Every Friday we ask resident Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Tweeter The Fifth Driver to take your questions for #SocialFriday on @McLarenF1. Here's a few of the best questions from Friday at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, with answers in full from our mysterious F1 micro-blogger:
@MadirMahathir: How are the car numbers allocated? Any special criteria?
The reigning world champion always gets the number one on his car and his team-mate will automatically get the number two. Interestingly, if the reigning world champion retires (as did Alain Prost after winning the title for Williams in 1993, the number one is ‘retired’ for the season: Williams ran as 0 and 2 in ’94). The rest of the numbers are given in order of the previous year’s constructors’ championship – except for the number 13, which is permanently and superstitiously withdrawn. In the past, numbering was more arbitrary: Ferrari would traditionally occupy the numbers 27 and 28, for example. But, as with most things, it’s a lot more structured these days!
@googlybear84: Are there any planned performance packages due this season? Or are they developed as you go?
The days of a performance package being targeted for a particular race are long gone. Nowadays, teams continuously update their cars, bringing updates to each and every race. The spacings on the calendar sometimes mean that bigger upgrades at particular races, but there’s always a steady stream trickling through.
There are exceptions to this rule: teams generally plan a special aerodynamic package for Monza and Spa, where the cars need to run in a low-downforce configuration particular to these two tracks. For these races, if you want to run fast, the drivers needs to sacrifice as much downforce as possible in order to cut drag.
@R1chyP: What is your fastest ever pit stop?
To win a Formula 1 race, you need more than just a great driver and car. A pit crew is extremely important. The pit crew have to practice regularly to remain ‘race-fit’ because changing a tyre requires extreme precision and timing. It is a real science! Our fastest pitstop was at Hockenheim in 2012, when we changed all four wheels on Jenson’s car in 2.31 seconds!
@Colanvw: Why do you guys never celebrate by doing donuts?
The cars require such a huge amount of work that celebrating victories by doing donuts would be destroying our work, because it literally ruins the engine. We only have eight engines to play with during the season, so destroying one deliberatively would have a negative effect on our plans for the rest of the year.
When we win, we prefer something gentler such as the sweet taste of champagne on the podium! Then we can share the moment with the whole team; reinforcing team spirit which is extremely important.
However, we don’t really have time to celebrate. The next day we’ll already be thinking about the next race and starting to think about how to improve.
@PanchoAGV how do drivers refresh themselves in their cars during a race?
In the car, there is a bottle that is attached to the helmet via a plastic tube so that the drivers can have a drink mid-race. However, the capacity of the container for drink can’t be more than one and a half litres. This is due to the weight required for the car’s performance; the lighter it is, the faster the car will go. The cockpit environment can be over 50 degrees centigrade therefore drivers can lose up to two kilograms during an F1 race, losing up to a litre of fluid per hour. In order to recover they have to drink more than they have lost, to allow for kidney function, so for example to replace a litre of lost fluid a driver should consume one and a half litres.