Q1-Something we heard in Austin, and it wasn’t engine manufacturer specific was the difference in off-throttle sounds from teams cars, from what we new we thought off-throttle was banned.
GA- Well off-throttle isn’t banned as such, what you can’t do is stick fuel in the exhaust system to make it higher energy, off throttle is a funny word because what they use now is they use the engine like a compressor, so it pumps air basically so you keep throttles open and you retard the ignition, the idea of that is this coander exhaust pipe, it basically uses exhaust gases at a very high energy and speed that are being focused (directed towards) the rear brake ducts, and the inside of the brake ducts is an area where you can do what you want, so it has a lot of wing sections on it and downforce oppourtunites, so if you can get the coander exhaust working on that then it creates downforce on the wheel, not on the body of the car, but directly on the wheel which isn’t suspension sensitive or ride height sensitive, but gives you pure downforce on the tyre which is exactly what you want. And in effect, when that is working well it actually helps seal the diffuser because there’s an airflow that’s being displaced by the front of the rear tyre that’s being blown around tyre and going around the diffuser and adjusts the performance of the diffuser, the brake duct picks that up, and stops it going underneath the car, so not only do you get downforce directly on the tyre, which is really good downforce, but you also help the diffuser work better so the end result is a reasonable amount of overall downforce.
Q2- So that being the case because we hear the different engine notes off throttle, does that mean some teams are utilizing this more or it just sounds different how their achieving it?
G-It will sound different from engine to engine, but will also sound different with the same engine because some teams do use it more because they’ve got on top of it, take Renault for example they’ve got 4 different teams, Red Bull, Lotus, Caterham, & Williams and each one will sound different, because their exhaust pipes have got different diameters, they exit the body work slightly different so they’ll all sound different because of that, but also it’s up to each team to ask Renault to do engine mapping the way they want to, Renault will supply a base engine map from the dyno and it’s up to the team to exploit it within the regulations, so we’ll have to say Red Bull are on top of it, there exhaust system does work very well, they also have the drivers driving the car to the best of the cars ability which is, making the exhaust pipes work, if you look at them , they turn into the corner later and get the car straighter at the apex and therefore they can get on the throttle a car length or two before the apex as they know they need the exhaust pipes to give the grip to give you the traction, so you need to get the throttle open as early as you can.
Q3-So they have to adapt their style to suit what the aerodynamics can give them?
GA-Yes, you’ll see most drivers scramble into the corner and try and find the apex and then get on the throttle, where Red Bull will plan their entry, and make sure the exit is good to use the exhaust pipe to get the traction so they will sound a bit different because their using the throttle a lot differently, also it’s the amount of retard you use on the ignition, the amount of throttle you leave, if you use 100% you have to retard the ignition a lot to stop the car, and that’s why it sounds different, the oppourtunites there for everybody.
Q4-It’s kind of strange as I work at Simraceway racing school and we teach people to drive and learn the fundamentals and now these drivers have to drive and adapt their style to so many different factors on the car, with the exhausts and the Pirelli tyre, which seems to have a very narrow temperature window, instead of talking about degradation now, they seem to speak more of tyre temps, and it seems the guys who have a smoother style struggle to get those temps correct to get the car balanced?
GA- Yes, the biggest problem they have is getting the fronts working, the rears you can get to temperature pretty easily, whenever they come and do a pit stop and come out again it’s the fronts that they can’t get up there, normally in practice or qualifying whenever you do a quick lap, and you have a bit of understeer then you’ll do a slow lap and that lets the temperature dissipate around the tyre and then the balance is there, in the race you can’t do that and you have to keep pushing on, and if you keep doing that with understeer it doesn’t really warm the tyre up because it’s surface temperature again, you need to get the carcass internally warmed up. Before the race people are using the brakes to warm the tyres up, you saw Alonso on the grid in Austin, blue smoke pluming, the front brakes basically on fire, that is to warm the front tyre up while it’s sitting there on the grid.
I guess Kobayashi is good at that too!
Yes that’s what they do, they’ll throw the brake balance all the way forward and just steam the front brakes, and get to the grid, once you get there you do 2-3 burn outs on the rears and then you’re ok, they’re up to temperature. but you need the fronts to get a balance. You saw Alonso was 7th but by the first corner was 4th, it does work, there’s a very narrow band that the tyres like to work at for sure, but it’s part of the job, everything has a narrow band that you have to work within, and the tyres are the end result, there the thing that connects the car to the ground, so it’s only right that they are hard to make work correctly, it’s part of the discipline, it’s part of the resources that you have to optimize as a team.
Once again thanks for your time Gary, it was brilliant meeting you, and of course I have to say you did design one of my favourite cars ever.
GA-You bet cheers!