Here's a piece I wrote for a malaysian mag on the subject.....
"I would say that in terms of performance improvement for Hungary and Monaco, a shorter wheelbase would be quite low on the list of priorities and even lower on the scale of its return on investment.
A lot of people pointed at Ferraris poor showing in relation to McLaren as an issue of its long wheelbase hindering its cornering on the tight streets. I think the real problem was Ferraris Barcelona update which upsets the cars ability to put heat into its tyres. As Monaco was the first race where McLaren showed some dominance, too much was read into where Ferrari was losing at Monaco. As Ferrari also suffered at the subsequent tracks of Canada and Indy, Both tracks devoid of fast turns to load up and put heat into the tyres, their problem was clearly not a Monaco one off. As soon as Ferrari returned a conventional fast flowing tracks (Magny Cours\Silverstone) their tyres were working and the balance of pace was moved back in their favour…
If you think of the issues in creating a Monaco package…
Monaco is often regarded as a solely mechanical circuit, but aero is still important and not just in creating sufficient downforce. As the V8s are now down on power compared to the V10s, a lot of the more open sections of track are nearer flat out and lower drag is becoming important too. Aero still contributes a lot to the lap-time around the principality.
Its true the mechanical set up of the car is greater proportion of the lap time compared to any other track, as demonstrated by Red Bull and Williams pace last year. But the mechanical requirement is for grip, higher-softer suspension to get the tyres to work over the cambers and uneven road surface. Weight distribution matters too, despite everyone saying Ferrari have a disadvantage with this in their longer monocoque, the team have enough ballast to keep the weight bias forward, even though the layout inherently shifts weight backwards.
Wheelbase in terms of nimbleness is at most a tertiary factor, probably less. Getting around the tighter corners is as much a factor of steering angle and the traction control aided oversteer as wheelbase or track dimension.
To alter wheelbase you’d either have to shorten the monocoque or the pull back the front or rear suspension.
A shorter monocoque could be produced to create a shorter fuel cell or footwell. Currently the fuel cell area is larger than the bag tank they install into it. Thus it could be shortened in many cases without compromising Fuel capacity critical at Monaco (due to the slow pit lane, teams run less stops than usual). Shortening the footwell area is also possible as the drivers feet are already far behind the front wheel axis, this would have a greater effect in other areas; such as clearance for the front rockers\dampers\torsion bars which would be nearer the pedals and also the front splitter would have to be shorter and this compromises the amount of ballast teams could run.
Both solutions would require a new monocoque pattern, mould and then the manufacture of two or three monocoques, then a full set of impact testing. Especially when you consider teams only produce 5 or 6 monocoques a year now (Alonso only used one in 2006!). Clearly not a cheap solution.
While the latter solution is easier but which end of the suspension would you revise?
Pulling the rear suspension forwards would attractive as it would take out the angularity the teams force the driveshaft’s into. Plus weight would shift rearwards which is good for traction. Pulling the front suspension backwards has several issues, keeping the front wheel axis in front of the drivers feet should not be a problem as the driver already sits further back than demanded in the rules. The position of the steering rack is a greater problem, mounted to the front bulkhead the rack couldn’t be moved backwards and the extreme trailing back of the steering arms would create geometry and clearance problems (due to the greater steering lock required at Monaco).
Either solution would require new suspension members, these are expensive and time consuming to make patterns and moulds for, not to mention the aero impact these have on the car, their profiles would need to be developed to suit their new positions. Seeing as wishbone positioning and profiles have more to do with aero than sensible load paths and geometry, this would be a major undertaking.
Additionally both solutions (monocoque or suspension) would demand new aerodynamics. The importance of flow around the wheels has been highlighted this year by several Michelin teams finding their solutions simply don’t work with the different shape and squash of the Bridgestones. Having the front and or rear wheels in totally different places would demand a complete revision of the cars entire bodywork. As the teams are already unhappy having to create wing sets specific for this race, as well as Monza which is very much a one off track too. This eats up Tunnel time, that could be used to develop parts that would work at more tracks.
In summary for a small amount of extra nimbleness for one track the cost and complexity involved in creating a one off race car would be excessive for any team. The teams have already found more can be gained by developing their generic set up for most tracks rather than getting an extreme car for just one race."