Great Britain GP: new package for the F60s The trip to the British Grand Prix will be tinged with nostalgia, as the 2009 version could well be the final F1 World Championship round to be staged at Silverstone, at least for the foreseeable future.
Great Britain GP: new package for the F60s
The trip to the British Grand Prix will be tinged with nostalgia, as the 2009 version could well be the final F1 World Championship round to be staged at Silverstone, at least for the foreseeable future. In addition, there was a further element of nostalgia at the start of the week as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro conducted a test session: admittedly this "session" was a pale imitation of what the teams would normally have been doing up to the start of this season, when at the behest of the F1 teams themselves, in order to cut costs, in-season testing was banned. Monday at Fiorano was one of the aerodynamic testing days still permitted within the rules: an aero test must only involve straight line testing and the Scuderia actually had to modify the safety barriers at its Fiorano track, as usually, the Armco only presents its "soft" side to the cars depending on their direction of travel around the track. Normally, test driver Marc Gene would have carried out driving duties at this test, however, he was given the day off, having only just finished racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the day before. How did our Spanish tester get on? He won. Therefore, it fell to Felipe Massa to sit at the controls of the F60. The Brazilian tried some new aerodynamic components, including a new front wing and other parts on the front end of the car. Silverstone will also see Felipe run a new chassis, number 277, which in line with the one Kimi has used for the past few races, is lighter than the one Felipe has driven to date. The aero test also saw the F60 run with new front suspension geometry, aimed at allowing a change in the car's weight distribution, bringing it further forward. The car therefore had to complete another front end crash test, which it duly passed. The new suspension geometry is aimed at promoting more front end grip, which should help overcome one of the car's Achilles heels, namely the fact it has struggled to get tyres up to operating temperature over one timed lap, which is an essential requirement in Qualifying.
The ability to alter the car's weight distribution with a more forward bias should also be a help at a track like Silverstone: in simple terms, in fast corners -- a feature of Silverstone and the last race in Istanbul -- it is best to have the weight moved forward, whereas at slower tracks it is best to have the weight biased towards the rear. This explains why Ferrari was very competitive in Monaco, or in Sector 3 in Turkey, as opposed to the first two sections of Istanbul Park. The F60, mainly due to the installation of the KERS system, has an inherent bias towards the rear in terms of its weight distribution. And, on the subject, of KERS a new lighter version of the package will be run on both cars this weekend. Also appearing at Silverstone will be new wheel flanges and a new mounting system for them, for when the wheels are changed during pit stops. Both Felipe's and Kimi's cars will be fitted with all these updates and the data gathered at this Fiorano aero run will come in very useful in setting up the cars prior to the first Silverstone practice session on Friday morning.
Silverstone's characteristics are similar to the last venue, Turkey, in that it has several high speed corners and fast flowing sections, all leading to a slow final sector. For the British Grand Prix, Bridgestone will be bringing the same tyres as were used in the last round, the soft and hard, although they will be operating at far lower temperatures than those experienced in Istanbul.
Both Kimi and Felipe enjoy the high speed challenge of the English circuit and the Finn's memories of Silverstone extend back to winning here in his Formula Renault days, prior to his F1 victory in 2007, his first year with the Prancing Horse. Raikkonen has four further F1 podiums to his credit here. Silverstone has proved less successful for Massa, whose best finish here is fifth. The sixty lap race has usually lent itself to a classic two stop strategy, neatly dividing the Grand Prix into three twenty lap sprints. However, as we have seen already this year, the question of tyre durability will have to be studied during Friday free practice before being sure how the race strategy will pan out. At the moment, the weather forecast is for dry weather over the three days of the weekend, which will see the sixtieth running of the British Grand Prix, the 43rd and as mentioned previously, possibly the last at Silverstone. The Northamptonshire track holds many memories for the Scuderia. It was here that Argentina's Froilan Gonzalez gave the Prancing Horse its first ever F1 World Championship victory back in 1951, the first of four consecutive victories here for the Scuderia. There have been difficult memories, like the 1999 race when Michael Schumacher crashed and broke his leg and unusual ones like the 1998 event, when Michael won the race taking the chequered flag in the pit lane, or the 2003 race, when a priest ran along the track, before Rubens Barrichello made the most of it to win for Ferrari.
Racing on the home track of the majority of Ferrari's rivals has lost some of its significance, now that the British teams get no more testing here than the Scuderia, but the red cars have always been very popular with the knowledgeable British crowd who have always given the team a warm welcome.
This weekend will be all about local boy Jenson Button and his Brawn team, while Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa will be concentrating on making the most of the changes to the F60 package for this weekend, in an attempt to move up the order and out of the unusual position of underdog, which it and other usually front running teams have found themselves in so far this season.