In one of the more silly F1 dramas of the past few years, teams had been wondering why Ferrari had been coolings its onboard camera with an ice pack. Now it has become clear that, well, cooling wasn’t what the team was going for.
Ferrari was ordered to stop “cooling” its mandated onboard camera (required for getting onboard views for TV,) as Auto Motor und Sport reported on today, when really all it was trying to do was block what the camera was seeing.
That was extra clear after Ferrari immediately covered up its whole cockpit, as Tobi Grüner tweeted out.
What Ferrari was hiding was its displays and steering wheel settings and procedures, per AMuS:
Ferrari wollte verhindern, dass die Konkurrenz die Lenkradeinstellungen und die Displaymeldungen ausspionieren kann, wenn das Auto in der Garage oder der Startaufstellung steht.
Ferrari wanted to prevent the competition from being able to spy on its steering wheel set up and display messages, when the car is in the garage or on the starting grid.
This reminds me of one of my favorite F1 cheats in history, which relied just as much on misdirection as anything else. That was when Gordon Murray figured out a simple way to cheat suspension height rules and then installed an empty box full of tubes and wires to make everyone think that was the real speed secret.
I wrote about the whole thing a few years back:
Take, for instance, Gordon Murray’s outstandingly brilliant cheat for the 1981 season with the Brabham BT49C. The wonderful documentary How To Go Fast And Influence People explains that the rules required that all cars must have a minimum ride height of 6cm. Gordon figured that the only way to measure this height was when the car was stationary, in the pits. Therefore, if he could figure out a way that the car could be lower than 6cm on the track and then return to 6cm in the pits, the car would be legal.
He did it. He linked the suspension to a hydraulic reservoir with a pinhole exit. When the car was at speed, the pressure on the car was strong enough to press it low to the ground, and the pinhole exit was small enough that air couldn’t leak out. That meant the hydraulic fluid kept the car low.
When the car came to a stop, there was no more pressure pushing the car down, so the air leaked out from the hydraulic suspension line and the car gently rose to its proper 6cm ride height for scrutineering.
The really ingenious part is that Murray knew every other team would pick up on his device, so he put an empty aluminum box in the car with a few wires sticking out of it. Every other team focused on the box, and nobody noticed the hydraulic suspension line.
The whole system basically gave the car no suspension, making the Brabham brutal to drive, but fast enough to win the championship by a single point.
What’s odd is that you’d think this new Ferrari onboard camera drama would be something that would affect all teams equally, but other teams haven’t taken these anti-spy measures. Maybe there’s something else going on we don’t know about.