Ferrari seem strangely keen to play down the benefits of their intriguing new vented nose. Nicolas Tombazis told the press:
It is not something revolutionary that will make us go two seconds quicker. More simply, it’s an aerodynamic development, like others that are perhaps less evident but maybe even more important.
However they were also very annoyed that details of the design emerged in the Italian press before the season had even begun.
Ferrari seem key to play down expectations, which is not unusual for an F1 team. It seems as though some sections of the press have claimed the trick nose is a ‘secret weapon’ which will put the team out of the reach of McLaren and BMW.
When I first saw the design I wondered if it might cause visibility problems for the drivers in wet conditions if it forced water through the aperture directly into their line of sight.
However they reported no problems last week when it rained at Barcelona as they tested the new device. I suppose it could still be a problem if they were following another car closely in heavy rain – but in those circumstances visibility is pretty dire anyway.
Even though, by virtue of the press reports, Ferrari’s rivals will have known of the design long before it was shown last week, it may prove a difficult design for them to replicate. As Tombazis explained:
The main challenge with this part was its design and manufacture as we effectively had a part which, by virtue of the slot, has less carbon fibre, less material and yet still had to conform to all the usual FIA crash tests, which it passed successfully. This was a big challenge for the people involved in producing it.
The Circuit de Catalunya is a circuit where aerodynamic efficiency is particularly critical – teams have to balance the need for maximum speed down the long straight against the need for maximum speed through the many long, fast corners. If Ferrari have a decisive advantage here, as they did last year, then Istanbul, Magny-Cours, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps will surely be easy pickings for Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa once again.
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