Ferraris Costa, Simon and Tombazis on the F60 13 Jan 2009
Following months of hard work behind the scenes, Ferraris technical department were as eager as driver Felipe Massa to see the F60 take to the track for the first time at Mugello on Monday. Here technical director Aldo Costa, engine and electronics director Gilles Simon and designer Nikolas Tombazis explain the main changes on the Italian squads machine and look ahead to weeks of technical tinkering to get it ready for Marchs season opener in Melbourne
Q: There will be eight engines for every driver over the whole season, but will they be the same?
Gilles Simon: As of 2009 the engine speed is limited to 18,000 rpm and every driver can use up to eight engines over the 17 GPs of this championship. Therefore, the distance target for each unit is now around 2,500 kilometres.
Q: The F60 is very different to the previous Ferraris, due to the 2009 regulations. Will Ferrari make more use of the test stands?
Aldo Costa: The work at the test stands will be more important than in the previous years. We've several facilities to test sub-components and complete groups; that's where we'll do most of the work. The race track is and remains the final test. We'll work a lot before the start of the championship, just like last year; but this time we'll concentrate our work on one car over five test sessions. During the season, we'll have the Fridays to set up the cars for the circuit and for development.
Q: This year the single-seater is completely different from the ones in the past. Are you happy with the result or did you have to compromise?
AC: Last year we were fighting for the championship until the last race and we were also concentrating a lot on the car's development. Today we presented a complete car, which refers also to the level of the engine speed, fitted with KERS; although we had very short time. I want to congratulate everybody: Gilles, Nikolas and everybody at Maranello. We managed to be the first to have a crash test and we have several homologated chassis. We tried as much as possible to cover the time gap between the developments, which have been done on the car at the end of last year.
Q: Do you think that this year, considering the changes, it won't be possible to redo the car during the season to make up an eventual disadvantage at the start?
AC: We're used to thinking that we can still work on a technical level; so as far as we are concerned, it's possible.
Nikolas Tombazis: Many rules, as far as the aerodynamics are concerned, are completely new. The speed of development will be the main issue. Whoever knows how to develop faster will be better than the others. We can work on the development in the Fridays at every GP. Before the season there's still some good margin. And if we're ahead at the first race, it means that we can keep our cool.
Q: What has been the team's reaction in terms of cost cutting?
AC: The rules have been changed recently; we have to rethink our working methods and the programs. This has to be done gradually, without rushing things; we have to evolve the team's structure.
Q: How does your development programme look now? How many aerodynamic tests will there be this year? And does the car just seem longer than the one last year?
AC: The development programme will continue with the five tests we've planned at the race tracks of Portimao, Bahrain, again Bahrain, then Jerez and Barcelona. We can have eight aerodynamic tests this year, which means eight days where we can test as far as this issue is concerned.
NT: As far as the single-seater's length is concerned I have to say that the wheelbase is something really overrated. It's not that important at all. But anyway, the fact that the car is longer is only a visual effect.
Q: Can you confirm today, like you did in the past, that this is the best Ferrari ever built?
AC: There have been some radical changes this year and today, under the light of limitations, the performance will not be higher. The limitations don't allow us to reach the previous performance levels. But I can confirm that the methods improve from year to year, and it also happened last winter.
Q: Apart from the development, how will the car change from now until the first Grand Prix in Australia? Is McLaren's advantage, due to the MES (standardised ECU), gone? Isn't it a contradiction in terms to talk about the importance of the Fridays and the engine management with a limited mileage?
NT: The F60 will be very much overhauled for the first GP. Also because this year will be dominated by the team which will be able to develop the fastest, we want to resolve all the issues as far as the mechanics and the reliability are concerned. We also want to maximise the aerodynamic development. I can confirm that also visibly the car will be really different at the first race.
GS: After one year the MES is much more developed and stable. It also seems more balanced than a year ago.
AC: We have to deal with a shorter coverage; on Fridays we have to think about the development for the specific races, considering that there won't be any tests on the circuits. And then we also have to move on with the development for the championship; all of this with a limited mileage. It's much more limited.
Q: Over the last two years, a lot of work has been done as far as the tyres are concerned: did the slicks have any influence on the car's development?
AC: The car's general construction philosophy could lead to the benefits we've seen in the past; we try to keep these benefits and develop the parts where we were less strong.
Q: At what stage is the development of the KERS?
GS: The KERS is a very complex system, which we haven't developed on the track yet. There's still lots of work to do; we've lowered the impact of the system on the car to a minimum.
NT: Obviously the KERS 'nuisance' is remarkable. We're talking about more than 30 kg of weight. We've done a lot of developmental work to insert the system and compensate for it.
Q: There will be two types of development, one for the race and one for the championship - will the two drivers have different programmes?
AC: I don't know. It's too early to say. We'll see what happens when we're close to the first race.