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Still 'lots to do' on F138, worries Pat Fry

2 February 2013

Ferrari's technical director Pat Fry was sounding anything but happy and relaxed at the launch of the team's 2013 challenger at Maranello on Friday. In fact, he looked like he had the mother of all to-do lists endlessly cycling through his head, together with a keen awareness of the clock ticking away valuable seconds.

"For me, our progress can never be quick enough," the Englishman admitted. "I feel we still have quite a lot to do to improve.

"In terms of the launch car, we have done a good job on the mechanical installation and the design, we have hit all our stiffness targets and saved a lot of weight," he said, looking on the upside - before then worrying that the car was still "a long way behind" on the aerodynamic front.

"The biggest challenge was the aerodynamic side of things, as we started maybe three months later than is normal," he said. "We have quite a lot of catching up to do and you will see quite a lot of changes coming after the launch."

So how much of this is legitimate concern over how the F138 will perform in next month's season curtain-raiser in Melbourne, and how much of it is down to a perfectionist worrying about vanishingly small details?

"I am never going to be happy unless we arrive in Melbourne and prove to have the quickest car," Fry admitted. "We will have a better idea of what our true performance level is come the third test but I'm not going to be happy until we are clearly quickest."

That's a pretty tall order for the team, given that several other cars on track in 2012 seemed to have the edge over Ferrari on raw pace. Fry's task is not helped by the fact that the technical specifications and regulations have been broadly stable year-on-year, making it harder to find areas to improve on or to develop any new tricks with which to steal a march over their rivals.

"We are not allowed to make direct modifications to the engine in terms of performance," confirmed Luca Marmorini, Ferrari's Head of Engine and Electronics, who works with Fry in the team's technical department.

"The car has changed in subtle ways, some areas more than others, but in general, the F138 is a development of last year's car," Fry agreed, echoing similar comments from the other teams to have unveiled their 2013 cars so far this week.

"This year's car is more of an evolution than a revolution, based on similar concepts to the F2012. In all the little areas of performance where we think we can gain something, we have looked for those gains," continued Fry. "You have to go after every last little bit of performance."

"Whenever rules remain unchanged the engineers concentrate their efforts on weight reduction, weight distribution and producing components to the very highest feasible level," added Corrado Lanzone, Ferrari's Head of Production.

"When it came to the F138 our two priorities were weight reduction and miniaturisation," Lanzone continued. "Miniaturisation, especially at the rear end of the car, allows us to come up with designs of aerodynamic components which give us a gain in terms of aero efficiency points and, eventually, in lap time."

Key to the team's strategy coming in to 2013 was to undertake an obsessively detailed review of the past season's performance, and to implement the first steps of a resulting comprehensive overhaul in the team's organisation and work methodology.

"We have reviewed all last year's races, to see what we did right and what we did wrong, in terms of strategy and we need to learn from that," Fry explained. "In the last eighteen months to two years we have made major changes to our methodology and we are partway through a process, and I am pleased with the progress we have made so far."

Fry agreed that impressive technical reliability had been one of the major assets of Ferrari's world championship campaign last season, and that this had to maintained - or even bettered - in 2013.

"We could say we were lucky at times last year on the reliability front, but you make your own luck and it reflects on the amount of work done back here at the factory," he said. "We must continue to work to be as good or even better on this front this year."

"We worked mainly on improving our reliability when it came to the engine that will power the F138," agreed Marmorini, who explained that while engine development might have been froze, developments in fuel and improved lubricants were crucial in delivering an engine that will last the required distance while still performing at peak levels throughout its lifetime.

"The engine has been modified in the area where it connects to the chassis and gearbox in order to make the engine work better as a component of the car as a whole," Marmorini added.

Unchanged regulations also mean that there will be few changes in the area of electronics in 2013. "Our main aim here was to reduce the weight of the electronic systems in the car," confirmed Marmorini. "On the KERS front, we believe the one we first developed for 2009 is the one best suited to F1, in that it is compact with the components grouped together centrally under the fuel cell.

"However, there is one important new element for this season: for the first time we will use the TAG 320 standard electronic system that will form the basis of the one that everyone will use in 2014," Marmorini revealed." Use of this new ECU has also meant developing new software and testing it, as well as developing specific new programming tools."

Away from the car itself, the team is also focusing on improvements in other key performance areas for race day.

"We are trying to improve our pit stops still further and we have made some changes in that area," Pat Fry said. "Hopefully we can gain another couple of tenths off our pit stop time. On average, we were consistently the best in this area last year.

"But you cannot afford to stand still, otherwise you find yourself dropping behind: we need to catch up to the level of teams that were quicker in pure speed terms even if they had more problems at their pit stops," he cautioned.

Whether all these small incremental changes and improvements really will deliver the extra edge that Ferrari needs to clinch the driver and constructor titles over Red Bull in 2013 remains to be seen, but it's clear Ferrari are determined to pull out all the stops in their efforts to emerge with one or both championships this season.


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