2014 Formula 1 season has moved at quick pace after its Melbourne season opener. After back to back races at Bahrain (night race) and Malaysia, a fortnight later, the F1 brigade is all set for China. With data from 3 races, Scuderia Ferrari engineers are looking at all the information available to drive simulation programmes in Maranello.
And while virtual car development is key, its all about real track time as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen get ready to go back on back on track at the Shanghai International Circuit for the 4th round of the 2014 F1 season. For the 2014 season thus far, Bahrain Grand Prix has proven to be the most difficult race for the Scuderia team highlighting F14 T’s weak points. “Since the Bahrain race, it’s been a very busy time for us, as we examined all areas of car performance from the power unit to suspension configurations and aerodynamic improvements,” commented Ferrari’s Engineering Director Pat Fry.
Fry adds, “We are naturally working as hard as we can on closing the gap to the top teams, with Mercedes having a reasonable lead over the rest of the field,” says the Englishman. “Currently, our first priority is to establish ourselves as the second best team. We are looking at all areas of the car – power unit, aero, suspension. We are trying to make as big a step as we can for each and every race.”
He further added, “China’s an interesting track with a good mix of corner types. It begins with the long slow speed corners early in the lap, then a mix of high speed ones in the middle sector, plus a very long straight, about 1.3 kilometres worth, where you need to tune the cars for maximum top speed. However, even with this straight, normally in Shanghai, you find yourself running more towards the top end of the downforce range and with that long straight providing the one real overtaking opportunity, I’m sure everyone will be looking to trade off speed to make sure you can both attack and defend.”
Challenges in China through 56 laps of the 5.451 kilometre track of the Shanghai International Circuit (designed by Hermann Tilke) begin with the long straight for Ferrari, which will ask questions of the still relatively new power units. Brakes will have a much easier time than in previous races, and rear tyres need to be cared for because of the load imposed by all the very long corners.
Scuderia Ferrari approaches the Shanghai weekend in its usual methodical way to see F14 T run more competitively. Kimi Raikkonen sums up perfectly what lies ahead, “We know what we have to do. The people are pushing 100 per cent, but it takes time.”
On the F1 note, earlier this week, president of the Italian Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malagò agreed with the Ferrari run survey on its website on the new Formula 1 format. 80% of voters rejected the new format dominated by fuel management and a new power unit which has done away with the distinguished sound of F1 in 2014. “I speak on behalf of Italian sports people and fans, I don’t like this Formula 1 and in my opinion it’s delivered a product that has absolutely no sense,” he said at the launch of the Italian International Tennis tournament in Rome.
“In my opinion, it’s a form of self-harm. I hope the people who run the sport look again at the rules because the way Formula 1 is now, it has much less appeal and that’s a shame as it is an extraordinary world” he added.
This Sunday’s race is the 11th Chinese Grand Prix, and Ferrari has had a 40% win rate here having won 4 times. Rubens Barrichello secured Ferrari’s maiden win here in his F2004, and Michael Schumacher secured the fastest race lap. Two years later, Schumacher kept the fight on to win. The year after, Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari won. Last year, Fernando Alonso won the Chinese GP for Ferrari.