"Multiple" factors cost FPR the championship

  • 15/12/2014
  • By V8 Supercars
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

A "multitude" of factors contributed to the dramatic loss of form that resulted in factory Ford driver Mark Winterbottom's plunge from a 161 point V8 Supercars Championship lead to finishing the season third on the table 596 points behind arch-rival Jamie Whincup.

Prodrive Racing Australia boss Tim Edwards told v8supercars.com.au Winterbottom would have to assume some responsibility for the result because he made some driving errors, as well as being the victim of mistakes by others, such as when Red Bull's Craig Lowndes spun the Pepsi-Max Falcon late in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

But Edwards also made clear his belief the Falcon FG II struggled to be competitive against its rivals aerodynamically - which has been lament of the Ford teams ever since they lost two degrees of rear wing angle prior to the start of the 2013 season.

More recently, he revealed, the move to a mandated 17-psi minimum tyre pressure had impacted the speed of the Falcon.

"Potentially we might have been running our tyres lower than some other people and I think certainly in the last part of the season that has been a factor," conceded Edwards. "We haven't quite got on top of extracting the speed out of the car at the higher pressure.

"But that is just one of a multitude of things, there is not one thing. Multiple driver mistakes. That doesn't help. Issues with Craig tagging him at Bathurst doesn't help.

"There are some areas of design we are working on too, but there is not one thing. It is a whole host of things."

Edwards wasn't surprised wildcard Marcos Ambrose encountered problems braking his brand new Xbox Falcon at the Sydney NRMA 500. Locking rear brakes has been a trait of the FG II ever since its aerodynamic clipping.

"The rear locking has been an issue with this car for two years now," Edwards confirmed. "We have been trying to deal with it for two years, but it is just an inherent problem with the car.

"And aero could be a contributor to that but so could the mechanical set-up of the car. So it would be wrong for me to say it is all about the rear wing, but certainly whacking two degree of rear wing on would certainly help!"

Winterbottom was competitive enough to claim four race wins in the first 19 races of 2014, but after that only twice reached the podium with two thirds in Races 34 and 35. Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris' epic Bathurst 1000 victory was another highlight for the FG II, but no Falcon has shown the ultimate single lap speed to qualify on pole for a V8 Supercars race since Winterbottom at Phillip Island in late 2013.

Winterbottom lost any hope of winning the 2014 title at the penultimate championship event at Phillip Island and then dropped to third behind Tekno Autosports Shane van Gisbergen after a poor run in the Sydney NRMA 500.

Between Phillip Island and Sydney Ford also confirmed it would be withdrawing all V8 Supercars backing at the end of the 2015 championship.

Edwards and PRA will have a chance to reset the Falcon's aero package when it presents the new FG X for parity testing in January, alongside the Nissan Altima and Holden Commodore VF.

Volvo Polestar Racing/GRM and Erebus Motorsport V8 have declined the chance offered to them by V8 Supercars to re-homologate the S60 and E63 AMG after aerodynamic testing process developments during the year.

PRA is due to test the FG X for the first time as soon as this week, running various different aero combinations in preparation for the official test.

"We have a reset in terms of the aero package for the car," Edwards said of the test. "Some would argue there is nothing wrong with the aero package and I would obviously have a contrary view to that.

"But the great thing is with the Holden and the Nissan both going there as well and with V8 Supercars' new and improved toolbox, hopefully we will all come out of the test in the middle of January with those three cars at least equivalent.

"We are all quite confident that the new tools that V8 Supercars have got will give us a more accurate result in January."

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