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Speed Traces – Mercedes and Haas – 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

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This is the speed trace of the Haas VF17 driven by Romain Grosjean, compared with the Mercedes W08 driven by Valtteri Bottas at the final part of qualifying for the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix. Bottas’ lap was the pole lap (1m28.769s), and Grosjean’s the Q3 lap (1m30.763s).

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

An interactive plot of the above graph can be found here

I found this comparison interesting because, there were rumours that the Ferrari power unit was running in a conservative state as they had experienced some issues through the race weekend, and the works Ferrari team was surprised by the larger than usual gap to Mercedes in qualifying. Lack of Ferrari onboards made it difficult to make a direct comparison, however, an overall look at the speeds in the acceleration zones, suggests that the Mercedes is only pulling ahead significantly at speeds above 250 km/h. It could be due to increased drag from the Haas car and/or higher power produced by the Mercedes M08 PU in qualifying trim. Data is inconclusive.

The 2016 Haas car showed well in Bahrain relative to the front runners, so it’s interesting the form has carried through to the new 2017 regulations, with Grosjean driving the car to a P9 start and finishing P8. A few highlights between the Haas car and the Mercedes;

Low Speed Corners

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying t8_10

Turns 8 and 10, Grosjean’s apex speeds were 5 km/h and 10 km/h respectively, slower than Bottas.

The Mercedes car seems to carry much higher apex speeds in the low speed corners at this circuit compared to Haas, and this is one where significant gains can be made relative to the midfield for Haas. I would guess that the Renault and Williams are probably better than Haas in these corners, although Grosjean suffered a lock up into T10. Bottas’ lap had the telemetry missing till turn 1 (a low speed corner), but from what I can work out, Bottas was probably carrying 4-5 km/h better apex speeds than Grosjean.

Medium Speed Corners

Several corners could come under this heading, but interestingly the Haas is matching the Mercedes in Turn 4, with Grosjean carrying as much speed as the Mercedes into and even enjoying a slightly better apex speed, but losing out in the exit:

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Speed Trace Analysis – 2017 Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying

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The 2017 F1 season has started off with two teams fighting for race wins in the first three races so far. Most observers of the sport expected Mercedes to figure in the teams fighting for race wins after dominating the previous three seasons, however, Ferrari has surprised many in being the team fighting Mercedes during the early part of this season. The general expectation of Red Bull Racing being the dominant force in the new aerodynamics focused regulations has not yet come to fruition, and this too has been a surprise.

In this post, I’ll present some data I obtained from the telemetry overlays on the onboard videos from Chinese Grand Prix qualifying of the Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault cars driven at their ultimate speed during the race weekend. Why only these cars? Simply because I’ve only been able to find usable onboard videos from these cars.

This is an overview of the speed traces (click through on the image caption for a more interactive plot where you can zoom in):

An interactive version of the above chart can be found here

 

For Mercedes, it’s Hamilton’s pole lap. For Ferrari, it’s Vettel’s first hot lap in Q3. Vettel was around 0.3s slower than Hamilton’s pole lap (which was his 2nd hot lap in Q3), and some of that time was lost after he had a fairly big oversteer moment in the exit of turn 13 that compromised his exit speed and on to the 1.2 km long straight.

For McLaren-Honda, it’s Alonso’s Q2 lap that was some 2.7 seconds slower than pole, and for Renault, it’s Hulkenberg’s Q2 lap which was ~1.9 seconds slower than Hamilton. Hulkenberg’s Q3 lap was around 0.05s faster than his Q2 lap, but the video has most of the back straight missing, which has important information about how strong the Renault PU is, so I chose that over his Q3 lap. Unfortunately, the video for Alonso’s lap only starts from turn 7, so the data is only available from then on. Scroll to the end of the post for a description of the methods I used to extract the data.

First, let’s look at how the cars behave in the entry, apex and exit of some corners of interest.

Turns 1 – 4

turn1_4

Vettel had the fastest 1st sector time in qualifying, and it’s possible that he gained all of that in these sequence of corners. He brakes later and harder than Hamilton or Hulkenberg initially, but modulates to carrying a lot more speed into the corner and taking a later apex as a result. It was interesting to note that there was a big throttle spike from Vettel in the approach to turn 2, where his speeds reach a maximum of 131 km/h, much higher than anyone else. However, Hamilton and Hulkenberg are less acrobatic in the transition from turn 1 to turn 3, preferring to concentrate on a cleaner and slower apex speed so they can be back on the power earlier in the exit of turn 3 and towards turn 4. The Renault piloted by Hulkenberg is carrying better speed through turns 2 & 3 than Hamilton too.

Turn 6

turn 6

A theme appears to be developing here. Hamilton is again, breaking earlier than the other two drivers, but is earlier back on the power. The minimum speeds from all three cars are evenly matched, however what Hamilton lost on entry, he gains in the exit of this corner as he’s able to maintain that speed difference to the Renault. However, Vettel’s Ferrari appears to be accelerating harder and so is catching up the Mercedes in the run to turn 7.

