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Parc Fermé Relaxation Limited Impact on F1 Setup

Parc Fermé Relaxation Limited Impact on F1 Setup

29/04/2024

Despite eased rules, Aston Martin’s McCullough sees minimal setup variance between Sprint and main races.

After the first test of the new Sprint format in China, questions arose regarding the possibility of teams aiming for setups focused on the short race on Saturday before making major changes for the main race.

Aston Martin F1’s performance director, Tom McCullough, does not believe that cars can be set up very differently between the Sprint and the races, despite the relaxation of the Parc Fermé rules between the Sprint and Saturday’s qualifying.

“We had a lot of discussions before the event about the level of rear wing adjustment, etc.,” McCullough stated. “But ultimately, running a 19-lap Sprint is always challenging, and you really can’t make major changes compared to the main race.”

McCullough explained that the changes made were primarily to adapt to the changed fuel load between the race and the Sprint. And some more significant setup changes were also a consequence of a lack of familiarity with the Shanghai track with the current regulatory era cars.

“It was perhaps more important here, simply because we haven’t been here for so long. The cars from 2019, when we were last here, had rear ride heights three times higher than what we use now and the stiffness of the car, everything is so different – the tires, the aerodynamics.”

“We all simulated and prepared, and the grip of the track itself was perhaps worse—more limiting for the rear than in the past, which I think we somewhat predicted just to have these tires and the way the generation of cars works.”

“We ran thinking we would do a single run in FP and make some changes before qualifying for the Sprint race. But after the Sprint, it’s really during the long runs with high fuel content that you learn the most. A long race with 30 kg is an opportunity to learn.”

“Then, we wondered what would happen when we added 70 kg of fuel, what tires we would have to deal with, what we needed to do, and we made some changes. They were not big changes, really. Everyone in the pit lane would have made these changes.”

Why did Aston lodge a complaint against Sainz?

McCullough explains why Aston Martin was the only team to complain about Carlos Sainz’s on-track stop during qualifications and the fact that he restarted. According to him, it was about getting clarity on the application of Article 39.6: “It’s just about clarifying things and talking with the stewards, and you have to respect the decisions they’ve made.”

“But I hope things will be clarified and less ambiguous in the future because the messaging system clearly indicates that the car stopped. And the article says that this car should no longer take part in qualifications. So, this will be clarified in the future.”

McCullough reveals that it was Andy Stevenson, the team’s sporting director, who has been with the Silverstone team for over 30 years, who immediately cited the article: “Andy is sitting next to me on the pit wall and he knows this regulation inside out, he’s a real encyclopedia.”

“He’s been here so long. As soon as the official messaging system indicated that a car had stopped, he directly went ‘Article 39.6, it cannot re-enter the track’. We were a bit surprised that he did it, that’s why we protested.”

Parc Fermé Relaxation Limited Impact on F1 Setup

Parc Fermé Relaxation Limited Impact on F1 Setup. Parc Fermé Relaxation Limited Impact on F1 Setup

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