Is Haas the team of the moment? In terms of performance, Alfa Romeo is on the same level. And the Swiss are also starting far behind. As the Americans get closer and closer to the Prancing Horse, the team of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou go their own way, partly voluntarily, partly due to location and regulations. Speaking to the microphones, the technical director gave a broad overview of the situation currently faced by the C42, the difficulties in the tests and the problems with the budget cap.
Alfa Romeo on the hunt for independence and the reasons behind it
The transfer of components between teams has now become a practice in Formula 1. As standardized by the new technical and sporting regulations, the teams have a greater opportunity to rely on each other. Especially if there is a collaboration relationship like the one between the Biscione and the Maranello company. With regard to the open-source and, therefore, transferable parts, the development of synergies takes place in various ways. This depends on the different economic and planning strategies of the individual teams.
From a Ferrari point of view, Haas is the company that best capitalizes on the opportunities granted by the regulation relating to the transfer of components. The VF22 shares the power unit, the suspension groups (front and rear), as well as the gearbox with Mattia Binotto’s team. The music differs in the case of the other red satellite team, namely Alfa Romeo. Despite having the same powertrain, it has opted for internally developed suspension. In addition, the transmission is indeed identical to the F1-75 in terms of gears, however the outer casing of the gearbox was delegated to Hinwil. The reason is to be found in the autonomous arrangement of the suspension arms, in the management of the kinematics and in the aerodynamic impact. While the Haas adopts the same pull-road geometry as the Ferrari, a push-rod pattern characterizes the C42 at the rear.
More freedom to survive
At Tech Talk, on F1TV, Alfa Romeo’s technical director, Jan Monchaux, wanted to make this clear. The scope of supply has been reduced due to a couple of factors. First of all, the budget cap has to do with it: for them it is preferable to turn in that direction. Thus, politics allows for more freedom in this first league of the new era. Thus they develop their ideas without having the burden of being subjected to the work of third parties. Currently, Haas and Alfa Romeo are in fifth and sixth place in the constructors’ standings, separated by only three lengths.
In the last few hours, however, a second interview was released by Monchaux, on that occasion to the microphones of Motorsport Magazin. A long chat useful to highlight the positive aspects that emerged from the first seasonal appointments, the margins for improvement, as well as addressing the controversies.
The implicit gap in the budget cap
An essential theme is the radiator. Alfa Romeo will probably implement developments over the course of the championship. On the other hand, there will be no profound upheavals. They are not Mercedes, nor do they have the means to reinstall parts. It is an expense, including a financial one, which is unsustainable for them. Consequently, it will be up to coexist with the available resources and optimize them. They go on to make progress in the wind tunnel. Therefore, the manager does not believe he has, at least so far, every element available to take stock.
One of the most interesting passages concerns the financial resources. The problem – commented the Alfa Romeo man – is that the budget has not so far compensated for the gap in the cost of living between countries. Therefore, although they each have 140 million dollars available, in relation to a team based in England or Italy with the same number of employees, they have higher labor costs. In the end, this drains 20 to 30 percent of the funds and a lot of potential that would otherwise be tapped into perfecting the car. In essence, they work in different framework conditions than the competition and this inevitably complicates life. It is the price to pay if you are in certain places.
Alfa Romeo and the gearbox challenge
Taking care of the gearbox was an incredible challenge for both the company and the team. He must be proud of the result. They did not recruit additional staff, but they did have the ability to distribute tasks within the staff. The budget cap was the main reason behind the decision to build the frame and rear brackets on their own. Otherwise it would have proved difficult to stay within the limits set by the FIA. In fact – added Monchaux – if you buy pieces from other manufacturers, such as Ferrari, you still receive a penalty in addition to bearing the purchase price.
The top teams stated at the time of the definition of the legal text that the customers did not have the workforce that deals with Research and Development. Therefore they established a price, the so-called notional value, which quantifies the economic effort necessary for the purpose. This is why they should have borne the price of the Ferrari and paid a penalty, which is also quite high.
We then moved on to a thorny issue, namely the discussion on increasing the minimum weight. This greatly annoyed the Alfa Romeo executive. The rules are clear, they are the same for everyone. Some have prepared, others seem to have problems. That said, they were not allowed to contact the authorities for review. Generally, Monchaux said he was against changing the rules just before the start. Otherwise confusion is generated and it becomes useless to have done the homework. In that sense, the extra three kilos covered are fine. Because at the base there are reasons that are beyond the responsibility of the teams.
Therefore, they have the opportunity to install an additional piece. However, he hopes that any discussion will be closed and he hopes that we can focus exclusively on the competition. To thrive, reliability first counts, then the ability to make updates quickly within the budget cap. The comparison will be based, first of all, on the speed of intervention. He had put the inconveniences in the first Grands Prix in the budget. Perhaps a concept or another of bodywork or a fin will prove superior. But it will take time to issue sentences.
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