Preview Of European Grand Prix

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pitstop for Juan Pablo Montoya
F1 > European GP, 2004-05-30 (Nürburgring): Sunday race

European GP: McLaren preview
Racing series F1
Date 2005-05-24

Round seven of the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship, The European Grand Prix, takes place at the renowned Nürburgring, and is the first of two home races for Mercedes-Benz. Team McLaren Mercedes arrives in Germany lying in second place in the Constructors’ World Championship with 51 points for the second race in the space of eight days. Kimi Raikkonen is also second in the Drivers’ standings with 27 points, with Juan Pablo Montoya in eighth with a tally of 14.

Starting with the European Grand Prix, there will be only one qualifying session during a Grand Prix weekend. It will take place over a single-lap only on Saturday at 13:00. The running order will be reverse of the finishing order of the previous race. That means that Kimi, who won at Monaco last weekend, will be the last driver out on the track for qualifying at the Nürburgring.

The inaugural European Grand Prix took place in 1983 at Brands Hatch in Britain, since then there have been 14 races at four different circuits. In addition to Brands Hatch and the Nürburgring, Donington Park and Jerez have also played host to the race. The Nürburgring is on the site of the epic Nordschleife.

The legendary 14 mile / 22 km drive through the Eifel mountains regularly staged the German Grand Prix, before safety concerns saw the race transferred to Hockenheim in 1977. The revised track returned to the calendar in 1984 and since then has held the European Grand Prix on eight occasions.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"After such a great result in Monaco, I am really looking forward to racing again this coming weekend. The MP4-20 package is working really well and hopefully we will continue to be competitive in Germany. The Nürburgring has quite good grip and we use a medium downforce configuration as it has a mix of corners, straights and hairpins."

"It is totally different to Monaco in this way, and it is of course a lot faster, although it is not one of the quickest. It is a fun track to drive, and hopefully we will be able to put on an exciting race for the Mercedes-Benz home crowd."

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"I can’t wait to get back on track at the Nürburgring this weekend, and hopefully have a trouble free weekend to take advantage of the current performance of the car. This event is notorious for understeer, so there will be a focus on dialling it out during Friday’s Free Practice sessions."

"Unlike Monaco there are a couple of overtaking opportunities at the Nürburgring, such as at the NGK Chicane and the hairpin in the Mercedes Arena. I am really looking forward to racing in front of the Mercedes-Benz fans and employees for the first time and enjoying their support."

Alex Wurz:

"Because of the back-to-backs there has been no testing by Team McLaren Mercedes since the Monaco Grand Prix. The upcoming programme will see us return to the test track in the first week of June at Silverstone. As Juan Pablo mentioned, understeer is always present here, so in addition to tyre selection with Michelin, I will be working closely with the team on set-up work for the rest of the weekend."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:

"The result in Monaco, and the race pace demonstrated by both Kimi and Juan Pablo, was very positive for the team and we are now looking to build on this at the Nürburgring. The European Grand Prix is the second race in a very intensive period for Formula One, with six Grands Prix in eight weeks."

"To give you an idea of the logistical effort required, all the Team McLaren Mercedes racing equipment was packed and left Monaco shortly after 22:00 on the Sunday night after the race. Upon arrival at the Nürburgring just after 13:00 on Monday afternoon, garage build began immediately and was completed later the same day. As the Monaco race took place just a couple of days ago, there will be no major new developments to MP4-20 for this race."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The European Grand Prix is following the Monaco race within just one week’s time. The Nürburgring race is one of two home Grands Prix for Mercedes-Benz. This track provides completely different challenges for the team compared to the street circuit of Monte Carlo."

"About 60 percent of the track is run under full throttle and the circuit features a mixture of fast and slow sections. It is especially demanding for the aerodynamic efficiency of the car as well as the engine. The spectators coming to the Nürburgring will not only attend an exciting race like Barcelona or Monte Carlo, they will also experience attractive entertainment programmes between practice sessions and races."

"Particularly the Mercedes-Benz display area behind the main grandstand has become a meeting point for Mercedes-Benz and motor sport fans of all colours. We will be happy to welcome everybody to live music, several competitions with valuable prizes and above all interview and autograph sessions with Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers as well as the Formula One drivers and members of the Team McLaren Mercedes team."

