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Oliver Bearman on safety guards: “There is no difference, they need to be redone”

Oliver Bearman is Ferrari’s reserve driver who has already debuted in Formula 1 this season, replacing Carlos Sainz in Saudi Arabia. At Imola, for the Made in Italy and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, he will take part in Free Practice 1 driving for Haas F1.

The English driver drew attention today for participating in a test at Fiorano last week. Along with Arthur Leclerc, he tested the effects of the new mudguards designed by the FIA to allow cars to follow each other even on wet tracks.

The wheel covers tested were an evolution of those evaluated at Silverstone a few months ago. These were designed with a certain number of openings to assess how and to what extent water was retained or released by the covers.

Oliver Bearman’s assessment, after following the F1-75 driven by Arthur Leclerc equipped with the wheel covers, was clear. The system did improve the situation, but only slightly. Too slightly.

“I followed Arthur Leclerc who was running with the mudguards, and so far, there’s not much to say about it. I think, from watching the videos, the result was quite similar to what we already experience.” – the Ferrari junior explained.

“So I think we need to go back to the drawing board to find other solutions. We need to keep looking around and find a solution.”

Oliver Bearman highlighted that Ferrari tried different configurations of mudguard openings to better understand their behavior, but also for tire temperature management. With the wheel covers, temperatures are inevitably higher, while opening the mudguards allows for different temperature gradations but also more water escaping from the cover.

“We tried different configurations, but we only wet the straights to see if it was possible to stay behind another car in those sections. We did 4 or 5 laps just to try different levels of openings, because if the mudguards are completely closed, it’s also quite difficult to have the ideal tire temperatures.”

In short, water remains a problem even with the wheel covers. Oliver Bearman explained that the difficulty lies in the nature of the cars themselves. The Venturi channels under the floor generate such aerodynamic downforce that it energizes the air flowing out, and the water follows these flows.

“I think the problem is that these cars generate so much downforce from the floor. The air gets energized from there, and naturally, the spray follows the air.” – he pointed out.

“Visibility was still quite difficult, definitely a bit better than before. The work done has yielded some results, but nothing has been resolved yet,” concluded the Ferrari reserve driver.

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