With the rules for next season remaining almost identical to 2009, teams are able to continue development of their current cars right to the end of the season safe in the knowledge that any gains can be transferred to next year’s challenger.
The final four races of the season
are all flyaway races, which can make getting updates onto the car tricky. This is not an issue for McLaren Mercedes, as the team push on with the development of the MP4-24 package, according to Chief Engineer Pat Fry.
“We’re still developing as quickly as we can,” he told ESPN Racing-Live.com. “Logistic-wise, with the early flyaway events we managed to fit in more updates in the first four races, than we did in the first couple when we got back to Europe. Logistically it is quite easy to put a floor in a truck or on an aeroplane really."
McLaren started the season poorly but made gains as the season progressed - particularly in terms of shedding almost nine kilos from the chassis, which benefitted the weight distribution - culminating in their Hungarian Grand Prix victory last month. Heading to Monza, the stop-start nature of the circuit should, in theory, suite the MP4-24, especially with KERS - said to be worth over three-tenths of a second at the circuit.
“We’ve got reasonable updates for Monza – aero specific – the front and rear wings will be different, we’ve got a few little tweaks for the sidepod deflector area,” Fry said. “We’re looking for a further front wing and floor update coming through for Singapore – a few smaller updates planned for Suzuka – they’re more circuit specific I suppose - and that’s as far as we’ve currently got scheduled and as we find things we’ll still try and get them to the next two races.
“It’s a good learning experience with limited testing that we have now,” he continued. “We can still use the development of this year’s car, it’s all building a good knowledge base for us understanding next year’s car.”
This year the development race has been especially intensive as the teams get to grips with the raft of rule changes. In addition the Formula One Teams’ Association inspired summer shut down came into effect for the first time this year, forcing the teams to work around the two week August break.
“To take a holiday and not to have to spend four days clearing out your mailbox was actually quite good for me,” Fry said. “In terms of effecting out development, we gear it around it so it was almost like turning the lights off and you turn them back on and pick up from exactly where you were.
“Obviously, if we hadn’t had the two week break we would have more parts around us, but we were trying to schedule with that in mind. Effectively it just comes down to planning. It’s hard for everyone to accept that you have to stop development, but we still ended up with all the developments we had planned, so it’s logistics more than an engineering issue.”
Pat Fry was talking to ESPN Racing-Live.com as part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes media phone-in.