Alex Zanardi newsletter 2009-02-16

ALMOST THERE... Dear Friends, We are there. Yeah, we still have almost a month to go to Curitiba but our winter tests finished last week at Vallelunga and therefore I can tell you what's been their outcome and what are my expectations. I am...

ALMOST THERE...

Dear Friends,

We are there. Yeah, we still have almost a month to go to Curitiba but our winter tests finished last week at Vallelunga and therefore I can tell you what's been their outcome and what are my expectations. I am not looking for excuses but I have to admit that this season is gonna be tougher than ever for me. In lean times like these, our championship is seen by all drivers as an end point (no doubt about its good qualities) and the lack of alternative challenges ended up with creating an army of good and experts 'lance corporals' that are not gonna make any gift.

The real problem for outsiders like myself, will anyway be the cancellation of all the weight handicaps given until last year due to the harvested results and the scored points. As races went by, fighting against high-ballasted drivers became a slightly easier challenge (even if I have to say that spectators had their problems in working out who was really the most handicapped driver of the group!).

From this year on, things are gonna change a bit; weight will always be the same for drivers of the same brand. Regulations say that, if necessary, the weight of all cars of a brand would be updated after evaluation of the average qualifying's performances of the two best drivers. This will obviously tend to give values along the lines of the noble concepts of sport (the best always in front) but will take away a chance from those like me that was struggling to get up there with their resources alone. Nevertheless, I am convinced that I can have my saying and I reckon that in case I could get the same satisfactions obtained in the last seasons the new regulations will increase their value even further.

The new sequential gearbox is working fine. This should not be on the news; at the end of the day a lot of racing cars have it and the technology is relatively easy. Anyway, BMW Motorsport, after building it did not invest too much time in twicking it, especially in terms of power cuts during shifts. Everything is based on stopping electrical flows to the plugs for a bunch of milliseconds necessary to allow the shift without having to release the gas manually. This seems like a pretty easy power cut but, in reality, this influences quite a lot shift speed, engine push and gearbox's life.

Developing all this within a few testing days, alone and without a clear starting point is not easy but I am confident and hopeful in the good job done.

Gearbox will not award us with chronometric advantages. On tracks like Vallelunga, for example, there is not a big difference in performances between the H shaped, 5 speed gearbox and the sequential with six. Clearly, the second version and the thirty handicap kilograms imposed by rule can end up with worse performances.

On other tracks, whereby at the end of the main straight one goes much faster, and to do that you have to keep your gears more spaced. In these situations (like at Curitiba) the advantage of an additional gear balances the ballast and gives something more in situation like the start (from idle) of race two, overtakings, traffic of the first corner and all those messes in which I usually I put myself in due to my condition.

Do not expect a lot more of chrono exploits than in the recent past because things will get more complicated, especially in qualifying. But you do not get points on Saturday therefore I hope I can award you with a good recovery in the opening race in Brazil and with a "Zanna" tougher than ever. And. well if the 'doughnut will have the hole' in qualifying too, then I will happily get all these words back!

Bye everyone,

-credit: alex zanardi

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Series WTCC
Drivers Alex Zanardi