13 April 2012
Chinese GP – Friday press conference – Pt.1
Just die like a man! Get on with looking at what possibilities are open, having accepted that this is a perfectly OK system to put on the car.
Is it something that you think every technical director will now be looking at?
Well they'll certainly need to decide whether or not the cost and expense… well it's not so much expense, the opportunity-cost of doing that system is higher than developing the things they had in mind otherwise. And that's exactly the same choice we'll face in our team.
Paddy, a question about Lewis' gearbox. How come it was only discovered yesterday?
Well it's a bit of a disappointment. We were able to notice a problem as a result of analysing some oil samples that showed a problem that's developing in the rear of the gearbox. It could still work but the risk of a failure during the race itself is too great and a much greater penalty from that than would come from a five grid-place penalty. So very disappointing for everyone, particularly Lewis, to start a race weekend in that way on the back foot. But, y'know, we'll do the best with what we have. Try to get pole position so that at worst he'll be in sixth.
On a completely different subject, we have a Mugello test coming up, we haven't had an in-season test for several years now, to what extent has simulation etc overtaken that? Or is it still invaluable?
It's still very, very valuable. Simulation has grown a great deal in the last few years and we do depend a lot more on in. In fact it pushes the testing in a slightly different direction, in the same way you saw this morning we were running on Lewis' car a big sampling array for aerodynamic pressures. We're using these tools in order to validate our simulations. So we increasingly use testing in order to calibrate the simulations we're doing in the office. So, it's very, very important still. I think what's happened is that we've moved the testing bias towards Fridays rather than the tests that used to occur between each race. We get the job done, we just do it probably more efficiently really by using the race practice. Mugello will allow a few other things. It's a redistribution of where we put the effort. We used to have that test in the pre-season period. That's been moved to April. It allows us to do a few different things mid-season that we wouldn't have been able to do. It's a lot more work actually, that we haven't been used to but it helps us make a step mid-season.
Pat, obviously the problems with the car. How fundamental are those problems?
I think we have a reasonable understanding of them and the areas we need to be working on. It's like all these things, there's never a golden bullet, it's not a light switch you can turn on. You might have the idea of, 'OK, that's the problem' but it's hard work to try and fix it. And you're not going to change it around in a week. Everyone is working very hard to fix all those issues and then get back on a sensible development curve.
And really you discovered those problems some time ago. Is it a surprise not to have seen more bits on the car since the last race?
I think there's a number of different issues that we've had, the most obvious one from the early testing was the exhaust system where we were struggling with what that was doing to the rear tyres. I think we now understand that and are on top of that – though we haven't run that style exhaust system since the first Barcelona test. The other areas have come to light where we knew we had the problems [but] we didn't know where and we were really learning that through the last Barcelona test. And then to fix problems it's not the work of a minute. Here there are quite a few new parts on the car. There will be another set of updates, bigger updates, coming through for Barcelona. It's a race of upgrading. We've got a lot of upgrades coming through but so does everyone else around this table.
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