Major revisions to the first couple of corners on the new Nurburgring track will provide an additional challenge to the teams as they search for the ideal set-up for the race. Scuderia Ferrari-Marlboro's estimates of the new track layout adds ...
Major revisions to the first couple of corners on the new Nurburgring track will provide an additional challenge to the teams as they search for the ideal set-up for the race.
Scuderia Ferrari-Marlboro's estimates of the new track layout adds around 15 seconds per lap to the lap times, but just what it will mean in terms of fine tuning the set-up on race weekend will not be known until the cars take to the track on Friday morning.
Technically it is quite a challenging track. Although a fast to medium fast track, its one that sees the team run a maximum downforce configuration on their cars. However, that set-up could change for the race if the cars are not starting at the front end of the grid; for they will need their best straight line speed in order to be in a position to overtake, either at the end of the pit straight, or under braking into the back chicane, the two favorite passing points at this track.
"The Nurburgring is one of those tracks where the chassis can be very responsive to small set-up changes, so it is a big challenge to get it just right," points out Brawn. The job will perhaps be complicated by the introduction of a new aerodynamic package on the cars, which will appear in practice only. A new engine cover and aerodynamics changes around the rear wheels are expected to be used on Friday and Saturday, but are not planned for the race, because they are not expected to be ready in time for the team to carry out the usual full race distance reliability testing for any new developments.
They are the first changes in a series of aerodynamic modifications that are progressing out of the Ferrari wind tunnel. "We have been using our old wind tunnel for conceptual work and the fruits of these tests are starting to come through onto the car since the end of May. We have more on the way including a new special high-speed aero package for Monza," says Brawn, the team effort clearly not resting on their early season laurels.
Ferrari sees the next few races as a critical stage in the season in their 2002 challenge. "It was at this time last year that we managed to pull out a good lead over Coulthard and we hope to repeat that over our rivals this year," explains Brawn, Schumacher already enjoying a 43-point lead going into the mid-season race.
Weather is always a big question mark at the Nurburgring, which can upset the best-laid plans. Ferrari and their Bridgestone partners have done extensive wet weather testing since the beginning of the season and are confident that they have a good tyre for whatever the weather might present them.
The smooth track surface of the Nurburgring does not present any particular tyre wear problems, Ferrari anticipating a medium soft tyre for the race which is traditionally a two-stop race that allows plenty of scope for some inspired race tactics to gain an advantage over the opposition - something for which Ferraris dedicated technical staff are constantly working.