Tyre change not only reason for struggles – Ferrari

2013 F1 season

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Singapore, 2013Ferrari’s decline in performance during the 2013 season is not solely down to the change in tyre compounds according to chief designer Nikolas Tombazis.

Having won two of the first five races this year Ferrari have slipped back from the pace-setters in recent races. Fernando Alonso said last week the new tyres Pirelli introduced after the failures which occured during British Grand Prix harmed their championship chances.

“That change occurred after the German Grand Prix, when the tyre belt changed from being metallic to being made of Kevlar,” said Tombazis. “However, it would be somewhat superficial to blame the tyres as the only reason for our decrease in performance.”

Tombazis said Ferrari had taken “development steps that were not as strong and didn’t work”. Ferrari have been using the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne, Germany while their tunnel is undergoing improvements.

“Wind tunnel technology has been a weak point for us, compared to our competitors,” he said. “We had some problems with our flow quality so it was not as uniform as it should be and we could not run as big a model as we would have liked.”

“Our data and instrumentation was quite outdated so we couldn?t do that many runs and experiments per day, which was a bit of a drawback. The past months we spent updating it have addressed all these problems.”

Tombazis believes Ferrari will be able to keep up with their rivals’ pace of development in the future: “I am optimistic that, on this front, when we are fully up and running we will not be in deficit to our competitors.”

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30 comments on Tyre change not only reason for struggles – Ferrari

  1. Valandil (@valandil) said on 1st October 2013, 14:28

    I think you mean during the 2013 season!

  2. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 1st October 2013, 14:34

    Just a hypothesis, but, is there any rule preventing Ferrari from “renting” Fiat-linked carmakers windtunnels? I know that nowadays all carmakers have windtunnels, and I don’t know why Ferrari is renting the Toyota one, when probably Ferrari (carmaker) can lend them their windtunnel. I really can’t imagine “La Ferrari” being designed just with clay models or full CGI

    • Valandil (@valandil) said on 1st October 2013, 14:37

      Wind tunnels are extremely complicated, the Fiat one won’t be up to F1 standards. Ferrari’s road cars won’t be designed to the same spec as their F1 cars, they probably use smaller models, lower speeds etc and the acceptable turbulence levels of the air flow in the wind tunnel is probably different among many other things I’m sure!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st October 2013, 15:46

      Its easier to rent a tunnel like the one from Toyota than to just go and use one from FIAT. Not to mention that most car producers actually like to use different scale tunnels. Either bigger to avoid having to calibrate for that, or far smaller, because its cheaper to do @omarr-pepper

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 1st October 2013, 15:50

      I expect that if Ferrari’s own road car tunnel is appropriate, then it is too busy anyway.

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 1st October 2013, 18:04

      I believe most car manufacturers use full-sized tunnels for their testing. Full-scale tunnel testing is even more restricted than the 60% scale tunnel testing by the FIA and therefore, I’m assuming that Ferrari (the car maker), Fiat, and everyone else have a full-sized one for their testing. Moreover, you can simply use a 3-D printed model for the 60% scale wind tunnel testing using a sort of plastic which is faster and cheaper; I feel like using the real car for full-scale wind tunnel testing is needed and therefore most/all parts would need to be of carbon fiber.

  3. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 1st October 2013, 15:02

    It’s disappointing that Ferrari could not set this right last winter . I think the testing ban has not helped them either to check if their correlation has been right . At least Mercedes managed to convert to 60 % scale model last year so their development of this year’s cars haven’t been as appalling as their predecessors .

  4. Ferrari I think were “caught napping” so to speak: they weren’t expecting a financial crisis and the subsequent need to reduce costs, which was a massive hit for them as they were heavily reliant on track testing.

    I think the biggest gainers from the trend away from track testing have been McLaren: their simulator is recognised to be the best of any F1 team and they have vast technological expertise in computational aspects. But they don’t seem to be maximising it terribly effectively: they may have the most computing power, but they don’t have the best correlation.

    And that’s where Red Bull have really been excelling: they know exactly what is happening with their car (most of the time – the first half of 2012 could be classed as a temporary hiatus) and can develop very well as a result, as can McLaren in fact (but they don’t seem to be as switched-on in the design phase).

    • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 1st October 2013, 16:48

      To be fair, 90% of world’s industry didn’t expect the financial crisis. It hit Ferrari more because they were the most dependent on the idea that big money and manpower will eventually bring big results. Big spenders lost to smart spenders. When the smart spenders started to win time after time, they found themselves in a very comfortable position of being able to spend big without necessity to do so. Which is enormous advantage. And now we live in a world where Red Bull having big money, smart people, great equipment and efficient team structure are pulling away, with only changes in rules temporarily slowing them down.

      As for McLaren, they just have a design hiccup. It happens. Their designers went too far with a wrong idea. Now they have to live with it and don’t repeat their mistakes next year. Sometimes going completely different way with the design doesn’t pay off, but McLaren always were the innovators and risk takers. That’s one of Red Bull’s biggest strengths – when they risk with something, it usually pays off. If it doesn’t, they always have the back up plan and swiftly pull back from the wrong path of development.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 1st October 2013, 19:29

        Are we sure Ferrari is suffering? I thought I just read, in an article basically titled ‘Even Ferrari is Going Hybrid’, about their LaFerrari, that they just came off a record year of 7300 cars sold. Of course, I realize they are owned by Fiat and maybe Fiat is down, but it sure doesn’t sound like Ferrari themselves are hurting.

        • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 2nd October 2013, 12:15

          I highly doubt Ferrari itself is in trouble. The crisis affects only middle class and lower. Rich people continues to get even richer (see Forbes) and that won’t change soon.
          But maybe sponsors are trying to reduce costs to maintain shareholders dividends despite a depressed market (due to middle and lower classes having less money).

    • Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 2nd October 2013, 4:37

      Newey still designs by hand… Could it be that a hand; controlled by a brain that is infused with knowledge and imagination can see things that computers can’t?

      • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd October 2013, 8:42

        Actually, Peter Prodromou is the Head of Aero at Red Bull and Rob Marshall is the Chief Designer. Adrian Newey has overall control of the technical team and is indeed a visionary but his 2 lieutenants are equally gifted clearly. It’s the strength in depth at Red Bull that makes them so unbeatable. In every area of the operation they have the very best people for the job from Drivers to Truckies.

        • @coefficient Thanks for that insight. Why is that Redbull personnel are not poached by other teams if they are indeed so good??

          • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd October 2013, 11:54

            Red Bull have had countless offers from rival teams for Newey, Prodromou and Marshall but to no avail. Prodromou is loyal to Newey since Mclaren days. Also, if Red Bull fear losing someone to a rival they have the financial resources required to convince key members to stay and they are more than happy to pay top dollar and incentivise to hang on to their staff. Newey will get his America’s Yacht dream bank rolled when he retires for example.

          • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd October 2013, 12:05

            Also, remember when Red Bull took the titles for the first time? Newey was given the championshp winning car and £1m as a token of appreciation. Who would want to leave that sort of working culture where effort is not only rewarded with success but with cool stuff too!!

  5. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 1st October 2013, 17:13

    If F1 fans are tiring of the Ferrari wind tunnel problems, it does not take much imagination to think how Ferrari upper management feels about this. Hopefully they now have some key people in place to help them sort these issues, especially for next season.

  6. richard said on 1st October 2013, 22:07

    they need to hire Adrien Newey….

  7. mantresx (@mantresx) said on 1st October 2013, 22:34

    Upgrading the wind tunnel is a good thing but they also have to put the right people working there, if we look at Toyota and Sauber, the teams with the best tunnels in F1, it doesn’t seem to have helped much.

  8. MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 2nd October 2013, 3:27

    Well considering the wind tunnel issue from what I remember was happening before the Tire issue and during it, they had a double whammy of issues. But I feel if they had the best car at the first 5-6 races of the year they should have been able to make good use of it and they didn’t and that is why their is one constructor going to beat them at the end of the year and another one that looks like they may get them if issues keep resulting.

  9. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 2nd October 2013, 4:30

    It’s really baffling how complicated F1 aerodynamics are, and I don’t think that I’ve appreciated Ferrari’s problems with their wind tunnel until I read your posts and did a bit or reading up. I hope they get their tunnel sorted out soon. It will be good for the sport.

    • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd October 2013, 9:14

      The Maranello F1 Wind Tunnel is still the same as the one they used when Schumacher first joined the team. These things are a huge investment and they do try to design them in such a way that delays obsolescence but it has now become hopelessly out of date and doesn’t even have a proper rolling road. Instead, they mount miniature wheels on motorised pylons to simulate the wheel totating which is Ok for last decade but now other teams like Red Bull have raised the bench mark and Ferrari needed to respond 5 years ago in all honesty.