Turns 7, 8 & 9

turn 7_9

This sequence is quite informative. The trace starts on the approach to turn 7, which is a long apex high speed corner where the minimum speed is maintained for some distance, so the cornering speed will be more car-limited than driver-limited. Alonso makes his appearance here, and the car is clearly matching Renault which is really encouraging, speaking as a McLaren fan. I would suggest that once Honda sort out the teething troubles early in this season, we’d be seeing regular Q3 appearances and points finishes, cementing the position McLaren were in last year at the top of the midfield. This is scant consolation, however, this is F1 and I expect nothing less in terms of the effort to get to the top and be there. Both Mercedes and Ferrari are well matched in turn 7, and this suggests that Ferrari are an equal to Mercedes in terms of peak downforce generated at high speed. McLaren and Renault lag behind at a speed difference of 4-5 km/h.

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Lazy J goes to church!

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I had put a deposit on a Lazy J20 combo way back in April  ’12 and had been patiently waiting my turn for it to be built. Jesse finally got around to building it at the start of October; I picked it up later that month and I’ve been playing quite a bit with it. I had been gigging it a bit too, alternating with my Vox AC15. It has been an interesting experience and this will be my review of it.

My Lazy J 20 came with Reverb, Tremolo and the ‘VAC’ (Jesse’s power scaling feature). Additionally, it also had the push-pull for the Tone control activating a ‘mid-boost’ and a ‘Bass shift’ switch at the back, not unlike the one on my Vox AC15 Heritage’s EF86 channel but a lot more subtle. I also had a chance to demo the same J 20 combo with both the Celestion Alnico Blue and the Tayden Ace 25, and I chose to have the Tayden instead of the Celestion.

What struck me when I first laid eyes on my J20 at Jesse’s workshop (and indeed when I chanced upon another at Charlie’s Chandlers to demo) was the laquered tweed of this thing. Attracts you immediately like a 5A quilted maple top on a Les Paul. At that time, I had been looking at a Cornell Plexi to demo and possibly buy. UnFortunately, it wasn’t available at Charlie’s Chandlers, and fortuitously, the only Lazy J 20 combo doing the rounds at various places as a demo unit, just happened to be there. I had my £70 Crafter ‘Curry Strat’ with me (loaded with the GFS lil killer set at the time), and I duly plugged in as I had heard about this little combo. Suffice it to say, it completely blew me away! I simply could not believe how amazing my beginner’s strat sounded through it. It was love. Never had anything responded to my touch so well. It was like I had discovered ‘another plane’ of guitar playing nirvana. Surely, if it can make this guitar sound that good, the sky is the limit, I reasoned. Deposit was duly placed and the wait began.

Before the order was completed, I spoke at length with Jesse about speaker choices and was able to demo the Tayden Ace 25 and Celestion Blue at a certain Phil Harris’ place to confirm my own speaker choice. I was curious about the Tayden, as although I was happy about the Celestion Blue when I demo’d it originally, when given the choice, why go for the default? When played side-by-side, the Tayden appealed to me more compared to the Celestion (by this time, I had got my ESP LTD tele with Creamery Pickups). When playing cranked, the Blue kind of sounded like it was freaking out, whereas the Tayden was taking everything in its stride, keeping everything under control. It was a smoother speaker compared to the Blue, but I determined that it had enough treble to cut through on stage. When the order was completed, I couldn’t wait to pick it up, so I drove to Jesse’s place to pick it up in person which was pretty cool.

My Lazy J in it’s natural environment where it gets gigged at least twice a month.

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Gear Review – ESP LTD TE-202 with Creamery Pickups (’71 Wide Range and Vintage Nocaster)

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Background

The story goes that I needed a backup guitar urgently and I popped in to a local guitar shop to have a play with a few I had my eye on. I ended up buying the ESP for a variety of reasons, not the least of which included, the wonderful neck and the tall frets, the nice neck joint and the pickup configuration of the classic bridge single coil and the neck humbucker that appealed to me. The pickups themselves sounded a bit so-so, but basically I saw enough potential in the guitar to go for it, as I really liked the basic ‘feel’ of the instrument better than the others I tried. Oh, and I always wanted an ESP- they are unique among the sea of Fender’s and the small matter of the ESP’s headstock much more palatable to me than the standard Fender Tele headstock (sacrilege! Burn him! et cetera…).

