Is Jarno Trulli complimenting or complaining about Ferrari?

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Drivers don’t pay compliments to other drivers or other teams very often. On the face of it, Jarno Trulli seems to think Kimi Raikkonen should start clearing a place on his mantlepiece for the 2008 FIA F1 World Drivers’ Championship trophy:

When you watch Ferrari’s performance on the track your arms drop [in amazement]. They brake where they want but, above all, they accelerate where they want, when I always have to be careful giving power, which is no longer managed by traction control.

But in January Trulli suggested at least one team had found a way to re-create the banned launch control systems:

Having analysed the behaviour on the track both now and in the tests in December, the changes between them are many – and in several cases suspicious.

Traction control and launch control are different systems but both are concerned with reducing wheelspin. Is Trulli suggesting that Ferrari are using an illegal traction control device?

Toyota and Ferrari tested on their own at Bahrain for six days so Trulli will have had plenty of time to take notice of what they were doing.

Last year Ferrari ran away with the first race of the season at Melbourne and Kimi Raikkonen scored a crushing win. But after a change to the rules governing the underside of the car, which Ferrari were believed to be getting around with a flexing floor, their advantage over the rest of the field was lessened.

Is Trulli sending out messages that he thinks Ferrari have gotten too far in front of the rest of the pack and need to be pegged back? Here’s what else he had to say:

In my opinion they are at least half a second faster per lap, even with respect to McLaren. The championship already looks over to me before it has started.

The last time Ferrari and McLaren tested side-by-side was at Valencia three weeks ago, where there was very little to choose between the cars. In the Bahrain test Raikkonen posted a quickest time of 1’30.015, almost a second quicker than Trulli’s 1?���??30.994.

Which leaves two questions: are Ferrari really that far ahead of everyone else? And is Trulli trying to nobble them?

Photo copyright: Ferrari S.p.A.

More on 2008 F1 testing

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Is Jarno Trulli complimenting or complaining about Ferrari?”

  1. What, by putting a sensor, power pack, parallelogram lever, an actuator on the back of the accelerator pedal, and using a tiny microprocessor to smooth out the throttle,, who would do such a thing?!

    Or an adjustable resistance piston (oil for adjustability) and letting it “compensate” for the pressure applied to the pedal.

    Oh wait,, did I just come up with two ways to cheat,,

  2. Sounds like you know your stuff! I take it both those things you’ve described would get around the standard ECU?

  3. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, as the whole point would be to hide a mechnism and tiny powerplant that is reponds to throttle input and forward G-forces only (mems accelerometer )

    The tiny batteries would have to kick ass, but it’s a mildly conceivable notion,, worth the time to shove an engineer or two at it for a kick knock together and see if it works
    Scrutineer,, “Weird pedal”
    team tech, “yeah, they like thicker heavier pedals now,, it’s the new thing”
    “ok, tra la la la la ” (that’s the scrutineer singing to himself while skipping away).

    Who knows if it’d work, just my crazy 2 cents for how to get around something as isolated as an ECU box,, simply optimize the info going into said box. The pedal would be the prime location, and as it would be able to be considered a mechanical part of the pedal, (yet in no way adjusting electronic input and output to the ecu box) It seems it would somehow be a possibility. Maybe an all mechanical system (ie, no electronics, just a valved piston assembly on the linkage)

    Then again, its just the wild ramblings of a weirdo. No one has ever let me drive an F1 car,, (fools) but if they’re really doing something,, you can be sure its vastly more clever than my silly thoughts.

  4. Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Our new technical advisor: Fred Schecter

  5. I reckon Fred’s onto something there – a mechanical system that “manages the throttle at lower speeds” instead of “reducing wheelspin” – a mere interpretation of the terminology really, is completely viable. I guess we’ll just have to see how fast this Ferrari is come March :>

    Still, gotta love the pre-season excuses, “it’s not us that’s slow, it’s them that are too quick – they must be cheating”.

  6. Thanks,, I’ll ask Kieth about joining the advisory committee, Hah!!!

    Poor old Jarno, a man who should’ve worn red at some point,, alas,, the frustration must be too great to watch anyone but Badoer roll around for the Scuderia must be maddening!

    If there is some “traction control” out there, that isn’t totally kosher, it’d be interesting to see how they’re doing it.

    If it isn’t in the pedal as that nut suggested (oh, right, me) what not create a circuit system and sandwich it between connectors and bulkheads? That way it just looks like it goes through a big chunk of carbon, but the power in the system could run the circuitry and control inputs better.

    Besides that, does anyone ever know what happened to the system they were forced to stop working on at Prost before they had to shut it down? That still lurks in my brain as a big question mark, (I think it had something to do with regenerative braking, or active suspension without electronics (both were theorized at the time) but I never heard a thing about it.

    Cheers (gotta get back to making hair dryers)

  7. A minor point: the rules regarding movable floors were not changed after Melbourne, the test for them was upgraded to prevent cheating.

  8. Nice points made, Fred! I think any of the smarter teams would have at least tried a refined version of your idea. Or if they haven’t, and one of them happens to be reading this site… Hmmm…

    Oh, Jarno IS wearing red… TOYOTA red! :P

  9. Did Jarno consider the possibility that Kimi knows how to handle the pedal ?

  10. Fair point Clive.

  11. i dunno if anybody would be cheating, but wouldnt it b interesting to see what the outcome of ferrari being caught cheating would be!
    i hate them!
    all the years of thier dominance and not one complaint by a competitor yet get ferrari into a title fight and watch them head for the courtrooms!
    ’03 ’06 and ’07 anyone?

