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GP Week : Issue 143
14 Abu Dhabi has all the ingredients to be a perfect venue for testing, hence even during the race weekend, teams were able to get the chance to test new solutions aimed at next season. It was in fact interesting to see, how many small details were introduced on the cars on Friday and, contrary to previous races, retained for Sunday. It was interesting to see on the grid just how sensitive McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari were to prying eyes from other teams ... In particular it is interesting to see the areas teams have identified as crucial, bearing in mind the tech rule changes. Red Bull tested new items in the diffuser area, which won’t be ‘blown’ in 2012, but also showed attention being paid to the front, with a particular attention to the endplates area and skid block underneath. It was also interesting to note how effectively the set up of the RB7 is, dramatically more ‘raked’ than on any other car. In addition, a tiny change was also adopted in the area of the main flap of the rear wing, slightly reduced in its chord with a different link to the DRS activation hydraulic mechanism. The important diffuser is slightly different in its side sections close to the wheels, making it more efficient in the feeding of this area by means of the gases exiting from the exhausts. At the front, something is changing in a subtle way. While showing limited visible change, the front wing adopted here was dramatically different in terms of construction. It looks as though a war of front wings has started between Ferrari and Red Bull. It was possible to notice the front wing of the RB7 shaking repeatedly during Saturday’s qualifying session, in a similar way to what happened to Felipe Massas’s front wing on Friday. Stefano Domenicali after the race reportedly said “that the front wing will be a crucial part of the car’s design for next season so it is natural that the teams are trying to find the maximum limit in terms of efficiency of this element”. By this he means finding a correct flexibility rate while running, while respecting on the other hand the static flexibility test of the FIA. A different approach was the one followed by Mercedes, who for this race adopted a slightly modified version of the front wing introduced in Belgium. It seems a step back compared to the approach adopted in recent races (a sort of F-duct, through the front wing pillars). This appears to be aimed at evaluating other changes, notably in the aero balance of the car, not influenced by any ‘external’ element – ie adopting a more standard front wing was useful in understanding how the rear end aero balance was modified by the tiny changes to the diffuser adopted here. Technical Update: Abu Dhabi GP With the season drawing to a close, the emphasis continues to be on pre-2012 in-race testing, as GPWEEK Technical Editor Paolo Filisetti explains