Minds on Austin, hearts in Suzuka
Maranello, 28 October – After a three week break since Formula 1 made its debut on Russian soil, the circus now heads west for the United States, a country that, over the years has been the backdrop to any number of motor sport highlights for Ferrari, in Formula 1 and sports car racing. It is also the biggest market for Prancing Horse road cars in the world and in terms of market presence Ferrari this year celebrates its 60th anniversary.
With just three races remaining in the current campaign, Scuderia Ferrari’s main aim is clear: to continue fighting for third place in the Constructors’ Championship in which it currently lies fourth, 28 points behind Williams. There is also another equally important agenda as the Scuderia’s Engineering Director, Pat Fry explains to www.ferrari.com: “After the back-to-back races in Japan and Sochi, we’ve had three weeks to prepare for these next back-to-backs in the States and Brazil. The extra week has given us more time to get ready and also to prepare some specific test items. They are all aimed at learning about car performance and trying to improve, but at this stage of the year, it’s more with an eye to 2015.”
It’s true the technical regulations introduced this year presented everyone with a very steep learning curve and the Scuderia engineers are now focused on making the most of the lessons learned. “Certainly, our knowledge and understanding has come on a huge amount,” confirms Fry. “It’s also clear, comparing us to our competitors, exactly where we need to improve. We need to work on all areas of the car and we’ve set ourselves some strong targets for power unit and aerodynamic development, both of which are key. We have to reach those targets to be competitive and that is the main focus at the factory now, as it will be for the next five months.”
The Circuit of the Americas became an instant hit from its first appearance on the calendar in 2012. The track features corners “copied” from other great circuits as well as a spectacular climb to the first blind turn after the pits. It’s one of the few anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar, which takes a little bit of getting used to for the drivers and also for the pit stop crews, who have to deal with the cars coming at them from their right hand side. Setting up the cars will be the usual compromise of dealing with both the fast and slow sections and Fry singles out one element of the package as being of particular importance. “There’s lots of high speed flowing corners in the first section with a very long straight and then quite a few low speed corners,” he says. “The overriding factor that has dominated the last two races we’ve had here has been the tyres and the performance of cars in Austin is really going to be down to how well we can get the tyres to work.”
The United States Grand Prix will follow the usual timeline, with everyone going about their allocated tasks, preparing for Sunday’s battle. However, four weeks on from the Japanese GP, everyone in Formula 1 and everyone at Ferrari will be thinking of another battle still taking place in Suzuka, as Jules Bianchi continues to fight for his life. Forza Jules!