Ferrari into LMP1, with Sauber and a bit of Wind

With the recent comments by Luca Di Montezemolo on F1s reliance on Aero it has raised a few questions. Is F1 too reliant on aero now the same way that up until 2007 it had became really too reliant on electronics as the McLaren Electronics Systems SECU came into place in 2008 to ban Traction Control. Up until then teams had two ECUs, one for the chassis side and the other for the engine side of things. The V8s still run their engine ECU, but interfaced with the MES ECU as well, BMW lost 45hp overnight in 2008 with the ECU change, however by the end of 2009 when the left they had all of that back and eventually reached a rumoured and estimated 810Hp.

Now the problem in F1 is that there is a reliance on aero, which id like to see addressed by giving the teams more innovation scope in the mechanical side with a limited, and managed return to active ride suspension. Id like to see drivers being given the option of tuning their cars on the track, however id allow the drivers to do 20 ride changes a race, with a twist of a rotary on their wheel. With say 6 being the most neutral height and 12 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, with each increment being half a millimetre, with the cars having a minimum ride height of 25mm from floor to ground in a static form at the T tray and 40mm at the rear. It would give the cars a 6mm sweep.

Less of what i want now, more back to topic.

Ferrari are regarded to be looking at a LMP1 project for Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship. The cost of this would be about €220m if they were to do a two car push along the lines of Toyota. Audi spend an estimated €400m on their charge and Porsche are to spend €1.4b over their LMP1 programme that will last an initial 5 years with year 1 and 2 being the most expensive. Even though Audi and Porsche are part of the VW Group, both have different ways of working and different ideas of how to work.

Now to the wind, Ferrari have been moaning loudly for the past 3 years now about not winning and Aero being too much of a dominance in F1, alas their cars have been lacking to the dominant Red Bulls, not by much, but enough so that Webber and Vettel have mopped up the most wins over the last 3 years, McLaren with Button and Hamilton next and Ferrari with Alonso last. Only Mercedes and Lotus have made a dent from the other teams. Its arguable that Force India could have had a victory or two as well, and Maldanado at Spain  2012 is the only black mark against the top 5 teams in reality.

Ferrari, if they were to have a LMP1 program, would probably be booted out of the Toyota facility as they could pass on ideas from their F1 guys to their LMP1 guys. And yes, Ferrari have their own tunnel, but it was built for 50% scale models and not the present and more accurate 60% scale models.

This leaves Ferrari a problem, where else to go for their 60% scale models, and the latest idea that has been floated is Sauber, renting their tunnel to Ferrari for free. Or at least for Sauber to say to Ferrari, we owe you €19m, how about you use our tunnel and you forget the debt. This would be a easy out for both parties here as Ferrari could be giving Sauber their last engines at Spa for the remainder of the season, and no V6T engines in 2014. When at present estimates, motorsport tunnel time is up to €80,000 an hour, it would get Sauber out of the financial hole with Ferrari quite easily and quickly.

However this leaves Sauber in a bit of a quandary. Audi uses Saubers tunnel for their 60% scale models before they step an idea onto full scale testing at the most advanced wind tunnel in the world for automotive uses. The Audi tunnel is more or less used for full scale cars now as they can use the tilting and rotational roiling road that with the tunnel that can heat the air to +45C and cool it to -30C as Audi test their cars im massively varying conditions.

If Sauber want to get out a mess financially, by using their tunnel to help Ferrari correlate their data as Ferrari seemingly have correlation problems, it could wind up their customer in Audi. Audi may want to use another tunnel now as to keep things private.

Its commonly know that Tunnel sharing takes place in F1; Marussia use McLarens, Caterham use Williams, Toro Rosso use Red Bulls with Force India possibly having access to the Mercedes tunnel as Force India use a tunnel in Brackley. Lotus are the only team left out of the sharing.

Sauber have a real issue if Ferrari are to use their tunnel as if Ferrari do try LMP1, and its possible as Luca Di Montezemolo has one thing missing on his CV, a LMP1 and ought right victory at Le Mans, Im sure they would want to use the Sauber tunnel as well, the tunnel that for some is regarded as the best in F1, and the tunnel that was used by Audi to win Le Mans in 2011 with the R18. Im sure that until Ferrari find their issues with their Tunnel, Ferrari will take that option for the Sauber Tunnel for both their F1 attack and their LMP1 car if Luca di Montezemolo decides his ego and needs a further boost as it was taken in 2011 when he started the Le Mans race.

Lets face it, the F1 V6T technology for 2014 will have a pretty good chance of being able to being transfer LMP racing as well. One thing is for sure, with all this new tech around, F1 and Sports Car fans have a lot to be cheerful about, not lest we forget the driver market in both.

Anyways, here is a youtube video of the Sauber wind tunnel.

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