IT'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OR BUST FOR FERRARI INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2000 - Two of motorsports' most famous names will come together in September when a legendary Formula One team -- Ferrari -- competes at a legendary venue - the ...
IT'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OR BUST FOR FERRARI
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2000 - Two of motorsports' most famous names will come together in September when a legendary Formula One team -- Ferrari -- competes at a legendary venue - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the United States Grand Prix on Sept. 24. Ferrari, created in 1948, is the oldest Grand Prix team in existence and has taken part in every season since the modern Formula One World Championship was formed in 1950. On Feb. 7 at its headquarters in Maranello, Italy, Ferrari unveiled the F1 car it will use to compete in its 51st consecutive F1 championship. "Our objectives are clear, and difficult to achieve - to do better than last year," said Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt. Ferrari won the Formula One Constructors Championship last year for the first time since 1983. Last season, for the third consecutive season, a Ferrari driver missed winning the World Drivers Championship despite challenging for the title right up to the final race. The last Ferrari driver to win the championship was Jody Scheckter in 1979. Germany's Michael Schumacher, 31, back with Ferrari for a fifth season, believes that this will be the year when Ferrari finally achieves the goal it has chased for so long. "Besides the defense of the Constructors World Championship," Schumacher said, "my overriding goal is of course to win the Drivers World Championship. This World Championship would have an extra special significance not only for me, but also for the team, the whole of Italy and for Ferrari fans around the world. I'm confident that we can achieve this." Schumacher, who had to miss seven races last season because of a broken leg, said he is now completely recovered. "I'm absolutely 100 percent fit," said Schumacher, who just returned from an intensive two-week training program in Dubai. "I feel much better than I normally do at this time of the year." Schumacher's teammate this season is Brazil's Rubens Barrichello, 27, who joins Ferrari after three years with the Stewart-Ford team. Barrichello has a contract with Ferrari through the 2001 season, while Schumacher will drive for the team through 2002. This year's Ferrari is called the F1-2000. Technical director Ross Brawn said: "As always we have tried to achieve logical objectives: more aerodynamic efficiency, a lower center of gravity and improved integration of the engine. In my opinion we have made more progress with this car than ever before with a new Ferrari during my period here." The F1-2000, developed entirely in Ferrari's new wind tunnel, features a completely new aerodynamic package, revised front and rear suspension made mostly of carbon fiber, new electronics and an all-new V10 that has a lower center of gravity than last year's engine. Ferrari is the only team that builds its chassis and engine. Speaking of Ferrari's latest V10, model 049, Ferrari's Paolo Martinelli, head of the engine department, said it meets two specific technical objectives. "It had to have improved performance with more power and better driveability," Martinelli said, "while retaining the necessary reliability of its predecessor, the 048. And it had to mate perfectly with the car itself. This led to a development program aimed as specifically lowering the center of gravity and a new layout of the ancillary components." Looking ahead to the new season, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo believes the West McLaren-Mercedes team will again be Ferrari's main opponent. "I think the battle will be between Ferrari and McLaren," he said, "but I'm sure that some of the other teams like Jordan and Williams can get some good results during the season." But the true test will come during the 17 races around the world that make up the F1 series. "Words mean little," di Montezemolo said. "The track will give the answer as to the abilities of this car. We lived through a very difficult season with dramatic changes of fortune last year. We won the Constructors title but lost the Drivers title for the third consecutive time in the very last race. It confirmed that Ferrari is capable of competing at the highest level. "We are up against very strong opponents, with car companies from all over the globe involved in the fight." The battle for this year's World Championship, including Round 15 of 17 at Indianapolis, begins in Australia on March 12.