Ferrari launches F150 in Maranello
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro launched its 2011 contender, the Ferrari F150, at Maranello today in the presence of the world's media who had gathered at the team's headquarters to witness the unveiling of the scarlet red F150. Ferrari is the first Formula One team who showed their new car to the world.
After a short introduction by team principal Stefano Domenicali, drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa unveiled the new car, a car that will renew the Scuderia's hopes of winning this year's title. The name F150 was chosen as a tribute and celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. About the name, Domenicali said, "I think that our Team represents 'Italianity' in the world, although we are an international team, with members from all over the world."
In his speech after the unveiling Ferrari President Luca Cordera di Montezemolo referred to the 150 years of Italian unity, and stressed unity and stability is what Italy, and also Ferrari, needs. Montezemolo reflected on the past and the championships they lost in 2008 and 2010, and assured his guests Ferrari will not make the same mistakes again. He repeated his call for stable regulations and the preservation of the DNA of Formula One. He also used the opportunity to complain about the in-season testing ban. "I don't think it is possible that it is the only professional sport where it is not possible to train," he said.
He also referred to the changes Formula One will undergo in the future. "We need to avoid that Formula One only becomes an aerodynamic test. We are not in the satellite world, we are not in the aerodynamic world. We need to leave the space to the mechanics and the engines, the Italian said. "We are a company that looks at the future and is not afraid of innovation, but we also want to retain our culture and organization," he warned.
A closer look at the F150
Taking a closer look at the new car, two significant changes are immediately visible, the front of the car has been raised and the driver is seated in an even higher position compared to last year. The nose and front wing are complete new designs, designs which were partly dictated by the new regulations introduced by the sport's governing body the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile). The end of the nose is high up in the air, and the front wing itself consists of three planes, while the front wing endplates are aerodynamically shaped to guide the air around the new narrower Pirelli front tyres.
The back of the F150 also looks completely different compared to last year, it looks very sleek and clean without the double diffuser, as tighter technical regulations regarding the rear and the floor of a Formula One car have given the designers no room to install other clever devices in that area to replace the down force generated by the banned diffuser.
The 'blown' rear wing has also been banned, and instead a hydraulically controlled adjustable rear wing has been introduced. The Ferrari rear wing is painted in the three colors of the Italian flag, Ferrari expects the configuration and size of the moveable part of the rear wing will evolve and will be refined after the pre-season test days. The front suspension has been modified, while the rear suspension is a complete new design.
Technical Director Aldo Costa commented about the changes in the regulations, "The major aspects with the most impact on the project were connected to the aerodynamic development. The car will change a lot. The double diffuser, the F-duct, is gone. The driver can't change the car's aerodynamic set up anymore. The underbody won't have any 'holes' in the central part anymore. This is a fundamental change."
Chief Designer Nikolas Tombazis admitted designing the new car with the new regulations has been a real challenge. Asked about the most innovative characteristics of the F150 he replied: "We've been working on different innovations for the car: some of ours and some new for Formula One in general. The rear suspension is really innovative, so is the rear wing system. But there are more novelties coming up regarding the configuration for the first race, which aren't in the car yet, for example something for the rear wing and the exhausts."
According to Ferrari the new Pirelli tyres will be another new element which will play a significant role this season, and the team will concentrate on the new tyres during the first testing days. Costa about the Pirellis, "The project and the evolution of these tyres happened in a very short time frame: Pirelli had only a couple of months to develop the tyres. I think they've done some really good work, but there's still a lot to do." And added, "We have to test several compounds, while we are already in a good and reliable condition as far as the tyres' construction is concerned. There's still a lot to do and it's a very important issue. We have to use the winter tests as good as we can to set up the Pirelli tyres."
Although last year Ferrari was accused of subliminal advertising for their title sponsor Marlboro and removed the barcode logo from the 2010 car, the new red and white Ferrari logo is even more reminiscent of the red and white Marlboro logo. It's a clear referral to the tobacco company who stayed loyal to the Italian team after tobacco advertising had been banned from Formula One.
