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Q&A with McLaren's Tim Goss 08 Sep 2010

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 1 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010 The podium (L to R): Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren; Tim Goss (GBR), McLaren Chief Engineer, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, second; Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 18 April 2010 McLaren MP4/25 detail. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010

Although McLaren have been tipped to be the best of the bunch at Monza this weekend, many believe they will then struggle to match car to circuit characteristics at the remaining five rounds. But Tim Goss, chief engineer of the MP4-25, is confident new upgrades, a better understanding of the blown diffuser and their leading role in the development of the F-duct could see the team go from strength to strength as the season's climax approaches. He reveals more during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 'Phone-In' session…

Q: So we saw McLaren were very strong at Montreal and Spa, and we have a similar track at Monza this weekend. Do you go to that circuit as favourites this weekend?
Tim Goss:
You may consider us favourites. I think, in my opinion, it’s likely to be a very tight grid. I think most people would say we’re unlikely to see Red Bull Racing with the substantial advantage they had at the Hungarian Grand Prix. I bet Monza will be very tight. We have a very efficient car aerodynamically so we think we have a good chance of occupying the front row and a good chance of challenging for a race win.

Q: So it is a track that should suit your car more than the Red Bulls…
Certainly we were shocked and disappointed by our performance in Hungary. The Red Bulls seemed to be particularly competitive on the longer, flowing, medium-speed corners and in Hungary we weren’t able to compete with them. Our pace at Spa was partly due to circuit characteristics, but also we did bring some substantial and significant performance upgrades to the car. We’d been playing catch-up a bit on blown diffusers for several races, and we’re actually just getting to grips with setting the car up around it. So our performance at Spa was also due to the fact we’re also developing the car. We made some significant developments there and that hopefully is going to carry us on, not just at circuits like Spa and Monza but through the remaining tracks that we’ve got this season.

Q: Could you explain how well your car will respond to the circuit characteristics at Monza?
Evidence so far would say that we have a straight-line advantage. That has been partly due to the aerodynamic efficiency of the car, but also because I believe being the leader in F-flap (F-duct) technology, we have the better solution out there. That means that we tend to have a straight-line advantage. That matters more on circuits where there’s more F-flap sensitivity. Obviously going into Monza, it’s a slightly different question because other teams are undecided about whether they are going to run F-flaps or a conventional rear wing. So F-flaps may not come into the equation as far as the straight-line advantage that we’ve had so far. We’ve not been getting the most out of the floor on longer, flowing corners in recent races. But we really feel we’ve turned the tide there and have made a difference. I think Monza will be a strong circuit for us, but I’d like to think that a lot of the circuits coming up will also be strong circuits.

Q: So you will use the F-duct this weekend?
Yes, we’ll be running F-flap at some point on Friday and we’ll make the decision on Friday night as to whether we’ll race with F-flap or a conventional solution. We’ve developed both options for Monza. It’s not straightforward to get the F-flap to work on a low-downforce rear wing, but I think being the leaders in this technology we’re slightly better placed to get the most out of it.

Q: We’ve started to get some indication about what the rules will be like in 2013, with lower capacity, fuel restricted, turbocharged engines being mooted. Do you think that is the way Formula One racing should be going?
On the engine I think it’s entirely the right thing to do. Formula One engine technology has been locked into its current specification for a number of years now and clearly cars have moved on. So I think the right thing to do is for Formula One to show it is at the cutting edge of technology in regards to engine technology. I also think it is the right thing to do for Formula One to promote fuel efficiency. So the fact we’re making a significant change and going to four cylinder turbocharged engines, with a lot of freedom in terms of exhaust systems for example, will only help to develop fuel-efficient technologies, which all being well will spin off into road cars. So I think in terms of the engine regulations, it’s entirely right and we back it. As far as the car regulations are concerned, my personal view is that we have got to wait and see what happens next season. We’ve made some significant changes for 2011 with the adjustable rear wing. What we’ve got to do is pay careful attention to how we allow Formula One to develop to keep an exciting show. It’s been an exciting season so far, we’ve got to make sure we maintain that. We really need to see how we get the most out of the active rear wing next season before we jump into any regulation changes for 2013.

Q: In terms of a timeframe for the engine and fuel-flow restriction, is two years enough?
Yes it’s enough time. As long as the decisions are made shortly, and I think everyone is in a frame of mind to bring it to a conclusion fairly promptly. The FIA are working hard at it and I’m sure things will be decided relatively swiftly.

Q: At Monza there’s the second round of tougher flexi-floor/wing tests. Have McLaren had to modify the floor at all to comply with that?
Firstly we haven’t made any major modifications to the front wing, in terms of bodywork flexibility. So our front wings, for which we have a dedicated solution for Monza, are all as we’ve run so far this season. The new offset load test is a little challenging. We’ve had to make some minor modifications just to make sure we’re well inside the deflection limits the FIA are going to set on that. We’ve modified our bib and taken the opportunity to roll it up into a minor performance upgrade as well.

Q: And do you think any of your rivals will have had to make changes, compared to what you saw at Spa?
I think as far as the offset bib test is concerned, then I would expect most teams would have had to have made changes to comply with that. As far as articulated planks are concerned, there are a number of teams who run floor skids in multiple pieces. The FIA have tightened up on that to ban articulated skid blocks, and I imagine other teams will have to make modifications for that. As far as the wings are concerned then, the evidence from Spa is that there seemed to be fewer cars running flexible front wings, although it’s very subjective.

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