Alfa Romeo again failed to score points at Suzuka. Aston Martin is getting closer and closer to the Swiss racing team. At least the new front wing achieved satisfactory results. In Austin, Alpha wants to improve the lower body. For the upcoming season, there is an important question regarding the chassis.
The edge is melting. Alfa Romeo leads Aston Martin by just seven points after the Japanese Grand Prix. The British racing team scored 20 points in the last two races. In the last nine of their 29 Alfa’s, only one point was added in this period. The Swiss team has 52 points in four races before the end of the season. 51 of them entered the Canadian Grand Prix, the ninth race of the season.
The advantages of the first half of the season disappeared. The C42 was at the minimum weight at the start of the season. even under it. This allowed the engineers to work with the ballast to achieve better balance for the vehicle. In the meantime, the weight advantage has shrunk. Many competitors lost ten kilograms or more over the course of the year. This alone brought in the three and a half tenths that Alpha no longer had in reserve. A second drawback: Alfa-Sauber is no longer very accurate with the tires.
Underbody Update for Austin
Hinwil pressured development in the early stages. It paid off. Then there was calm for a long time regarding new developments. Caught opponents. Alpha does not exhaust the budget ceiling. The upper limit should be about ten million US dollars in 2022. There is no money for development. No small team can produce parts so quickly.
At GP Japan, Sauber followed on a larger scale for the first time. Engineers shortened the nose, which led to the crash test being performed again. And they made a new front wing. There were also new parts in the invisible area. In Austin they want to improve their lower body. Little things, they say.
The new front end has made satisfactory progress. “Overall, the overall contact pressure increases somewhat. It gives us a better balance between slow and fast cornering,” explains Operations Director Xevi Pujolar. There were no points yet. Neither qualifying nor racing went according to plan. In qualifying, Valtteri Bottas’ electric motor was not producing enough power between Turn 7 and 8. The problem of cost impetus ERS – the critical fractions of the clock. Bottas missed the Q3 by 53 parts.
The front wing requires fine tuning
The weak point is the beginnings. Finn always lags behind. Partly dramatic. At Suzuka, it went down from 12th to 14th. Neither Bottas nor Guanyu Zhou had anything to do with registering for the wet race. They ended up in positions 15 and 16.
Alfa-Sauber will have to score again in the last four races. Otherwise, Aston Martin threatens to slip into the final race. Returning to seventh place in the World Tag Team Championship will cost Alpha Millions of dollars in rewards. It hurts twice for a team that operates under budget. With millions in sixth place, it will operate at maximum cost in 2023. The budget cap will also be slightly lowered next year.
The new front wing requires fine tuning. Because it affects the flow from front to back. Suzuka practice faltered on Friday. “Actually, we wanted to drive with streaming networks. We can forget about that,” Bogular explains. The fact that the update still works instantly has something to do with the good setup. “Our drivers drove it a lot in the simulator.”
The tools provide reliable data. It is a pain for Alfa-Sauber that the second practice session in Austin is announced as a tire test. This is also in Mexico. This limits training time for more fine-tuning.
New structure or not?
Not all teams have reached their maximum weight yet. Big companies like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, for example, are said to be even higher. It seems that Mercedes is still far away. If this happens to you, you can slim down the winter with a new lightweight chassis. It is said that Red Bull has already built one, but has not yet used it.
Teams that scratch their cars minimum weight will think twice before setting up a new chassis at all. Two or three kilograms can also be lifted in other ways. The temptation is greater for those who are already underground and work with ballast. Alfa Sauber is one of them. Here you are faced with the question of whether it is better to avoid creating a completely new structure. The money is better invested in other areas of vehicle development.
Engineers have to decide: what is the most logical place to invest money? What gets the most lap time? How much leeway is left with the current chassis, for example to be able to play with the order of coolers, if one comes across something during development. Nothing will change in the power unit. It has been approved since September.
The decision – whether it is a new structure or not – must have already been made. Bearing ingredients such as monocoque have a long lead time. They are punished around October for the next season. No team will betray her. Fans will have to wait for presentations in February 2023. And then they have to hope that the teams actually deliver on that.
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