Teams pinpoint cooling as differentiator

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With the track debut of the new V6 turbo engines coming closer and closer, teams are admitting that one of the major challenges of getting and efficient and reliable package will be managing the cooling systems.

Because of the bigger energy recovery package and the additional turbo, cooling requirements are much bigger than they were in 2013. Even though the internal combustion engine has downsized and will itself require slightly less radiator area to cool itself down, the additional intercooler that needs to be fitted within the sidepods will require some out of the box thinking to still end up with a neatly packages sidepod.

Ferrari engineering director Pat Fry particularly believes that if a team does get it wrong, it will require several weeks to get it right whereas teams that did make their homework correctly will be able to progress quicker.

"I think it is one of those years where you need to be developing your car rather than fixing cooling problems," explained Fry.

"At the start of each year when you get the cooling wrong, a huge amount of resource goes into fixing radiators, bodywork and everything like that. I am sure we have done it here [at Ferrari] in the past and we've done it at my former team [McLaren] in the past, where you waste the first couple of months.

Fry also said he expects "a lot of people will be scratching their heads" in preparation, during and following the first winter test at Jerez, claiming there is a massive opportunity to get things wrong.

He continued to note that he expects cars to look different, exactly because of this cooling challenge. Different engines will likely have different cooling requirements while the different approach of design teams will lead to very different aerodynamic shapes.

To back up his claims, Niki Lauda, chairman of the Mercedes F1 team claimed they are still learning every day about its new engine, particularly on how to manage the cooling.

“We are constantly learning new things about the engine,” he said. “Suddenly you are managing things like water pressure and intercooling. Oil and water must be in a precise temperature window. Once you go just a few degrees above a certain limit, everything stops [working].”

It will be no surprise if cars will end up sidelined due to overheating as it is one of the trickiest parts of a car to simulate.