The most dramatic set of rule changes for 20 years will put a new complexion on how the Formula One teams tackle a race weekend. the Scuderia Toro Rosso Chief Engineer, Laurent Mekies talks us through them.
“The arrival of slick tyres, big aero changes and a ban on testing means that basing our race weekend preparation on the previous year’s race will be much less relevant than in the past, although our knowledge of each circuit still remains the same.
“Some of these missing elements can be replaced with more simulation work and as the season progresses, our understanding of all the new elements will increase, allowing us to make judgement calls on what is required. More than ever, Friday becomes a test day, not just in terms of preparing for that weekend. In addition, you will have to allocate part of your programme to your car development that was previously done at test sessions in between the races. This will require a rethink of the programme, which, usually on Fridays, could be rather repetitive for the spectators. Now you will see a lot more running with different programmes split between the two drivers.
“As for KERS, our system comes from Ferrari and we will work with them so that we both make progress as rapidly as possible. Its primary use is as a “Push to Pass,” or “Push to Defend” button, which might be disappointing if the two actions just cancel each other out! You will have to think carefully about when to use it. I’m sure that apart from overtaking, it will also come in useful for producing a best lap time in qualifying and in this case, the driver will look to the team for advice on how best to use it. Then there will be race laps when you don’t need to overtake or defend, but you will still want to use the available energy. The system needs to be treated with respect, but there are measures in place to protect marshals on the track and the crew in the garage.
“The driver definitely faces a busy time in the cockpit. Apart from using his KERS, he will also have the adjustable front wing to play with twice per lap, in a bid to improve overtaking opportunities. The new wing should address the problems of a car losing balance and front downforce when it is close behind another car. The driver will be adjusting the wing and going for the KERS boost button at pretty much the same time, which could make life interesting!
“Life will also be more hectic for us engineers on the pit wall. For example, in relation to the Safety Car, we are effectively going back to 2006 regulations, so if the SC is out on track you can immediately refuel and change tyres. It will require a much more instant decision on whether pitting at that point is the right decision or not.”Related news article:
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