The Minardi PS02 Another Step Forward Those unfamiliar with motor racing or uninterested in the technical nuances of the sport often claim that all Formula One cars look alike. In terms of general concept, there may be some justification in ...
The Minardi PS02
Another Step Forward
Those unfamiliar with motor racing or uninterested in the technical nuances of the sport often claim that all Formula One cars look alike. In terms of general concept, there may be some justification in the statement. In terms of the detail and execution of individual cars, however, nothing could be further from the truth. An excellent example of how the "devil is in the detail" when it comes to the design of modern Grand Prix cars can be seen in the Minardi PS02, the latest in a proud line of Formula One challengers to emerge from the Italian team’s comprehensively equipped Faenza factory.
Compared with its predecessor, the PS01, the new car is significantly different, both in areas that can be seen and in areas that cannot. The first, and most obvious change is in the shape. The Minardi PS02 benefits from the extensive experience of the team’s new chief aerodynamicist, Loic Bigois, and his technical team, plus considerable time spent in the Fondmetal Technologies wind tunnel at Casumaro, a short drive north of the team’s Faenza headquarters.
As a result, Minardi’s latest challenger is generally less chiselled and more rounded in its contours than the 2001 car. Most notably, it features a raised nose section, reshaped and extended engine cover and higher sidepods with different inlets. Even a casual perusal of the Minardi PS02 also reveals a myriad of interesting aerodynamic details throughout the car. Out of sight, beneath the curvaceous bodywork, is an all-new "floor", optimised to work in conjunction with the latest slim-line version of Minardi’s unique, titanium-cased gearbox.
In terms of mechanical layout, the biggest alteration to the 2002 Minardi is the use of pushrod rather than pullrod-operated front suspension. The latter arrangement, employed on last season’s PS01 chassis, has a small theoretical advantage in terms of lowering a car’s centre of gravity but, in practical terms, is more complicated and requires more time to adjust on site.
A Formula One chassis, of course, does not exist in isolation; it is part of a "package" that also includes the engine, in this case Asiatech’s new AT02 V10. Aside from being more powerful, it is also lighter and more compact than the unit it replaces, making it easier for the team’s designers to accommodate all the necessary ancillaries around the engine. It is also more efficient in terms of cooling requirements.
"We are very pleased with the way the new car has come together," observes Minardi Technical Director, Gabriele Tredozi. "We are benefiting in particular from the fact that we have had ample‘ lead-time’ to work on the whole package. For example, we understood well what areas of last season’s car we wanted to improve, we have known for some time what engine we are using, and we have been able to put in many useful hours in the wind tunnel developing the aerodynamic package for the PS02. As a result, we are far ahead of where we were at this time last year. Now, with an extensive pre-season testing programme planned as well, we believe we are well placed to make progress on the track this coming season."
Certainly, if the well-known design adage that states, "something that looks right frequently is right" applies to Minardi’s latest Grand Prix contender, then the team has every reason to approach the new Formula One season with optimism.
Chassis material Carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb composite monocoque
Bodywork Carbon fibre
Suspension, front/rear Upper/lower carbon-wrapped titanium wishbones, pushrod-activated torsion springs/rockers front/rear, mechanical anti-roll bars
Dampers Sachs (to Minardi specification)
Steering Minardi rack and pinion
Gearbox Minardi sequential, six-speed, semi-automatic, longitudinally
mounted, titanium casing, hydraulic activation (Magneti Marelli ecu,
Differential Minardi viscous/programmable units
Clutch AP Racing triple-plate carbon
Discs Brembo/Hitco carbon
Calipers Brembo, six-piston front and rear
Pads Brembo/Hitco carbon
Cooling system Minardi-designed water and oil radiators
Cockpit instrumentation Magneti Marelli in steering wheel
Seat belts TRW Sabelt six-point harness
Steering wheel Personal
Driver’s seat Minardi
Extinguisher system Lifeline
Wheels OZ forged magnesium (13.0 x 12.0in front/13.0 x 13.7in rear)
Fuel cell ATL, Kevlar-reinforced rubber
Wheelbase 3097 mm
Front track 1480 mm
Rear track 1410 mm
Width 1800 mm
Length 4572 mm
Weight 600 kg (including driver and camera)