F1 Winter Break
More from behind the scenes at Ferrari
More from behind the scenes at Ferrari
Posted By:   |  13 Jan 2009   |  5:50 pm GMT  |  10 comments

The Ferrari team got down to business today, ironing out some glitches in the new car. I’m told that a part fell off the car on its first exploratory lap yesterday. But the KERS system worked and in the end the car did 100kms, which is less than they had hoped for, but pretty good nevertheless from a complex new car.

Ferrari’s idea in bringing the car out so early is to have plenty of time for debugging. Reliability was not perfect last season and they are painfully aware that there is only a limited amount of testing before the season and none at all once the racing starts on March 29th, so the next few weeks are critical.

This will hurt Red Bull, for example who don’t launch until February. The winning team this year will be the one which can debug its car enough to find reliability and then develop it using only the simulation tools at the factory and the Friday test days at Grands Prix. It’s a totally different way of working for the teams, especially Ferrari who invested heavily in test facilities. It makes you realise how much they have been prepared to give up as part of their commitment to FOTA.

There is a lovely story in Gazetta dello Sport from the Ferrari launch, which indicates the human dynamics among the drivers; apparently Michael Schumacher had lunch at the Mugello test track with Felipe Massa, his manager Nicolas Todt, and test drivers Luca Badoer and Marc Gene. At the time, Kimi Raikkonen was asleep in a Lancia in the car park!

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That's interesting, James. I wasn't aware that they had changed the engine rules like that; the FIA had better have some good quality security seals on those.

Looking at the http://ferrari09-http.weebo.it/Ferrari_ready_eng/vt.html" rel="nofollow">pictures of the 2009 Ferrari, it looks like the wing mirror supports are aerodynamic devices. I wonder if those are going to be a new way to circumvent the restrictions on flick-ups.

I can't wait to see the cars actually in action. I heard a rumour that the practice sessions will be available on the 'red button'.


Now now James, you know Kimi...

It has long been his habit to sleep whenever he has the opportunity... even when he is about to race he often sleeps up until the last moment ...

It is a practice he had even before getting into F1.... when he'd sleep on the ground pretty close to all the mechanics getting the car ready....

I recall in Shanghai last year that the Todts and Felipe were out on the town on the Friday whilst Kimi stayed back at base.... so the lunch thing isn't surprising...

But I am not too surprised that Michael won't be as hands on this year... you can't but help feel that whenever he appeared in the pits the guys used to working with him tended to find it hard not to react to Michael, rather than keeping their mind on their new responsibilities ... let's face it they had been "programmed" to do so for quite a few years... habits are hard to break.....

And now Chris Dyer has moved jobs... interesting n'est pas...

Stefano's comment regarding Michael's role being under review, particularly when his 3 year contract ends was rather telling too.....


No more than 8 engines per driver per season. Is the penalty system still the same for 9th (and subsequent) engines?

Does that mean that we could see teams permanently positioned at the back of the grid towards the end of the season? Sounds to me that we are more likely to see championships decided by an engine replacement.


When a driver needs a ninth engine?...that's when Schumacher gets to drive! Is it really 8 engines for each driver, or 8 each for 'car 3' and 'car 4'?

And a question that's been nagging me - how will the rev limit work with KERS? Can the boost button briefly override the rev limiter, or will it only be useful at lower revs for faster acceleration?


One question james:
With the restrictions on aerodynimic grip. What people think about the fast corners on the championship not being flat out. I think that should be what they must try to acheive, making more restrictions if neccesary.
You know, to separate the boys from the men.


I wondered what your thoughts on Schumacher's involvement at Ferrari were James?

Although I'm not a big fan of Schumacher, I've read your books on him and certainly have a lot of respect but feel his presence at Maranello could be detrimental to the team.

Kimi made his feelings on Schumacher pretty clear in Brazil when Martin Brundle told him he'd missed the presentation by Pele!

