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GP Week : Issue 234
TECHNICAL aeRo StiLL keY DeSPite 'eNGiNe' FoRMULa TeCHNICAL PaoLo FiLiSetti Technical Editor since last year, when the new Pus (Power units) were introduced, it was a common belief to consider Formula 1 again as an engine formula. Of course this fact has solid roots but, nevertheless, we can see that aerodynamics, even if not a subject too much under the spotlight, still has a crucial role in the performance balance of a car. It is a matter of fact, of course, and aerodynamics – especially the development resource restriction on aero testing and CFD – took the headlines during the weekend. It came to light that Mercedes, through its executive technical director Paddy Lowe, asked for a clarification on the matter. In particular Mercedes wanted to clarify whether the rules allow any sort of information sharing, or the use of third parties resources – given that these ‘third parties’ are not yet involved in the Championship – for the purpose of aero development. The letter sent by Paddy Lowe to Charlie Whiting is dated October 15, but already Mercedes had some concerns, notably related to a Ferrari/ Haas collaboration earlier this season, notably after Barcelona, when Ferrari introduced a deeply revised aero package (see drawing). The letter sought clarification about this kind of collaboration, even though it did not directly mention Ferrari or Haas’ name. Mercedes, in a very detailed way, asked for clarification on a number of question marks, such the possibility of some employee passing directly from one external structure to a competing, team, bringing with them crucial information. Other questions were also related to the exact definition of third parties or sub-contractors. All these questions were aimed at clearing the air around the fact that Ferrari, thanks to the close collaboration with Haas, which will take part in next year’s World Championship, was believed to have circumnavigated the strict limits of aero testing resources. This was because Haas, still not a competitor until 2016, didn’t have to respect the aero testing limitation in 2015, mandatory for all the existing participating teams. In Mercedes opinion, Ferrari took an advantage by closely collaborating in terms of aero development testing, using both human and technical resources of Haas. It is important to underline that, a few weeks ago, Marcin Budkowski, Technical and Sporting co-ordinator at the FIA, visited the Ferrari factory in Maranello, to verify whether the collaboration with Haas, was being done within the rules. Budkowski, after that visit, found no evidence of any incorrect behavior whatsoever. The clarification request took the apex of the headlines this weekend. Charlie Whiting considered the matter not in his remit, and so passed the request to the Stewards of the meeting of this race. On Sunday the stewards produced their verdict. In a few words, the evidencesproduced by Ferrari and Haas, together with the outcome of the FIA visit in Maranello, showed the complete respect of the current rules by Ferrari. A detailed response to each unclear matter requested by Mercedes was supplied. Last, but not the least, the Stewards confirmed that in the future, any organization submits a request to enter the Championship, and the request is accepted, will from that moment have to respect the rules regarding the aero testing restriction as all the other already participating teams do. We can consider this further clarification as a sort-of double victory for Ferrari as, in the future, no other team could act in the same way they acted this year. If there was a loophole in the rules, we can’t do other than praise Ferrari for having undertaken a clever but legal way of reading the rules. Back on track, it is curious to see the current development of the W06 cars. As we already observed in Brazil, they are testing elements of the new front suspension. These elements may well include a hydraulic third damper, that in our opinion is linked to a revised FRIC device, to control the front and rear balance. It is well known that this kind of system tends to optimise the aero balance of the car too, hence improving dramatically its efficiency. As well, the continuous detailed development of the bottom of the car shows the team’s direction towards further optimising the airflow management in this area of the car. Mercedes is well aware of the continuing importance of aero development nowadays ... and Paddy Lowe acted as a consequence of that ... 38 GPWEEK.com // 38 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> ABU DHABI PARTNERS: