This weekend’s Australian Grand Prix is the most eagerly anticipated race for a very long time.
If the sport had become a bit predictable in recent years, then this season is the antidote: never mind whose going to win Round 1 in Melbourne, the bigger question is who is going to finish, or perhaps even the question should be asked, who is going to be able to start?
During winter testing, the emphasis was very much on reliability, but now it’s time to go racing, so, ready or not, the teams have to consider the practicalities of getting through a grand prix weekend.
“On the mechanical side, there’s a huge increase in complexity, so just working out the best way to build the car, change parts, rebuild it and how to be best prepared in Melbourne is a major task,” explained Ferrari engineering director Pat Fry.
“Through the tests we worked 24 hours a day, running shifts to ensure that the car was ready, but once we get to Melbourne we are more restricted by the rules regarding what we can actually do and how many hours we are allowed to work.”
Fry reckons that the whole ‘face’ of an F1 weekend is about to change, “In the past, the reliability of Formula 1 cars has been incredible, but this year, their sheer complexity means it will be challenged, particularly in Qualifying and the race.”
While these initial concerns with reliability will dominate the early races, the actual management of the new powertrain is going to be an interesting new puzzle for engineers, and also the drivers.
“In some races, we will be fuel limited and we will have to work out the best way to save fuel,” added Fry.
“Effectively we will be balancing electrical energy against fuel consumption and it’s our job to work out what the best combination is for the race.”
And once the teams get on top of that, there are all the other “traditional” factors such as aero performance and tyre management that haven’t just gone away.
The one area where Scuderia Ferrari has no concerns is in the men who drive these techno wonders. Fernando Alonso and his new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen have three world titles and three Melbourne victories between them. (Ferrari)
Subbed by AJN.