Paolo Martinelli, Formula 1 Engine Director, and Gilles Simon, head of planning and engine development faced the journalists at the 248 F1 launch press conference to talk V8.
“It is a totally new project,” began Martinelli. “It is a return to the past, as the name of the car demonstrates. We started working on this engine midway through 2004 and then tested it on the bench. Last August it made its first outing, at Fiorano, and in the autumn of 2005 we completed the V8. Now we are close to the final version. Obviously, in the course of the season we will have to cope with a very steep learning curve.”
Gilles Simon’s success in development was underlined: “the calculations were made long ago and even if the regulation changes were related to us rather late in the day, fundamental modifications such as the selection of the centre of gravity had already been made.”
“The rules outline global constraints but do allow a lot of space for projectual experimentation,” continued Martinelli. “The 90° angle was our choice as was settling on the minimum weight for the non-moving parts. The real challenge, however, was lightening the weight of the moving components.”
“For the first time in ten years a drop in performance was recorded and this was fundamental. The change in power meant some investment, but in the long run, it will be more economical. The overall output of the engine remains unchanged and so some factors were the same as on the V10.”
Martinelli also revealed that there had been some dialogue between the engineers who work on road-going cars and those who concentrate on racing models. “We met the people who work on GTs and exchange opinion in analysing problems and the methods to resolve them. It was by no means a one-way communication.”
“We were certainly on shared ground,” added Simon. “However, there are many differences, for example in our time schedules. We made a lot of input and so did they. It was a process of cross contamination.”