St. Petersburg commentary from Risi Competizione Technical Director Rick Mayer. We did well here last year. The 62 drivers know the track and we probably have a better handle on setup than our competitors as the track, our tires and the...
St. Petersburg commentary from Risi Competizione Technical Director Rick Mayer.
We did well here last year. The 62 drivers know the track and we probably have a better handle on setup than our competitors as the track, our tires and the Ferrari 430 chassis are virtually unchanged from last year; our setup should be close off the truck. Let's hope so, there's not much track time.
St. Pete is an uncommon street track with the entire course being asphalt, but there are still pavement changes between sections, on and off camber portions and of course bumps. Most street courses have a fair bit of concrete; corners, or apex patches but not St. Pete (at least last year). The course has a mix of corners; high speed and low speed. The bulk of the corners are slow second gear but the fast ones are difficult for the GT2 cars as they're fast (but not flat) and you need to use the entire wall- bordered track; to be quick consistently is difficult and risky, the walls are unforgiving. The Peterson 430 Ferrari was unlucky here last year and found the wall in the exit of turn 3 in the race.
The setup tends to be similar to Sebring; bumpy. St. Pete has more low speed corners and a low top speed (140Mph). Max down force will be the setup for all the classes. The slow corners require a good entrance; stabile rear and not too much under-steer off brake to the apex and good exit grip on power (goes without saying). Passing is difficult, potential passing areas are in the braking zones, late braking goes back to having a stabile car going into the corner. Dampers will be important as you have to be good on the bumps and stable for the high speed sections. The curbs are pretty big here (most are the bolt- in temporary type) so using much of the curbing will be difficult. There were several incidents with cars bounding off the curbs and damaging or crashing cars last year; in practice and the race.
For sure the Porsches will be quick here as they have more low end power, bigger tires (the 1225kg cars run GT1 size tires) and less weight. The Porsches received a weight break of 25Kgs (down 55lbs) for Sebring. The balance of the GT2 field wasn't a threat at Sebring; we'll see how far they have developed. The Michelin shod cars should still benefit from a grip advantage.
Strategy will be important here (more then usual) as this is a short race (1:55). All the GT2 cars can go an hour on fuel (but just). Yellows are likely, as they were last year. The field is bigger and the number of GT2 cars has increased. Passing will be difficult, and the race short, so qualifying is more important then just bragging rights, you need to get out front and stay out front. The current weather forecast has a good chance of rain. Street courses are tough in the rain, the oil comes out of the track (street car drippings) and the grip is poor and inconsistent. You'll need to be lucky and good to win this one. Let's hope our luck changes from Sebring.