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24 de agosto de 2011

ENTREVISTA A FONDO A GEOFF WILLIS: HABLA CLARO DE HRT

Tenemos a continuación la entrevista completa a Geoff Willis, donde habla de HRT, del trabajo que se realiza en el equipo, de lo que se diferencia el trabajo en un equipo grande y en uno pequeño...y sobre todo, de todo aquello que no sólo interesa a un aficionado a HRT (o el equipo antes conocido como Hispania Racing), sino a cualquier aficionado a la F1.De hecho, una de las partes más interesantes es aquella que habla de que es aquello que convierte a un equipo cualquiera en un equipo exitoso, de como lo importante es como todo encaja perfectamente y fluye con naturalidad, sin errores, haciendo que el trabajo de cada cual encaje con el de su compañero como un reloj perfectamente sincronizado.

También habla, lógicamente de la vida en HRT, de aquello que se puede mejorar, de como trabajaron en el coche de este año, de como todo empezó con tan poco tiempo que ni Minardi hubiera conseguido algo parecido.Y más con un resultado tan convincente como el que finalmente se está consiguiendo.En este sentido, llama especialmente la atención que en 3 meses fueran capaces de diseñar y producir un coche de F1 practicamente nuevo con el uso exclusivo del CFD.En este sentido, para un equipo que no presumía del uso exclusivo de esta herramienta como sí sus rivales de Virgin, el resultado es realmente impresionante (teniendo en cuenta los tiempos, claro está). Aquí explica que el uso del tunel del viento hubiera conllevado un trabajo previo de diseño y modelado que hubiera requerido una gran parte del tiempo que tenían, haciendo inviable el proceso de tenerlo todo a tiempo. Al mismo tiempo, indica que dado lo limitado del tiempo para diseñar y producir, lo importante es decidir cuales son las partes críticas del coche que suponen una verdadera ganancia de tiempo por vuelta, y esmerarse especialmente en estas zonas.Es ahí donde va a estar la ganancia del tiempo en el monoplaza, y no sólo a la hora de diseñar esas partes, esa zonas, sino también a la hora de producirla y asegurarse que encaja y funciona perfectamente con el resto del coche, pues los pequeños errores, si no se detectan a tiempo, se convierten en grandes problemas.

Una de las cosas que llama la atención es la duplicidad de funciones que tienen que tener algunos miembros del equipo, como ser ingeniero de carrera y aerodinamicista al mismo tiempo.En este sentido es lógico pensar en lo agotador que puede resultar duplicar funciones, pero más importante puede resultar la falta de especiualización por cuanto ello significa tener toda la cabeza ocupada en mejorar lo más importante del coche, la aerodinámica.En todo caso, si con esa duplicidad de funciones y con esos tiempos tan ajustados para lograr mejoras sensibles en el monoplaza el equipo está luchando con Virgin, lo lógico es pensar que incrementando recursos, personas y tiempos disponibles a través del crecimiento del equipo, la mejora del monoplaza y su rendimiento será fácil de conseguir y contrastar. En este sentido, lo que parece como mejora más importante (al margen de la cantidad de personas que trabajan para el equipo) es la obtención de una sede donde puedan construir sus propias piezas, lo que reduciría tiempos de producción y por lo tanto dispondrían de más tiempo para el diseño. Tened en cuenta que si el tiempo de diseño y producción para una pieza es 10, y la de producción llevara por ejemplo 6, sólo quedarían 4 para el diseño.Desde el momento en que uno lo fabrica por si mismo, esos tiempos bajan drasticamente y se invierten, disponiendo 6 para el diseño y 4 para producción, lo que hace que algo en lo que dispones más tiempo para el diseño, esté más perfeccionado, y por tanto sea mayor esa ganancia de rendimiento conseguido para el monoplaza.Matemáticas sencillas, ¿verdad?...eso espero.

En todo caso, lo que está claro es que el equipo ha hecho hasta ahora un trabajo fantástico teniendo en cuenta los recursos con los que cuentan.Y lo mejor es que si se produce ese crecimiento en estructura que indicaba Kolles que se haría, y que reclama Willis que se priorice, la mejora de cara al 2012 tendría que ser evidente, y más si tenemos en cuenta que llevan desde Junio del 2011 trabajando en el monoplaza del año que viene, y por tanto no van a empezar en Diciembre, 6 meses más tarde.Todo eso, más el incremento presupuestario, debería ser suficiente para ver a un mejor HRT de cara al año que viene.Eso, a pesar de que ningún equipo se queda quieto y mejoran de año en año, porque en la F1 nadie se queda parado, ni siquiera los que luchan en la parte de abajo.