I picked up on comments from Schumacher last season when he was discussing why Kimi had struggled getting to grips with the F2008 and he suggested it might be because he hasn't asked for help.

You'll know better than most, so what is their relationship like, is it strained and damaging or is it a case of getting on with their own business?



I'd be interested to know what you've worked out the fact and fiction on F1 engine power.

Assuming a peak torque of 290 Nm (Car Sept 2007), the 25 bhp drop claimed by Ferrari seems about right. The engine would be making about 97 per cent of the 18,000 rpm torque at 19,000. Assuming constant torque (highly unlikely) the drop would be about 40 bhp.

The question is what is the maximum power of a 2008-spec Ferrari engine? A 30 bhp difference between the Ferrari and the Renault engine has been conjectured based on the Red Bull example. Cosworth quotes 755 bhp @ 20,000 rpm for its 2006 engine, which is basically the same spec as the 2009 engine, but with unlimited revs and a free ECU. The Toyota engine of the same year is listed at 740 bhp @19,000 rpm according to the Wikipedia article on Formula 1 engines for their 2006 engine, and the Toyota Website still says 740 bhp for the 2008 engine.

The regulations haven't allowed great gains in volumetric or combustion efficiency, so reducing losses (friction, heat, ancillaries) seems to be the primary area for gains.

Did Renault go backwards in power to retain reliability in 2007? The 2008 Autocourse quotes Pat Symonds as saying Renault's engine lacks torque at 15,000 compared to Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. Therefore it is likely that with the rev limit cut its power drop would be greater than Ferrari's. Therefore it needs the special dispensation to keep up - of course it could get an advantage if it is smart enough.

I wonder quite how good all the analysis of other teams' performance is. The Toro Rossos ran more rearward weight distribution than the Red Bulls, and claimed to have the best brakes on the grid. Better traction and later braking would lead to greater top speed all other things being equal (assuming Vmax isn't reached). The Ferrari's were reportedly getting the upper wings to stall, adding to top speed without extra power. Whether this holds water, given corners such as Eau Rouge presumably require a lot of downforce to take flat out.

Should we believe anything in regards to relative power between the engines?


domenicali has been quoted as saying that teams will be able to use 8 engines for the season (excluding fri practise i assume) - but that's probably not the entire rule on engine usage. there has been no word from the FIA on this? so we don't know for sure whether teams are allowed to change engines between qualifying and race - unless i've missed something?

as for KERS increasing engine speed, it don't think it will - it should get fed in to the powertrain between the engine and wheels


Re 8 engines per driver, did that include the test drivers? Obviously it must be per car or entry. "Was that your eight engine mate? Then sorry you are finished for the season." Now that would be effective!

Just to come back on the 18,000 rpm limit, obviously the torque curves are different for the Renault and Ferrari engines however I remember from my college days that the torque and power curves are different as are the heat output and consumption curves. (mind this was in the days of BHP with a real brake to measure it, Damn great thing with springs and chains over a flywheel, wow I'm old!) (I'll just chuck in here too that the calculations were all made using a log-log slide-rule and a planimiter)

Another factor which may be relevant is the variable aero geometry, the lessening of drag on the straights will make significant (This is a cubed function) power requirement difference on full blat. Thus I expect to see similar top speeds to last year on the straight eventually. Of course this variable geometry would detract from KERS if used as a brake into slow corners. (of course it depends on what percentage of retardation effort is normally made by the KERS) OK I know they are only allowed to make two aero moves this year but obviously the most efficient use of aero is fully variable and hopefully eventually they will be free.


Just seen that Pedro dlr has said that nose changes will take longer because of the need to connect the flap controllers. though surely this can be done with near surface pushrods, though this would mean the nosecone connection to the body effectively being part of the system.

Great comment above that Ferrari got their upper rear wing to stall, that's brilliant thinking! Still I suppose that's what the megabuck wind tunnel is for.

Roll on wing warping and ABS.

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