Friday, August 29, 2008

Formula One Testing: Monza Summary

In Formula One, teams conduct tests throughout the season. These tests are done to try out new parts and work on their reliability, experiment with the car's set up, confirm aerodynamic modifications that have been done on the computer and in the windtunnel and sometimes evaluate prospective drivers. This week, F1 teams were in Monza, Italy for 3 days to conduct work for the final push in the 2008 season.

There was something worth noting before testing began. Renault planned to conduct tire experiments. Ever since Nelson Piquet showed good pace and finished 2nd in Germany after a period behind the safety car, the team has believed that a slow few laps when tires first run has improved their consistency over longer distances. Fernando Alonso thought testing this was necessary to isolate and see if running a few slow laps improves the performance of the Bridgestone tire with the Renault R28 chassis.

Honda Team Principal Ross Brawn believes, "it's just putting them through a gentle duty cycle to make the tire more resilient for the race. So I guess that's why they are doing it. We can see the benefit of it, but it's balancing everything else you want to achieve. Possibly it depends on your car or the tires that are available." This "scrubbing in" of the tires, is actually something teams have done for a long time in NASCAR.

On the first day of actual Monza testing, Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa set the fastest time on the historic high speed circuit in which he worked on developing the aerodynamic package for the Italian Grand Prix, concentrating on the car’s set-up. BMW-Sauber driver, Nick Heidfeld, in his BMW F1.08, tested mechanical set-ups as well as suspension, aerodynamic work and gearbox ratios. Renault worked on the aero package as well as tire evaluation.

On day 2 of testing, BMW-Sauber driver, Nick Heidfeld set the fastest time of the 3 day test as he worked on the car's set-up. Renault worked on brakes and car set-up and balance. McLaren, with Hekki Kovalainen at the wheel continued worked on Monza-spec aerodynamic package and tire evaluations. In addition to doing aerodynamic work, Red Bull's Mark Webber worked on car set-up and suspension comparsion tests.

On the final day of testing, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of day followed by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Renault's Fernando Alonso worked on car set-up and some suspension work with the goal of improving the car's behavior through the chicanes. BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica worked on aerodynamic and mechanical set-up for the F1.08. Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella completed a positive test with a surprising 3rd quickest time after a massive 114 laps.

Teams now make their preparations for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

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