Midland boosted by Toyota help
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, February 3rd 2006, 16:44 GMT|
Midland technical director James Key believes the team's chances for this year have been boosted by advice from engine supplier Toyota - whose own car has been running since November.
The new M16 made its track debut at Silverstone on Friday and Key has said some input from Toyota about how to make the most of their engine has proved helpful in allowing the team to optimise their own design.
"They support us as an engine supplier, but they support us to the point where they allow us to develop," said Key. "
"They give us hints in certain directions, suggest certain methods of doing something because we're running our car later than them and they've found a few things with their car, like reliability issues. They're very open and honest with us and they help us out with development.
"It's very much a partnership. We talk to Toyota on a daily basis about many aspects – engine installation, various technologies that they have and we have. We share as much information as we can, primarily about the engine so it's a good partnership."
After several years using essentially the same chassis and aerodynamics, the M16 is effectively an all-new car.
Designed and built by Midland, with some input on the aero side from Italian racing car constructor Dallara, the car features a new monocoque. It implements a unique twist on the keel-less front-end concept.
Key said: "It's a very small keel. Some of the other teams have gone for the high wishbone configuration – the McLaren has that little bump.
"The problem is you compromise your suspension kinematics with this kind of geometry so you really want to keep that inboard point controlled and regulated; a keel is necessary if you want to have a high chassis, which we haven't got."
Aerodynamically the car has a tighter rear end with more development planned for Bahrain. A new gearbox and rear suspension have been designed to make the most of Bridgestone tyre characteristics – especially with the return of pitstops.
Key believes it was too early to judge whether Bridgestone currently had the edge in the tyre war against Michelin.
"Until we get out to Spain and do our own tests in earnest with Bridgestone – because we've been concentrating on car and systems checks so far in testing – it's difficult to say.
"But we had a meeting with Bridgestone before Christmas and the approach they're taking is a very intelligent one. They understand tyre changes and they're anticipating problems that we'll have. So I think it's going to work to their advantage in that respect."