Italian Grand Prix Technical Preview -- Q+A with Pascal Vasselon Q: Monza is now the only real low downforce venue on the F1 calendar. What does that mean for you? Pascal Vasselon: Monza is now totally atypical and we basically have to make a...
Italian Grand Prix Technical Preview -- Q+A with Pascal Vasselon
Q: Monza is now the only real low downforce venue on the F1 calendar. What does that mean for you?
Pascal Vasselon: Monza is now totally atypical and we basically have to make a special car. It needs us to develop a special low drag package because the average speed is so high. If you don't go to Monza with a special package the other cars will pass you as if you are standing still. The other aspect to Monza is the history, which makes it a very special venue. I love Italy and the more Grands Prix there, the better, as far as I am concerned.
Q: Historically Monza guaranteed slipstreaming excitement. Is it fair to say that today overtaking is difficult even there?
PV: As long as all cars are reasonably close on top speed then you have the same problem - the car in the wake of one in front loses front downforce and you can't stay close enough, especially through Parabolica, which is quick and onto the main straight. In the past, without downforce, if you stayed close the car behind just gained performance through reduced drag at no downforce cost but now there is such a big performance loss in the dirty air.
Q: With braking being critical at Monza, do you consider using different brake pads?
PV: A few years ago some teams were going to different brake manufacturers for races like Monza and Montreal but I have not seen that for three or four years because it is so important for the drivers to have the right feeling with the pedal. One of the conditions is to anticipate perfectly the variations of the pad/disc friction coefficient, which you obtain if you always stick to the same brake manufacturer.
Q: Are brakes on the limit at Monza?
PV: In terms of braking energy Monza is quite high but you also have a lot of cooling and so you can easily run in the right temperature range of the brakes. In terms of brake wear it is definitely not the toughest circuit on the calendar. Montreal is worse because you have similar braking energy with much lower average speeds, so you get much less cooling.
Q: So the gamble is simply aero gains from smaller brake ducts versus cooling?
PV: Yes, but it's not worth the gamble. There is less than a 10th of a second maximum to come from that. It is not worth running into temperature problems and, these days, we have a specific Monza test to tune everything. Deciding the brake cooling should not be a problem. It is an engineering decision so you just have to organize the test and practice sessions well to establish the minimum limits of brake cooling that you can accept.
Q: Being low downforce, is Monza more of a lottery regarding car performance?
PV: That's what I mean by the specific Monza package. You have targets and it is a question of whether you achieve them. It is a one-off but you also have to treat it as such and not spend a disproportionate amount of time on it.
Q: How else does the high-speed nature of Monza affect the car?
PV: One thing is that you take off some of the aero appendages you usually see on the car for reasons of aero efficiency requirements, but the devices that stay on the car are subject to much higher loadings and bigger aeroelastic vibrations. So you see, particularly at the test, a lot of teams losing T-wings and such like. More and more we know that we have to add some supporting stays.
Q: Does the need to ride the kerbs give you a problem?
PV: Yes, because the kerbs are high and you have to ride them otherwise you are slow. That's a bit of a nightmare because you really want to run the car low and stiff to maximize the efficiency. You simply cannot do it to the extent you would like without taking off on the kerbs.
Q: What are you expecting from the TF107 at Monza?
PV: I'm quite optimistic because the figures obtained with our Monza package show we have done quite a good job.