Hockenheim - the engineers view 22 Jul 2004
Several new car developments among the teams for this weekends German Grand Prix, especially at Toyota, where the revised TF104B is ready for its race debut. The engineers explain the changes, and the challenges that Hockenheim will present.
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director Chassis, Toyota:
"We used last week's test in Jerez to shake down the chassis of the new TF104B car. Most of the parts that make a difference to the lap time will appear for the first time this weekend. We know from simulations what kind of step we could make, but we have to wait until Friday to see how the data translates to the track. The German Grand Prix will be something of a test session for us, as we establish a baseline of the TF104B's potential. The car has an upgraded aero package, as well as a substantially repackaged chassis with lower weight and centre of gravity. The debut of the TF104B now marks the start of a renewed development process for Toyota which will take us to the last race of the season in Brazil."
Luca Marmorini, Technical Director Engine, Toyota:
"As part of the TF104B package that will race at Hockenheim for the first time this weekend, we have worked tremendously hard in the engine department to incorporate a new specification RVX-04 engine. This spec was originally intended for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, but we have pulled out all the stops to introduce the new version three races earlier than planned. We have run extensive tests in the dyno to ensure our excellent reliability rate continues, whilst introducing a performance increase of around 2%. The TF104B, as a chassis-engine package, should be a good performance gain for Toyota. As the youngest team in F1, we should all be proud of what we have been able to achieve in such a short space of time."
Craig Wilson, Chief Race Engineer, BAR:
"We have been using the last week of testing before the ban to work on chassis, engine and tyre developments in Jerez, in preparation for the forthcoming races, including Hockenheim, in order to improve both our speed and reliability in the wake of increased competition. The track layout for the German Grand Prix requires a medium compound tyre that balances the grip against heat durability, as the traction demands, and usually high track temperatures can cause blistering concerns. While the top speeds are not as high as the old Hockenheim, there is still a requirement for a substantial top speed for the race, due to the run from turn two down to the wide hairpin which provides opportunities for overtaking."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"We have been continuing with our engine development programme, and the next step will be introduced at Hockenheim. We expect it to give us a performance improvement, and development will continue to the end of the season in an effort to improve our position in the championship."
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams:
Hockenheim is a great track for overtaking, particularly on the long straight from turn two down to turn three, which also has the added advantage of a large, tarmac run off area at the end. The Hockenheimring is therefore a good example of how circuits can contribute to improving overtaking opportunities in Formula One.
The circuit layout itself is dominated by slow and medium speed corners which dictate the set-up of the cars and, as always, traction will be an important factor. We will have some additional aero and mechanical improvements on the car in Germany which we hope will help us make some progress up the grid. Last year's race showed how severe the track is on tyres, so making the correct tyre selection with Michelin will be of paramount importance.
Strategy will be the most important factor of the weekend, as well as the efficiency of the pit crew.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
Up until, and including 2001, Hockenheim was a paradise for powerful engines. However, the subsequent modifications to the track saw the removal of the long forest straights which rewarded engine power. Compared with other circuits, Hockenheim ranks in the top third in terms of the challenge it poses for the BMW P84. Last year, we registered a full throttle ratio of 62 percent, while a top speed of 332 km/h (206 mph) also puts the circuit profile into the upper middle sector.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations, Renault:
Given that we are now reaching our twelfth circuit of the season, Hockenheim does not stand out in any particular sense. The profile of the circuit is at the upper end of the average mid-season circuits: the engine spends 63% of the lap at full throttle (season average is 55%) and the longest continuous period is 14.9 seconds (against 13 seconds on average).
The salient characteristic of Hockenheim is that it includes numerous periods of acceleration from low speeds, exiting the slow corners. These demand an engine that accelerates strongly, and power throughout the rev range - ie, torque - is more important than the peak power that can be achieved. Indeed, the technical definition of torque is the product of the power produced, and the engine speed at which it is produced.
These frequent accelerative phases also mean the engine is frequently under relatively light loads. The loads the moving parts must withstand are intermittent, rather than continuous, and this makes the circuit easier for certain among them, such as the pistons.
In order to best adapt the engine to suit these circuit characteristics, we work to optimise the driver's control by concentrating on driveability and power delivery.
However, while torque is important, the single longest period at full throttle is sufficiently long that obtaining a competitive top speed is still a crucial factor. This need for top-end performance, while not predominant, does nevertheless mean that building a 'Hockenheim special' is out of the question.
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone:
"Hockenheim has changed over recent years but it is still tough on tyres. The long sweeping Parabolica Curve and tight hairpins mean the tyres can be under extreme loads for relatively long periods of time. Furthermore, temperatures can be very high in Hockenheim - as we have experienced over the past couple of years when track temperatures reached into the 50's - so heat durability was a major factor when we made the final tyre selections at last week's Jerez test.
We expect that we shall soon be taking further steps forward in our tyre development and, when appropriate, look forward to phasing in these new developments to further enhance the competitiveness of the Bridgestone teams as the season draws to a climax. In the meantime, however, we shall be taking five dry weather specifications to Germany for our four teams and I expect them all to be fighting hard for points this weekend. As we proved at the beginning of the season, and again in France, Bridgestone's F1 tyres are fully competitive in high temperatures."
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:
"The latest circuit has naturally lost some of its predecessor's individuality, following the disappearance of the long, forest-lined straights. The challenge for Michelin hasn't altered a great deal, however because Hockenheim continues to put a great deal of strain on rear tyres. Drivers still have to deal with a number of quick corners. What's more, the asphalt in the stadium section is fairly old and doesn't generate much grip, so cars tend to slide around and that causes a build-up of heat in the rears. In last season's corresponding fixture, the fierce ambient heat generated track temperatures of about 55°C. Things are likely to be more normal this weekend, but we selected three dry-weather tyre compounds in the wake of last week's test at Jerez and they should all be able to cope with extreme heat if the need arises."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"Hockenheim is another high downforce track, but because the surface is quite benign we can use relatively soft tyre compounds. All the corners are low- and medium-speed, so you need a well balanced car and good traction. There is the long, curving back straight which is followed by a very tight right-handed corner. This is the best potential overtaking point, so the driver needs good brake stability there.
"After our very strong performance in Silverstone, which was very gratifying, we have been back into the wind tunnel at Hinwil to fine tune and optimise our aerodynamic package for this race and we will run a similar set-up with small refinements. I think that Hockenheim will be a good track for us because the character of our aero package should suit it well. If we can run as strongly as at Silverstone, I am optimistic that we will be doing well this weekend."
Dr Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance, Jaguar:
After scoring a point at our home Grand Prix at Silverstone we travelled direct to Jerez to carry out a three-day, two-car test. We utilised all three of our drivers during this time, Mark, Christian and Bjorn, as our testing programme was extensive. We focused on engine development, our new aero package, tyres, set-up and our control strategy. Our test was productive resulting in a positive step forward with the engine and our aero development. We can now go to Hockenheim with the testing data and hopefully be in an even stronger position to race for points. Hockenheim is a medium to high down-force track encompassing high to medium speed corners. Blistering of the rear tyres can be an issue here but we have been working very closely with our partner Michelin to ensure that we are well prepared for this symptom. I am very much looking forward to this coming weekend and to seeing the R5 on track. It would be great to see both cars finishing again and ideally in the points.