Both Ferrari drivers started well in the last race at the Hungaroring, taking first and second positions on lap one after lining up third and fifth on the grid.
The team’s technical director James Allison explained how the teams’ start procedures worked previously during today’s FIA press conference and explained how they will be changed by the new restrictions:
“When you go with the car, from stopped to going, there’s a certain amount of grip available on the track: the tyre’s got a certain amount of grip, the track’s got a certain amount of grip. You want to go as close to that available grip as possible but not over it and you don’t want any under it otherwise you’re not making as much performance as there is available.”
“If you were super-duper skilful you might have fingers that could judge exactly where that grip is but it all happens very fast. So a perfect start is one where you can just let go of the clutch, let go of it and it closes to the perfect point where it delivers exactly the right amount of torque, such that the tyre doesn’t light up and spin but neither does it give less torque to the road than the road is capable of taking.”
“So our job during the weekend is to try to judge exactly how much grip is available and to adjust our clutches so that when the driver says ‘go’ the clutch closes the perfect amount to deliver the perfect amount of torque to the road, and then off it goes. And that’s not something that happens without the driver adjusting stuff. He doesn’t fiddle around with his fingers.”
“The way that we used to do that in the past was there are two clutch paddles, one which he holds all the way in, keeping the clutch fully open, and the other one which he holds in a partially closed and open position. We then as engineers adjust the clutch so this partially closed and open position is at exactly the right point to get this magic start.”
“And then when the light goes green he lets go of the first clutch and the clutch closes to the point that is being held by the second paddle. Off the car goes.”
“All that’s changed is that now we’re not allowed to advise or make any adjustments to make any adjustments to that biting point between when the car’s on the grid preparing for the start of the race and when the driver actually does it. So the parade lap start and the real start is done all by the driver and if he thinks it’s not closed enough or too open the clutch, he has to make his own judgement about that and make the calls. We can be sitting in the garage going ‘no, don’t do that’, but we don’t have any power to stop him’.”
Mercedes’ executive director for technical Paddy Lowe endorsed the change, saying it will put more responsibility in the hands of the drivers.
“I think we will see a little bit more variability,” said Lowe, “but the big thing for me is that to a larger extent if the driver has a good or a bad start, that will be down to his skill and less dependent on the team’s performance in configuring the start.”
2015 Belgian Grand Prix
- How a secret Mercedes engine mode helped pressure Vettel into a race-ending puncture
- “If drivers respect track limits there’s no problem” – Spa responds to Pirelli over ‘debris’
- Tyres should be able to cope with debris – Massa
- Pirelli urge better track cleaning after Spa blow-outs
- Podium earns Grosjean Driver of the Weekend win