Although the circuit configuration may have changed dramatically, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team Technical Director Mike Gascoyne will be expecting more of the same from the team at the German Grand Prix after a solid points-scoring performance at ...
Although the circuit configuration may have changed dramatically, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team Technical Director Mike Gascoyne will be expecting more of the same from the team at the German Grand Prix after a solid points-scoring performance at Magny-Cours last weekend.
Results thus far this season, combined with data from the team's simulation package, give Gascoyne reason to be optimistic ahead of the race at Hockenheim.
"As the last few races have demonstrated, we have quite a competitive car, and we can expect to score points at the finish. The package has always been good enough for that.
"Accurate maps of the new circuit give us data for our simulations, and from these we can establish a base-line set-up. There are certain elements though, like the cambers of individual corners, which we can only be sure of when we get to the circuit.
"Of course, the drivers also need to learn the track properly. This is not something we usually have to take into account on a race weekend, and adds an extra complication in terms of achieving the optimum set-up.
"A new circuit is a fresh challenge - that's definitely something we enjoy. However, we will have to wait and see the conditions in order to gauge the exact level of competitiveness compared to our rivals."
The revised layout at Hockenheim is not only significant for the modifications to the circuit, but also because of the change in character they have brought about. Set-up is no longer dictated by the defining long straights of previous years, and even the old parts of the circuit still in use will have very different characteristics.
Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds explained: "We are really dealing with a totally new circuit because although they have only modified part of it, from our point of view it's brand new.
"In the past we used to run very low drag and low downforce and that meant we had a car with far too little downforce for the corners in the stadium complex. This year the compromise moves to a higher level of downforce, and the stadium will seem like a completely new track as well."
But there are still some unknown variables which Symonds and his team will be carefully monitoring throughout practice to ensure the car performs to its full potential.
"The whole circuit has been resurfaced," said Symonds. "We don't know whether it is grippy or smooth or how bumpy it will be. Although we can quite accurately simulate the effects of different fuel loads, we lack knowledge of tyre degradation."
It might seem that the challenge is further complicated by the fact that the French and German Grands Prix run on back-to-back weekends, leaving just two days between the race at Magny-Cours and the teams' arrival at Hockenheim.
But Symonds insists the extra pressure of limited time will have little effect because of the amount of testing that is now undertaken by all the teams between races.
"It's not really a big problem," he said. "By this stage of the season we have got into a good routine. We did some work on the cars at Magny-Cours on Sunday night, and they then moved to Hockenheim, where the mechanics start setting up on Tuesday. That is standard procedure for any race.
"Of course, if we have any difficulties, there is less time to react to them but our whole business is built around reacting quickly. If we have problems at a race, we will normally look to have solutions on the car the following week at a test, so it is not really that different. Having said that, it is harder for part of the team because they are away from home for ten days."