-mclaren-

Start: Michael Schumacher leads the field
F1 > European GP, 2004-05-30 (Nürburgring): Sunday race

European GP: Ferrari preview
Racing series F1
Date 2005-05-24

The European Grand Prix used to move around, taking place at a variety of circuits, but it has had an almost permanent home at the Nürburgring, which has hosted this race nine times, including every year since 1997, except that in ’97 and ’98, just to confuse things, it was known as the Luxembourg GP.

Although the current circuit has been in use for over two decades, it is still referred to as the "New ‘Ring," by those who remember the daunting 22 kilometres of the old Nordschleife track, that was eventually deemed too dangerous for modern grand prix cars.

At about the same time that the antiquated track was pensioned off, Dieter Gundel was beginning his motor racing career, working in electronics. Today he is Head of Electronics at the race tracks for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

"Twenty years ago, electronics was just beginning to become the "hot item" in motor racing," says the German. "Ever since then it has developed from something that is quite useful and gives a little bit of an advantage into an element that is absolutely essential. Without electronics, nothing turns, nothing blinks, nothing does anything."

Progress on electronics was slow until the advent of the computer and the first advantages seen on the cars were chiefly in terms of providing increased power. "We have to admit that the original ideas came from road cars and it is not a case of motor racing leading the development," continues Gundel.

"The most obvious change was the switch from putting fuel in the engine with a carburettor to using fuel injection. It gave far greater control and allowed you to adjust more parameters."

The other element that moved electronic development forward was the arrival of the turbocharged engines in the 80s. The turbocharger was quite a delicate piece of equipment and needed more accurate control, for elements such as the waste-gate.

"This is how electronics muscled its way into the sport," recalls Gundel. "We had so much electronics it was a case of picking the area that gave the biggest advantage and of course one team would come up with something and the others would follow. Technology has moved at a rapid rate."

"If you compare the power of calculation we have on the car nowadays with that of twenty years ago, you could not run a small computer game for kids with the power we had on the cars back then!"

Once the miracle of electronics had reached a point where it was taken for granted, the specialists in this field came under ever increasing pressure to come up with ever more sophisticated systems that were smaller, lighter and more resistant to vibration and especially to heat.

"The amount of wiring on the car has decreased significantly over the years," says Gundel. "For example, we now use copper wires that are no thicker than a human hair for sensors for example. The wiring per metre is a fraction of what we had. We use more intelligent sensors that now communicate via digital signals, which is another technology that has come from road cars.

The hardware side has reduced in weight and size and technology means our experience has grown. In the past we used military connectors from tanks and airplanes, built to last for 5 years of use. It was good for F1 because not even we could break them. But if I came today with one of these connectors and showed it to (Chief Designer) Rory Byrne he would have a heart attack!

Today, electronics is used in every aspect of the car, but its most obvious use is in running the engine. "You have to inject fuel and you have to fire the spark," maintains Gundel. "But on top of this is all the diagnostic monitoring, the back up systems and pumps. The diagnostic side has become far more important this year with engines having to last two race weekends."

"We might have more than 20 sensors on the engine for diagnostics alone, apart from those used to actually run the engine. To be honest, for us here at Ferrari, this was not such a big change from the past, as we already had a fantastic record of reliability and that was partly down to our monitoring systems."

The new rules, with the cars staying in parc ferme in between qualifying and the race, has also made the role of electronics more important, as software changes are one of the few areas that can be worked on.

"Apart from the engine, other areas where we can tune for performance using electronics are traction control, engine braking and differential performance. These are the only legal areas where we are allowed to work," explains Gundel. "While the car is in parc ferme, we have the model of our strategies on the computer and we can tune them and are allowed to upload all our modifications into the car before the race."

"Now, we analyse the performance of our cars on Friday and Saturday and try to improve areas that were not perfect, by running simulations. We try to combine all these tunings to give an overall improvement on the car without having to run the car. It is not all down to technology though and you still need to use the human brain. Sometimes it is our best friend!"

So will this weekend on home turf at the Nürburgring be a chance for Gundel to catch up with old friends from his racing past? "Not really," he says with a hint of embarrassment. "As a child I was not at all interested in motor racing and when I started working with Bosch back in 1985, I stayed in the laboratory and did not go to the tracks. But when Data Logging and Telemetry became more common I would go to the occasional race."

"At first the racing drivers were very suspicious of Data Logging and regarded it as a spy system. Now, the good drivers know they can improve with the help of the data and they spend a lot of time studying it. But to get back to the question, no the Nurburgring will not be a special weekend for me, except that I always find it a bit disturbing because all the people around me speak German!"

-ferrari-

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