The KERS system is back
Ferrari will also run the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovering System) system this year, according to Luca Marmorini, Ferrari's Engine and Electronics Director, the system is similar to that of 2009. "The KERS 2011 has to follow exactly the same specifications like in 2009. So there are the same performance and energy levels. Based on the experience in 2009 we re- designed it more efficiently, reducing its dimension and weight." Ferrari's KERS system is also available for client teams, and Costa believes Ferrari offers an affordable KERS package. "At Ferrari the KERS has been planned with an eye on budget control. All costs regarding development have been reduced and the operative costs have been analyzed and reduced to make the KERS manageable also for the small teams," he explained.
Tombazis about the re-introduction of KERS, "We've learned a lot about the KERS two years ago. But now we've got a new package, so the installation wasn't the same. We had to think about that a lot."
After the disaster at Abu Dhabi last year, Ferrari decided to reshuffle its management, Domenicali about the changes, "I think the main organizational change is that we've restructured the team of the track engineers. There are the vice technical director, Pat Fry, who coordinates Alonso's and Massa's engineers, Andrea Stella and Robert Smedley respectively, and Technical Director Aldo Costa, who remains the Head Coordinator regarding all technical aspects. We had a further improvement regarding strategies, introducing a new person with several different experiences, Neil Martin."
Martin was previously Director of Strategy at the Red Bull Racing team, and his move to Ferrari caused a war of words between the Italian and Austrian team. Red Bull's Helmut Marko commented Ferrari 'wanted to poach our best people', prompting Montezemolo's reply that Red Bull 'doesn't know how to behave as champions'.
Expectations are high for 2011
Both Montezemolo and Domenicali made no bones about it today, the new F150 will be competitive right from the start of the season, and Ferrari's goal is winning this year's Drivers' and Constructors' Championship. Development on the car is already on its way, and even before official testing has begun, Domenicali already announced the car will be updated after the pre- season testing days. "The car you will see in the first race in Bahrain will be completely different from the one we use in the first tests in Valencia next week," he said.
And who are Ferrari's main rivals? "I think that we have to consider everybody before we start: the big teams, which all will be very, very strong. Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren -- and there will also be some other teams, who could be some dangerous outsiders. And let's not forget the great drivers -- there are many World Champions. This will be a very hot Championship," Domenicali predicted.
Both Ferrari drivers Massa and Alonso know this year is important for the team, and they are all set for a strong 2011 campaign. Both drivers were interviewed standing next to the new F150. Alonso about his second year with Ferrari, "I'm really motivated and exited, last year was an incredible year for me. I discovered a wonderful team and a wonderful environment." And his expectations for 2011? "2011 will be an important moment with new challenges, there have been changes in the regulations and drivers will have to adapt to the new driving style. It will be a difficult year, we will have a lot to learn, but we are ready for it."
Alonso thinks he knows the Ferrari team better now, "I know the names of the mechanics now, I didn't last year, which was not easy for me, but I'm now far more integrated into the team." And added, "It will be far more easier for me to adapt to the new car, that is my target." Asked whether there was any pressure to perform well this year the Spaniard replied: "You always feel pressure when you race for Ferrari, but especially for me, as last year was a difficult one."
Next to speak was Massa, and he also understands this year is important for him and his team. "This year is very important for us, and I'm really motivated and exited. I followed the development of the car, and there are a lot of things we have to learn and understand as Fernando said. I think with the strength and the work of our engineers and mechanics, it will be easier for me to learn all the new rules and have a competitive car from the very first race and have very good result during this new season."
Although the weather was foggy today in Maranello, Alonso hopes he can try the F150 on the Fiorano test circuit this afternoon, and Massa will do an additional shake down on Saturday. The team will be present at Valencia next Tuesday where the new car will be put through its paces on the Ricardo Tormo circuit. Alonso will drive the car on Tuesday and Wednesday, Massa on Thursday.
Renault, Sauber and Mercedes will launch their new car on Monday January 31, and the following day, February 1, Red Bull, Lotus and Toro Rosso will unveil their new car, stayed tuned, and follow the latest news on Motorsport.com.