As the F1 testing got underway in Jerez, three more teams launched their new cars, leaving only Williams to produce a 2013 model, which they will do at the second test on February 19th.
All three teams under performed last year for different reasons and all need to raise their game this year. They have gone about it in different ways as we shall see.
Here we take a look at each of their situations and former Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan looks at the changes to the cars and what they mean.
Toro Rosso revealed its car on the same day as Mercedes and was rather overshadowed as a result. Whether this was deliberate or just unfortunate planning, is unclear. They have announced renewals of most of their key sponsors like CEPSA and Falcon Bank, while we already knew that the same drivers would be retained for 2013, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne. Both will be under intense pressure to get results from Red Bull driver mentor Helmut Marko, who has been ruthless in the past with drivers he does not consider likely to become winners and champions. The second year is usually the last, it’s make or break..
The Toro Rosso is fitted once again with a Ferrari engine, but the word in F1 circles is that a move for 2014 to Renault engines could be on the cards. This would align Red Bull’s two teams, both with Renault engines, which raises all kinds of possibilities. Given the current uncertainty around the rule making procedures and the recent changes in the Sporting Regulations concerning the listing of which parts of a car must be made by a team itself, there is a chance we may see some crossover from Red Bull to Toro Rosso on the 2014 cars, if they can find a way to do it within the regulations.
Chief Designer Luca Furbatto said of the car, “Development was rather limited in 2012 and this was because the STR7’s distinctive sidepod design, although initially looking quite good, later proved difficult to develop, so that we reached a plateau during the season. ”
Mark Gillan’s Technical Analysis of Toro Rosso
Technical Director James Key’s comments are quite revealing and if they did come to a relative dead end in aero development with their STR7 a sizeable mechanical change and suspension pickup point/suspension leg positional change may help provide a new avenue of development and interaction with other key components.
“The rear suspension pickups look as if they have been modified. In general the release car is not too different from last year’s (from an aerodynamic perspective) although I have yet to see a rear of car/diffuser picture which James Key says has been changed.
“The noticeable differences being the modified non-stepped nose, new front brake ducts, thinner lipped, reprofiled sidepods and updated mirrors, although there is typically not much performance in the latter item, normally less than 0.005 in aero efficiency gains, downforce/drag (or half ‘a point’ in an aerodynamicist’s language) to be had from one decent design to another.
“However one will still gladly ‘bank’ these half point gains. For reference, 3 points of aerodynamic efficiency is around a tenth of a second in lap time.
Caterham has taken a different approach from the other teams; it has focussed its efforts on restructuring the team and produced an evolution of last year’s car, but will deliver a more definitive car later in the year. This is a bold strategy, given that significant resources need to be targeted at the 2014 car during the course of this year. It is also likely to mean that Caterham falls behind Marussia in the first part of 2013.
“We cannot satisfy ourselves anymore from being the best of the new teams,” said Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul. “We need to be doing better than that – and we need to say and demonstrate that we can do better than that.
“It is about finding the right balance between what, given the level of resources, we can put on the car for the first test, what will be on track for race one and how we will be able to develop the car for 2013 keeping an eye on 2014. From where we are, we will be able to afford something totally new, a new concept, along the course of the year.”
The drivers are both new: Charles Pic raced with Marussia last year and despite having the “pay driver” tag due to the budget he brings the team, he acquitted himself well against Timo Glock. Guido van Der Garde is a rookie, coming out of Caterham’s GP2 programme.
Technical Director Mark Smith says that the main change is the more undercut side pod and I would agree, as apart from minor changes to the roll hoop structural fairings, an extra turning vane on top of the more under cut side pod and subtle changes to the bodywork around the Coanda exhaust, the car looks very similar to last year.
He even states that this roll out car will be the baseline, with updates coming. The oversized front brake ducts, with outboard trim, are a distinct feature of the release car. The cascade of element on the rear brake duct drum looks less aggressive than on most cars and Caterham appeared to struggle last year in this area, maybe with correlation to the tunnel, having to flow viz this region at most events.
As the brake duct area can affect wheel lift performance, as opposed to body downforce, it can be difficult to quantify the relative performance of these particular parts, as the suspension load cells will not measure wheel related forces- hence the need to flow viz the parts and correlate them to the tunnel flow viz pictures.
Marussia launched its car, which is a significant departure from the one it raced in 2012. The team went through a divorce with its original technical partner Nick Wirth and last year was a bit of a compromise, as the team headed by former renault engineering chief Pat Symonds, got to grips with the car. Cash is tight here and Symonds’ team has had to work hard with not very much to produce a car that can challenge. The addition of Williams’ KERS system will certainly help, as will the ongoing wind tunnel programme with McLaren. There is every chance that the Marussia will be ahead of the Caterham this season.
Max Chilton was the only driver at the launch, the second driver has yet to be confirmed, despite strong rumours last week that Brazilian GP 2 driver Luis Razia had the job.
Mark Gillan’s Technical Analysis of the Marussia
“Of all the Teams probably Marussia had one of the biggest redesign jobs on their hands for 2013 with the introduction of a new Williams supplied KERS system. Packaging a KERS system invariably leads to significant internal architectural changes which can impact on one’s weight distribution (which must remain in a tightly controlled window).
“Depending on available resources, it is likely that most components throughout the car were re-analysed to see if they could be made that bit more efficient in-order to strip some unwanted mass from them, thus ensuring that the car hit the minimum mass target with some ballast to spare. The ballast allows for adjusting the car’s weight distribution within the legal zone whilst maintaing as low as possible the centre of gravity height.
“Both the car’s engine roll hoop feed and radiator cooling side pod intakes, coanda channel and associated floor geometry and engine cover geometry have changed quite a bit this season. The KERS introduction has probably impacted some of the engine cover modifications, but with further aero development in the McLaren wind tunnel (whilst McLaren are in Toyota’s tunnel) they will no doubt have also improved the cooling efficiency map of the car too.
“The extra 3/10ths of lap time derived from the KERS system will be a welcome boost, as will the ability to better defend and attack during the race.”