Weight; power: agility; drag & the pilot. What will we change for San Diego?

Posted on: 29th Apr 2009

Weight. There’s nothing more we can do on weight. That’s where most of our efforts went in the winter and Hux could not have done better. It’s perfect. Power. I think we can get a little more power from this engine..not much but it’ll be one of our focal points for the next race. Nothing radical, just some fine tuning. Agility. What a relief to start the season with the aircraft perfectly setup! This is the first time since 2006 that we’ll not spend most of the season constantly tweaking for better handling. This really benefits in that we can focus on other areas of performance. Drag. In Abu Dhabi, we made an error with our cooling setup. Due to the new format and an ambient 38 deg C, I was really worried about the engine overheating with three flights in quick succession so we fitted our biggest air intakes. It turned out that there was no cooling issue but no time to make changes between the races so we were running with a little more cooling drag than usual. In San Diego, we will get this right and we will hopefully be able to add a small cowling modification which should reduce the form drag. We have another fairly major modification which is a ‘work in progress’ and won’t be ready until the Canada race. We hope that will improve our laptimes but, for obvious reasons, it would not be wise to elaborate here! Pilot. Strategy and focus. I was very happy with my strategy both on Qualification and Race Day. In Q1, I posted a good time to be sure of the main race and then I really went for it in Q2. Hitting gate 3 was not part of the plan but, given that my line was not to blame, I felt my ‘raw’ time gave a good indication of the Breitling MXS’s capability. You can’t make an accurate analysis on ‘raw’ times without factoring in the penalties. A good example is with Nicolas Ivanoff who posted some amazing raw times but left a trail of penalties. I reckon he was experimenting with trading off the new lower 2 sec penalty with saved time by cutting across the track. In some respects this may have worked so we have to keep an eye on that strategy. I hope they’ll change the way penalties are awarded. If you ride high and have bank, you should get two penalties. Otherwise, there could be scope for manipulating the system. Perhaps they should not have come down from 3 secs in the first place. On Raceday, T12 and S8 went according to plan and when I pulled off the track in the Final, I felt I’d done well until I saw my EFIS with 1:26.6. I had been expecting a low 1:25 and on analysis I reckon I gave away small fractions in several places. Small fractions lose enough time to drop a few places so....what plans for San Diego? A more aggressive training strategy for a start; better focus when it matters, and I am hoping we’ll have just that little bit more from the MXS.