Veamos de momento cuales son sus palabras exactas (traducidas al inglés para que la pérdida de la traducción desde el alemán sea mínima):


They have worked for larger teams - Williams, BAR - now at a smaller one. What are the biggest differences from the perspective of an engineer?
Willis: We are not just a smaller team, but also a new smaller team. The structure is simply not as good. You have to develop the first processes that we are accustomed to an established team. That one is limited in resources and will make the most of it applies to any team. It's just in the engineering business, that there are limits, either at the time, the material, money or technology. Optimizing is the challenge. The biggest difference is that there is a comprehensive workflow, with the basic concept of aerodynamic testing, design development, the bench tests, the fault management, performance analysis and so on, everything is compatible. We are currently in the process of developing such a workflow.

How long this process will take because?
Willis: In some ways it's never too late. The better you get, the greater the chances to win a championship someday. If you look at all the successful teams, then have not only a fast car, or smart people. Fit are important above all that the work processes. They have the ideas, the parts are ready in time to be doing quite well with the parts, the organization adapts to the racetrack, it does everything. We can even enhance each race. I am sure that we make progress every year. There is an ongoing process of continuous refinement and improvement.

Are you satisfied with the speed of progress?
Willis: What do you mean happy? Of course we are never satisfied. We want to get better and we want to be especially better faster. If you are easily satisfied in this business, then you are far from successful. It is the lack of satisfaction, which drives you further and further. But I think we did our thing is not bad. Maybe eight out of ten rating. But of course we want ten out of ten. We belong to a group of driven people. Formula 1 is at the pinnacle of motor sport and you have to repeatedly check each area. Development, design, management, manufacturing, quality - everything must be immaculate and constantly monitored. Every little mistake must be corrected immediately. One has to question: Why is the error? Why do we have in a particular area rather than the quality? Why does not fit the part? One must be extremely thorough easy.

In what area do you see the biggest gaps?
Willis: It's hard to say where there is a special problem. We have to improve pretty much everywhere. This does not sound negative. The simple fact is that we need more resources. In our program we need for example aerodynamics just more people. In design, we could use more people. In production we need better quality control and better tests. To improve our performance on the track, the world needs now, especially an aero-development program and improvements in the design of the complete package. One can not simply afford little weak in some areas.

Is it here mainly to more manpower?
Willis: First, the processes must be optimized. If the workflow to fit, you can expand more easily later. Then it can be seen more quickly, in what areas they needed more staff. But at this early stage of building a team of our people still have several tasks simultaneously. You have to accept it, that the processes are not yet perfect. Once we as a small team with limited resources, at least the most important parts of the chain have organized and they work together smoothly, we can also see rapid progress. This is often in racing like this: We show a lot on whether or not the shows to the outside world as an improvement. And then suddenly one day it is visible when all the basics work.

What would be a realistic time frame in which the gap can be closed to the lead?
Willis: That's a difficult question. First, we need to develop in 2012 the entire car in a reasonable manner. We are securely again be limited in terms of time and resources. We simply have to ensure that the most important parts of the car are designed properly. Then the question is whether structurally we have everything ready so far that we can prepare ourselves properly with the winter tests? We have enough parts for the first race? This is a big challenge for us, that everything happens controlled. Of the performance, one can say after two years of teaching safe, that there are hopes for a seat in the back midfield. A solid place in the midfield would certainly exaggerated. The other teams also do not just make a bad job. Once the base is both in the factory and on the racetrack, we should quickly recognize progress. One must not underestimate teams midfield not. Many look as it is on the first three teams. But behind six teams fight incredibly hard against each other. The competition is great and all supply from fantastic quality. Each of these cars would have won the championship five years ago.

Are you still on schedule for the 2012er car?
Willis: It's very tight. Of course we are already at work since June. But we do not have the resources that I would have liked. Many people in the team must accomplish several things at once. Our race engineer is also our aerodynamics and these people are every two weeks for six days and the race in action. It is not easy. But if it were easy, we would not be so very rewarded when you finally hinbekommt.

