Notes on the cars at Zolder

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WITH all the special-builders returning to the fold there were quite a lot of interesting things to see in the Zolder pits and garages. The BMW factory had issued an ultimatum to Bernard Ecclestone and his Brabham team to the effect that they were not amused by his shilly-shallying about over whether to run Cosworth-powered cars or the new BMW 4-cylinder turbo-charged units. They said “race our BMW engines at Zolder or we will look elsewhere for a more co-operative team”. Gordon Murray took Piquet to Silverstone with one of the turbo-charged BT50 cars and the World Champion promptly lapped at 156 m.p.h., rather putting Jonathan Palmer’s 151 m.p.h. lap in the Williams FW08 into perspective. Three cars were ready for Zolder, all to similar specification, and Piquet had BT50/3, while Patrese started off with BT50/2, but during practice swapped to the T-car which was BT50/1. Eventually he raced this car and BT50/2 was race-prepared as the spare car. The BMW van brought spare engines, complete with exhaust pipes and turbo-charger layout, all neatly mounted on a tubular cradle and sealed up in a metal box, complete with the test-bed sheet and specification details. During the meeting there were various engine and turbo-charger failures and many of the boxes were unpacked. The 4-cylinder engine is mounted vertically in the Brabham chassis and the exhaust system and turbo-charger unit are all on the left side. The four exhaust pipes curl round in a bunch and enter the turbine in pairs on a common flange, the compressor is ahead of the turbine, takes its air from a duct in the side of the left-side of the car and passes the compressed air to an inter-cooler lying almost flat alongside the cockpit and then aluminium trunking takes the cooled air at pressure across the front of the engine to the inlet manifold collector box, where the electronically controlled fuel injection system is. After the exhaust gases have passed through the turbine they are fed into a single large-diameter tail pipe. The whole turbo-charger unit is mounted in one with the exhaust manifold and all the piping, and when trouble intervened on Patrese’s car in practice the whole layout was exchanged, the mechanics detaching everything at the cylinder head to manifold joint, the compressor outlet at the inter-cooler connection and the tail pipe from the turbine exit. A fairly simple operation but a bit hot to work on if the engine has just stopped running. All the electronic gear for the fuel injection is in a large black box with a multi-pin connection, mounted on the right hand side of the engine in the side-pod, and the one-piece carbon-fibre body panel covers the a nose of the car, the cockpit sides and the whole engine bay and presents a very clean and efficient looking upper surface.

The new Williams FW08 finally appeared and very neat it looked, being small and compact and simple in conception, still using an aluminium monocoque. The major change in design philosophy is in the front suspension, which is now by double wishbones with a push-pull-rod from the apex of the top one, working a bell-crank at the lower end of the inboard coil-spring damper unit, which is fixed at its upper end. The wishbone movement operates the push-pull-rod which runs diagonally down from the apex of the upper wishbone across the centre of the base-line of the lower wishbone and the movement of the bell-crank lever stretches or compresses the coil spring, as the wheel moves up and down. This is a system that Gordon Murray has used on his Brabham design for many years. The main reason that Patrick Head has adopted this system is that with the hard springs they are using today the rocker arm on the FW07 system was getting heavier and heavier as it was beefed up to take the loads imposed and was beginning to bend and flex like a leaf-spring, but without any damping, which was not good. The Murray system is simple, light and load-free and altogether much better. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the orthodox rocker-arm system of compressing an inboard-mounted spring to disappear. The team had three FW08 cars in the pits, No. 3 for Rosberg, No. 1 as his spare. and No. 4 for Daly, the Irishman making his debut with the team. His car was brand new and ran for the first time on the first day of practice. The No. 2 car is used for testing and development work. Rosberg used both cars during practice and chose FW08/3 for the race and Daly had to use FW08/1 on Saturday afternoon, but returned to his own FW08/4 on race day. Cosworth power and Hewland transmission supply the motivation for these new cars which have been built down to something like 550 kilogrammes and a larger water tank in the right-hand side-pod is filled to bring the weight up to the regulation 580 kilogrammes. Throughout the meeting great play was made of keeping the water-tank full in case anyone suddenly demanded to weigh any of the cam.

Alfa Romeo brought along two of their normal Tipo 182 cars with the carbon-fibre monocoque and V12 engine, and their third car was designated Tipo 182B. This was to the same basic design but the side-pods were 10 cm. narrower on each side which meant that the outside edge was within the width between the rear tyres, on that the side skirt at the bottom of the pod could run straight back to the lower wishbone pivot of the rear suspension without any break or curves in it. The exhaust system was revised, pointing upwards at its end, to give space for a deeper venturi under the side of the car. It was tried out by Giacomelli in practice but was soon abandoned, obviously needing some revision or detail improvements and both Italian drivers stayed with the normal Tipo 182 cars.

There were no major changes elsewhere, McLaren producing another MP4 in their B-series, which are the 1982 cars, this being MP4/6 which Lauda used Watson stayed with MP4/2 and MP4/4 was the T-car. Lotus had a new Type 91 with them as the T-car, number 91/1, and de Angelis remained with 91/6 and Mansell 91/7. March had four cars, three in the blue and white colours of Rothmans Cigarettes for Mass and Boesel and a fourth car in black for Emilio de Villota making another return to Formula One. All four cars were the 821 models designed by Adrian Reynard for John McDonald’s racing team and the black one was looked after by Mike Earle and his racing organisation. After making a big play about missing the San Marino GP due to delay in the supply of parts for the new JS19 cars, still with Matra V12 engines, preventing the cars being finished in time, Guy Ligier and his Talbot team turned up in Belgium with the same old trio of JS17 cars they have used in previous races. After the Imola performance the 126C2 Ferraris were unchanged in Belgium, apart from normal detail changes of suspension and aerodynamics to suit the circuit. Villeneuve had his usual car (058) while Pironi had the car built up at Imola, now brought up to date and numbered 059. The T-car was 057. Tyrrell had the usual trio of 011 model cars, ATS their three 1981/82 cars and owner Gunther Schmidt had done a deal with Michelin for tyres after he was let down so badly by IRTS who had contracted to supply him with Avon tyres. The Melksham firm were very upset at losing the ATS team through no fault of their own, the ways of the Ecclestone-controlled IRTS firm being very alien to Avon mentality. Renault had the same three cars as at Imola, with Prost in RE38B, Arnoux in RE37B and the T-car was RE35B. Their engine trouble at Imola was basically due to using different valve timing and different cam shapes in a search for a more flexible power output, rather than any change in power output. Arrows had three cars with them as did Osella but Toleman-Hart had only two and Ensign and Theodore had single cars, but Fittipaldi had a spare car for Serra. — D.S.J.