Downforce that is. The Monaco Grand Prix not only rates as the most famous race on the Formula One schedule, but also represents a unique test for both drivers and engineers, with the tight turns and close confines unlike any others found during the season.

BMW Sauber technical director Willy Rampf revealed just how different the cars will be this weekend as he explained how the team gears up for the Monaco challenge, revealing that the Hinwil operation has been hard at work producing additions that will be seen on the F1.07 maybe just at this event.

"Monaco produces the lowest average speeds of any race over the course of the year," he explained, "There is no start-finish straight as such, which means top speed plays a very subordinate role. It's more or less a case of one corner following the next, and this highlights clear priorities.

"We run maximum levels of downforce in Monaco. And that means using parts which generate a lot of downforce, but also produce a large amount of drag. Downforce is everything here. You carry as much wing as possible and sometimes also use extra wing elements designed specially for this type of track - all, quite simply, because aerodynamic efficiency is not as important as on other circuits."

Equipped with its supercomputer, Albert2, BMW Sauber has been working on its Monaco developments at the same time as producing updates for other circuits on the schedule.

"Albert2 generally plays an important role in aerodynamics development, while a large number of parts are developed using computer-aided airflow simulation prior to testing in the wind tunnel," Rampf explained, "The work of the supercomputer is particularly prominent in the development of brake ducts. These are highly complex components which can only be optimised to a very limited degree in the wind tunnel, as the temperature of the brake discs cannot be simulated there.

"This circuit places heavy loads on the brakes, since the lack of long straights barely gives the brake discs any time to cool. As a result, the cars need large brake ducts. The modest average speeds mean that airflow through the radiator is also reduced and, to make things worse, running maximum downforce makes cooling less efficient. With the front wing set at such a steep angle, some of the air is diverted to the point where it does not flow into the radiator."

"We will be introducing totally new front brake ducts and modifications to the rear bodywork in Monaco, and we have developed a new front wing generating maximum downforce, which we used for the first time - successfully - in Barcelona. We will modify this wing again for Monaco where, in addition, we will also use, for the first time, a new power steering system that provides more feedback to the drivers. Monaco demands the heaviest steering manoeuvres of any track on the calendar, which is why we are also using completely new front suspension components, including new wishbones, push-rods and track rods."

It is not only new parts that have a role to play in the specialised surroundings, however, as the engineers and drivers need to know how best to set-up the car to combat the 'urban furniture' that comes as part of the Monaco package.

"The drivers often tend to skirt over the kerbstones, so we raise the ground clearance of the cars slightly and use softer settings for the springs and dampers," Rampf continued, "That also benefits traction under acceleration out of the many low-speed corners. The circuit is also open to normal road traffic, of course, which means it is pretty dirty and offers low levels of grip as a result.

"We will be using the softest-compound tyre Bridgestone has available, and keeping a handle on tyre wear is, therefore, critical. It is also important to find the right compromise when it comes to the traction control set-up, as this often comes into play through the many tight corners."

 

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