The paddock is awaiting Ferrari’s on-track response to being toppled from the head of the drivers’ championship for the first time since mid-June in India and the team today has promised this weekend will herald the start of an “aggressive” development push for the remainder of the season.
While Red Bull’s steady, and consistently impressive, rate of development over the past few races has allowed Sebastian Vettel to win three grands prix on the spin and establish a six-point cushion over Fernando Alonso at the top of the drivers’ standings, Ferrari’s bid to improve the F2012 has been stymied by correlation problems with its wind tunnel.
However, in wake of a straight-line aero test ahead of this weekend’s return to action in India, Ferrari’s chief designer Nicholas Tombazis is confident the team is back on the right path with the car.
“The data we saw in the wind tunnel did not match 100% the data we were getting from the track,” he told Ferrari’s website. “We had some unpleasant surprises from some of the updates we brought to the last couple of races, so immediately, we wanted to fix that and understand where it had gone wrong.
“Therefore we have had an aero test prior to heading off to India, where we ran control tests on these updates to really understand what the problem was. We got some very interesting answers which we believe will allow us to recover from those problems and so, our aim in this forthcoming Indian GP, will be to make up the ground we have lost.”
Although the testing of various rear wings at recent events has characterised the kind of problems Ferrari has been experiencing, Tombazis insists that “does not mean that all our work in the wind tunnel has been worthless” and says the push to find improvements has been renewed now the team is trailing in the championship.
“We don’t currently enjoy an advantage, either in terms of performance or as far as the points situation is concerned, we cannot defend, we must attack and adopt an aggressive approach to car development for these four races, bringing updates to every one of them to close the gap and fight for the wins and hopefully bring home the titles,” he added.
“Our aim is to bring, in as short a time as possible, all the developments we have tried in the wind tunnel to see how they work, confirming their performance, so that we don’t encounter the same problems as before. That way, for every race, we hope to get closer to those ahead of us so that we can fight for the wins.”
Tombazis reiterated that Ferrari will close its wind tunnel to allow for upgrades for a period of “several months”, with an external tunnel to be used in the corresponding period, and admits that while usually not ideal to use two different tunnels, it will give the team the chance to drill down on where exactly their own one has gone wrong.
He added that unlike in winter 2008/2009 there would not be any negative knock-on effects of developing right through the season: “We have the good fortune that the rules remain basically stable for next year, which means we can carry on developing this year’s car without compromising the 2013 one. The work we do aerodynamically for this year’s car can be beneficial for both. We can work on improving the weak points on the current car which will help for next year, although the main structural elements of the 2013 car are already fixed: chassis, gearbox, mechanical layout, suspension and crash structures, with the car already in production.”