Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Ferrari has been having some wind tunnel correlation problems, meaning that the numbers they get from their wind tunnel testing do not match the results they get from when they test new parts on the track.
Today Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has highlighted these problems again today in the usual FIA Friday Press Conference. Ferrari is planning to shut its Maranello wind tunnel down in an attempt to solve the problems. He also stated that Ferrari’s wind tunnel is outdated and that he believes that this is why the last couple of upgrades brought did not work as expected (F2012 Singapore Upgrade).
"I think our structure is not the best one in that respect, it's quite old. We are trying to improve the quality of the tools we have, this is something we are trying to do, so we try and improve correlation and this is the plan that we should be able to do for next season."
Despite having access to other wind tunnels too, for example Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne, Domenicali believes that these are the right actions in order to put an end to the problems hampering the team and Fernando Alonso’s chances to the WDC (World Drivers Championship).
‘’We considered it was coming from the tool that is not really up to the speed of the new technologies in the market. That is why we think we need to improve that, so that the percentage of what we bring to the track is higher than we have now.’’
"I think the situation with the championship is clear, if you are not able to improve the car then it is more difficult to fight for the championship as we cannot rely on the problems of the others.’’
"We cannot rely only being third or fourth, we need to make sure we can win a race and then we see what is the situation with the others."
Exactly what is wrong with the wind tunnel is uncertain, although at times we have been given some hints. For example in last year’s Friday press conference during the Chinese GP, ex Ferrari Technical Director Aldo Costa in an interview said: ‘’ A Formula One car, these days, is a very, very complex aerodynamic machine so there are a lot of vortices that can interfere one with the other. It’s not only happened to us, it’s happened from time to time that developments are not bringing the expected performance.’’
This is what I believe is the problem with Ferrari’s wind tunnel, complex vortex management. This ‘theory’ is also supported by the last upgrade in Singapore which didn’t work (F2012 Singapore Upgrade), and by some word that was spreading around during the first quarter of the season that one of the problems Ferrari had was with calculating the vortices produced by their front pullrod suspension design.
One thing is for certain, their wind tunnel issues are hurting the title bid, if Alonso loses the WDC this year it will be the second time he lost the title due to Ferrari’s fault.
Maranello wind tunnel photo from: http://menslifestyles.com/images/ferrarri_maranello_wind_tunnel_1_350x640.jpg