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GP Week : Issue 217
In Melbourne we made a comparison between the Ferrari sF15-T and the Mercedes W06 Hybrid front ends. We thought it was paramount to describe that area of both cars to understand their design philosophy. Here in Malaysia , what emerged from the race was the importance of the car balance – more important, it ranspired, than a power advantage. As ‘balance’ we mean not just the aero balance but, let’s say, the balance among the performance differentiators of the car. By performance differentiators, we consider of course aero efficiency, power output, and tyre management. It was important to note how it was actually the perfect balance of these three elements on the SF15-T which was able to result in victory to Ferrari. For this reason, here we show the entire car drawing to underline the fact that not just a single area was more crucial than another to guarantee this result. This fact is even more clear when you look at the pure performance comparison between Ferrari and Mercedes. If we look at the best times when using the same tyre compound, we could easily assume that there is still a good performance advantage for Mercedes, but what made the difference here was the predominance of a single element among the others of this car. What I mean is that by relying on a very powerful power unit, turned out to be a sort of boomerang for the Brackley squad. The car, due to its basic aero design concept is not perfectly balanced in this respect, unless the wing angles are set as high as possible to maximize the downforce load, despite the increase of drag. This is a choice that can be made only if you can rely on an extraordinary power advantage. The downturn of this choice is in terms of tyre wear. This in fact is actually worsened by the increased aero load and inconsistency of the aero pressure centre. On the other hand, as aforesaid, the SF15-T‘s close to perfect balance allowed Vettel’s two pit stop strategy with two stints on Medium tyres and the last one on Hard ones. Another team that has to find the reasons for its defeat in better balance and extreme solutions adopted for the front end, is Red Bull. The RB11 in fact showed that its problems are not just related to the power unit, but instead are also due an extreme front suspension layout both in terms of anti dive (1) and also in terms of wishbone inclination, which provides a too high roll centre (2). This fact produced problems at least in two areas. In particular in tyre wear, with the front tyre consumption very high, and at the same time putting an high stress to the front brakes. These elements dramatically hampered the race of the RB11, in a way even more noticeable than Australia. The new nose, which may well make its debut in China, could partially improve the performace of this car, in terms of better aero stability, but on the other hand the front suspension will remain a weak element of the project throughout the season. TeCHNICAL PAolo Filisetti Technical Editor TECHNICAL 23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> MALAYSIA PARTNERS: