Before the start of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, Ferrari chief racing engineer Matteo Togninalli told how Scuderia is preparing for a two-day weekend in Imola …
Q: For the first time, the duration of the Formula 1 racing weekend will be only two days. What is the reason for this?
Matteo Toninalli: Difficult circumstances this year led to the fact that we have to overcome new challenges. In Formula 1, everyone showed flexibility and demonstrated the ability to adapt, and the format of the weekend at Imola is a good example of such adaptation.
The tracks in Portimão and Imola are separated by more than two thousand kilometers, so the teams need more time to transport equipment and prepare the boxes on the Italian track, so they had to abandon Friday’s trainings.
In addition, a two-day weekend is also a way to reduce costs, and turn the stage itself into an interesting experiment. There have already been cases when we lost one of the weekend days – three weeks ago at the Eifel Grand Prix and last year in Japan, but these were examples of force majeure due to the weather. Now everything is planned and organized in advance.
Question: What has been done to prepare for this format?
Matteo Toninalli: We will have very little time to analyze the data obtained in the training. We have revised priorities and differently allocated resources that we will use on the track and at the base in Maranello. In addition, we will work differently with engines or gearboxes and use parts that have been tested in advance so as not to waste time and reduce risks as much as possible.
Question: At the same time, everything must be done on the track, which Formula 1 has not come to for 14 years …
Matteo Toninalli: And this is another additional and important variable that needs to be considered. This means that preparation before the stage will be even more important – this applies to the car, riders, team, tires and everything else. Without data to rely on in our work, as it will be in Imola, we have less opportunity to choose the fine tuning of the machine, so it is important to consider the big picture.
Obviously, in such a situation, the simulator helps a lot, thanks to which the riders can quickly get to know the track. It is not only about learning the circuit, but also about evaluating bumps in different sectors, curbs, choosing the right trajectories and braking points. It’s no secret that riders quickly learn new tracks and almost immediately start driving to the limit. On newer tracks, lap times improve faster, so it is important to drive as many laps as possible to get to the optimum level.
Q: In the case of Ferrari, does the two-day weekend play into the hands of the team or put it at a disadvantage?
Matteo ToninalliA: Throughout this very strange season, we have demonstrated that we are able to quickly adapt to unusual situations, react to unexpected developments and prepare at a very high level. I tend to think that a two-day weekend will give us an edge.
Question: How does the track in Imola fit the SF1000? Are new items expected at this stage?
Matteo Toninalli: Our goal, in addition to installing updates, is to keep the machine constantly progressing. Even if you don’t see any noticeable novelties, the car is still constantly being improved. In the final part of the season, we also try solutions with an eye to 2021.
Imola has a very technical track with a fairly high average speed. Good weather is expected with a temperature of + 18C … + 20C degrees. Considering what we’ve seen in past races, the track should fit our car – we can get the most out of the SF1000. As usual, riders will play a key role in this.