Ferrari’s new test driver Pedro De La Rosa is convinced that greener energy resources are key to the planet’s wellbeing. And, as the Spaniard reveals, they also have a crucial role to play both in Formula One and modern performance cars.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
It is worth sacrificing a bit of the beauty of the landscape in order to have cleaner, “greener” energy. Pedro De La Rosa is convinced of this: he is the third Spanish driver present today at the court of Maranello, together with the now veteran Marc Gené and, the jewel in the crown, Fernando Alonso. “
De La Rosa has found fertile soil for his ideas at Maranello. Just a few weeks after his arrival at the factory, the new LaFerrari was presented at the Geneva Motor Show, the first hybrid road car produced on the premises at Via Abetone Inferiore. Alongside a 12-cylinder internal combustion engine capable of producing 800hp, there is an electric motor, inspired by KERS in F1, that brings the total power up to 963hp for the fastest Ferrari ever, but one that has CO² emissions equal to just 330 grams/km. ‘I can’t wait to drive it: it will be a beautiful feeling,’ says De La Rosa. ‘In the meantime, I had the pleasure of testing the F12berlinetta for a day, first on the Circuit de Catalunya and then on the roads around the track, and it was a real thrill.’ The F12berlinetta represents a further step forward in Ferrari’s CO² emission reduction programme: the car’s engine reduces emissions by 30 per cent compared with its predecessor, thanks to a combination of the new direct injection engine and the double clutch transmission. The HELE (High Emotion Low Emissions) system, used throughout, contributes to this, as does a significant weight reduction. The fact that
Maranello’s current road car range has sees a 40 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared with the previous generation, bears witness to the efforts continuously being made on this front.
Soon, De La Rosa’s wish to test the LaFerrari will be fulfilled, but the driver from Barcelona has already been able to appreciate how different things are at Maranello. ‘Those in my profession dream of getting, sooner or later, to drive for Ferrari,’ he explains. “
As well as giving a spur to overall development, the simulator can make an important contribution on other fronts, such as the consumption of fuel. Today, being able to save fuel means lining up on the starting grid with less weight on board and, given that 10Kg of fuel equates three tenths a lap, you can easily see that having a frugal engine without penalties in terms of power and performance is fundamental. It is obvious that the main duty in these matters lies with the engineers, thanks to the support from the supplier of fuel and lubricants (and here Ferrari can count on an extraordinary partner like Shell), but also the driver can play his part, above all when it comes to the handling of particular situations. ‘Every driver has his own style of driving and some use more fuel than others: here fundamental action can be taken, by trying to improve the technique in particular situations,’ the new Ferrari man explains.
‘The important factors are the use of the accelerator, which gear you select to take a corner [the lower the gear, the higher the consumption], and how early you press the pedal on the exit. When you find yourself in difficulty with consumption, maybe for a technical reason, then you try to take your foot off the accelerator when approaching a braking area, trying to gain advantage from the car’s momentum: you save fuel but, naturally, you lose a bit of time over the lap. Knowing how to minimise this loss is very useful and the simulator can help in assimilating this technique, making it automatic. This will be even more important from next year, when the engine governed by the new regulations comes into use.’ There is no time to lose for De La Rosa; so much work to do, not just to make this year’s single-seater competitive at the highest levels, but also to get ready for the single biggest rule change in F1 for 20 years. What is more, there is a sense of duty that accompanies everyone who works for the team that has enjoyed the most success: the imperative of winning.
‘I understood it straight away, there is an incredible pressure to win,’ confesses De La Rosa, who had previously been a long serving member of McLaren, the British team that has regularly disputed the supremacy of Ferrari, a battle that has now also spilled over to the road. ‘Second place is not enough, it is a negative result. There is an extraordinary mentality, everyone is completely determined to obtain just one result: first place. I have had experience with a direct adversary, when I was at McLaren, and with a “neutral” rival, like last year in my season with HRT: even when everything seems impossible, at Ferrari you never let go and try to deal with any negative situation. ‘When you have the good fortune to work with top level people like the ones I have found here then everything becomes simpler, even spending days shut in a simulator clocking up mile after mile, with just the voice of an engineer in your ears, in front of a screen.’
From issue n° 21 May 2013