Michael Schumacher has put 20 years into active driving in Formula One…that has to be a modern era record. This weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix takes place on one of the world’s classic tracks. The corner Eau Rouge is one of the most famous in racing.
The Formula One season has begun its summer break until August 28th when they descend on Spa, Belgium. The idea that the teams are basking somewhere in Europe on a beach, all wearing speedos with potatoes stuffed into them, are a fallacy, thank God.
The truth is the teams are running every bit of technical equipment 24 hours a day 7 days a week to get ready for the final leg of one of the most unusual Grand Prix seasons of the modern era.
Ferrari has thrown out the teaser that they will cease to develop the current 150 Italia chassis in favor of preparing for the 2012 season. They said it but rest assured everyone has updates prepared to keep the pressure on Red Bull.
What will Red Bull do? They will double up and use whatever resources necessary to defend the 89-point advantage Sebastian Vettel has.
According to Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari’s team principal: “At the start of September, we will concentrate solely on next year, because we have already defined all the updates for the 150° Italia [the 2011 car], at least up until mid-October,” said Domenicali. “Sure, if something was to change, then we would react accordingly.
He further stated, “In fact, apart from the area that concerns the exhausts, [and] on August 23 the Technical Working Group should shed some light on all the grey areas, the regulations are practically unchanged and therefore, development on today’s car can also be useful for next year.”
Red Bull has been caught and roped, but probably not tied. The competing teams of Ferrari and Mclaren have equaled RBR’s performance but the issue of anyone catching Sebastian Vettel is still something that Red Bull has to defend.
The biggest technical changes announced so far for 2012 are the ban of the blown diffuser and the reworking of the exhausts, not an insignificant change. We recall the banning of the off throttle/overrun blown diffuser and it’s reinstatement within one race, but eliminating it altogether for 2012 can be a game changer.
Depending on just how much wind tunnel and CFD (Computer Fluid Dynamics) work is done, we may see a split floor diffuser come into play. That’s an interesting little idea that has huge ramifications. Can the designers create an opening in the lower floor that will channel air to the rear, or will the air stall with a small opening? Just kidding, this is Formula One, they already know.
The aerodynamics of a modern Formula One car are so sensitive that the teams, who can afford it, have to pursue every single avenue available while simultaneously making contingent plans for the inevitable upgrades that will come.
Ferrari has stated the obvious when Domenicali says: “If you have to do some fine-tuning you can do it, but otherwise you will lose a lot of time on development of the new car,” he further stated, “The more time we can spend on the wind tunnel the better. Because for sure what I really want to avoid is another difficult winter like the last two years. Last year for instance we had a fantastic second half of the season – incredible – and could have won the world championship. But this year we did not start so well. So this year our priority is to have a much better winter.”
Indeed, the goal for all of the teams is to come out of the box with wins and podium finishes otherwise they have no insurance when the major upgrades begin to filter in as they approach the European leg of the tour.
Based on what we’ve all seen this season, 2012 has great promise in developing cars the teams already have hard information on that’s at their disposal.
Robert Kubica flat out at Eau Rouge
After all that, we still have one of the most challenging tracks on earth approaching on August 28th. Spa-Francorchamps and Eau Rouge, arguably the most frightening, or exhilarating, corners in all of motor racing.
I can’t wait to see what they’ve all come up with after this little “break”.