European GP - An engineering challenge The Nurburgring is a track that is loaded down with history and it has always been a place rich with a live F1 tradition, even if the current circuit is completely different to the old one, which...
European GP - An engineering challenge
The Nurburgring is a track that is loaded down with history and it has always been a place rich with a live F1 tradition, even if the current circuit is completely different to the old one, which played such an important part in Ferrari's history, from the days when it hosted the German Grand Prix.
The track is quite demanding technically and for the engineers, the key is to set up the Formula 1 cars so that they work well in terms of efficiency with the right ratio of downforce to drag. Historically, we have found that cars that go well here are very good, being able to carry quite a bit of aerodynamic downforce while maintaining good speed.
While circuit layouts are occasionally changed, new technical regulations can also alter the demands a track places on the engineers and that is the case this season, with the novelty of the V8 engines and that means the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro race engineers will have to reassess just how much downforce to run, given that no testing is allowed at this track prior to Friday's free practice session.
However, back in Maranello, the simulation department has been hard at work and so far this season, the cars have produced a surprising turn of speed with the V8. A key area at the 'Ring is to have a well balanced car, while taking into consideration the fact that it is not so easy to overtake here. While on the non-technical front, everyone in the Scuderia is aware that this is an important race for Schumacher, as it is one of his home races.
The geographical elements that give the Nurburgring its character - the beautiful mountain scenery and the forests - are also the cause of one the main elements of uncertainty in racing here, namely the weather. That is especially the case this weekend, as the European Grand Prix takes place around one month earlier than usual. Therefore, this could involve a step into the unknown in terms of temperature.
Currently the forecast is for comparatively warm weather, but hot or cold conditions do not create a problem, rather it is changeable weather that is the complicated factor. These conditions are the same for all teams, so it is the ones who make the most of this situation, who are best organised, who might get an advantage from the changing weather.
Other than that, it is a normal race in terms of strategy. The other result of the relatively high altitude of the circuit is that the engine will lose a bit of power, but again, this is down to the laws of physics and is the same for everyone.