28 January 2011
Q&A - Nikolas Tombazis, Ferrari
Chief designer Nikolas Tombazis talks about Ferrari's new F150
When did you start thinking about the project of the F150?
We started when the previous car touched the ground. That was in late January last year. We put some basic ideas together, started talking about the new regulations and how they would influence the main parts and we set up a programme in the wind tunnel to examine the new regulations.
Which were the most important parts in this challenge?
This project had several important challenges, because the regulations are quite different from last year's. We had to reintroduce the KERS in the car. We've learned a lot about the KERS two years ago. But now we've got a new package, so the installation wasn't the same. We had to think about that a lot.
Another challenge was the mobile rear wing. This is one of the novelties in Formula 1 this year. So we had to plan a wing, which doesn't influence the performance when it's shut in its normal configuration, but which gives us the highest possible reduction regarding CD, which means highest possible speed on the straights during the qualifying or while overtaking. This was a very important project.
A third challenge war the introduction of new tyres. When you change tyres you also have to change several aspects of the car, regarding weight distribution, suspension between front and rear, but also some aerodynamic aspects. Because the Pirelli tyres are new, we've got lots of work. This is almost less important thinking about the aerodynamic aspect: this year we can't use a double diffuser. So we had to set a very ambitious goal: gaining the performance we lost without the double diffuser.
Which are the most innovative characteristics of the F150?
We've been working on different innovations for the car: some of ours and some new for Formula 1 in general. The rear suspension is really innovative, so is the rear wing system. But there are more novelties coming up regarding the configuration for the first race, which aren't in the car yet, for example something for the rear wing and the exhausts.
Personally, as the planner, would you like to have more freedom during the planning phase?
Yes. It would be nice having some more freedom and more time. The regulations are more and more restrictive, but there is a reason for that. Otherwise the cars' performances would be too high and maybe even the costs for Formula 1 would be higher than they are today. It would be very nice having more technical freedom to create even more sophisticated systems for the car. It would also be nice to have more time available between one season and the next, to work not in such a rush on some aspects of the car.
Do you think you reached the target, which has been set for this project?
We think we did. We set targets we think are very ambitious regarding the development in the wind tunnel, the car's weight and the performance of some sub-systems. We think, based on our analysis, that we've reached these targets. Especially for the car for the first race. Having said that, the regulations are new and it's impossible to know exactly where our competitors stand. I'm convinced that also they set themselves some ambitious targets. I'm confident in what we've done, but as long as we don't see the cars on the grid for the first race, it's a little bit difficult to answer this question.
A last question: do you feel obliged to win this year?
At Ferrari this is almost an obligation we have every year. And every year is the same. This is a stimulating pressure, but it never gives you a moment of rest in the work we have to do.
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