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Featured Has Ferrari found a wind tunnel testing loophole?

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Jack Hunsley, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. Jack Hunsley

    Jack Hunsley
    Staff Premium Member

    On the face of it, the Ferrari-Haas alliance seems a fairly platonic affair.

    The story of a brand new team, about to embark on a very dangerous and challenging journey into the world of Formula One, being offered assistance from one of the biggest and greatest names to ever grace the sport, seems to fit the bill for a half-baked, Formula One based, 'rom com' script. But, behind the scenes, all may not be as lovely and rosy as things seem, with recent quotes raising more than a few eyebrows over the use of Ferrari's wind tunnels.

    Wind tunnel testing for a long time has been a staple part of pretty much every racing series you can think of. These vastly complicated, and also incredibly expensive, pieces of machinery allow racing teams around the globe to observe and understand how airflow can be manipulated to provide the optimum amount of downforce for their cars, planes and bikes alike.

    However, in Formula One, wind tunnel testing has become greatly restricted in recent seasons. Competing teams are now allocated a set amount of time they are allowed to conduct wind tunnel testing, and are not allowed to use a model no bigger than a 60% scale model, in an attempt to both decrease costs and increase competitiveness. At least that's the theory anyway.

    Long gone are the days of Michael Schumacher pounding round Fiorano for hours and hours on end in Ferrari F1 cars whilst Toyota were busy running two full scale wind tunnels 24/7 in Cologne. And the impact these restrictions have had are mixed to say the least.

    On one hand the limited testing has indirectly given us some of the most exciting seasons to date, with both 2010 and 2012 going down as classic seasons in most fans minds.

    On the other however, it has also made it much more difficult for teams to regain any deficit in pace over the course of the season as we saw in 2011 and also the latter half of 2013, and with this years title seemingly already heading back into Lewis Hamilton's hands the lack of testing, both on track and in the wind tunnels, seems to have severely hurt teams like Ferrari a great deal who long for days of old.

    So this brings us back to the issue in hand. Whilst Ferrari has made a step up this year, after all they are the only team in the V6 era to beat a Mercedes on pure pace alone, they still lack that little extra bit of pace to compete with the Mercs on a consistent basis. And this brings us to the 'problem', although I personally look at it as a stroke of genius on Ferrari behalf.

    The technical agreement between Haas and Ferrari is well known at this point, but recently certain comments have been released to the media that suggest this agreement may go further than we originally envisaged.

    Put simply, if the comments made by Haas team boss Gunther Steiner to the official F1 site are to be believed and the subsequent deductions are accurate, Ferrari have been able to use their own wind tunnel to double their amount of testing throughout the entirety of the 2015 season in preparation for 2016. Quite a revelation no?

    Now for the reasoning. The Ferrari-Haas agreement allows Haas to legally buy anything and everything from Ferrari ahead of their 2016 debut and this also extends to the use of Ferrari's wind tunnel as well, something which the FIA themselves gave the green light to after initial suspicion and scrutiny.

    Add to that the claims of Ralf Bach, a journalist with 25 years worth of Formula One reporting under his belt, that on 31st October 70 of Haas' staff will be laid off only to be hired by Ferrari a day later, and Ferrari's 'diabolical' scheme becomes abundantly clear. It seems Haas' engineers have spent the entirety of this season designing and testing concepts for 2016, only for said engineers to jump ship to Ferrari with all of their data in tow.

    Now this would not be the first time Ferrari have landed themselves in the spotlight over grey areas in the testing regulations. For example, footage that surfaced at the end of 2013 when Ferrari appeared to be conducting unofficial testing on the 2014 power unit in their yet-to-be-released hypercar, the LaFerrari, triggered all sorts of commotion and speculation that the Maranello squad were testing the limits of the regulations.

