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'We have quite a lot of catching up to do' - Fry
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Ferrari is planning a significant improvement to the new F138's aerodynamic package at the third pre-season test after admitting that its hard-fought 2012 campaign had a knock-on effect on the car's development.
The launch specification of the new F138 showed a clear evolution of the F2012's design concepts, which the team continued to develop until the final race of last year in order to keep Fernando Alonso in the championship chase. Technical director Pat Fry revealed that the intense work towards the end of 2012 meant Ferrari's aero department started work on the F138 roughly three months later than it usually would.
"The biggest challenge was the aerodynamic side of things, as we started maybe three months later than is normal," he said. "We have quite a lot of catching up to do and you will see quite a lot of changes coming after the launch car; we will have some new parts for the second test and then another big upgrade for the third and final one, so lots of changes coming through."
As a result the launch car's aero is still relatively primitive compared to what the team has planned for the first race, although Fry said that underneath the bodywork gains have been found.
"In terms of the launch car, we have done a good job on the mechanical installation and the design, we have hit all our stiffness targets and saved a lot of weight," Fry said. "However, we cannot hide the fact that, aerodynamically, the launch car is a long way behind where we are in the wind tunnel today. We will have a better idea of what our true performance level is come the third test but I'm not going to be happy until we are clearly quickest.
"In the last eighteen months to two years we have made major changes to our methodology and we are partway through a process and I am pleased with the progress we have made so far. But for me, our progress can never be quick enough and I feel we still have quite a lot to do to improve. I am never going to be happy unless we arrive in Melbourne and prove to have the quickest car."
To add to the complications, Ferrari is currently in the process of updating its on-site wind tunnel and will use one of the tunnels at the old Toyota F1 facility in Cologne to develop the F138 over the course of the season. Chief designer Nikolas Tombazis admitted that using a wind tunnel in Germany is not ideal, but he is still confident Ferrari can be competitive.
"All the work for this season's car will be carried out in the Toyota tunnel in Germany while we upgrade the Maranello wind tunnel to bring it up to the right level," he said. "It is now quite old and needs upgrading having served us well for twelve years. The ideal situation would be to have the wind tunnel right here and I cannot say that using a wind tunnel in Cologne is the perfect solution, but weighing up the medium and long term advantages of having an upgrade on our wind tunnel or carrying on as it was, we concluded that our current strategy was the best.
"We have taken steps to ensure communications and logistics are as effective as possible in 2013. But still, wherever the wind tunnel, the most important thing is to have good ideas and aerodynamic development and a good facility."
Felipe Massa and Pedro de la Rosa will take part in the first week of testing for Ferrari before Fernando Alonso gets behind the wheel of the updated F138 at the second and final tests.