Readers' Letters, April 1995, April 1995

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Tight squeeze

Sir,
Am I imagining things, or is the McLaren team which appears to be having such trouble making a car big enough for Nigel Mansell the same McLaren team which struggled to make Gerhard Berger comfortable a couple of seasons ago?
With all the apparent expertise and obvious resources at McLaren’s dispoal, I find the situation absolutely astonishing. The recruitment of Mansell ought to be a huge PR coup; all I can see at the moment is a large dollop of egg on face.
John Davidson,
Dollar,
Scotland.

Call my bluff

Sir,
Having seen the new McLaren MP4/I0 and its ‘radical’ wing arrangement, I am surprised to read Ron Dennis’s assertion that he expects other teams to follow the trend as the season wears on.
Given the level of technological know-how currently prevalent in Formula One, does Mr Dennis really believe that such ideas haven’t perhaps occurred to other teams? Observing the recent testing times from Estoril, it seems a reasonable assumption that there are good reasons for other teams not following McLaren’s ‘lead’.
Stanley Allan,
Formby.

Less means more

Sir,
A mixture of arbitrary design rules have been introduced to reduce the cornering speeds of Formula 1 cars, in the interests of safety.
Let us see why speeds have increased so much. Cornering force depends only on the vertical loads on the tyres and the co-efficient of friction between tyres and road (since racing circuits have had nearly all the bumps removed). Designers have increased the loads by the production of aerodynamic download, and the friction by the use of soft tread rubber. This has resulted in increased heat generation and wear in the tyres. To overcome this designers have developed rubber which works at a higher temperature (thus radiating the heat away faster), but mainly by the simple use of more rubber from wider tyres (width has tripled since the sixties).
One single rule restricting tyre width to, say, eight inches would force designers to a totally new compromise between download, rubber mix and number of pit stops. I would expect them to reduce aerodynamic download by about 30 per cent and to choose a harder tread rubber as well. I would expect cornering “g” to reduce by 30 per cent and hence cornering by 16 per cent on the fast corners (and by half this on slower corners) while pit stops would increase to, perhaps, four or five. Of course the straightline speeds would increase due to the reduced drag, so lap speeds would not reduce so much, but brakes would really get a caning.
Well, it’s an idea!
JF Holford,
Farnham, Surrey.

Putting Nuvolari straight

Sir,
I have just read with great interest your feature on Hermann Lang and the Mercedes-Benz W165. In it you state that Lang won the Yugoslavia Grand Prix of 1939 when in fact it was won by Tazio Nuvolari with the Auto-Union D. I always felt it was fitting that Nuvolari should have won the last GP before the war.
You also state that Rudolph Caracciola was more successful than Nuvolari. This is often thought to be the case, but Caracciola won 23 Grands Prix, of which 20 could be considered major races, whereas Nuvolari won 37, 22 of them major.
Even in 1932 when they both drove Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos, Nuvolari won six to Caracciola’s three Grands Prix. And, even though Caracciola held back on team orders to allow Nuvolari to win at Monaco, Nuvolari should have won Caracciola’s beloved German GP (which he won six times), except that the team gave him a much longer routine pit-stop, longer even than that of number three driver Borzacchini.
You say that Tripoli in 1939 was a round in the European Championship, but I have some doubts. Tripoli was not run to the current Grand Prix formula of 1939, and had never before been a Championship race, this honour belonging to the Grands Prix of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland.
Victor Bryant,
South Harrow, Middx.

Daimler Urge

Sir,
Your correspondence in the March issue concerning the performance of vintage Daimlers was of interest, as despite being a Daimler apprentice and subsequently one of their test drivers, I am still surprised by the performance their heftier models achieved from power outputs which look fairly mediocre.
If one takes the view that Daimler quotes cart-horsepower rather than race-horsepower, then, bearing in mind that not all Double-Sixes were clothed in such weighty or vertical coachwork as the Royal models, it is entirely probable that the 140 or so horsepower would propel them at 90-plus mph. I drove the Sandringham estate car from the factory to Silverstone with six passengers on one occasion and found it to cruise easily at 60 mph with plenty of urge in hand from its nine-litre, six-cylinder engine, despite an all-up weight approaching four tons. In 1947 The Motor extracted 85 mph out of a 150 bhp Straight Eight limousine that turned the scales at 61cwt; and did not Wisdom and Selsdon propel such a car through the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally at great velocity?
Some participants in WWII may have driven about in a Daimler Dingo scout car which, propelled by a 2½-litre engine of only 55 bhp, managed to travel at 55 mph forwards or backwards, despite a working weight of over three tons. Two very quick 4½-litre Sportsman saloons specially prepared by Weslake to trounce the Jaguars in the Silverstone production car race were unable to demonstrate their abilities due to the Suez crisis, but the performance theme was later demonstrated in the handbook of the Majestic Major limousine, where drivers were advised not to exceed 90 mph for long periods when carrying the full complement of seven passengers.
John Box,
Carnforth, Lancs.