Bmw Technical Directors Speaks About Monaco Grand Prix

By: Anthony Fontanelle

As raceday approaches for the Monaco Grand Prix, Formula One teams are on the final stages of preparing their cars for the track known to be one of the most demanding circuits in the Formula One calendar. The Circuit de Monaco is actually the city streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine. The narrow track means that Formula One cars not only need to have sufficient power but the racers must also make sure that the suspension and the handling systems also play a major role in the outcome of a race at the circuit. For Team BMW Sauber, as Technical Director Wily Rampf puts it, "downforce is everything".

Asked about the difference of racing on the narrow track as compared to other circuits, Rampf pointed out that: "Monaco produces the lowest average speeds of any race over the course of the year. There is no start-finish straight as such, which means top speed plays a very subordinate role. It's more or less a case of one corner following the next, and this highlights clear priorities." With a track like that, it is imperative that a car should have very good traction or contact with the road so that drivers can easily control the car. In Formula One cars, increasing the traction means increasing downforce by designing special wings. Rampf has this to say about the use of these parts: "We run maximum levels of downforce in Monaco. And that means using parts which generate a lot of downforce but also produce a large amount of drag. Downforce is everything here. You carry as much wing as possible and sometimes also use extra wing elements designed specially for this type of track - all, quite simply, because aerodynamic efficiency is not as important as on other circuits."

For the Monaco Grand Prix which will be held from May 25 up to the 27th, Rampf said that they will be using a new wing element and other parts on their cars. "We have developed a new front wing generating maximum downforce, which we used for the first time - successfully - in Barcelona," he says. "We will modify this wing again for Monaco. Plus, we will be introducing totally new front brake ducts and modifications to the rear bodywork. In addition, we will also use for the first time a new power steering that provides more feedback to the drivers."

As far as the suspension system of their cars, Rampf said that the many turns on the track is reason for improving their suspension setup. "Monaco demands the heaviest steering maneuvers of any track on the calendar, which is why we are using completely new front suspension components," said Rampf. These parts include the BMW control arm, push rods, and track rods, according to the technical director.

Due to the fact that the tracks are narrow in the circuit, the team also made adjustments to the height of their cars. "In Monaco the drivers often tend to skirt over the kerbstones, so we raise the ground clearance of the cars slightly and use softer settings for the springs and dampers," Rampf said. "That also benefits traction under acceleration out of the many low-speed corners. The circuit is also open to normal road traffic, of course, which means it is pretty dirty and offers low levels of grip as a result."

With the modifications on the suspension and the aerodynamics of the Formula One cars, it is, of course, obvious that the tires used should complement the setup to produce a good traction. "In Monaco we will be using the softest-compound tire Bridgestone has available, and keeping a handle on tire wear is, therefore, critical," says Rampf. "It is also important to find the right compromise when it comes to the traction control set-up, as this often comes into play through the many tight corners."

With these adjustments, BMW is set to have a good race at the Monaco Grand Prix. The team is currently in third place in the constructor's championship race.

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