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Tech insight - Vettel’s search for superior starts

08 Oct 2017

One of the more subtle changes on Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari last time out in Malaysia could be found behind his steering wheel – and it’s one that could yet have a big influence in Japan, as well as on the 2017 title outcome…

Last year Ferrari introduced a long wishbone arrangement (left-hand drawings) for their left hand clutch paddle, in order to give both drivers better feel for race starts. However, from this year’s Spanish round they brought in a similar solution (top right) to Mercedes, with two paddles into which the drivers can insert their fingers. This provides good feel for clutch management while also allowing a quick release by the driver by pushing his fingers to the front.

This set-up was only used by Vettel and after two races it was modified (bottom right), with the aluminium paddles replaced by redesigned carbon versions similar in shape to those used by Lewis Hamilton. However, in recent races Raikkonen has been making the better starts, so in Malaysia Vettel simulated multiple starts using only the left hand with a long wishbone paddle in order to try and improve his getaways. With Hamilton alongside him on the front row, he will want a good one at Suzuka this afternoon!