This weekend's Italian Grand Prix will mark the race debut of the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team's new B-spec challenger. Originally scheduled to race last weekend in Turkey, the introduction of the new car was delayed until the FIA's ...
This weekend's Italian Grand Prix will mark the race debut of the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team's new B-spec challenger.
Originally scheduled to race last weekend in Turkey, the introduction of the new car was delayed until the FIA's stringent crash test requirements were fulfilled. Now compliant with regulations, drivers Sakon Yamamoto and Adrian Sutil will give the B-spec its first race weekend appearance during the opening free practice session next Friday.
Sakon and Adrian will go to Italy with a solid understanding of the car, having already completed a successful two-day test last week at Monza. Sakon and Adrian both had one day each behind the wheel of the B-spec, covering nearly three race distanced between them with no major mechanical issues.
The new B-spec explained
"There are two new main areas where the B-spec car differs to the A-spec," explains Spyker F1's chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne. "The first is mechanical, the second is aerodynamic. Mechanically, we have revised the rear suspension geometry, specifically replacing the rotary dampers with linear ones."
"The gearbox is also a new design targeted at complying with the new 2008 gearbox rules where each 'box must be used for four races. Although we won't be running it for four races this year, it does ensure that we can get lots of data for next year when the rules come into play. The engine installation has also been reviewed to make cooling resources lighter, more compact and much more efficient."
"The other major update is the aero package. Apart from the chassis and nosebox, every other area has been revised. The front wing flap, endplate, barge boards, sidepod inlets, radiator outlets, rear wings, floor and diffuser are all new and the bodywork has been modified, so everything apart from the monocoque and nose is new."
Work for the B-spec started over the winter. "The team first mooted the idea of an updated 2007 car after the close of the 2006 championship. We knew the Ferrari engines could not be delivered until the New Year, when design work would necessarily be far advanced with the A-spec car and large modifications could not be incorporated."
For any team, not least the smallest outfit on the grid, such a major update mid-season is no mean feat, but Gascoyne is confident this was a necessary step. "We could have produced updates for the A-spec car but these would have been fairly minor compared to the step we hope to make now."
"It's a big update both mechanically and aerodynamically, and when you have such a major change, everything interacts with other areas, so new parts that are developed don't necessarily work with the original settings. Under these circumstances we decided to take the jump and bring everything in at once."
With the updated team wind tunnel at Brackley ready to switch to 24 hour running imminently, the B-spec car is just the first step in the team's development cycle. "We are in the process of final commissioning of the wind tunnel and very soon it will switch onto 24 hour running. Combined with the Aerolab programme, this means the aero development will be much improved."
"The B-spec is just really the first step of the development process. For each subsequent race until the end of season we have updates in the pipeline leading onto a very intensive development programme over the winter and onto next year's car."
Gascoyne is confident that the recent setback of the car failing its rear-impact test will have no impact on the success of the programme in coming races. "We passed the crash test at the first attempt after the Turkish Grand Prix. We were really trapped by the structures we already had in production before Turkey but we did have structures available after that weekend which we could incorporate our findings into and make larger changes, and we passed at the first opportunity as we were confident we would."
"Of course it's disappointing not to have the new car in Turkey, but ultimately this race would just have been an extended test session for us as we had only done a 50km shakedown beforehand. Now we have had two days' testing at the circuit where the car will make its debut."
Where will the Spyker team be in the next race? Gascoyne is hopeful of a tangible improvement. "We could see an increase in our race and qualifying race pace and be up there in the mix of the midfield if everything works out. We would like to think the update could see us competing with people around us and when you're in that position anything can happen. This is just the start and there are many areas of the car we will revisit -- there is a lot more to come from this team."