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GP Week : Issue 192
One week after Korea, F1 landed at suzuka, one of the most complete tracks of the Championship. It is in fact a very technical layout where everything is important in terms of elements bringing competiveness to the cars – traction is paramount in the twisty section while top speed dominates in the sector including the famous 130R corner. For these reasons all the teams modified their cars layout in terms of aero package, and in most of the cases it was a mixing up of the elements to generate the better balance. The World Championship main rivals Ferrari and Red Bull didn’t bring substantial changes. In fact the latter just adopted a mix between the Spa configuration at the front and the Korean configuration for the rear wing. Small differences of set up were visible between Vettel and Webber, with the German sporting a cut flap in its trailing edge to reduce downforce and drag, to benefit top speed performance. Ultimately, this configuration was not considered satisfying and after practices was discarded. Ferrari on the other hand was in “waiting mode” , meaning that apart from the usual adaptive work, no significant changes were noticeable compared to last week. It was interesting to note that McLaren, which already in Korea introduced a different wing in relation to its pillars position, now pushed rear wards compared to the previous version, brought a completely different front wing in its main components to Japan. There is in fact a shorter slit between the wing profile and the flap, that is now connected to the main profile via a curved junction connected at the level of the trailing edge of the wing. The two flaps also feature an increased diverging profile in their innermost section, with the upper one being almost horizontal , compared to the lower one visibly inclined towards the main profile. This configuration, coupled with the vertical pillars aforementioned, should provide a better airflow management towards the bottom of the car. Mercedes, again competitive in practice and qualifying at least, brought some refinements mainly affecting the rear of the car. In particular it was interesting to see another change to the stepped bottom in front of the rear wheels, now provided with an array of three slits to improve the effects of the ‘gulf stream”’ generated by the hot gases in that area, crucial in term of efficiency of the diffuser. This change seemed to give more stability to the rear of the car under braking and while accelerating at the corners exit too. The legality of the Red Bull RB9. Again, here in Japan, and especially after FP3 when Vettel had to change the KERS on his car before qualifying, many rumors arose in the paddock. The rumors were those of an alleged illegal use of KERS, as a sort of traction control. This simply isn’t the case. It would be interesting, for those still having suspicions on the matter, to read an article of the current FIA technical regulations. In particular we invite those sceptics to read article 11.1.1 that states: "With the exception of a KERS, all cars must be equipped with only one brake system ..." So, legally, KERS, could be considered, and acts as, an additional braking system (not an ABS!). Someone could have found it interesting and useful under acceleration. If someone uses cleverly what is allowed by the rules, we see no need for polemics or qualms about that. It is just a matter of fact, that it's legal. And who uses it in the best way could gain advantage, as it is normal in a competitive sport. Anyway, to shed away every doubt, we can assure, and were assured by our sources, that this is not the secret weapon of the RB9. Neither is it a Traction Control ... Japan – a mixture of the elements TeCHNICAL PAOLO FILISETTI Technical Editor 45 GPWEEK.com // 45 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> JAPAN