Motormouth Makes Good

By Karl Ludvigsen, England
Atlas F1 Senior Writer

One thing's for sure: engine power doesn't count for much at Monte Carlo. We saw that in David Coulthard's vain efforts to pass Enrique Bernoldi. A big disparity in power was of no use to the McLaren-Mercedes driver. On this serpentine 2.1-mile track, tires are crucial and so, too, is the low-speed aerodynamic downforce. To improve the latter, Ferrari unleashed a new front wing that is just gorgeous with its triple elements. It put to shame the ugly efforts of Jordan and Benetton. And it worked like a charm.

In the tire department, the French had a chance to shine. Pierre Dupasquier said that with his Michelins it wasn't so much a matter of "hard" and "soft", but rather the preparation of two compounds just slightly tweaked to suit different conditions. The saying in Monaco was "the hotter it gets the better the Michelins like it," and this was borne out by the results with a third for Jaguar and a wonderful sixth for Jean Alesi and the Prost team.

"It is nice to see that an increasing number of our partner teams are now challenging for points," Michelin's Dupasquier said in his understated French way. The trouble is that the Monte Carlo track is so unusual that neither result can be greeted as the start of a Renaissance for either team. Barrichello finished second for Stewart in the wet 1997 Monaco race, but that didn't exactly mark the beginning of great things for Stewart.

However, I have to admit that Motormouth came good at Monte Carlo. He brought his car to an excellent sixth place in qualifying and an astounding third in the race - the first podium finish for his team. I could be referring to Ulsterman Eddie Irvine - who easily qualifies as Mr. Motormouth among the drivers - but I'm not. I'm talking about Jaguar aerodynamicist Mark Handford, who joined the team over the winter from America.

You may recall that back in January I pointed out that Handford was setting a new trend, that of engineers who publicly knock the efforts of their counterparts in other teams. About Eghbal Hamidy of Jordan, ex-Arrows, he said in an interview with Autosport: "I must say that Hamidy's cars are very slippery in a straight line, but you must take a closer look at the lap time. There is so much emphasis on the trap speed and the split times, but when did Arrows last win a race?" I thought that was pretty direct.

Now before Monaco, Handford said that the former Jaguar technical director goofed. "One of the problems was that Gary Anderson was involved in writing the rules," Handford opined. "When you write them, you interpret them the way you meant them to be. We [Jaguar pre-Handford] tended to be very true to the spirit of the rules and we know now that other teams are more inventive in interpreting them. It is not cheating, but there are ways of looking at them differently." Handford doesn't mince words.

"We looked at changes as far back as February," the aerodynamicist continued, "but decided we wanted to make a big jump rather than just a small number of steps." Well, they did make a big jump, at least on Eddie's car. There's no question that an improved underbody made all the difference to the Jaguar's performance on this track, where high downforce is crucial to success. Irvine called it a bigger step forward than he had ever experienced during his four Ferrari years.

I was going to criticise Handford for not pushing his boat right out with a radical front-end wing like those tried in practice at Monte Carlo by Arrows and Jordan, but I can't. In spite of the remoteness of his wind tunnel in California he managed to develop and implement a new underbody solution that really works. That wasn't easy and the tall red-haired Briton deserves a lot of credit for pulling it off.

There are good signs for Jaguar's future as well. "The main thing was to put in place a cultural shift," said Motormouth Handford, "where the structures people get told what to do by aero people." It surprised me to learn that Jaguar nee Stewart wasn't already set up that way. Aerodynamic performance is so crucial to the success of a Formula One car that it has to have absolute priority. Then the engineers have to figure out how to hook on all the gubbins that make the rest of the car work.

Speaking of motormouths, it was good to see Bobby Rahal given a chance to say something to the press after the Monaco Grand Prix result. He's having trouble getting a word in edgewise between the pontificating of Niki Lauda and the speechifying of Wolfgang Reitzle, head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, of which Jaguar is a part. These world-class egos seldom leave room for anyone else to have a say, least of all Jonathan Browning, the modest but effective Jaguar managing director whose profit and loss accounts will eventually have to express the reckoning of the cost/benefit ratio of this Formula One adventure to his company.

Now it's on to Montreal, where conditions will be radically different. The track is a series of dragstrips. With automatic upshifting and traction control, the cars with horsepower will dominate and brakes will be punished. I see another win for Williams on the cards. The odds are good, I reckon, for Juan Pablo Montoya's first Grand Prix victory.

© 2007 . This service is provided under the Atlas F1 terms and conditions.
Please Contact Us for permission to republish this or any other material from Atlas F1.
Email to Friend

Print Version

Volume 7, Issue 22
May 30th 2001

Atlas F1 Special

Interview with Stoddart
by Roger Horton

Gascoyne Q & A
by Roger Horton

Monaco GP Review

The Monaco GP Review
by Pablo Elizalde

Reflections from Monaco
by Roger Horton

by Richard Barnes

Motormouth Makes Good
by Karl Ludvigsen


The F1 Insider
by Mitch McCann

Season Strokes - the GP Cartoon
by Bruce Thomson

Qualifying Differentials
by Marcel Borsboom

The F1 FAQ
by Marcel Schot

The Weekly Grapevine
by the F1 Rumors Team

  Contact the Author
Contact the Editor

  Find More Articles by this Author

   > Homepage
   > Magazine
   > News Service
   > Grapevine
   > Photo Gallery
   > My Atlas
   > Bulletin Board
   > Chat Room
   > Bet Your Nuts
   > Shop @ Atlas
   > Search Archive
   > FORIX
   > Help