Sunday, April 24, 2005
Ferrari, with technical partners Olympus, have developed a system to inspect inside the 055 engine without stripping it down. The spark plug cover is removed (B) and an optical probe (A) inserted with a miniaturised camera. This sends images to a screen with resolution 1.5 times that of a plasma or LCD unit, providing highly-detailed pictures of the V10's inner workings. This tool is especially useful this year, now that engines must last two race weekends.
After complaints about illegal use of flexible rear wings in the first rounds of the season the FIA has brought in more stringent testing in time for the San Marino race. With a 50 kilo traction (horizontal) load applied at three different points of the wing, an identical vertical load is now also applied at the same points to check whether the wing would flex up and down at speed - a tough test given the thinness of the wing at this point.
Imola sees the debut of Minardi's new car, totally different in concept to its PS04 predecessor. The lower sections of its sidepods are very narrow, as is the car's rear end, making it resemble the 2005 McLaren and Renault. The aerodynamics behind the project look strong and include these double plane winglets, completely new to Formula One.
Imola is tough on brakes, so power and cooling is paramount, leading many teams to adopt McLaren's solution of radial, square-section channels to improve bite. These increase friction between disc and pad, improving stopping power in the first part of the braking procedure. This initial power is crucial, because as the car slows further, decreasing downforce cuts braking efficiency.
An interesting change for Imola. Two large horizontal flaps have been placed over the main wing profiles, with the inner edge connected by a thin pillar and the outer edge joined to revised endplates. This provides a huge amount of additional downforce, but adds surprisingly little drag - important at this circuit, with its high speeds and heavy braking zones.
For Imola these sport a square cut on their top rearmost edge, so as to reduce drag at high speeds. The design resembles closely that on the Renault R25, even though the concept is completely different, with the Renault one believed to rely more on clever use of the wing material's elasticity.