      I think Montezemelo was hoping he could lobby for rule changes to reduce the aero domination of the sport which delayed their response and was pretty naïve really. I say this because aero is one of those black arts where regardless of the limitations inherent in the regulations you still have the available surfaces to play with and refine until your heart is content. Some hearts are more easily contented than others.

      A modern wind tunnel not only has a rolling road but can pitch and yaw the model live in real time and steer the front wheels allowing data to be captured that allows the aerodynmacists to tune the aero platform of the car to work more finely. Simulating the car in yaw is something Red Bull have become very adept at which is one reason why we see them able to retain quality downforce on the car at low speeds whilst cornering. They are light years ahead in this area!

      Furthermore, good quality wind tunnel data will inform your CFD work so the more you have the more you can achieve. The result is exponential improvements which is what we see from Red Bull as every single detail of the car is honed and honed again.

      It’s a bleak prospect but I fear the best that Red Bull’s opponents can hope for next year is for the Renault Hybrid Motor to be underpowered compared to the Merc and Ferrari. This would bring Red Bull back towards them a bit but in the cold light of day I think we will see Red Bull aero more than capable of compensating for any horsepower shortfall they may have and who knows, the Renault could also be the class of the field.

  10. Its also to with the fact that Alonso is not that much dedicated towards the development of the car as other drivers, just look at how much time Sebastian spends in the garage and with the engineers.
    On the other hand Alonso was the only person to start the winter testing last, as wanted to develop himself physically.

  11. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 2nd October 2013, 12:41

    I don’t think Ferrari can blame the wind tunnel for their current issues. They’ve been using the Toyota tunnel since at least the middle of 2011, meaning that last year’s car and this year’s car will have been developed in one of the best wind tunnels in the world. While it can’t exactly be convenient working in Cologne when you’re based in Marranello, I’d say there’s got to be some deeper, fundamental reason for their lack of success.

    A wind tunnel can only really assess what it is you’ve already created. It’s not a creative tool in itself. Identifying flow problems with your car is the first step, but you must then be able to address those issues, and this seems to be one area where Ferrari consistently fall down. Where teams like McLaren can usually iron out significant issues with their car through the season, Ferrari seem to rely on getting it right first time. If Ferrari don’t manage that, then it’s almost inevitable they will only go backwards through the season.

    The tyres are a total red herring. Ferrari were bad before the tyre change and they’re bad afterwards. The main reason for the downturn is that their competitors have improved their cars, while Ferrari have done little more than shout and stamp their feet, making excuses.

    Hopefully their new recruits can go some way towards addressing the problem, but it’ll only work if they’re prepared to take a fundamentally different approach to how the team operates. This old adage that nobody criticises Ferrari within the team is not the right approach at all. I feel like finally Ferrari ar on the verge of realising that all the history and heritage, all the trophies in the cabinet back at the factory, are worth not even one thousandth of a second on the track.

    • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd October 2013, 15:18

      I agree with what you are saying up to point and it probably is incorrect to entirely blame the wind tunnel for poor performance. However, the problem Ferrari are experiencing is wind tunnel related even though they are using the Toyota facility.

      Simplisticly, their concepts are born in designers minds, roughly rendered on drawing boards and then they become 3D CFD models and are refined in the virtual world until they see that their concept is generating the numbers they expected and they are ready to get the model builders involved. Then they decamp to Cologne with the models for some WT runs and the data they get back doesn’t quite tie up with their CFD numbers by say 10 to 15% but by then its too late. They have to go into production and hope they can tease more performance out with upgrades inspired by flow-vis runs etc. They then have a further correlation problem when track numbers don’t correlate with either their CFD or their WT numbers in the way they had hoped. All this means they are sprinting just to stand still in the development race and even slip back a bit from time to time.

      I expect Ferrari will be getting a new super computer to augment their CFD at the same time as the new WT so they can be calibrated to work in harmony. They’ve just been slow on the uptake with latest generation WT/CFD technology which as I wrote earlier is probably linked to Maranello feeling they could influence the Aero Regs to suit their setup. Unfortunately whilst LDM wasted time lobbying the FIA, Red Bull were merrily issuing blank cheques to build up their technical arsenal which is now running on-cam at full chat. Not only do Ferrari (and they aren’t alone in this) have to buy some new toys, they have to build up the knowledge bank of how to get the best out of them. We could easily see Vettel eclipse Schumacher’s records before rival teams have caught up.

  12. ..and the other reason would be Teflonso.

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