Ferrari Director of Engineering, Pat Fry, sees 2014 as a year of challenges.
"Work in simulation and in the simulator, has been ongoing for at least two years on this year's car project," he says at the unveiling of the team's latest F1 challenger. "Obviously, looking at the normal things we do, aerodynamic performance, aerodynamic characteristics, but also with the change to the power unit there's a huge amount of learning we can do there. Initially setting all the bases of what the design targets should be and the various trades but also more recently we've now got the race drivers in the simulator working through all the different power unit strategies, how to best use the engine, the ERS and fuel trading.
"The race drivers have found that very useful," he continues, "very informative in preparing for the tests, we've already worked through Bahrain and Jerez.
"There will be a lot more use you'll get from that," he continues, "preparing for each event, certainly, with the rules being so new, preparing for each race at the start of the season I think we will see the race drivers getting used to the track but doing more than just car set-up work. Working on how to best optimise the strategies for qualifying and for the race, maybe once we've learned, towards the end of the year, that will become less important, but at the moment it adds huge value to our preparations for the race weekend.
"The new regulations don't really affect the pit stop strategy, or the design of the car for pit stops, so to speak. However, I think there will be quite a strain on the way we go racing but more in the preparation, getting the car ready for the next event and working on the car in-session.
"There's a huge increase in the complication and a huge increase in the workload, both on the engineers, trying to work out exactly how to optimise it or to solve some very complicated problems and also for the team in general, the mechanics working on the engines and chassis. The workload does go up quite dramatically with a rule change.
"Coming back to pit stops, I think that in reality that's more affected by the aero direction you take and how hard you make things, to fit and remove wheels things like that. That's not really affected by the rule changes we've had this year.
"Race strategy wise, there will be some race where we run flat out with no restrictions, such as Monaco, there'll be others where there'll be a reasonable amount of fuel saving to be had, I suppose, we'll go to Melbourne and we've got either the best or the worst of both worlds. It's a high fuel consumption circuit and we've got to get used to learning the strategies; the basic strategy for saving fuel but also strategically ‘where do you want to go quick, where do you want to go slow'. You can change the pace of your car by plus or minus a second depending on what fuel or energy you want to use on any particular lap. Studying a race and trying to predict what other people are doing becomes a bit more complicated than it has been in the recent past.
"I've been around long enough that I did see the end of the turbo era and the move into normally aspirated engines, although that was a reasonable change it was nothing compared to power unit regulation changes that we have for this year. Certainly, on the power unit, it's the biggest change we've ever had, certainly in recent history, or my recent history.
"The aero rules, yes they're a reasonable change but it's not as dramatic. However, if you combine the two, there's lots of interesting, exciting challenges for all of us, both on the chassis side, the aero side, there's challenges on getting the car to the weight limit, optimising the power unit.
"So the whole design team, throughout the company, has been challenged and we'll see in Melbourne where we are."
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