With all the talk of technical changes in Supercars after a controversial 2019 season, our heads were spinning a bit with all there is to know. So, we thought who better to ask than Engineer extraordinaire Alistair McVean?! In his 5thseason as David Reynolds’ #1 man, we sat Al down to take us through the four significant changes the drivers and teams will be affected by as we count down to the season starting.
PR: First up – Let’s talk aero…
Al:The category has undertaken a fresh aerodynamic homologation across the Commodore and Mustang to address the issues of parity that dominated 2019. With a more detailed process, taking in a wider range of the car’s operating conditions the category has been able to better match the cars in their aerodynamic performance. At the same time there has been a targeted reduction of downforce with these changes to aid in the ability of the cars to overtake each other.
PR: What about in terms of the mechanics of the changes?
Al: the Commodore has seen a reduction in the maximum rear wing angle and the height of the rear wing gurney. At the front of the car, detail changes to the underside of the front bumper have been made to match the reduced downforce available at the rear of the car. The mustang has undergone similar changes but has also seen a modification to its rear wing location, and to the shape of the front bumper sides.
The end result is an estimated reduction in downforce of 12%.
PR: What about the dampers? Is it true that freedom of choice on damper supplier has been removed this year?
Al:That’s correct. Whereas three options were available in 2019, the category has chosen the Australian made, Pedders by Supashock component for all cars to use in 2020.
PR: What impact will that have?
Al: The change evens up the playing field in this critical suspension component, and locks all teams into the same valving for the whole season. Two way adjustability remains for teams to fine tune their requirements but with the very long service interval and the lock down on valving specifications, the teams will save a significant amount of time and money in the previously never ending pursuit of greater damper performance.
PR: Now talking tyres; how beneficial is the tyre allocation change to the teams if any at all?
Al: A further labour saving is being made by changing the way the tyres are provided to teams. Whereas in the past teams were required to maintain a bank of previously used tyres at their workshops and then bring a selection of these to the race track to practice with, the arrangement has been adjusted to provide teams with effectively all the tyres they will need for racing at the race track.
This is a significant time and cost saver for the teams as each team will no longer need to go to the expense of having to manage a stock of 80 tyres and then transport them back and forth across the country.
Two sets of tyres per round will be allowed to be retained by the team for the purpose of going testing with,
PR: Any other advantages?
Al:Yeh for sure. A subsequent benefit of the increased tyre allocation is the fact that more strategic options may become available. In prior years the ability to run alternate strategies during safety car interventions was limited by the available tyre bank. With the increased allocation this issue should be reduced and means the ability to run a wildcard strategy is increased.
PR: The next change is the engine and their new life looks to be another labour and cost saver for everyone. Is there any downside to it?
Al: Yep, a bit of both. The engine has been targeted for cost savings, with the category introducing a new controlled piston and ring and rocker package targeted at helping extend the engine life to a minimum of 4000km between re-builds.
Previously teams used a custom-made ring package, that while very good for horsepower when new, degraded quickly and therefore required more servicing and replacement. Individual parts cost of these components has also been decreased significantly.
A small reduction in horsepower is expected with this change, but as before all engines will be capped at a specified cumulative horsepower level to limit development spending by the teams.
Well, we hope that has cleared some things up for everyone and answered some burning questions. Brilliant stuff Al!