade, its equivalent will be doing over 50 mpg, as increased thermal efficiency translates into less fuel usage.

There is a lot of innovative technology generally getting itself involved with the humble internal combustion engine and where they are used.

  • Engines, whether petrol or diesel will get more efficient, in terms of energy efficiency.
  • Engines will get lighter and smaller.
  • Transmission and braking will increasingly be electric, with onboard energy storage.
  • Energy storage for larger applications like buses, trucks and trains, will use alternatives to batteries.
  • Engines will become more complex and will be controlled by sophisticated control systems.

It is definitely a case of |Formula One leading the way.

But I suppose Formula One is one of the few places where there is an incentive to be more efficient.

With passenger cars, more efficient vehicles have generally sold better. But an incentive is probably needed to get people to scrap worthless and inefficient vehicles.

Perhaps a properly thought out carbon tax, would accelerate more efficient buses, trucks and trains.

It is interesting to note, that hybrid buses are commonplace, but when did you see a hybrid truck?

Could it be, that local politicians have more control over the bus fleets in their area and many of the worst trucks are run by cowboys, who don’t care so long as they earn their money?

It is also easier to complain about your buses, than say trucks moving builders rubbish around, if they are noisy, smelly or emitting black smoke.

But I do think the key to more efficient buses, trucks and large off-road construction equipment, is probably a mixture of better engines and some better method of energy storage, that means say an eight-wheel thirty-tonne truck, could sit silently at traffic lights and then move quietly away, when the lights go green. A lot of buses can do that! Why not trucks?

I also think that the next generation of trains will use onboard energy storage.

  • It enables regenerative braking everywhere, saving as much as a quarter of the electricity.
  • Depots, sensitive heritage areas and downright difficult lines can be without electrification.
  • It enables a get to the next station ability , if the power should fail.

As modern trains from many manufacturers, are increasingly becoming two end units with driving cabs, where you plug appropriate units in between to create a train with the correct mix for the route, energy storage and hybrid power cars will start to appear.

Intriguingly, Bombardier have said that all their new Aventra trains will be wired for onboard energy storage.

So a four-car electric multiple unit, might be changed into a five-car one with on-board energy storage to run a service on a short branch line or over a viaduct in an historic city centre.


August 28, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It!

Formula One has just proven the title of this post, with their new qualifying system.

The qualifying yesterday was a joke, as it didn’t build up to the crescendo like it used to do.

Why do people have this desire to tinker with formats and rules?

If you change something in a system, you must make sure you don’t alienate your users or audience.

When I updated Artemis, I made sure that nothing was ever deleted, as I didn’t know how every one of our thousands of customers used the system.

So many versions of updated software is a retrograde step to many people.

For instance, I would be like to buy a new computer with Windows Vista and Office 2003.

That may be a bit unusual, but then if I find something that suits my lifestyle, I don’t change it!

  • I was with my wife for forty years.
  • I had my last car; a Lotus Elan for, twenty-five years.
  • My briefcase is well over thirty-five years old.
  • My smart jacket is nearly thirty and still smart.
  • I first saw Ipswich play in 1961.

Why change?

Sadly, as in the case of my wife, you have to occasionally.


March 20, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Sport | | Leave a comment

Bernie Gets Out Of Jail

There is a report on the BBC about how Bernie Ecclestone has paid a very large fine to end his bribery trial. This is the start of the report.

A German court has agreed to end the bribery trial of Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in exchange for a $100m (£60m) payment from him.

Mr Ecclestone’s offer was based on an existing provision in German law.

I would suspect that there are only two other people in history, could have extracted themselves from the predicament in which Bernie found himself.

Machiavelli himself and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

And of course like Wolsey, Bernie was born in Suffolk.

Suffolk is a county of England unlike any other. Someone described it as curious, but I disagreed in this post calling it independent and forgotten.

Bernie is definitely independent, but he will never be forgotten.

