Ferrari hopes flexi-wing row over
|By Jonathan Noble||Saturday, August 28th 2010, 08:06 GMT|
Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa hopes the tougher stance taken by the FIA over moveable bodywork brings an end to the ongoing controversy about flexible wings in Formula 1 - as he reiterated has never done anything to try and get around the regulations.
In the wake of complaints from a number of teams - especially McLaren and Mercedes GP – that Ferrari and Red Bull Racing could have been illegally using flexi front wings, the FIA has introduced a series of new tests for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix and for Monza in a fortnight's time.
In an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT at Spa, Costa said he was hopeful the new tests would end the grumblings from rival outfits – although conceded that much would depend on the attitude of those unhappy about the matter.
When asked if he thought the Monza tests would silence the issue once and for all, Costa said: "I don't know. I don't know what these teams have in mind. If they decide to concentrate on their own car, rather than keep looking around, then yes it will be finished. That is all I can say.
"We are speaking with the FIA, we can show them any evidence they want, we are making available any data or telemetry to help them understand how we operate with the car. There are no secrets.
"The front of the floor is bottoming and there is an FIA load to check on flexing – you can have a maximum deflection of 5mm within 200kg. In the more recent races, when we have done the test our floor has, with 200kg, had just a 2-3 mm deflection. So there is nothing strange there. We are well within the margins."
Costa says there is a straightforward explanation for why his team's front wings run closer to the ground than some other teams – and actually thinks it more astonishing that rival outfits are not operating their cars in such a way.
When asked if he had been surprised by the reaction from McLaren and Mercedes, Costa said: "Yes. We have been very, very surprised because the front wing, in our case, is designed for minimum weight. As always when we design wings, like when we design other elements of the car, there are FIA requirements and you need to respect these requirements. Then you design the component for the minimum weight possible for that requirement – which we did.
"So I am very surprised hearing that there are wings that are probably much stiffer than the FIA requirement. This means that they are very conservative in their approach, which is not our business. Really we do not understand this behaviour.
"Also in terms of the front wing height, the wing runs so low because it is a choice of our static pitch position, of our front suspension stiffness, of our suspension geometry and characteristic – and that means we can obtain that height. So we do not understand what they are complaining about."
He added: "I don't know why, but it seems that there are a couple of teams who are developing their aero characteristics in a different region in terms of settings and set-up. We would never run the car as Mercedes and McLaren run theirs – our car would not be good to run so high at the front and so low at the rear."
Costa believes that McLaren and Mercedes could easily run their front wings closer to the ground if they wanted, through changing their set-up.
"In my opinion, they are running, through their choice, not as stiff as we are running," he said. "They are not running as low as we are running. They are running much more horizontal with their set-up, more flat, so they have an aerodynamic characteristic of their car which is completely different. Or, they are bottoming much less – and they have a problem if they bottom in certain conditions.
"I think it is down generally to the characteristics of the car – or they are using it as an excuse. As I see it, the reality is that Ferrari has increased its performance by more than one second in the last five races. We have brought a huge amount of development.
"The exhaust system (blown diffuser) has been working very well. And, as well, we have done a nice development on the rear blown wing and other bodywork parts – and the car is improving every race. It was down to a genuine performance development, and nothing related to this business."
Red Bull's RB6 passed the new FIA front wing deflection test at Spa on Friday night, and Ferrari is expected to be subject to an examination at some point over the weekend.