Changes at Ferrari herald a 'new era' - Allison
Technical director James Allison says Ferrari's recent investment in its wind tunnel and aerodynamic team have thrust it to the cutting edge of Formula One after several years of lagging behind.
Ferrari has been using Toyota's wind tunnel in Cologne while it has been overhauling its own facility at Maranello, and Allison is just one of a number of appointments to the aero team this year, including his right-hand man at Lotus Dirk de Beer. Aerodynamics and simulation have been the team's weak points in recent years, but Allison believes it now has the right resources to challenge the very best teams in Formula One.
"Aerodynamics remains the lifeblood of a modern Formula One car," he told the Ferrari website. "It's impossible to be competitive without having the right tools and adequate resources: now we can say we have moved on from being maybe the fourth or fifth team in terms of the tools we have, to once again being at the cutting edge and everything is in place to open up a new Ferrari era."
Allison joined Ferrari on September 1, but said he had not been focusing on next year's car.
"I definitely haven't spent time going into the details of the design of the new car, as it wouldn't make any sense at this stage," he added. "Rather, I concentrated on trying to direct adequate resources and on putting the best people in the right places to optimise attention to detail. Actually, when you tackle a regulation change like this one, it's not something you only start thinking about six months beforehand.
"When I arrived in Maranello, work on the project had been ongoing for two years. I tried to immerse myself in its philosophy and adapt to the team as quickly as possible. Having said that, what you could call my active role in the design of the car involves working identifying the areas on which maybe we should push harder and concentrate more effort."
Next season will see a complete overhaul of the engine regulations, with more emphasis on energy recovery units and turbo V6s replacing this year's V8s. Allison believes the changes will shift the emphasis away from aerodynamics a little.
"It's true that the influence of the power unit on overall performance of the car will be much greater than in the recent past. From when, in 2007, the freeze on engine development took hold and performance levels converged, it's clear that its influence on the pecking order got ever smaller, while aerodynamics grew in importance.
"In the years leading up to that point, that wasn't the case: I can well remember how important the engine was in terms of Ferrari's successes in the first half of the Noughties. Now we will witness a re-balancing, although aerodynamics will still be a key factor."