McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe expects Ferrari to be competitive in this weekend’s European Grand Prix as their rivals bring several upgrades to their F10.
Speaking during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In Lowe said McLaren weren’t bringing their version of Red Bull’s exhaust-driven diffuser until the British Grand Prix:
For the Valencia weekend we’re not promising a massive step in terms of car upgrades. Most of our efforts have just gone into making the best of this circuit. I know a number of other teams are broadcasting reasonably large updates. We’re not one of those for this particular event. But we will have a bigger package for Silverstone.
Red Bull have made interesting use of their exhaust exit flow, I think it’s reasonably common knowledge among the rest of the teams and we’re playing catch-up in that area. It’s quite a significant performance step. That’s something we’re aiming to bring to the British Grand Prix.
We’ll try to make it work from the outset but there are some technical challenges with it. Blasting your bodywork directly with exhaust flow can generate some high temperatures. So it’s not without challenges to hit the ground running with a system like that when we don’t have any proper track testing.
But we’ll be doing trials before Silverstone and hope to have it working at the practice sessions and race it on Sunday.
Ferrari are introducing their version of the exhaust this weekend. It was put to Lowe that as their Valencia upgrades were expected to improve their performance by half a second per lap that would put them within range of McLaren and perhaps ahead of them.
He agreed with that view, saying:
I agree with your maths, there. That is a concern, we’ll have to see how they get on with it. It’s a shame some others have been slightly quicker getting it to race than us. But we are where we are.
It all depends, each circuit has a different characteristic, one suits some cars and doesn’t suit others. We saw Ferrari really struggle in Turkey so we can’t predict where they’re going to end up. Neither can they predict where we’ll end up.
He said the complexity of designing the new exhausts had been the most difficult part of the develoment:
It has been a pretty major project. Not least because you’ve got to design a new exhaust system and that has many challenges, particularly when you want to do it quickly.
We are reasonably confident we’ll get the performance that we predict. We were able to test in the wind tunnel and evaluate in the simulator how these things work. I think we’re very well prepared to exploit it. The concern will be more about making sure it’s reliable for racing.
He played down the departure of Pat Fry to Ferrari, saying:
Pat was here a long time and is a great friend to all of us. We will miss him a lot from that point of view.
It doesn’t fill me with a great deal of fear that, ‘oh dear, Pat’s taken a load of knowledge with him over there’. The team’s wide, it’s got great strength across all the different disciplines.
Lowe also confirmed F1 cars will have adjustable rear wings next year: Adjustable rear wings confirmed for 2011 – but only for overtaking