Car manufacturers often use their involvement in Formula 1 as a testbed for the most advanced aerodynamics and powertrain technologies, that will one day make its way into our regular cars. With Alfa Romeo now back in the sport as a commercial partner to Sauber F1, the Italian sportscar maker now has access to some of the world’s best minds for the development of their cars – and what better minds are there other than the drivers themselves?
Alfa Romeo Orlen F1 drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi recently made their way down to the Balocco Proving Ground – where all Alfa Romeo sports cars have undergone development and testing since the 1960s – for the latest test session of the upcoming Giulia GTA and GTAm.
It’s not just a courtesy visit to the historic “Autodelta” workshop either; the F1 drivers both got behind the wheel of the cars and were tasked to provide professional feedback, working closely with the engineers to fine tune the aerodynamic and handling performance of the cars.
F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen focused on the aerodynamics appendages of the new high-performance models, specifically the large manually-adjustable rear wings and adjustable front splitters on the Giulia GTAm, and how they work in conjunction with the underbody fairings. After a full day of testing, Kimi concluded: “I find them a perfect mix of everyday use and track use.”
Antonio Giovinazzi meanwhile worked on the the cars’ overall setup, with extra attention to the new carbon fibre components and the new single-nut hubs on the wheels. “It is great to see the improvements we made to the cars today,” Giovinazzi said at the end of the test day.
Aside from enlisting the help of its F1 drivers in tuning the cars, Alfa Romeo also benefitted from Sauber Engineering’s expertise in carbon fibre. The Swiss company produced most of the carbon fibre components in the GTA and GTAm, especially those with an aerodynamic impact. These include the new front bumper, the side skirts, the diffuser, the GTA spoiler and the GTAm aero-wing.
As one of the few teams with their own wind tunnels, the Italian sportscar maker was also able to use it to hone in the development of the overall aerodynamic performance of the cars – not just the appendages, but also the underbody fairings and diffusers. The result? Alfa Romeo says that the Giulia GTAm has a lift coefficient that’s double that of the GTA, and three times as much as the regular Giulia Quadrifoglio.