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GP Week : Issue 188
43 GPWEEK.com // 43 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BELGIUM How can we nickname the circuit of spa? To me, being Italian, it comes pretty easy to compare it to the scala opera theatre in Milan. We can say that spa is the scala of Formula 1. It is in fact a great theatre of action, where cars and drivers are really put to their limits. And their performance is like that of of a great tenor. If a car is competitive at Spa, very likely it will be the same everywhere. For this reason all the teams consider Spa as a very important testing bench for their developments that will be used in most of the remainder races of the season. Furthermore, as Spa traditionally comes as first race after the summer break, it is even more important to check the improvements that each one hopes to bring here. This year, the title contenders were very active in their development – both Red Bull and Ferrari, brought many new parts that demonstrated being positive in their performance-adding balance. Red Bull sported a new nose cone, fatter but very slim in its vertical section. For this reason the cameras changed their usual position from the tip of the nose to one closer to the upper front suspension wishbones. The most relevant change on the RB9 was the rear diffuser that was tested on Friday by both drivers and then kept on the cars for the remainder of the weekend. Ferrari, being the team that is trying to catch up, was even more active. The changes on the F138 involved the front wing , the diffuser, the under tray, and the brakes. The latter featured an interesting evolution of the cooling drums, featuring an array of radially placed slits along their outer edge. The function of these slits is to convey to the inner side of the wheels the heat generated under braking. In this way the engineers reduce the time for the tyres to reach their working temperature and keep it throughout a lap. This is very crucial, mainly in qualifying, where Ferrari gas so far showed a weak point in this respect. The front aero was also developed. At first, Ferrari appeared to be using the front wing introduced in Canada, that sported a very different design of the upper winglets. (see drawing). Instead it was decided to just reduce the chord of the flap and its exit edge of the version of the wing seen in the previous races, to reduce the drag and the downforce generated – important at this track. This solution furthermore worked perfectly together with the changes introduced to the undertray at the level of the splitter and with the latest version of the diffuser slightly changed in its side channels. The overall stability of the F138 has thus hugely improved in the fast corners of the Belgian track – with traction being less of a big issue. Singapore will confirm that. In two weeks time the teams will rejoin in Monza, where downforce counts as close to zero, and speed is paramount. Extreme configurations are expected and we will be there to discover them and report to you. Spa – the ultimate test TeCHNICAL PAOLO FILISETTI Technical Editor