Ferrari revealed its challenger for the 2007 championship on January 14th in a low-key 'preview' event at its private track of Fiorano, Italy. The only glimpse of the car for expectant fans was from photos provided by the team but it currently bears the familiar red livery. Ferrari has returned to its previous system of car designation and this season's F2007, internally known as the 658, is claimed to be significantly different to its predecessor.
There is a new front suspension, described as a 'major conceptual innovation' in terms of aerodynamics, and revised side-pods and engine air intake. A sculpted gearbox housing lends itself to a narrower rear end to the F2007 and while the rear suspension is similar to that of the 248 F1, Ferrari plans revisions of that area based on future understanding of tyre behaviour.
"The aerodynamics have been completely remodelled; above all the front suspension, the air inlets on the main body and the rear axle are tighter and more tapered, to benefit also from the new architecture of the gear box," said head of the chassis department Aldo Costa. "We worked a lot on the chassis considering the new crash tests, which are much more severe. With satisfaction we can say that we have reached excellent results in terms of safety."
"The suspension has been revised also under the aspect of new tyres, while the gear box has a new quick shift system, which will avert time loss during gear-changes. This system lowers the time of gear change, works for all gears and in every condition. We have also modified the disposition and the inclination of the radiator. As far as the rear suspension is concerned, it is continuing to evolve."
The structure of the longitudinally mounted 056 engine is the same as the one used at the end of the 2006 season, in accordance with the FIA homologation regulations. With permission, the engine has been modified to optimise the torque curve, as well as piston work to improve cooling and reliability.
"As according to the rules the engine 056 has remained the same," said Gilles Simon, head of the engine department. "But we were able to adapt it to the rev limits of 19,000 rpm. We have revised the combustion chamber, the valves, the crank shaft and the piston, to optimize the available output before arriving at the rpm limit."
"Further we have worked on the integration of the engine into the car: the water and oil inlets have been revised, as has the positioning of some accessories, to adjust to the very compact rear axle of the 658."
Felipe Massa will have the first drive of the F2007 on Monday 15th at Fiorano. "The driving angle has slightly changed, I already tried out the seat and I must say that there will be no problem to adjust to it, because the change is minimal," said the Brazilian. "We will already see by tomorrow if everything works and then we will take the car to Mugello and continue to further develop. Continuity is certainly important."
Of his new teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, Massa commented: "He looks like someone with whom I can work very well. To come to a new team is never easy, because you need to build confidence, but here I was immediately able to arrive at a high level of competitiveness. It is just a matter of wanting and lots of motivation to work together, and this is what Kimi is doing."
Raikkonen is keen to see the new car in action and to drive it for himself as he has been on the sidelines since the end of last season. "Now I will get back into the car and start my phase in which I will adapt to the car," he said. "We have to work together and we have to give it our all. I will be here tomorrow to see the F2007 run. It is always very interesting to see a new race car on its first laps. The most important thing to go fast is to have a good feeling with the car."
The Finn, who plans to learn Italian, is confident that he and Ferrari will quickly get used to each other. "In the year 2007 the car and the tyres will be different, but I have my way of working and I will adjust to new conditions. I already changed team, car and method, so I have some experience in this field. Here you work to the maximum but the climate is more relaxed. For me it is a perfect environment."
Ferrari CEO Jean Todt rounded off the press conferences. "The upcoming championship will be a difficult battle, because we have strong and ambitious competitors," he said. "We have always been ambitious, we also try to be strong. Obviously we have to reply with facts and right now we have the elements. The car is ready and tomorrow Massa will drive it if the weather allows it."
Todt touched on the topic of the structure within Ferrari -- such as the absence of technical director Ross Brawn -- but stressed that the different distribution of responsibilities wouldn't change the team. Brawn's previous role did not include the engine department, whereas new technical director Mario Almondo oversees both the chassis and the engine.
"As far as the competitiveness is concerned we can see an improvement at all levels in the simulations," Todt concluded. "We have to confirm that on the race track, because what counts in the end is the stop watch."
"There is the big difference concerning the tyres, which will be new and different for everyone. We do not expect an advantage. We've already seen that there are around two to three seconds difference, as compared to 2006. Last year we were competitive but not reliable enough. So we absolutely have to get back to the levels of the years 2000 to 2004 when we were victorious."
F2007 technical specifications
Carbon-fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Ferrari longitudinal gearbox, Limited-slip differential
Semiautomatic sequential electronically, controlled gearbox - quick shift
Number of gears: 7 +Reverse
Ventilated carbon-fibre disc brakes
Independent suspension, push-rod activated, torsion springs front and rear
Length: 4545 mm
Width: 1796 mm
Height: 959 mm
Wheelbase: 3135 mm
Front track: 1470 mm
Rear track: 1405 mm
Weight with water, lubricant and driver: 600 kg
Wheels (front and rear): 13"
Number of cylinders: 8
Cylinder block in cast aluminium: V 90°
Number of valves: 32
Total displacement: 2398 cm3
Piston bore: 98 mm
Weight: 95 kg
Magneti Marelli digital electronic injection
Magneti Marelli static electronic ignition
Fuel: Shell V-Power ULG 62
Lubricant: Shell SL-0977