Money isn’t everything
Ferrari are a big spending team, yet we don’t know quite how much they spend because as an Italian company their figures are not registered at Company’s House, England, where the numbers are relatively transparent. Red Bull F1 group spent 245m euro’s in 2011 and based on history it is not likely Ferrari spent less.
In fact Horner has regularly asserted that Red Bull are the 2nd or 3rd largest spending team in F1. The problem with a culture that throws money at problems, is this is not always the most efficient way to solve them.
Businesses with a tight budgetary restraint are regularly capable of getting more ‘bang for the buck’ as they have to focus on where to spend the money more than one with huge resources.
The Ferrari problem
It must be therefore highly embarrassing for Ferrari that they have been messing around with 2 wind tunnels and clearly have internal disputes over who is to blame for the fact the car has hardly developed from an aero perspective since May (Alonso – India).
Ferrari’s problem has increasingly been their woeful performance on Saturday often a second a lap slower than the quickest qualifying car leaving them with a number of places to make up in the race. Bizarrely their race pace has been within 0.1s at times leaving everyone scratching their heads over the nature of their problem.
Who is Gary Anderson
Well for me, a BBC analyst and ex car designer has solved the Ferrari conundrum of performance discrepancy from their Saturday to Sunday pace. Gary Anderson reveals Ferrari’s problem. Anderson’s career path includes being chief mechanic at Brabham and then McLaren, before joining Jordan as Technical director in 1991
McLaren and Ferrari attempted to recruit him unsuccessfully but he remained with the Silverstone based team (now Force India) until mid way through 1998 when he was replaced by Mike Gascoyne.
Anderson joined the new Stewart Grand Prix team, designing the 1999 car. This was a run away success finishing 4th in the constructor’s championship and claiming 4 podiums along the way. Stewart became Jaguar and Lauda arrived on the scene. This led to Gary Anderson among others leaving and he replaced the journeyman Gascoyne and rejoined his old love, Jordan for 2002-03.
Jordan lost the backing of Honda and their engines, so the cleverly designed Anderson car of 2003 was driven by the rather under powered Cosworth engine and managed only 9th in the constructor’s championship. Since then Gary has worked as an F1 analyst for various F1 media organisation, the latest being the BBC starting in 2012.
Anderson says Red Bull should think again
The Northern Irishman was given a few minutes towards the end of the BBC forum and he began by explaining how Red Bull now have created a strategy dilemma for themselves. Simply put, they always set their cars up with lots of wing to steal the fastest lap in qualifying and then run and hide for the race.
This strategy involves having fairly average straight line speed (Vettel 23rd fastest through speed trap in Abu Dhabi qualifying) but it means they have the ability on very light and very heavy fuel to be quickest and win pole or scamper off early in the race.
This strategy makes Red Bull vulnerable if they should ever be caught in the DRS zone and hence Vettel has to drive the life out of the car in laps 1-3 to prevent this from happening. Yet Red Bull’s strategy was found wanting out in Abu Dhabi, with Vettel only qualifying 3rd before his penalty and Webber demonstrated how difficult it was to pass with the car setup the way it was from qualifying. Austin promises more of the same.
Anderson observed that the ‘super overtaking machine’ setup Red Bull employed after Vettel’s car was disqualified from qualifying was quickest at various points in all phases of the race. Fastest lap, increased top speed of 10kph and minimal tyre wear.
The question Anderson poses is, whether Red Bull will change their season long strategy and go for more of a setup like they used on Vettel’s car in the Abu Dhabi race.
Anderson: Ferrari’s saviour?
Maybe it’s ingenious, or maybe its something Ferrari’s vast team of highly paid designers and analysts should have spotted – who knows – but Anderson has proposed a highly plausible explanation the Ferrari problem. Useless in qualifying (1 second a lap off the pace at times) but with race pace very close to the leaders.
What is the most significant difference in the two sessions? DRS. The drag reduction system can be used all the time in qualifying, but only in 1 or 2 places during the race. When using the DRS system the driver comes off the corner and opens the DRS as soon as possible reducing the drag of the rear wing.
DRS affects the balance of the car
Anderson observes, ” As the car goes faster, the rear gets closer to the ground and that ‘stalls’ the diffuser, which is the underfloor which curves upwards at the back of the car. ‘Stalling’ means the airflow is not attached to it any more, and that reduces the downforce it produces. When the driver brakes for the next corner, the car changes attitude – the rear comes up.”
This is why Mercedes developed the DDRS system that pushed air to the front wing to push it back up and reduce the pitch of the car when DRS is engaged.
“Not only does the rear of the car lift, but this means the air flow over the diffuser does not re-attach immediately. this reduces down force and grip for the driver on the entry to the corner. So on initial corner entry, 18 or 20 times a lap in qualifying, the rear of the car has less down force and therefore is unstable for a given amount of time until the diffuser and rear wing re-attach.”
This rear instability on corner entry is what the Ferrari drivers are complaining about. Except for Mercedes all teams have this problem, however the design of their rear wings and suspension has been such to compensate for this effect. Ferrari is the only team with a push rod suspension and this makes the compensation required more complicated.
Why Ferrari faster in the race
“In the race, though, the DRS can only be used in specified zones and when the driver is within a second of the car in front. So during the race on the non-DRS straights the diffuser will still stall but the rear wing is still working, which means when the driver brakes the diffuser re-attaches more easily. So in the race the driver has rear stability other than when he is braking after using the DRS.” All in all this means the Ferrari is more consistent.
Anderson is adamant that to solve the problem Ferrari need a less aggressive DRS system which will balance the car better and reduce the extreme effects the drivers are experiencing when closing the DRS.
Ferrari sack someone every year
I think Ferrari could do worse than employing the rather overweight but highly intelligent car designer from Northern Ireland. They sack someone every year. 2010: Chris Dyer, 2011: Aldo Costa. Gary Anderson for me has nailed a number of issues throughout the year before certain teams have realised their own problems.
(Anderson called the McLaren high nose and under floor airflow design problems they would have on the launch of the car)
[This article has been abridged from the original which at times was complex to understand. To read Gary Anderson’s full piece: BBC]
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