The lack of permitted testing this season has hampered the teams who started off on the back foot in Australia and Brawn's continued domination, with Red Bull waiting in the wings and Williams and Toyota returning to form in Turkey, just goes to show that while it is possible to close the gap it's much harder to overtake.
We are seven races down this season, with ten to go, and most of the teams have now introduced a variation of the double diffuser — but because of the focus they have had to put on integrating such a significant design change into their cars they are effectively seven races behind in their development of other areas on the car.
Even one of the teams that started the season with a double diffuser, Toyota, has had to spend time developing their solution as it seems Brawn's double diffuser design was pretty much perfected over the winter and it had elements that bettered Toyota's own concept, leading to significant design upgrades for the Japanese team in Turkey.
Most of the new designs are tending towards the large dipped central tunnel developed by Brawn, but once this big step is made (which in some cases has proven not to be as significant as expected in any case) each new development tweak a team performs is worth much less — and the quicker every step can be tried on the track the better.
A lack of in-season testing will hamper the teams that are now looking for those harder to achieve smaller improvements because each time an aerodynamic development is introduced it is likely to take more than one Friday for the engineers to test and understand the new part and have time to set the car up for that particular track.
BMW, for instance, arrived in Turkey with their new double diffuser and made some progress, but analysis of all the data obtained from that race should enable them to better understand its working and they should now make another step this weekend at Silverstone. With in-season testing allowed, that big step would have been made in one go.
From BMW's comments, though, it seems they now believe they are in a position to take the iterative approach and make significant new improvements every two or three races, including further developments to the diffuser, rather than more major upgrades. McLaren, though, are still pushing for their big upgrade before they can iterate.
Brawn, meanwhile, have been in iteration mode from the start of the season - and even from the first race they have had development parts in the bag, ready to introduce as and when the competition caught up a little too close. So in terms of design, they are likely to even be a step ahead of what we see on the track.
DATE PUBLISHED ON: 16 JUNE 2009