Q & A with Bernard Dudot

David Cameron: Obviously in Imola there were a number of technical problems on the cars, with respect to the brakes and the fuse in the ECU.

Q & A with Bernard Dudot

Bernard Dudot, GP2 Head of Engineering: The fuse, yes. Saying the ECU is the wrong information, and I'm not comfortable with that because it's not the fault of Magneti Marelli ­ it's a completely different part of the system, it's an electric part, the problem of the fuse.

DC: Was the problem a surprise for you?

Dudot: The problem was very strange because we had already run with this device with the same type of protection, but we made a small improvement and the box should make it work normally. But the problem was that sometimes the double current inside the fuse works back because, sometimes depending on the RPM of the engine, you can have two injectors coming on at the same time for a small period, and for this small period the current is very high, is completely different, and the fuse breaker would go off.

It's purely a problem of circumstance because on such a track sometimes you don't have this problem, and at other tracks it can happen. It's our fault, but this project is a very long project, and we don't have enough experience with the car from a technical point of view in some areas ­ the main area is in the control unit, but also some areas of electronics, some mechanics at the moment, but not too much. But it's getting better and better ­ in Barcelona I really believe we will be in a much more comfortable situation.

DC: In any new series you can obviously expect some technical problems, but were the number of problems surprising to you?

Dudot: Yes, I agree, we are very, very unhappy about that because for the image it's not good at all, for the teams it's not good because our target is to give to the teams the right level of quality, because normally it's a pretty high level and just before Formula One, and I think that the level of quality should be very close to the Formula One level ­ that is the target, and for me the target is to be perfect at this level.

DC: To that end you went out to Paul Ricard on Monday and Tuesday to sort out these issues, and I've noticed a number of changes on the car ­ are you happy with where you're at after the test?

Dudot: Yes, because for me everything must work exactly when I would like it to work, properly, very methodically, and step by step you understand the car better. And you have an evaluation step, an innovation step and now we homologate the various things on the car for this event, and we've done that.

DC: Let me run through the new parts that I've noticed on the car ­ you've obviously got the new Brembo brakes; are you happy that this is the solution?

Dudot: Yes. Before we homologated both Carbone Lorraine and Brembo ­ we had the same knowledge of both, but unfortunately Le Castellet is not a very strong circuit to test the brakes, and the [old] brakes were only tested at Ricard, which is not the best way to do it. And also, unfortunately, one of the tracks that is the hardest on the brakes is Imola, which was the first race for GP2! We had everything together to have a bad result! But I think that now we have to modify maybe a very small area of the brakes, but I think that with this new Brembo installation it should be perfect.

DC: I also noticed you have some new radiators.

Dudot: Yes. As you will be probably aware we were had a little problem there, on both sides ­ in this current situation we should be perfectly good. But I think that you have to do better because in the middle and at the end of the season it will be very, very difficult, probably up to 45 degrees [Celsius], which is very high, so we have to prepare right now for some new solutions to be ready for the middle of the season.

DC: It looks to me that the right side radiator is actually a bit bigger than the left ­ why is that?

Dudot: Because this car is being developed step by step ­ I think that in the beginning the thermal balance was incorrect, and this is the first development from Dallara that takes into consideration this wrong thermal balance, and the point is that they need to increase step by step the oil and the radiator ... now we're not bad, but it's not enough under extreme conditions, and we'll have to do probably the same on the right side.

DC: I noticed there is a modification to the oil system attached to the engine now.

Dudot: Yes ­ I have to explain it to you. It's an additional outlet tower, because the problem is, for whatever reason, the catchment tank will let out some oil through the airbox because you have a catch tower circulating through the airbox because the regulations are like that, and sometimes you have some oil coming from the oil tower and going through the airbox. And, according to the information we have, sometimes we lose a little of the oil level, and sometimes we have to run with a higher level of oil when we are not sure to have enough oil for the whole race, the big race on Saturday. But it will be corrected for Monaco, and for the time being we will use this additional outlet.

DC: Is this anything to do with a problem [Ernesto] Viso told me about, when he ran out of fuel in qualifying and showed me his engine afterwards ­ his exhaust piping was blue in comparison to [teammate Hiroki] Yoshimoto's, the exhaust outlet was jet black, and he said there was something forcing the fuel through his engine too quickly.

Dudot: I'm not sure exactly what his problem was, but it could be a problem with misfiring or something like that, because we had one or two cars suffering from misfiring for whatever reason, and it might have been to do with the electrics ­ not the ECU! ­ but I think that it is corrected now.

DC: Is there anything else new on the cars?

Dudot: No, and I think we shouldn't have too many problems. We will have, for example, normal starts from now ...

DC: There was a supposed problem with the clutch in Imola which led to the rolling starts, although it was always the same drivers who had the problem, so it was probably more of a driver problem!

Dudot: Yes, and they are new drivers, a completely new car, a new device to move the clutch [indicates hand clutch behind a steering wheel] which is not easy to do. It takes time to learn ­ for some drivers it is fine now, for some drivers it was uncertain, and for sure then it was too dangerous to start like that because if you have one or two cars stalling on the grid it could be very dangerous.

DC: Now of course they've had pitstops in Imola, so it should be okay.

Dudot: Yes, and I think the improvements, the small modifications made should make it not so difficult for the drivers to start properly with the clutch.

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Series FIA F2
Author David Cameron
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