Spray guard requires further development, says Bearman

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Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman thinks that the FIA needs to completely redesign the spray gurads following recent test with the latest version of the special wheel cover that should mitigate spray in wet races.

Between the Miami Grand Prix and this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Ferrari staged a two-day testing day on its own test track in Fiorano. While the second day of running saw the Scuderia concentrate on their new upgrades as part of a filming day, the opening day included work aimed at FIA's newly-developed spray guards.

The wheel covers were first trialled last July by Mercedes and Aston Martin in Silverstone, and the aim was to mitigate the effect of spray in wet conditions. In recent years, visibility has become the biggest issue in the rain which has often forced the race control to stop the race until the improvement of conditions.

Ferrari staged a two-day test session last week on its own test track in Imola. While the second day saw the Scuderia test the upgrades for their 2024 F1 car, the opening day incorporated test runs with the latest version of spray guard. The wheel covers were developed by the FIA, and the design of the latest versions was influenced by last year's tests.

The images that emerged from Ferrari's test running indicated that there were not much difference between the spray pattern with and without the wheel cover.

Speaking in Imola, Haas and Ferrari reserve driver Oliver Bearman, who took part in last week's test, confirmed that the governing body still needs to work on the design of the spray guard before they make their way onto the F1 cars on a race weekend.

"I followed Arthur Leclerc who was running with the wheel covers. So far, not really much to say about them. I think you saw the videos, it was quite similar. So I think back to the drawing board, we need to keep looking at it," Bearman said.

"We did a few different configurations, but we only wet the straights just to see if you could follow on the straights. We did four or five runs just trying different levels of openness, because if it's fully closed, it's also quite tough for the temperatures of the tyres."

"I think the issue is that these cars make so much downforce from the floor, the air is energised from there and of course the spray follows the air," he was quoted as saying by Autosport.

The young Briton, who stepped in to replace Carlos Sainz at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the latter was diagnosed with appendicitis, will take part in the opening practice at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Speaking of his first of six FP1 appearances, Bearman commented: “I’m really looking forward to re-joining the team and taking part in the FP1 in Imola. The team is having a strong season and I’m hoping, with the extra experience I have since our last time together, I’ll be able to help continue the run of form they’re in!”