“Was it oversteer, or was it like Juan Manuel Fangio OVERSTEER? –Austin Brauser
At the end of part 1, Charlie was just leaving the pits at the start of session two. We had him run another install lap to make sure everything in the gearbox was fixed. About 150 seconds later he rolled into the pit box and verified that the gearing was ok, so we sent him out for his first flying laps. It was extremely exciting the first time we saw him fly by us on the pit wall and I could tell that Adam was having a blast with the radio system. After 5 laps Charlie returned to the pits; we checked tire pressures and temperatures, and then noticed the smell of burning plastic. We looked around and located the source as one of our Formula One spec heat stickers. The fiberglass was fine, but despite not showing its maximum temperature reading the sticker was cooked. All things considered, not such a bad loss. Charlie then mentioned that he was experiencing a lot of oversteer. I think some of this can be attributed to the almost freezing temperatures and newly paved track, but nonetheless we began our attempts to dial it out. After a few minor suspension adjustments, Charlie headed back out on track and got some valuable seat time throughout the rest of the session.
Once Charlie was out of the car and had some time to collect his thoughts we had a debrief in which he explained the behavior of the car in each section of track. We then prioritized the issues and set about with a development plan. The car still had a large amount of oversteer so we replaced the rear anti-roll bar with a softer one. We also reduced tire pressures by about 2 psi after gaining some valuable new setup information from some of the other teams in the paddock.
I think at around this time we may have run off to the Silverstone café and grabbed our lunch. I will say that aside from Lime Rock’s Chilidog, Silverstone has some of the best race track food that I have ever had. This time I went with the chicken stew. When we headed back to the garage Louise Goodman from ITV was grabbing a spot of tea, so Adam and I made sure to say hello and introduce ourselves and the team and hopefully get on her good side. Unfortinately we had to cut the conversation a bit short to get Charlie out for session 3, but she was very understanding.
“We’ve got ourselves a bloody driver!” –Adam Painter
Session 3 and session 4 were much less eventful than the morning sessions, but they were just as productive. According to Charlie the changes we made to the roll bar improved the handling issues quite a bit, we tried softening up the rear a bit more and that helped, but also introduced some unwanted body roll on portions of the track. We stiffened the rear back up a bit, but countered that by stiffening the front a bit too. These changes seemed to get us back on track and we got in as many laps as possible in the final 2 sessions, the only small issue being the camera coming out of its mount. Since I mounted the camera upside down (It’s a cylinder - cylinders are quite symmetrical!) and since Silverstone won’t let us publish any onboard video anyways it actually wasn’t that much of a problem.
At one point in the afternoon session Charlie was running nose to tail with one of the new, more powerful Ecoboost cars for 3 or 4 laps, as well as outpacing some of the other Duratec Formula Fords. Ultimately numbers are what matter in racing, and we can say that between tweaking the car’s setup, Charlie knocking off his rust (Some of which may have been offset by his lunch), and slightly improving track conditions average laptimes between sessions 2 and 4 were reduced by 20%. We’ve still got a ways to go in terms of improving the car for Charlie. I have quite a good idea of what we need to do, but for now the next big challenge for us is to find a more permanent garage so that I can make all of these changes, and to hook up the data system so that it can provide us with some valuable data for the future. We’ve got a lot to do in the next month before round 1, but based on what we have accomplished in the past 4 weeks I am more than confident in our abilities to bring a competitive car to Oulton Park on Easter Weekend.