Rampf: new rules will make life interesting 04 Mar 2005
Less downforce, long-life engines, fewer tyres and Sunday qualifying. On the surface the revisions to the Formula One regulations look pretty straightforward, but what are their true implications and how will they affect what we see in Australia? Sauber technical director Willy Rampf on the changes:
"It's going to be a very interesting start to the season, because of the new regulations. The new aerodynamic rules are quite drastic, with heavy revisions to the front and rear which have cost everyone quite a lot of downforce and made the cars a little more nervous.
"The new tyre rules will also make things very tricky for qualifying and the race as you may now only use one set of tyres from Saturday qualifying onwards. You have to choose from your prime and option tyres on Friday, and between Saturday qualifying and the end of the weekend the single set you choose will have gone through several heating and cooling cycles, will have done two qualifying sessions, one on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday morning, and the whole race. It will be crucial on Friday, therefore, to choose the tyre option that not only gives you optimum performance but also durability.
"Qualifying will now be different too. We will run with low fuel for maximum performance on Saturday afternoon, and then with race fuel on Sunday morning, and the times will be aggregated. Thus the effect of the fuel on the qualifying time will be less and the grid will be a more accurate reflection of true performance.
"Preserving the tyres in the race will be a major factor. During our long runs and race simulations in testing we have been quite pleased with the performance of our Michelin tyres.
"The tyre issue will also affect race strategy. There will be fewer refuelling stops. Most races will probably be two stops, possibly even one, though there is a penalty in terms of car performance trying to get by with one because the tyres have a great fuel load to carry.
"Overall, it is very difficult to make any predictions prior to the weekend.
We have not always run at the same venue as our competition during winter testing and we will only find out in Melbourne exactly where we are. That's what will make Saturday afternoon and Sunday in particular so exciting. And it is no longer about the performance of the tyres on the first lap or in the early laps. Now the last part of the race will be absolutely crucial, and if they have conserved their tyres better than their rivals I think we will see some people being able to improve their positions in the closing stages after the final pit stops. There will be much more focus on the end of the race and a little less perhaps on grid position, and I think this is going to make things also interesting for the spectators."
Proof of how well Rampf and Sauber have adjusted to the changes will come on Sunday when Jacques Villeneuve makes his race debut with the team in Melbourne alongside incumbent Felipe Massa.