Now that every team is focused mainly on 2014, Ferrari's chief designer Nikolas Tombazis explains what is on the shelf for next year while clarifying the reasons for this year's disappointing middle part of the season with the F138.
Tombasis started off by confirming Ferrari suffered a bit from the tyre changes introduced as of the German GP, but also points out it would be too easy to pinpoints this as the single reason for Ferrari's struggles.
“That change occurred after the German GP, when the tyre belt changed from being metallic to being made of Kevlar,” reckons the Greek designer. “However, it would be somewhat superficial to blame the tyres as the only reason for our decrease in performance. We also took some development steps that were not as strong and didn’t work.”
“Wind tunnel technology has been a weak point for us, compared to our competitors. We had some problems with our flow quality so it was not as uniform as it should be and we could not run as big a model as we would have liked. Our data and instrumentation was quite outdated so we couldn't do that many runs and experiments per day, which was a bit of a drawback. The past months we spent updating it have addressed all these problems. Therefore I am optimistic that, on this front, when we are fully up and running we will not be in deficit to our competitors.”
Looking ahead to 2014, Tombazis also points out that the 2014 Ferrari will be the first design to come out of a new organisational structure.
“For about a year and a half, we have been organised in a different way, with two deputy chief designers each looking at the projects for alternate years. Fabio Montechi is the guy following the 2014 project, as Deputy Chief Designer, so he and I work very closely together. On the aerodynamic side, we’ve had a team working on the 2014 car for a year or so. Now we have reinforced that team with people who previously had worked on development of this year’s car whose focus has shifted to 2014 and therefore, the numbers working on next year’s car have increased dramatically.”
Part of the reorganisation sees the return of James Allison to Maranello in the role of Technical Director.
“I’ve known James since 1994 and it will be our third time working together, once at Benetton and previously at Ferrari in the early 2000s,” says Tombazis. “He’s an excellent person technically and a good guy too. Together with Pat the two of them provide strong leadership: he brings a lot of knowledge, experience and capability to the team, making it stronger.”
Even though most talk is about next year's brand new V6 turbo engines with ERS, there are also a number of aerodynamic difficulties to overcome, making the windtunnel update even more crucial.
“The changes aerodynamically are quite significant and in some key areas this involves reviewing our design completely,” he maintains. “The front wing is designed to a different set of rules, the rear wing too and the elimination of the exhaust effect is also very significant. Furthermore, when it comes to interacting with the engine, cooling is very important and to get it right is very critical. All these factors mean the 2014 car will be very different, but we cannot claim it is starting from zero or from a clean sheet of paper, as you have to use your knowledge and experience from the past to design the car. This means there are areas where we feel we have to catch up with our competitors and others where indeed we are all starting from zero.”
Pat Fry earlier pointed out that he expects the major differences to be beneath the surface, despite some changed body shapes, mainly due to the different position of the exhaust.