Formula 1 | Any evolution is a headache, a risk and a dilemma with limited budgets

You’ve been reading this for the past few hours and in the last few days, the war of developments is married to the war of limited budgets this year, especially between Ferrari and Red Bull: the first team was shocked see the second. bringing in so many improvements, compared to what the 140 million budget allowed in a year.

This process affects all teams, including the smallest. For example, Haas F1 did not bring any developments to Barcelona for this reason.

Let’s talk about the Red Bull situation: the era of unlimited spending is over. How does Pierre Waché, the technical director, select developments in the new era of these barriers? Do we prefer an expensive part that brings a lot of performance, to a cheap part that brings little?

The Frenchman recounted the day-to-day management of a technical department during times of limited budgets. And we think the doctor’s drawers at work are full of aspirin …

“We have the same challenges as everyone else. The main thing is, from my perspective, this is another barrier we have. Previously, we were limited by resources in terms of the time we could spend in the wind tunnel, in CFDs. , and the number of people we have to work on certain subjects. You just have another money barrier to play with, an engineering barrier. »

“It’s not harder, it’s just a constraint. It is more difficult because what you are planning must have been done before. This means that if you have a group of people working on a project, if it is useless in terms of performance, you are also wasting money and resources. »

“The overall system has to be planned and challenged every day, how you spend the resources and the money. It’s something we haven’t had in the past. But yes, it’s more work. The main aspect after that is you tried to be better than we did in the past, especially for us, to be honest. »

On the other team owned by Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Jody Egginton also detailed her technique. The technical director asks himself a lot more questions than in the past before launching any development.

“On a limited budget, you have to focus on spending your money in the right places, and some car parts can deliver more performance than others, really. [comme le plancher par rapport à l’aileron avant selon Pat Fry chez Alpine]. So you look at what you’re doing in the wind tunnel, targeting where the most revenue is, putting those packages together, seeing what your strategy is to bring progress to the car. »

“But there is always the question of the budget cap, how much do you want to spend? How would you like to do it? The schedule of developments: should we hurry to achieve them at great cost, or achieve them at a different speed to save money, but then there will be a delay? And then, in the back of your head, there’s also … OK, what about the things we haven’t been to yet? »

“You have to invest your money throughout the season. It was very competitive, in our case, in the middle of the grid, we wanted to continue to develop, it was a war in development, we also learned about car racing by race. So budget constraints are a very important part of it. You have to deal with that, along with your development strategy, so it’s really important, it’s a high priority. »

“As far as administering the cost caps and all the extra work around it … yes, that is also an extra burden. But you need it because it has to do with performance. If you mess up and don’t make the right decisions, or if your approach isn’t right, it will affect the car’s performance, so more work, but this is a real part of what we need to do now. »

Finally at Mercedes, technical director Mike Elliott isn’t afraid of the challenge: after all, F1 has talented engineers (and financial directors). Even inflation poses a serious problem.

“Engineers are good at challenges. All we have to do is make compromises and that’s what always happens, whether it’s between the weight of the car and the aerodynamics, or between the mechanical aspects of the car and the aerodynamics, and finances, are just one part of that challenge, as Pierre said. And as engineers, it’s almost just, it’s a different challenge that we’ve solved and the playing field has changed. . »

“I think what is really difficult this year is dealing with the inflation issues that everyone is facing. And where we started at the beginning of the year when we knew what we were going to try to do during the year, dealing with the very high rate of inflation was a big challenge. »

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