The F399 launch - interview with Rory Byrne
The F399 launch - interview with Rory Byrne
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Saturday January 30th, 1999

Rory Byrne, Ferrari's chief designer, what have you principally changed?
RB: The F399 is an evolution of the F300, but it's also a totally new car. Overall, the design and suspension have been redesigned for Bridgestone tyres. There are new components w hich are a step forward in performance. The central diffuser and exhausts are new as are the aerodynamics. We've made a major step forward in several areas, like the airbox roll hoop, rear diffuser, rear crash structure, rear suspension, electronically-controlled power-assisted steering. There are several areas where we have made a fundamental step forward. We have been able to save 20 kilos and the centre of gravity is lower.

The F399What have the drivers asked for?
RB: Basically, the fundamental thing that they want is grip. If you give them grip, they will make use of it, especially Michael. He's quite remarkable. If the car is not very well balanced and difficult to drive, but it's basically got grip, he will find a way to drive it. Fundamentally, one of the shortcomings of last year's car was the steering system. It was a mechanical version and it really detracted from the driver's feel of the car whereas this electronic system is a big step forward.

The chassis still looks quite high along the cockpit. It has been described as being quite complicated; is that true?
RB: Not really. We've used a new method of construction which is different. I wouldn't say it was complicated. No more than last year or any other.

How has the suspension changed?
RB: The front is really a development of last year's. One particular area has changed but the rear is new. The way we have arranged the springs and dampers at the rear is very different. I haven't seen this arrangement on any other Formula One car so far. The dampers aren't on the top of the gearbox. The whole arrangement of torsion bars and dampers and the way they react is very different. We have good reasons for doing it.

What about your barge boards? You haven't followed McLaren with the large barge boards that they had last year?

RB: They're about the same as last year. We've tried everything. We have two wind tunnels running 75 hours a week so that gives a fair amount of capacity to test things. What's on there is on there because we find that gives us the best performance.

What about the gearbox?
The gearbox is roughly the same as last year, a development of the previous year's.

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