The ‘mind-blowing’ barometer F1 teams face in Japan

Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough feels that due to the consistency in regulations and tyres between last year’s Japanese Grand Prix and the next F1 race will provide the team with a “proper read” on how it compares to its rivals.

With the event at Suzuka moving forward from its usual autumn slot on the F1 calendar, with only six months between the two races, it will also be the first chance for the teams to benchmark their 2024 cars against the packages raced toward the end of last season.

McCullough feels that due to the aerodynamic regulations and tyre compounds remaining unchanged from F1’s last trip to Suzuka, looking at the data between the two races could be “mind-blowing”.

Asked if the Japanese Grand Prix would be an interesting exercise, McCullough said: “It is because you’ve got stable aerodynamic regulations comparing where you are, which we always do – last year, this year.

“It’s just mind-blowing sometimes in the data, but then you say, ‘Ah, you know, the difference in tyres’, and obviously that’s to do with track temperature and wind. There’s lots of factors.”

McCullough did acknowledge that if those external factors remain consistent with last year’s Japanese GP, it will be a fair barometer.

He added: “Japan’s going to be a very interesting one because it is exactly the same tyres, compounds, construction, aerodynamic regs – a proper read on where we are if the weather is the same, track temperature the same, the winds the same.”

On the same page

McCullough is not alone in his thinking, with senior Ferrari engineer Jock Clear and McLaren team principal Andrea Stella voicing similar opinions.

“In all honesty, the way the calendar is this year, I think four races in, we’ll have a pretty good idea,” said Clear.

“You’ve got Japan in there, which is a hell of a circuit to measure a car. So that kind of circuit, you’re going to find out a lot.”

Stella added that it would be “very interesting to test where we are in Japan,” before pointing to McLaren’s competitiveness at the famed track last season.


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