Pat Fry: We made fundamental mistakes before 2012 season started
20 January, 2013
Ferrari technical director Pat Fry has again admitted that the Maranello team made fundamental mistakes ahead of the 2012 season, but he believes that this year, with one wind tunnel used to deliver aerodynamic data, they will be in better shape.
Fry revealed that the team were shattered by the realisation that the F2012 would be uncompetitive at the start of last year.
“We lacked the time to correct the problems in time for the start of the season in Melbourne. Our first major upgrade at that time was for Barcelona,” said Fry. “Most of the errors were of an aerodynamic nature and we had to understand them first before resolving the issues, the car did not behaved as expected.”
With teams unable to test full sized cars, the wind tunnel to real life correlation of data can be problematic as the Maranello team found out to their cost.
“The correlation between the wind tunnel and track will always be a hot topic,” Fry pointed out. “Everyone has their problems with correlation, but our problems were bigger. The more variables you have, the greater the chance of getting lost.”
“Wind tunnel time is limited due to resource constraints, if you have results from two different channels, it becomes increasingly difficult to harmonise the interpretation of the results,” said Fry.
This coupled to the apparently faulty ‘Galleria del Vento’ at Maranello which has plagued the team for almost five years.
In July 2009 Ferrari dismissed its head of aerodynamics and wind tunnel John Iley for what La Gazzetta dello Sport reported, at the time, was a serious mistake in the area of the aerodynamics. This the team said was identified as the root of the 2009 car’s problems.
In April 2011, team principal Stefano Domenicali confirmed to Autosprint, “We have a structural problem with [the wind] tunnel. We are working to fix it.”
In October 2012 Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told the media, “Stefano Domenicali has decided to close the tunnel for a while in order to do verifications and calibrations.”
Fry confirmed, “We understand the shortfalls of our wind tunnel in Maranello and are working to fix them. Meanwhile, are using the Toyota facility [in Cologne]. But the Toyota wind tunnel is not perfect. It is a tool, and you must know how to use this tool and interpret the data.”
Returning to the subject of last year, Fry admits that the team’s rivals enjoyed better development of their cars, relative to Ferrari, during the course of the 20 race championship. Last year Ferrari produced 15 different front wing versions and rolled out 18 different variations for their F2012.
“We improved in the second half of the season, but not to the extent of the others. Every team has phases, in which they have progress and failure, big or small. Last year early in the season McLaren had the strongest car, then they stagnated until mid-season and by the end of the season they were strong again,” recalled Fry.
Ferrari have bolstered their aero department recently with some big name recruits, including former Mercedes and Brawn man Loic Bigois, with ex-Red Bull team member Ben Agathangelou joining the team last year.
Subbed by AJN.