Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Does mystery new dial offer clue to Ferrari’s F1 tyre edge?

The relocation of a 'GRIP' setting on Ferrari's 2017 F1 car has prompted intrigue about whether the team's advantage with tyres is being helped by use of some clever driver-adjustable settings.

Does mystery new dial offer clue to Ferrari’s F1 tyre edge?

Both of Sebastian Vettel's victories this year have been based on his Ferrari SF70H being better in looking after its tyres, and more especially having a much wider operating window to use all the compounds in all types of conditions.

As rival Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said over the Russian Grand Prix weekend: "The wider the window is, and the easier you put the car into the tyre window, the faster you go. The more narrow it is, the more difficult it is to hit the window, and this is what we are seeing at the moment.

"The Ferrari seems to be a car that is pretty robust in a wider window temperature than ours, and it doesn't matter whether it's Bahrain, where it's very hot, or Sochi where it's cold. It's just a very good car."

While Mercedes is chasing answers as to why its car operates in such a narrow window, Ferrari's rivals also want to understand how the Maranello team's car is so good everywhere.

And the answer could well go beyond the pure chassis, suspension and aerodynamics of Ferrari's 2017 challenger, and extend in to what the drivers are able to do from the cockpit.

Moved dial

Ferrari SF70H, steering wheel
Ferrari SF70H, steering wheel

Photo by: Motorsport.com

Giorgio Piola's exclusive video of the changes (below) that Ferrari has made to its steering wheel for 2017 offer a clue that some of the advantage could come from the way that the driver is able to optimise car settings to help tyre performance throughout the race.

The Manettino dial has been moved from inside the cockpit on to the wheel for this year, which shows its importance has increased. With settings that run from 1-12, it is labelled as 'GRIP' - which suggests it is related to how the car is handling on its tyres either in races or at starts.

It is the only major change from Ferrari's traditional dials from 2016 and its positioning on the wheel, at the bottom left on both Vettel and Raikkonen's cars, shows it is quite important for easy access.

Steering wheel of Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08

Steering wheel of Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08

Photo by: Franco Nugnes / Motorsport.com

For 2017 the importance of controls on the steering wheels has increased, with teams like Mercedes even keeping their wheels hidden in boxes when outside of the car to prevent prying eyes from seeing what it is up to.

Furthermore, it doesn't even fit its real wheel when the car is taken to scrutineering - instead fitting a dummy one.

Race or start use?

The fact that the team has moved the dial on to the steering wheel shows there must be value to it, because space in front of the driver is at a premium.

While drivers already can change controls like differentials, engine mapping and brake balance to help with handling, the possibility of having pre-loaded settings that can be adjusted based on what the tyres are doing could allow the car to be more compliant to the state of the Pirellis.

That means coping with a shifting car balance front-to-rear, bringing tyre temperatures into line better, plus adjusting for the transition from a heavy fuel load to a light fuel load.

The 'GRIP' dial could also be related to the new start procedures, with drivers having to decide for themselves about various settings away from the line, so any adjustment on clutch engagement based on grip levels would be beneficial.

What Vettel and Raikkonen can change based on grip certainly is not the magic bullet to explain Ferrari's strong form. But, in a sport like F1, marginal gains can be the difference between success and defeat it offers a glimpse about the detail the team has gone to get back to the top.

Other changes

Piola's steering wheel video also offers some interesting insight into subtle changes to the wheels to help increase comfort for the drivers.

Vettel's wheel last year had longer and thinner hand grips, and for this year they have been shortened and beefed up – probably as a consequence of the increased forces drivers are experiencing with the 2017 cars.

Raikkonen's wheel has also a different shaped grip, with an indent towards the top to help suit his needs.

Clutch paddle

Behind the wheel, the single clutch paddle that Ferrari used last year has been retained.

As Motorsport.com revealed, Ferrari became the first team to run a new type of long clutch paddle that pivoted in the centre, rather than having separate paddles on both sides of the wheel.

The length allowed the drivers to have a better control over clutch release, and has been retained for this year despite a new 80mm limit of movement that has been imposed.

The Haas team also uses this single clutch paddle arrangement.

shares
comments
Sauber boss backs 'franchise' system for F1
Previous article

Sauber boss backs 'franchise' system for F1

Next article

Gilles Villeneuve Museum to get bigger and better

Gilles Villeneuve Museum to get bigger and better
Load comments
The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race Prime

The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race

OPINION: Max Verstappen has made the 2021 Formula 1 championship. He’s taken the fight to the all-conquering Mercedes squad and its dominant champion, produced driving displays few can match. But he’s been on a controversial course too, and finally crossed a particular line in Jeddah

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Prime

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Prime

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Formula 1
Dec 4, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021