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Tech F1i – Russian GP analysis

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Nicolas Carpentier's Russian Grand Prix technical review features exclusive images of the novelties introduced in Sochi along with explanations on some of the defining concepts seen so far on 2017-spec Formula 1 cars, including Mercedes’ clever clutch paddle solution, Red Bull’s tyre temperature sensors and Ferrari’s intertwined ‘S’-duct system.


Valtteri Bottas’ maiden Grand Prix win came on the heels of a strong launch, which saw the Mercedes ace jump from third on the grid to overtake the two front row-starting Ferraris through the opening sequence of corners.

One will also remember that the Bahrain Grand Prix had already been partly decided at lights out when Lewis Hamilton bogged down and lost out to eventual winner Sebastian Vettel.

This year’s revamped technical regulations have made the start procedure trickier for the driver with a 50mm exclusion zone mandated around the clutch paddle, behind the steering wheel, in a bid to prevent the installation of controls that could help the pilot find the clutch bite point. What’s more, torque control is now linear and without electronic assistance, thus forcing the driver to be more careful and accurate when releasing the clutch.

Taking into account this new state of play, Mercedes, whose starts were not perfect last year, has moulded the end of the clutch paddle so that Bottas and Hamilton can slot in two fingers and have better control when seeking the clutch bite point.

That said, Hamilton’s botched getaway in Sakhir shows the system is not 100% bulletproof, with Mercedes also working on other solutions to improve its performance during this critical phase of the race.