fewer hours at the GPs, improving is harder

With the compression of the weekends which foresees the free sessions only on Friday afternoon, the mechanics can only work 4 hours before the “curfew” takes place, getting the set-up is more complicated. And on Wednesdays, even the shorter minutes available in the assembly phase makes the installation of new components an unknown factor

Paolo Filisetti

– Melbourne (australia)

The Australian GP will be a stage for teams like Ferrari and Red Bull to confirm the quality and competitiveness shown in Bahrain and Arabia. For Mercedes, however, it will be a very complex stage. For the Brackley team, in fact, the primary objective is not to lose ground from rivals. It is the price to pay for those who have had a complex start due to the disappointing performance of the F1 W13, a price that can become even higher due to the limited time available to determine the set-up with precision.

the format and the box

It is also worth remembering how the format of the entire race weekend this year has been compressed, with the dispute of free practice on Friday afternoon. And in addition, another element that strongly affects the preparation of the cars at the weekend, is the lengthening of the Curfew (curfew), i.e. those hours in which the technical staff, i.e. mechanics and engineers, cannot be inside the circuit. Until 2021, the teams already had much more time available in the days leading up to the weekend, i.e. Wednesday and Thursday. From this year, on Wednesday the circuit work is limited to only 11 hours a day which, despite appearances, represent a rather limited time interval, especially in non-European trips, where the strip and rebuild that is, the disassembly and reconstruction of the single-seaters that had been shipped with the cargo, is longer than European trips. This implies a reduced possibility, almost an inconvenience, to introduce new components, because in the event that some parts are not delivered to the circuit by Wednesday, it would be practically impossible to complete the assembly of the car and determine its set-up in time. for the first tests on Friday.

right set-up, a puzzle

Andrew Shovlin, head of track engineers and Ron Meadows, sporting director of the Brackley team explained these issues in detail, also accentuated by the Australian time zone. The problem, in fact, is mainly reflected in the determination of the vehicle set-up in the event that the basic one, defined on the basis of factory simulations, does not prove to be immediately effective. The time to correct the choices made at the beginning of the weekend, in essence, is progressively reduced. Suffice it to say that after the first two free practice sessions, the mechanics can only work on the car for four hours, before the curfew takes place which will end at eight the following morning.while in qualifying, or rather after half an hour from their conclusion, the cars enter the parc fermé regime and from that moment no action can be taken to modify their set-up.

Magic wand

Also in consideration of these limits, Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, in view of the Australian GP is under no illusions about the competitiveness of the W13: “In the next race weekend we will not have any magic wand, but in the factory we are working hard to bring updates in the next grands prix. The hope is to get closer to Ferrari and Red Bull in this way. In the meantime we will have to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to try to get the maximum possible points. We will try to make the most of the package we have “.

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