Dutch team explain thinking behind new car - and its name…
As Spyker launched their 2007 car, the F8-VII, on Monday, they made no secret of the fact that it is unlikely to be quickest car out of the box. Instead their aim is to use the new machine as a solid base on which to build as the season progresses, with the real focus on upgrading the car through the course of the year and preparing for the future.
"We set out with a plan to improve on the areas that we knew needed improving on the (2006) M16, explained technical director, James Key. We also tried to second guess as best we could what the 2007 tyres were going to do, and we worked hard on aero, which is of course always the fundamental thing. That way we could concentrate all our efforts on performance related areas.
On the mechanical side, where a system worked well - like the steering rack for example - we more or less left it alone. We've maintained a very high chassis, because we felt that offered a lot of volume for aero devices in that area. We had a twin keel before, and we wanted to tidy it up and make it neater and stiffer. There are little 'bumps' there now, so it's effectively zero keel compared to what we had before.
We followed the same philosophy that we had with the M16, which was to try to keep as much volume forward as possible. That allows us to make the back as tight as we can. We have slightly lengthened the gearbox, and tried to make sure that our exhaust and radiator volume is pushed forwards, so we've got of bit of scope at the back of the car to do what we like. We've also made a concerted effort to tidy up the outside of the gearbox as well.
Inevitably, the change of engine supplier was also a focus of attention for Spyker, who used Toyota engines last season: The Ferrari engine installation was very different to that of its predecessor, so some of the guys who were concentrating on certain new areas had to start working on installing the engine. For example, the hydraulics are our responsibility once more, whereas previously Toyota looked after the system, and it came as part of the engine.
"The back of the chassis is very different, the gearbox design is very different, the fuel system has different requirements. It's not that it's a complicated engine installation; it's just for us a very different configuration compared to our previous two engine suppliers.
While Key and his team have focused on ensuring the F8-VII is a solid car to start the season with, chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne, has concentrated on putting in place measures that will drastically improve performance later in the year, including gaining access to an additional wind tunnel facility.
"We've started to look at areas that will give a good step forward, rather than small ones, said Gascoyne. With Aerolab on board and a restructure, we can make some real progress. I think you'll see quite a large update to the rear suspension, and a lot of other things will change. The programme we have in the first half of the year is really geared towards making big progress in terms of aerodynamics and design."
Regarding the new cars naming designation, F8-VII relates directly to Spyker's heritage as a car and aircraft manufacturer. When the Dutch company started trading at the beginning of the 20th century it launched car models named A, B and C and when Spyker CEO Victor Muller resurrected the Spyker name in 2000 he wanted to build on that strong history.
"When we launched the first modern line of Spykers (road cars), the C8 Spyder, we called it the C line to follow on from the original model rationale, he explained. The E line will be launched in the near future, so it makes sense for our Formula One car, our latest model, to be the F line."
The number eight refers to the number of cylinders of Spyker's Ferrari engine the same rationale as used with road-going Spykers. The VII sub-designation ('7') refers to Spyker's days as an aircraft manufacturer where all models were denoted by Roman numerals and stood for the year the aircraft was launched. Hence the F8-VII is the Spyker F line with eight cylinders in 2007.