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GP Week : Issue 226
TECHNICAL news wings and volatile data TECHNICAL Paolo Filisetti Technical Editor As usual, the Belgian GP signaled Formula 1’s the return to racing after the summer break. Spa is a very demanding track, as it is very technical, with long straights, variations in altitude and multiple kinds of corners, spanning from the slow La Source to the ultra- fast left-hander Blanchimont, and the fearsome and tricky Eau Rouge. Most of the teams were very active in terms of development of their cars; in general sporting deeply revised aero packages that will be also used, with some different set-up, at Monza in two weeks’ time. Mercedes had been very active. And what was immediately noticeable was a new version of their rear wing. The elements were striking, due to the sinuous profile of both the main plane and of the flap. It is interesting to note that even though Spa must be considered a ‘fast’ track in terms of aero configuration, the wing angles of the Mercedes W06 weren’t so extreme, as you may expect to find on a ‘low drag’ configuration. In fact if we compare them to those on the Red Bull, they were much more reduced, so to generate a minimal amount of drag. This provided Red Bull a blistering speed on the long straights, but a somewhat critical rear end behavior at Eau Rouge (no doubt, Ricciardo can confirm that ...) Apart of the usual development analysis, the other event that requires our attention was what happened to cause Sebastian Vettel’s right rear tyre to explode, one lap before the end of the race. Data, F1’s most vital currency, was difficult to come by so we must interpret what was said by Ferrari and Pirelli. Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said that the single-stop strategy was planned in the morning, and represented the team’s Plan A. It was based on tyre wear data that Arrivabene was said to possess, prompting him to irrefutably challenge anyone in the media scrum who even hinted at the possibility of incorrect data resulted in wrong strategy, particularly in terms of safety. Pirelli, however, said through Motorsport Director Paul Hembery that on this track, a two-stop strategy was recommended, and that the average life of 40 laps for medium compound tyre has to be considered an average generic figure – not specific, indicative of the life of the tyres on this track. Who was right, Arrivabene or Hembery? From what they said post- race, that is not immediately clear. On Friday, after the explosion of the right rear tyre on the car of Nico Rosberg, the first thing that emerged immediately (and which was diligently disclosed) was the team’s compliance with the technical guidelines issued by Pirelli to the teams – each of which has a Pirelli engineer assigned to oversee the use of its tyres. The guidelines include inflation pressures, camber angles and the prohibition of reversing the tyres from the right side and to the left one. Beyond such precise and stringent directives, compliance for reasons of safety is left to the teams, so it is their responsibility if these are disregarded. The team’s logic appears to clash very strongly with a general indication of tyre life, as explained by Hembery. At the moment, we do not know what happened to Vettel’s tyre. It may be that the tyre picked up debris on the Kemmel straight. But if it is determined that the failure was caused by Vettel’s prolonged stint of 28 laps (slightly less than 200 kms) it may well be that the team will have to search for its own answers. On the other hand, following the Rosberg tyre failure, Pirelli engineers assured the teams of their tyres’ integrity but it does not appear to be the fact that Pirelli recommended a maximum distance for each type of tyre. Analysis will be carried out in the coming days and will hopefully identify the cause of Vettel’s tyre failue. There should be more information to examine before Monza – Ferrari and Pirelli’s home race. 35 GPWEEK.com // 35 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BELGIUM PARTNERS: