JUNE 19, 2007

One reason why Ferrari may have lost its edge

Ferrari's lack of competitiveness in recent races has been a surprise after such a strong start to the year in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain. It seemed that McLaren had improved significantly and that Ferrari had stood still.

No-one seems to understand why and Ferrari is, by nature, rather secretive and so does not always allow its problems to leak out into the outside world.

One possibility is that Ferrari has been having troubles with its windtunnel.

The team relies heavily on its Renzo Piano-designed windtunnel, rather than running two windtunnels like some of its rivals. The team is investing heavily in CFD technology at the moment and intends to use much more of the virtual technology rather than building a second wind tunnel. This is a sensible strategy but the problem is that if the main windtunnel is out of action, the team may struggle to keep up. Modern F1 windtunnels work round the clock and parts do become worn out as a result. The tunnels require "down time" for suitable servicing.

We hear on the grapevine that about a month ago Ferrari suffered a failure of its rolling road system in the Maranello windtunnel. The rolling roads in the modern F1 windtunnels are made from a steel belt, which circulates at around 180mph. If a rolling road breaks, the damage can be considerable as lumps of metal fly around at 180mph.

The word is that this may have been what happened.

And that Ferrari has been in trouble ever since.