IT'S A LONG WAY FROM SAN MARINO Just getting the Scuderia Toro Rosso team members to head for Barcelona has proved problematic. For years now, the European season used to kick off with the San Marino GP in Imola, for some of our more ...
IT'S A LONG WAY FROM SAN MARINO
Just getting the Scuderia Toro Rosso team members to head for Barcelona has proved problematic. For years now, the European season used to kick off with the San Marino GP in Imola, for some of our more athletic members, just a brisk bicycle ride away from our home in Faenza. So the idea of actually getting on a airplane to come to Race 4 has been something of a culture shock. But here we are and our STR2 cars have had a significant update since the last round in Bahrain. Chief Engineer, Laurent Mekies talks us through the changes:
"Like most teams, after the first three grands prix, we have a significant upgrade to our aerodynamic package and the major element of our update is a new rear wing," says Mekies. "Also part of the aero package update are new side pod wings. These are the two elements easy to see from the grandstands."
"In addition, the main aspect of our aero update is one that is harder to spot, but that we believe is as important as the more obvious items: we have paid very close attention to the quality of all components that affect the aerodynamics on the car. As everyone knows, we really had to rush simply to get parts ready for the first three races and the price we paid for rushing was that the quality level was not up to the standard we wanted."
"Now, we have worked on the aero quality of the parts, which involves ensuring that there is a better fit between all the bodywork components. There are a large number of bodywork components and the quality of the fit between them can have a significant effect on their aero efficiency.
"Furthermore, the flexibility or rather the stiffness of these parts, to ensure they do not flex in the wind is also important, as is the actual smoothness of each piece of bodywork. We have worked hard on the quality of the surface of our aero parts to get more performance out of them and to this end, we have now removed all the stickers from the bodywork and replaced them with paint. This not only makes for a smoother less resistant surface, it also brings with it a weight saving benefit. From an aesthetic point of view, the car also looks much nicer!"
"We believe this pursuit of efficiency is just as important as getting something like new barge boards or wing endplates. We are paying attention to detail and going for a quality product, optimising what we have. This is an ongoing task in an area where you are constantly striving to improve. The result of our efforts is that we should be in better shape for Barcelona than we were at the first three races."
While the aerodynamic modifications are the most obvious changes on the Toro Rosso cars, work has also been carried out in other areas. "We will also have some new mechanical parts that increase our flexibility when it comes to working on the car, giving us more set-up options," says Mekies.
"Over the first three grands prix, we had two reliability failures in the races. When you start the year with three flyaway races, you have to come up with interim solutions to fix reliability issues, while now we believe we have worked out proper solutions for the faults that caused the two retirements we have suffered to date."
Apart from the fact the Spanish GP is the first event after a short break in the calendar, it is also a logical choice for introducing aero changes on the car, because of the nature of the track itself. "Looking at the Barcelona circuit, it is a tricky track in terms of downforce level choices," reckons Mekies. "The layout demands as much downforce as possible, but it also has one of the longest straights of the year, made even more complicated since the recent change to the track layout."
"It is a difficult choice opting for as much downforce for pure lap time speed and yet having a car capable of overtaking. We have back-to-back tested the different set ups and we won't know how we stand in terms of top speed compared to the others until the race weekend."
One final point of interest for Barcelona concerns tyre strategy. So far this season, the tyre compounds were different enough so that, in 95% of the cases, everyone ran the same strategy: in Australia, 95% of the cars ran prime, prime option over the three stints in the race, in Bahrain 95% ran option, option, prime.
It was clear that one tyre was better than the other. However, for Barcelona we anticipate that the two compounds will be much closer than what we have seen so far, so there will be more differences in terms of team strategy which should make like more exciting for the spectators.
-credit: toro rosso