    However, the extent to which Haas will be a pure Ferrari B-team in car and all, just like Toro Rosso was to Red Bull back in the day for example, is unclear. Obviously Ferrari are not going to provide Haas with an exact replica of their 2016 car, but we have to imagine that there will be some degree of overlap here and there. But, when asked by the official F1 site whether Haas will just be a B-team Steiner's reply of "it is difficult to say percentage-wise, but it is going in that direction" does little ease Ferrari's rivals concerns.

    So where does this leave F1?

    For Haas the agreement seemingly has next to no negatives. In exchange for their 'co-operation' they get a glimpse at the car which might have a shot at the title in 2016, a brand spanking new Ferrari engine and a Ferrari junior driver to boot. Therefore, not only do Haas get a theoretically competitive car, us fans don't have to endure yet another failed team venture who are almost guaranteed to be two laps down by half distance on a bi-weekly basis. To put it simply, can anyone really blame Haas for taking the fall here?

    For Ferrari the deal is also pretty much faultless. By the use of Haas' wind tunnel time they are able to freely evaluate and develop their 2016 car without deviating as much attention away from their 2015 car as they'd have to if Haas was not in the picture. Plus, again as racing fans, haven't we all been dying to see someone take the fight to Mercedes? Perhaps this can be the final piece in the Ferrari jigsaw puzzle. And seeing as the FIA gave the green light, would any other team really do anything different if they were in Ferrari's shoes?

    For Ferrari's rivals, namely the ones with the collateral to pull off such a stunt, Ferrari's move has left Red Bull and Mercedes grinding their teeth. Some have speculated that the realisation of what Ferrari are attempting might have sparked Mercedes' eagerness to pursue a deal with Manor, whilst Bach also reports that Red Bull also attempted to 'do a Ferrari' by trying to get Christian Horner's Arden squad on the grid.

    Alas, it could well be a case of too little too late.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
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  2. Benutzername

    Online Martini Racing - Founder and driver

    Didnt know that, sounds genius!

    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. BoogerMac

    Premium Member

    Great article! Its going to be an interesting off-season.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    Ferrari is too little too late, would have liked to see this when Fernando was still around. But yeah, regardless I'd love to see Ferrari competing with Mercedes on a regular basis for once :thumbsup: Might not be the same winner every day.
  5. Benutzername

    Online Martini Racing - Founder and driver

    Not only Ferrari... Hass will might have a chance for points. I dont think they'll be as bad as Virgin/Lotus/HRT. More like Red Bull in 2005 if they've done it right. Excited
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  6. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    I wasn't expecting Haas to be the new HRT anyway :D

    would be fun having Haas vs Ferrari vs Merc.. but I am asking too much.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. Benutzername

    Online Martini Racing - Founder and driver

    Wasnt expecting that either, but its hard for new teams nowadays so i would have thought them to be at a level of Sauber or something. Now the cards look even a bit better. Really curious to see their performance
  8. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    I was thinking Force India
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  9. Wow this is old news, first heard about this around the start of June come on guys keep up, still great article ;):thumbsup:
  10. Smart move by Ferrari and Haas.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Andrew

    Global Moderator Staff Premium Member

    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. I'm part of those who think they should have right to unlimited testing time off-season...
    • Agree Agree x 3
  13. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    FerrAri is in Charlotte more than I am. Lol.
  14. MoerasGrizzly

    Premium Member

    I think all manufactures should try to fill up the grid to boost their testing time :p
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  15. Truly awesome article based on rumours, facts and a great deduction method, gj.
    That might explain why Haas decided not to enter F1 in 2015...
    Well this article just got my hopes up for the next season, I was really dissapointed
    this year. I mean the only climpses of nice racing was Vettel's 2 wins ( :O_o:), a
    podium for Grojean and a Mclaren in the points lol.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Good to see a story about the obvious dots that needed connecting. Many insiders here in the States pointed to the wind tunnel that Has owns as key right off the bat...for many reasons, including its non-exclusive, yet rare NASA-like capabilities very few F1 teams own. The fact that Red Bull used it is no secret. Ferrari will obviously now benefit greatly, as will Haas from all those "if-I-tell-you-I-must-kill-you" Ferrari secrets.