The Problem

After a trip to the folks at Feline Guitars for a full setup, the guitar felt even better to play, however the pickups and electronics were still a weak point. The problem I had was the drastic volume difference between the neck and bridge positions- the apparent volume of the bridge pickup is considerably less than the neck pickup (Relative pickup/pole piece height adjustment never solved this- it only made the neck pickup more muddy). This was most unpleasant and unwelcome when playing live as  I’d be playing rhythm clean during softer passages and engage the bridge pickup for a bit of cut and add in some drive and I’d be lost in the mix! This was also proving to give the sound guy an inexpressible form of headache…(is that a good thing?!). These issues were apart from the fact that the bridge pickup sounded uncontrollably bright and thin, so I had to resort to doing all sorts of fiddly stuff with the EQ and drive settings to make it sound passable. I say uncontrollable, as the the volume and tone pots were for all practical purposes, useless at doing their job. The volume control, in addition to doing a terrible job at reducing the perceived volume, also takes a load of the ‘highs’ with it, whilst the tone control was successful at putting a blanket over the bridge pickup, it also turned the humbucker in to a mud bath, resulting in me perennially fiddling with the tone control whenever I change pickup position during a song trying to find that ever-elusive sweet spot…

The Search

I went on a pickup hunt trying to research the best possible combo for me-from the usual aftermarket manufacturers (Seymour Duncan, diMarzio) to well known ’boutique’ winders (Fralin, Lollar, Bareknuckle). I also considered TV Jones pickups for the neck position, thinking of perhaps pairing it with a suitable Bareknuckle black-guard series pickup. My requirements were:

  1. Good volume balance between pickups.
  2. Bright and clear humbucker for neck.
  3. Thick and punchy single coil for bridge.

Point 1) was top priority. I was at a massive disadvantage because I had no idea how the published specs of the multitude of pickups from the various manufacturers relate to what I wanted i.e. no volume jump when going through the pickup selector switch. I tried to use the DC resistance figure as a guide as no standardised measures are available. As I read more about pickups and the way they are constructed, I realised this was a futile exercise. I learned that a pickup wound to the classic Broadcaster specs will have a similar volume output to a ‘Nocaster’ pickup even though they often have very disparate DC resistances owing to the different wire used in the respective winds. This problem was complicated further due to the fact that I have to match up a humbucker and a single coil. A quick look around forums suggests that this is a problem faced by many a telecaster guitarist wishing to have a fatter humbucker sound in the neck position with a traditional single coil in the bridge. If it was two single coils, it would have been as easy as ordering a ‘calibrated’ set of whatever description, readily available from any of the above mentioned companies.

Re: Point 2), the monolithic proportions of muddyness exhibited by the stock ESP humbucker really emphasised this need for me. I would actually like to use the neck pickup for some clean rhythm work, y’know! I would not like to get buried deep under a live mix and not under any circumstances play an open chord for fear of that mud monster. The pickup had to have a humbucker vibe though, as to me, it sounds more interesting than a traditional tele single coil.

Re: 3) Although I wanted a thicker sounding pickup I also wanted to have a good dose of the twang/spank that tele’s are known for. After all, I got a guitar that looks (a bit) like a tele and I don’t want to lose the ‘character’ of a tele in the pursuit of a ‘hot’ pickup.

Creamery Pickups

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Vox DA20 Guitar Amp: A review

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Before I bought the Vox DA20, I found it harder find reviews about this amp around the web. With this review along with pictures, I hope to give some idea about the features of this amp and how it sounds to prospective buyers. If this was useful to you, please comment. Also, if you have any questions regarding this amp, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. 🙂

I bought the Vox DA20 mainly to use for practising. This amp does not have valves/tubes in it and it is a digital modelling amp [wait! don’t write it off just yet]. At the shop, I did have the choice of the “AD15 Valvetronix” amp but since I’m a student, I didn’t want to bother with tube amps-mainly due to maintenance concerns.

front view

front view

I gather from reviews of the valvetronix line of amps that many don’t like the front “metal grill” style view. But its fine with me. Don’t mind the reflections in the metal grill in the above picture. The 2×8″ speakers you can see is the coolest bit of the amp IMO.

The controls section is divided into two–the ‘amp section’ and the ‘effects section’. Overview of the controls of the amp (with pictures) after the break…

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Mnemonics for Amino Acids

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I was searching around for some good Mnemonics or acronyms or anything I could find to remember the 20 essential amino acids names and structures. I found an excellent article here relating the structures of all the amino acids with easy ways to remember them. I’m going to mention things I found helpful for me here.

For those amino acids having non-polar aliphatic side chains, it was suggested that GAVLIMP as a good acronymn. For pronounciations sake it could be like:

G= Glycine

A= Alanine

Va= Valine

L= Leucine

I= Isoleucine

M= Methionine

P= Proline

Put it together, it comes to GAVa-LIMP. Thing is, the structures of the amino acids increase in complexity as you go from Glycine to Proline with Glycine having a hydrogen atom for the “R”- group while Proline has a sort of “penta-cyclic” side chain. Another way I remember this is swapping the first letters of the GAVa and LIMP to give LAVa-GIMP. Those of you that use Linux, will know that GIMP is a famous photo editing cum drawing program. So I picture the programs mascot, Wilber glowing with lava/fire!