What does this mean?
Before any race the Kaspersky Motorsport drivers must assess their driving position in the car. They’ll meet with Kaspersky Motorsport Chief Engineer Jacopo Fedele to talk about the in-car set-up and adjustments that will be required by each driver. It’s important to ensure the driver is comfortable for the long driving sessions but, more importantly, very securely seated as the difference between a perfect lap or a scruffy lap could simply be the driver’s body moving around inside the car when cornering. This movement will deliver unwanted and unbalanced g-forces to the car and will make it unstable on entry and exit from corners. If the car feels unstable the driver will instinctively try to balance the car out but this usually means reducing the speed or fighting with the steering mid-corner. Both actions are not what you want when trying to drive the perfect lap!
It’s always a challenge for Jacopo to find the right position for each of the 3 Kaspersky Motorsport drivers in the Blancpain GT Endurance Championship because of their different heights and build types.
The driver’s position
Each driver will be measured and fitted into the car. The drivers will look to adjust their driving position for the best comfort and driving experience, similar to Formula 1 where the driver will have a seat with no lateral movement as they race around g-pulling corners. They will find their perfect balance and be prepared to handle immense g-forces, high steering loads and tight, bumpy racetracks across the world of Blancpain GT.
The rules of the Blancpain GT Series say that the steering wheel rack adjustment must stay the same throughout the season. It cannot be altered due to the need for a consistent approach across ALL teams that enter each race. Similar rules apply to the height of the seat.
The only adjustment that the Kaspersky Motorsport team can make to the seat is moving it towards or away from the steering wheel, depending on arm length. Like an everyday road car there is a lever under the seat that allows the driver to control this.
An old-school technique to solve any issues with seat heights is placing a small pad under the driver or at the back of the neck.
To illustrate the differences, when Alex Moiseev is behind the wheel of the Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 there are no adjustments needed. However, Davide Rizzo used back and neck pads otherwise he experienced too much movement in the seat and could not maintain total car control.
There is one other adjustment the team can make, and that is to the pedal box. Similar to the race seat, it can be moved towards the driver or away from the driver, depending on leg distance to the pedals. These adjustments can only be made in Testing and in the garage during race weekends due to Blancpain GT Series regulations.
Manual vs. electronic adjustments
So, why not use electronic components? You would think this is down to weight management but actually electronic equipment can malfunction more easily and cause a race-ending incident. Also electronic components might change or lock into different positions randomly, causing the driver discomfort.
Also, we look at pit-stop timing for the Kaspersky Motorsport team and can easily identify that manual adjustments would be quicker than electronic adjustments, saving time in the pits – it’s a race against time to get the car back out on track to fight for positions.
Kaspersky Motorsport drivers and engineers work hard to find the best driver seating position. The wrong driving position means the driver cannot truly feel the responsiveness of the car and the car cannot perform to its best ability due to the unstable g-force loading when cornering.
The driver’s office
We take a closer look at the driver cockpit of the Ferrari 488 GT and analyse the driver set-up controls.
A small box sits underneath the controls of the car, where drivers can toggle through each mode that applies to them. This is normally adjusted on a driver change or switched over throughout Testing, Free Practice, Qualifying and Race day. Toggling between the drivers doesn’t affect the ride height, the 670hp engine performance, the 0.8” turbo response or any other mechanical feature of the 488 GT. This box actually, changes the radio frequency, so that the SRO and Race Director knows who is driving at that time.
Our previous Ferrari 458 GT3 was suited to smaller drivers. However, the new 488 GT seems to be more suited to an average sized driver like Giancarlo Fisichella and Marco Cioci.
The importance of seating in the correct position affects the centre of gravity for the car. Too much weight towards the front and the car will lack in pick-up, too much weight in the rear and the car will understeer. These little adjustments make big differences when racing for hours around the demanding tracks of the Blancpain GT.
Driver set-up is the same for all races in which Kaspersky Motorsport participates, so drivers play a pivotal role in choosing their correct ride comfort and driving position.
In the Monza Test, drivers change the positions themselves. But in Blancpain GT races, the pit-crew must do this in order to keep pit times fast.
Tune in next week for Episode 2 as we look at “Race Car Aerodynamics” and the important role the rear wing plays on the circuits that the Kaspersky Motorsport team will race around in 2017.