Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Its “Showtime!”

The pre-season festivities of the upcoming Formula 1 season began with the launching of Ferrari’s 2008 challenger at Fiorano. Interestingly the press release noted the chassis’s increased weight due to the rules changes imposed for 2008, which center around the new standard electronic control unit. (SECU)

This SECU is mandatory for all teams in 2008 and is the product of McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) and is the heart of the FIA’s reduction of electronic “Driver Aids.”

“These changes to the technical and sporting regulations in terms of electronics, alongside the introduction of the SECU, have led to the removal of a host of driver aids, such as traction control and engine breaking and the electronically assisted starting system, and also mean that management of the differential, engine and gearchange are much simpler.

Other new technical regulation changes for 2008 are: “Gearbox, which must be used for four consecutive events; Safety, with the introduction of higher side protection around the driver's helmet and Materials, with a limit to the type of composites that can be used.”

Thus not only have these myriad of changes caused many teething problems while switching over to the SECU, but chassis weight has increased, although the various team engineers have been working flat out to recouperate these performance losses.

Not surprisingly, Ferrari as well as all other top teams have decided to NOT unveil their true 2008 bodywork, as the nefarious business of “Spy vs. Spy” sees teams loathe to reveal the shape of countless hours spent in the wind tunnels to the opposition. Therefore look for all major teams to sport totally “tweaked” bodywork in Melbourne. As McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh noted at the McLaren launch; “There’s only 68 working days left ‘til Australia.” (OOPS! Now there’s only 67!)