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Ferrari launches 2015 F1 car seeking to close the "unacceptably large gap" to Mercedes

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Ferrari launches 2015 F1 car seeking to close the "unacceptably large gap" to Mercedes
Jan 30, 2015, 2:18 PM

Ferrari has revealed its 2015 challenger the SF15-T, the car which it hopes will return respectability to its performance after a winless 2014 seas...

Ferrari has revealed its 2015 challenger the SF15-T, the car which it hopes will return respectability to its performance after a winless 2014 season that saw only two podiums and massive upheaval among staff with the departure of the chairman, two changes of team principal, the removal of both the engine boss and chassis design chief and the loss of the lead driver, Fernando Alonso.

The new Ferrari is certainly easier on the eye than its predecessor, especially with the new nose section. Ironically the Ferrari was one of few 2014 designs which would have met with the new 2015 nose regulations, but the team has evolved a more elegant solution. But it's the packaging of the bodywork and the tighter fit around the rear in particular which should help to improve performance, as the team has got on top of the balance between shrink wrap bodywork for aerodynamic gain and the significant requirement for cooling of the hybrid turbo engine.

Technical director James Allison admitted that last year there was an "Unacceptably large gap in our performance" compared to the benchmark Mercedes team.

Ferrari 2015

All the cars look a lot prettier at the front and the 2015 Ferrari is better in that regard.

The rear end of the car is noticeably different from the 2014 car, "We've been successful in pulling the bodywork much tighter to the stuff underneath the skin and that's been done through work not only in the wind tunnel but in the design part of the company, to find radiator designs which are fundamentally more efficient so we are able to close the car down at the back."

Ferrari 2015 F1 car

Ferrari has gone for pullrod front suspension, "You have to look at what areas you are going to work on that are going to give you the maximum return for your effort," says Allison. "Pushrod, pullrod on the front? They have pros and cons on either side. A pull rod is harder to get light and stiff, but it's easier to get aerodynamic performance from it, so it's swings and roundabouts. It's an area that wasn't felt to be a problem on last year's car."

The key will be the power unit, which lagged well behind the class leading unit last season. Towards the end of the year, with the failure in Monza, they were running reduced power on Alonso's final engine in preference to taking the penalty for a new unit, as Sebastian Vettel did in Austin. This year with only four engines to last the 20 race season, the emphasis will be even more on reliability.

"This (the Power unit) has been a focus of high effort to improve," said Allison. "Early last season the power delivery wasn't particularly sophisticated and it was tough for the driver to get the type of throttle response they wanted. It improved a lot in the season and we take that a step further (on this car)."

Ferrari 2015 F1 car

Ferrari has changed the architecture of the power unit to achieve a better compromise between qualifying and race performance, with the emphasis on the MGU-H unit, "A definite weakness was the amount of electrical energy we could recover from the turbo was not good enough to produce competitive power levels during the race. That's one of the reasons why Ferrari's qualifying performance was relatively better than racing performance, " said Allison. "And then (we need) plain and simple horsepower."

JA on F1 technical adviser Dominic Harlow's assessment of the new Ferrari

Similar to the Mclaren MP4-30 the car has an extened ‘Platypus’ type nose with its front wing pillars set well back. Unlike the exaggerated nose camera mounts on the Mercedes, which are free from profile or incidence restriction, the Ferrari’s are subtler and placed ahead of the front top wishbone.

The car continues with the large front brake duct inlets and blown front axles that were used during 2014 and originally developed by Williams in 2013.

There is also a front lower wishbone with a similar enlarged intersection between the forward and rearward legs, similar to that used by Mercedes with the W05 and permitting a much broader 3.5:1 profile. Ferrari have continued to use a pullrod layout at the front which to date is a unique feature.

The roll hoop area is clean with all inlet air collected inside the front view shape of the roll structure.

At the rear there is further evolution of the rear brake duct cascade and the rear top wishbone to upright mounting is enlarged. The diffuser is pretty well hidden, so perhaps contains some novel features or details.

Ferrari powered cars were noted to struggle more against Mercedes in Race trim in 2014, when it was necessary to sustain energy recovery from the MGU-H to enable a full 4Mj of energy to be deployed whenever possible. In Qualifying the battery could sustain this for a single lap but not in the Race. Under the engine cover it seems there could be solutions aimed at addressing this shortfall.

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