Sepang, 27 March – Scuderia Ferrari Technical Director James Allison met the media today, to discuss various topics concerning, above all, the steps forward which are now visible on the SF15-T as compared to last year’s car.
“In pure lap time terms, the gains are almost equal between chassis and power unit. On the chassis side, the lion’s share of the gains are aerodynamic, because that’s what has the most authority to put lap time on the car. So, on the chassis side it’s 80:20 aero versus useful gains made in the cooling efficiency of the car, which then translates into aero by allowing you to have the car tighter at the back.”
Based on Friday’s long runs, one wonders if Ferrari can now challenge the Mercedes on the race pace. Allison answers: “I don’t know. We will find out on Sunday but our tyre degradation is good and our pace is reasonably good. But everyone uses the Friday differently, so you never know what the others were doing. But we feel it’s been a good day.”
James is also wary of reading too much into the effects of the power units improvements: “It’s a little bit early to be confident of that. The way you judge it is blurry. The first time you get to see how much downforce and power you’ve got is in qualifying as that’s when you can be certain the others are on the same fuel as you and trying as hard as you are. The way you try to separate the downforce from the power is that the shape of the way the car accelerates is different depending on whether it’s a power gain or a downforce gain. It is vulnerable to things like the wind, so it’s only after a few races that the real picture emerges. From the Melbourne analysis it looks as though we have made a good step forward with the car and the loss relative to Mercedes is split equally between the chassis and the power unit.”
Speaking about closing the gap, the Technical Director analyses what is yet to come: “We will not be conservative, we will be shovelling development onto the car as quick as we can make it and there’s a load in the pipeline at the factory at the moment. The aero programme is performing strongly. These are still quite young aero rules so we can expect more from it and the same with the engine. The situation with the tokens make this year very different to last year and we can bring more during the year. You need to make sure you’ve got the horsepower to put into the tokens, but three is an important number even if it does not sound like much, as it buys you a combustion upgrade, which is quite significant regarding the top end of the engine.”