But are you confident?
Willis: We have see that we are preparing everything for the summer break, in time to begin production of the parts. We do not own the factory, we have to pass to external companies. This is generally not bad, but robs us of some flexibility. We must send our suppliers de design at the time, which had previously settled and where they have free capacity.

Can you respond once more to the development of the current cars? Known to be the pre-season schedule was very tight.
Willis: The date on which we have started with the design of the 2011 car was the 15th December. That's about six months later than I would have liked. That's a little extreme. Normally, one thinks back in March, April, May, after about the basic concept of next year's cars. In June and July, then it goes in some detail. The aerodynamic program is already underway at this time. After the summer break, it should go to the latest chassis design. The first should be ready by the end of September. November and December will be the second and third chassis. Then the cars are built and it is already one of the first tests. 2012 there is a small change: All the crash tests must be completed before the tests. That's what we have done in recent years, like parallel. Which ensures even more time pressure.

When you have approved the design of the 2011 cars that we have seen in Melbourne?
Willis: Just before Christmas we had some very labor-intensive days, where we decided how the car will be built: The Williams-gear and the old chassis, the new rules had to be adjusted accordingly. Over the Christmas period was a lot of work on the design. Most of the work made it the rear suspension with new parts at the rear. Then it was especially important to find manufacturers who can supply parts in a short time. We have both design and in the production lot set to external suppliers. Since we had to coordinate the design process between five and six groups in England, Germany and Spain.


 
How many hours have you spent in the wind tunnel and what would a normal value?
Willis: This car was not in the wind tunnel. We have put our wind tunnel program just on the road. Usually spend midfield teams around 40 hours per week in the wind tunnel, I would appreciate.


 
So you have everything done with computer simulations (CFD)?
Willis: Yes, because of the tight schedule we had only CFD. With the wind tunnel can be sure of rapid progress in achieving development, but it takes a certain lead time. It takes six to eight weeks to build a wind tunnel model. This time we had but not easy.


How difficult it is for a small team, major projects, such as introducing a new muffler?
Willis: That's a big deal. And I am very pleased with how it's gone from us. There are no test rides during the season. We need to test new parts in Friday practice. And the diffuser was to blow the exhaust gases for all the teams a challenge. This is our introduction to the Montreal but worked almost better than expected. A small group has four or five weeks working on it until it was developed and produced.


 
What does a small group?
Willis: Three people were taking care of the aerodynamics, and four have developed the design. One was then responsible for the production of the parts. At the track then four, five men have assembled the system.

Where has the engineering department located?
Willis: In some cases things are designed in England, other parts come from Germany again.

Find this ideal situation?
Willis: That's certainly not ideal. But we can draw on a great Formula 1 experience. About the modern technical aids in the development - CAD systems, data-sharing across servers and the Internet, cloud storage - but you get it back. Ten years ago that were so certainly not yet possible. If all employees would sit in an office, probably would run much faster communication. For someone in my position as head of technology, it would be easier to look directly on the CAD screen in a room when I download the individual progress of the design groups to have and then to discuss by phone, email or Skype them. This provides for longer working hours. For me this was a hard winter, busy as I've not long lived.

Hispania had to forego the winter tests. Can thus make up one drawback of the season at all?
Willis: Nowadays, you can do that with the technical aids can be interpreted much more quickly, which makes the car. Earlier tests were the only way to guarantee reliability. Questionable parts like gears or hydraulics are supplied to us by Williams. As we learn from their experience in 2010 and trust the work to the test. Overall, the quality has improved in the design process, however. We know of many systems, exactly what tends to go broke. Structural calculations and tests to help further. The aerodynamics was a critical issue for us. And the fact that the production of parts has been promoted so quickly. Then you simply must take into account that some does not quite fit perfectly, when everything is set up simultaneously. The arrangement of the components, for example, something unfavorable. For the mechanics, the work is somewhat difficult in some areas. This is above all because we could not make mock-up model of the car, on which all new parts to be adjusted.

Because it's really amazing that there are few failures with the car.
Willis: We had some breakdowns where we have committed operational errors. Since smaller problems have meant that the car was damaged. Here we come back to the point that I mentioned first. If the processes are not under control, small problems can quickly turn into big ones. I do not mind if an error occurs on the car. It makes me something if I have the same mistake twice.

How then are your personal plans? Rather with a small team to continue working or hoping for an offer from a major competitor?
Willis: That can not be answered simply. Currently I am an important part of this project and no one wants to leave the project to completion.

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