Technical Q&A with Force Indias Andrew Green 01 Feb 2013
Force India had an eventful end to the 2012 season, leading in Brazil before Nico Hulkenberg crashed out in tricky conditions. Nevertheless, the competitiveness of the car was clear - competitiveness the team will look to build on this year with the newly-launched VJM06. The man who has overseen its design, technical director Andrew Green, discusses its evolution
Q: Andrew, can you elaborate on the key factors behind the development of the VJM06?
Andrew Green: Obviously the regulations are reasonably stable from last year to this year and the ban on the double DRS didn't affect us, so the transition has been more straightforward than in previous years. Last year we basically stopped bringing developments to the track just after the middle of the season so the trackside guys had a chance to understand what they had, rather than it changing every race, which is what had been happening up to that point. When you have a platform that is stable you can refine it and really dial it in. We focused on trying to understand what the car was doing, where it differed from our models and, importantly, how we worked the tyres. We used that extra knowledge for this years car and it helped quite a lot.
Q: Looking at the strong performance in the last few races, did that philosophy work?
AG: We think it did. We literally didnt touch the car for the last third of the season and we were finding performance in what we had rather than just assuming that the next aero upgrade would add performance.
Q: How different is the VJM06 compared to its predecessor?
AG: Its a brand new car from the ground-up - everything is new. We discussed carrying over big chunks of last years car, including the chassis, but decided not to. There were still some gains to be had with the chassis, so we elected to take the performance benefits. However, the car is evolution rather than revolution compared with last year, simply because of the nature of the regulations.
Q: Visually what are the major changes?
AG: The biggest thing that everybodys going to notice this year is the fairing on top of the nose to hide the 'step'. Its neutral as far as the cars performance is concerned but tidies up the flow over the top of the chassis, so its a small thing really.
Q: What about under the skin?
AG: There are quite a few large changes under the skin. Because we focussed a lot on the tyres last year, weve given ourselves a few more options on set-up to help manage them from qualifying to the race. So thats something we will focus on going into winter testing - well be looking at those options and trying to understand them. Its going to be a challenge assessing these during the cold winter tests, but those options will give the engineers more weapons in their armoury. The suspension has been tuned for what we learned on the tyres, so the configuration is different to last year with changes aimed at better complementing the tyres. The rear suspension is quite different - for aerodynamic reasons the whole thing has been lifted up to allow the airflow under the lower rear wishbones.
Q: Pirelli has modified its tyres for 2013. What impact has that had?
AG: We ran them briefly in Brazil - although it was just the new construction - and now weve got all the new compounds to run in winter testing. We gathered some data and made some changes to the car. They are softer, so you have to run the car higher to get the same end-of-straight ride height. The temperature range of the compounds has been moved so thats a big part of the learning we have to do in testing, to make sure we understand where the sweet spots are for each compound - and as we get to each track we have to make sure the tyres remain in this sweet spot, which is one of the basic areas we tried to understand at the end of last year.
Q: DRS can now only be used in the nominated zones during qualifying. Does that have an impact?
AG: It was a late change by the FIA, but weve caught up with it. It does slightly change your philosophy on setting the car up and ultimately your aerodynamic philosophy. The drag level, the switch level on the wing, changes slightly by doing that. The qualifying and race set-ups start to converge, as you would expect - but theres still a set-up compromise to be dealt with. Probably on average four or five-tenths of lap time will be lost in qualifying as a direct result.
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