August 5, 2014 Posted by | News, Sport | , | Leave a comment

The Trains Are Learning From Formula One

This is message on a BBC report today, but it’s a rather shallow one, as it ignores the way engineers have designed systems for years. They are saying for instance, that trains now report their fault and they’ve learned this from Formula One.  But trains have effectively had extensive computerised reporting systems for  years.  A classic example is the 1995 Stock trains on the Northern Line of the Underground, which were designed with such a system. How good it is, I don’t know!

A lot of improvements in any system, are down to attention to detail and that is probably what Formula One does in spades. But that is just good design! I was on a heavily loaded commuter train yesterday, and the station stops, were very quick, partly because, the train accelerated and stopped quickly,  the passenger handholds were all in the right place, the doors were wide and the self-loading cargo, knew how to get on and off quickly.

I suspect this has little to do with Formula One, but some of the parts of the train, may well have been manufactured using advanced techniques developed for motor-racing.

July 2, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Trust Italian Engineering?

The British Grand Prix was a bit of a farce today, as several drivers suffered tyre failures as the BBC reports.

Now Italians may be good at some things like food, parties and calendars, but it does seem that their engineering companies aren’t up to their past high standards  at the moment. After all, I did report on the quality of products from AnsaldoBreda here.

I suspect that just as they have with their economy and their politics, there is a lot of rethinking to do.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The British Secret In The Velodrome – Round Wheels

The French are getting a bit uppity about the British bikes in the velodrome.

The British have joked that they use round wheels and the French have swallowed the story, hook, line and sinker.  Read about it here in the Standard.

But I doubt, that the story is very far from the truth. Even your car from humble run-arounds upwards, has its wheels properly balanced, at manufacture and when new tyres are fitted. We’ve all been in cars, where there has been vibration because of out-of-balance wheels.

So I suspect that British cycling has borrowed from Formula One and other industries that spin things fast, and developed extremely accurate roundness and balance sensing for bicycle wheels. So they run straighter and truer than the best the French can do!

I didn’t do the work myself, but forty years ago, I worked in a department at Plastics Division of ICI, that did a lot of calculations in this area, to try to stop vibrations in chemical vessels. So the theory is nothing new.

It is the application of technology to bicycles, helmets and other things, that have given the British the edge. I doubt that cycling is the only sport to have benefited either!

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Scotland Has A Better Wimbledon Than Australia

I can remember as a child, when Mens tennis was dominated by Australians.  But this year, those small countries; Scotland and Yorkshire had a better Wimbledon.

What’s gone wrong?

I suppose that Aussies can argue they have a world-class driver in Mark Webber, but even he, needs to drive a car designed and made in the UK.

July 8, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , , | 2 Comments

British Grand Prix May Be Cancelled

This has been announced and here is Jenson Button’s views in the Telegraph.

They could always do what Wimbledon has done and put a roof over the circuit.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , | 2 Comments

The Grand Prix in Valencia

If there’s one Grand Prix, that I wish was only on Sky, it’s this one, as Valencia was where C and I had our last holiday together.  I described it here.

But it’s not Valencia’s fault, that I will probably never go back again.

Although, it was the wettest holiday, I think we ever had!

June 23, 2012 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kimi Raikkonen’s Tribute to James Hunt

This weekend at Monaco, Kimi Raikkonen, wore a replica of James Hunt‘s helmet to qualify for the Grand Prix. The details are here. Here’s a couple of paragraphs.

The helmet was a perfect replica of that worn by the 1976 Formula One World Champion, in the same way that Kimi himself makes quite a good replica of James Hunt.

There are lots of reasons to admire James Hunt, ranging from his “sex: breakfast of champions” overall patch to his comment to Niki Lauda in 1978: “To hell with safety. All I want to do is race.”

I remember meeting someone, who’d been at a black tie do, which James Hunt had also attended. He didn’t do black tie, so turned up in jeans and bare feet.

I should say they don’t make them like Hunt anymore.  But then they can’t as he was only thirteen days younger than me and you can’t turn the clock back.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , | 3 Comments