By: Jeremy McMullen
blog comments powered by Disqus
By: Jeremy McMullen
| They must have realized low-key works too! As Kimi Raikkonen walked around the garage at the Ferrari facility at Fiorano, the Finnish driver flashed some smiles; the only real evidence of this stoic driver being the world champion. In a ceremony fit for their subdued world champion, Ferrari quietly (at least in the Formula One world) unveiled its challenger for the 2008 season. The F2008 is the team's hope to solidify the return of the Ferrari dynasty.
Much like their world champion driver, Ferrari's car unveilings (since Schumacher left) have been all business-like, with really no flash at all. In fact, the unveiling of the F2008 seemed more like a mid-season design update than an unveiling of a brand new design. The F2008 was revealed to the world at Ferrari's facility just like the F2007 was last year. The extent of the light show was a mere turning on of the overhead lights within the facility.
Formula One is an ever-changing world, even for the driver's and constructors champions. Every team, every year tweaks designs, abandons them all-together or applies designs of other teams (not necessarily a jab at McLaren-Mercedes after last season's problems) in an effort to continue to maintain that performance edge. And yet surprisingly, the F2008 boasts of some features that truly depart from the designs seen throughout most of this decade. Within the team there is a shift in personnel and apparently a shift in design concept.
All of the changes made are in that constant effort to increase on-track performance. But of course the changes that will have the biggest impact on the track are not chassis design changes. No, the design changes that will have the biggest on-track effect for 2008 are regulatory in nature. And many aspects of the design are the results of the team's efforts to compensate for, or to minimize the loss of the 'comforts' the new rules took away.
Gone for 2008, and probably for the foreseeable future, is traction control. No longer will the driver be able to just step on the gas peddle once he reaches the apex of the corner. With the loss of traction control, which prevented wheel slippage, the driver has to be more careful with the gas peddle to ensure the car doesn't swap ends.
In conjunction with the departure of traction control, launch systems have been outlawed as well. Teams had been able to write software so that when the clutch was held in with the paddle on the steering wheel it would rev the engine to an optimal point to help prevent wheel slippage while providing maximum torque for a quick getaway at the start.
The gearbox will be tested this year as it must make it through four races. The gears can be changed but the gearbox cannot. Also, and probably one of the biggest changes this year, is that the Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which is the brains of the car and provides teams with nanosecond updates is solely supplied by the FIA to each team. On top of that, the bit rate for the unit is much slower. The team's own ECU allowed quick monitoring of certain parameters. This was extremely helpful in controlling the engine revs, especially during braking. This control and adjustment allowed the car to be more stable under acceleration (with traction control) and under heavy braking. That is all gone this year with the standardized ECUs.