Ferrari has brought a revised clutch for the French Grand Prix, which should improve starts for the factory team and customer teams Haas and Alfa Romeo. They were a problem for Alfa Romeo in particular this season – but Ferrari itself also had its difficulties.
According to a Ferrari spokesman, the clutch is not new per se, but contains “a technical detail that we have improved”. The team has not announced which cars the innovation will be tested on, but Valtteri Bottas confirms that it is installed in his car.
“We finally have a new clutch here,” he says. “Ferrari has been working on this for quite some time and now we finally have new parts for the clutch which should avoid the oscillations we have.”
For the Finn, the problem at the start was quite a nuisance: “We often lost positions at the start. That’s not great because the midfield is so narrow that if you fall behind someone you’re 20 laps behind,” he says . “It doesn’t make life any easier, but hopefully it’s okay now.”
Bottas: “It’s definitely going in the right direction”
In training, Bottas tried the new clutch for the first time and drew a positive conclusion: “We need more starting exercises, but it’s definitely going in the right direction,” he says. “I felt fewer oscillations.”
These vibrations were also the main problem for him – especially on tracks with little grip: “If you can’t engage as deeply, if you have to slide more, then there are more vibrations. And that leads to inconsistencies when engaging and accelerating.” , he describes.
“On tracks with more grip it was less of a problem because you can engage the clutch a little deeper. For some reason there’s less vibration,” said the Finn. But that’s exactly the case at Le Castellet: because there’s a lot of grip at the end of the pit lane, he couldn’t really get a good impression. “We’ll see on Sunday.”
The oscillations came from the clutch itself. “And then the way the torque gets to the rear wheels isn’t consistent,” said the Finn. “Ultimately it’s because the rear tires don’t rotate evenly. You can probably see it, you can definitely feel it.”
Getting used to Alfa Romeo
It was also difficult for Bottas to get used to the new hardware at Alfa Romeo after the team change from Mercedes. “We had to work on that,” he says. The starting procedure itself was less of a problem: “I just have to press a different button than with Mercedes. That’s all,” he says.
“You have to make sure you’re in the right mode after the formation lap. You have to be in race mode, you have to have the right brake bias for the first turn. And you have to be in race start mode.”
Sainz confirms problems at Ferrari
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz confirms that Ferrari itself had problems with the clutch: “We found a problem with our car this year that doesn’t allow us to start like last year,” says the Spaniard. “And our engine partners are probably also affected.”
“But we know what the problem is – we keep it very secret and we don’t talk about it much because it’s not like we’re falling behind every start or anything,” he continued. “They’re probably not the best starts we can get with this car and hopefully we’ll keep improving as the year progresses and into next year.”