French GP: Ferrari preview

The Magny Cours circuit is noteworthy for two main reasons. Firstly, its very smooth surface and secondly the complete spectrum of different corners with everything from a first gear hairpin to high speed corners plus everything in between, ...

The Magny Cours circuit is noteworthy for two main reasons. Firstly, its very smooth surface and secondly the complete spectrum of different corners with everything from a first gear hairpin to high speed corners plus everything in between, including a tight chicane.

As a result, it is a challenging circuit compared to others to try and find the right set-up for the chassis, particularly concerning the ride-height and chassis stiffness. "There is a bit of kerb riding at the chicane for a quick time, but that conflicts with the stiff chassis set-up you have to have in Magny Cours, which is why the cars look a bit awkward at the chicane and there are often spins," explains Technical Director, Ross Brawn.

It means that ideal handling has to be sacrificed at the chicane in order to ensure good handling on other parts of the circuit. One of the key factors towards a quick lap time at Magny Cours is good traction, which in itself is another compromise between the slow speed traction and looking after the left front tyre, which suffers more than any other on this high-speed track which has a tendency to cause the cars to understeer.

"If you set up the car to save the front left tyre, the traction suffers, so you have to try and get low speed traction and front grip and then, as the speed increases, get the downforce to the back of the car which saves the front tyres more. This is particularly difficult to do at Magny Cours because the car is set up stiffly and thus there is very little suspension travel.

The trick is to progressively move the roll stiffness of the car towards the rear as the speed increases. It is a constant compromise between the front and rear end of the car with the front suffering on the high-speed corners and the rear on the slower corners," explains Ross.

Because of the tyre degradation, worsened by a heavier fuel load, this race is normally a two-stop event. It is usually also the first of the hot races in Europe usually followed by more hot races in Hockenheim and Hungary, so the team has been working hard on tyre testing in recent weeks to find the right tyre choice for the coming races. "We did a lot of testing in Monza recently and worked our way through a new family of compounds which provided some good information and, we hope, a better tyre for the future races."

In addition, the team will be running a revised high cooling version of the new engine cover that it ran for the first time in the Nurburgring. There will also be a new aero package.

-ferrari-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ross Brawn
Teams Ferrari