  12. Ok, what Fred is explaining sounds funny and I think that’s what it’s supposed to be. Smoothing out the throttle input is no traction control and would help if the driver had Parkinson’s disease. It would be impossible for a G-Force sensor alone to read when there is loss of traction or not without a lot of other information and obviously not using the wheel sensor. Does Ferrari have something which helps with traction without using the ECU? Maybe, but it won’t be a cushioned pedal…

  13. Yeah, maybe it’s not Ferrari, maybe it’s Kimi. I’m an Alonso fan, but I really think that when it comes down to it, Kimi is the man. Maybe he “brakes when he wants” and “accelerates when he wants” because he’s just not afraid, and not sleeping behind the wheels anymore.

  14. Keith,

    The most important is to put the issue on the table, as Trulli is trying to do. But who is the voice to make the FIA move herself?

    I think that only Frank have some dignity now to make some complains about this another Ferrari “tractiongate” and save the 2008 championship.


  15. Michael K

    Half funny, half serious,, while having Michael J Fox in a race car would be great, he’s better suited for hockey (Canadian). However, it seemed a reasonable area to probe, as it wouldn’t be “inline” with any electronics and a truly separate piece of kit. Isolating G-forces along the vehicle versus foot inputs is a rational (if expensive) proposition (3 different axis accelerometers and a processor could isolate forces enough for useful data), and could be truly separated from the ecu. Another option is something of the same nature, but in having an “over-ride throttle paddle” on the wheel, to fine tune throttle inputs at speed (mechanical linkage?) Eh, who knows,, just theorizing on a way around it more than anything, (rules, just tell you how to get around them). My whole point being based around a more controlled throttle application linkage applied to the input lever on the throttle. It would be a high tech application of a low tech solution (not a sponge/shock absorber, but an active throttle application management system).

    I’d be more excited to see that someone has really got a “legal” way around traction control,, or, in this case,, advanced throttle input systems, as true traction control works with engine braking, and even sometimes true braking systems (as you noted Michael).

    It’ll be fun to see as the season plays out what becomes of it all.

  16. Excellent explanation on possible ways to counteract loss of traction control – if there is such a system – you can bet someone will try it – possibly for the rules to be rearranged afterwards to suit!! – but lets see if any team has a greater advantage than there nearest rivals and if so then the automatic ban of them – mclaren- ferrari – et all – but the clock is ticking for the first race now – rock on !!!- ps the first really wet drive should show who is using a system like that?? – surely

  17. I think you are totally wrong. The TC is not as simple a more controlled throttle application, the point is not how to manipulate throttle input, you don’t have to, activate the brake has the same effect. The whole point is to detect wheel spin/slip rate und keep the wheel slip rate at the optimum(nothing to do with G-force???), because the tyre has maxmium grip within a certain slip rate window. Although there’s the maxmium grip within this window, the tyre wear incease with the slip rate.

  18. So ade do you mean stcky tyres wear out quicker due to rubber loss? (caused by torque/engine load)- if so that’s been about for eons? – possibly I got it wrong if so sorry

  19. I agree that its not simple “throttle application”.

    What would you suggest for defining a true traction control workaround for a fixed ECU box?

    My impression was that Trulli’s statement was on performance he noted (not particularly noises, as we all know what last year’s TC sounded like). Yes, traction has to do with wheel slip (107% optimal) and slip angle (aim for 6-7%) but as it’s likely that such a workaround wouldn’t be able to incorporate additional information from other onboard telemetry (an assumption on my part) my thought was simply to identify a few simple factors and improve them. Those simple factors were in the realm of throttle movement (initial foot input, (force applied)) G-force currently sustained (in X, Y, & Z axis). With this information (And the ability to mechanically control the “actual input from foot” then tailor that output to optimize “throttle lever arm input” (consider an algorithm that could contain vehicle rate of speed, “intended acceleration change”, current forces along axis, maximum acceleration increase likely to generate desired wheel slip. Maybe there would be a way to do something that’d improve driver acceleration application, or, a number we could refer to as “foot-downed-ness”
    Gee, making up words is fun!!

    My theory is likely waay off, (if anyone is actually doing it). I’d love to hear a vastly better suggestion of how to apply said “traction control”

    Maybe simply active brake application? For that matter is “braking control via computer legal? Thoughts,, anyone?

  20. I had a comment about circumventing the ECU, but it got a bit overgrown. Suffice to say that it looks perfectly plausible and Jarno Trulli is right to be worried. Mind you, Ferrari look so fast at the moment that even if they had TC and it was removed, I’m not convinced that the other teams could defeat it this year.

  21. Fred, if you had the right information, then your system would help. I doubt that it is allowed to have extra computing power in the car for this system to work. I don’t fully know the rules, but maybe the steering wheel could be a place to put a processor or two…
    G-Force sensors alone won’t be enough as then the system will start regulating if there is a steep incline for example unless the car exactly knew where it was all the time. My guess is that Ferrari have a very good setup of differentials that minimize the possible loss of traction in a mechanical way, some sort of mechanical AYC or Active LSD…

  22. I dont know whether Ferrari is cheating or not but all i know is Kimi is damn Faster in any car he drives(his Record speaks),because he’s got the feel of his(cars)Rear Wheel,so with or without Traction He can go as fast as the car can handle.

  23. Autosprint have alleged the standard ECU system can be exploited to run traction control systems. Here’s a Partial translation

  24. The alleged exploit of the standard ECU concerns launch control for starts only, not traction control. However one is left wondering if there are other “security flaws” in the programming of the Mclaren boxes.

  25. Almost certainly. Remember, Microsoft are the software designers…

  26. I hate Ferrari too. Not because they are fast or win many championships but because how they behave when they win. Especially how they behave or talk about other teams when they do the same thing. And it doesn’t help either that the FIA seems biased in favour of them .

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