Ferrari F2012 key changes explained

2012 F1 season

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Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis explained the key features of the new F2012, starting with the latest example of the distinctive 2012-style noses.

Ferrari F2012 nose

“The front wing is an evolution of the wing we introduced in the last races of last season. That was introduced in order to learn some initial lessons about this subject and we understood quite a lot and we have further developed it, and there’s going to be further development at the third test before the start of the season.

“The nose has a rather ungainly shape on the top. That is the result of the regulation which requires us to have the nose quite low, and an aerodynamic desire to have the lower part of the chassis as high as possible.

“So even though it is aesthetically not very pleasing, we believe it is the most efficient aerodynamic solution to that area of the car.

Ferrari F2012

“Going slightly further back, we get into one of the innovations of this car, which is the front suspension. For mainly aerodynamic reasons we have selected the pull-rod solution.

“It took us quite a lot of work in the structural and design office and vehicle dynamics departments, in order to regain all the mechanical characteristics that we wanted the front suspension to have. We believe we’ve achieved that, but we also have, I believe, an aerodynamic advantage out of the solution.

“Moving back we reach the area of the sidepod inlets. There we have reviewed completely the project and we have changed out philosophy for the lateral crash structures. The crash test we had to do was much more difficult to homologate the car. But it has left us with some aerodynamic advantage in the area of the main turning vanes and the vertical profiles that lie next to the sidepod inlet.

Ferrari F2012

“Going further back we have a much more narrow profile especially at the low part of the ‘coke panel’. That has been made possible out of the repackaging of the chassis and engine rear part, and also out of the gearbox that has been completely reviewed and made narrower.

“Whereas in the upper part of the sidepods we have a fairly wide solution because we have to host the new exhausts which are a result of the new regulations regarding exhausts.

“So we have had to abandon to low exhausts of the previous years because of the regulations. We spent quite a lot of resource and time in investigating the new exhaust scenarios and in fact it will be an area we will research during winter testing before we finalist the exact configuration for the first race.

“Regarding the gearbox, we have obviously got the external shape which is new and narrower but we have two different approaches from our side.

“One of them is the rear suspension we have adopted, like quite a few of the others in recent years, a pull-rod solution. But we’ve also hosted part of our radiator cooling on top of the gearbox so as to reduce the cooling area required at the lateral part of the car.

“The rear wing is basically similar to last year’s, but we have refined it and pushed the sections of the aerodynamic profile small, in order to produce more downforce.”

Tombazis said the consequence of Ferrari’s more aggressive approach to 2012 was that very few parts from the previous car had been carried over to the new one:

“The F2012 has a relatively small amount of carry-over compared to previous cars. The very desciptions I made indicate we have reviewed almost the whole car. So components that are either physically the same as last year or conceptually the same are much fewer, therefore we’ve had to work much harder in the technical office and in production in order to be able to do all this work.”

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Images © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Ferrari F2012 key changes explained”

  1. repackaging of the chassis and engine rear part…
    …gearbox that has been completely reviewed and made narrower…
    …we’ve also hosted part of our radiator cooling on top of the gearbox…
    …components that are either physically the same as last year or conceptually the same are much fewer…

    I wonder if they will maintain their reliability with all these changes. Gearboxes, cooling and all new parts, it doesn’t have bulletproof written all over it!

    (still do like the nose)

    1. you like nose? no kidding…:D

    2. If you want Bulletproof, that nose actually does look like it might be really strong!

      I really hate how its boxed in the front and has the organically shaped backside. It just does not look as a complete package. But I do admire the fact Ferrari tried something new, although I agree with you that only time will show how reliablility will work for them this year.

  2. I still can’t believe that the step-nose solution taken to the extreme like in this case has an advantage over the smoother version like Force India showed, or even the very low nose of the McLaren.

    1. Unfortunately for us the advantage of getting more air under the car is bigger than the down side from having the step.

      1. However, we have all seen cars with ‘high’ nose design less competetive than those not designed in a such manner. Vice versa also. It’s all about harmonizing the whole package. You can let huge amount of air under it to feed the diffuser but you should ‘pilot’ it to the diffuser. It’s all about the balance and managing the flow properly. Sometimes positive effects of the nose and front wing design are not harnessed to the rear. I’d rather say many times than sometimes… We’ll see. I’d put my money on McLaren’s approach for many reasons. One of them is that they are using nose design I suggested in the season of 2006 to Renault F1 team. It was addopted by Williams 3 years later and McLaren followed. It’s a good feeling to be ahead of these guys… Three years is a eternity in F1. Sometimes I see them suffer because of wrong approaches but I don’t care any more. F1 is a good fun, it even rymes. Nothing more, nothing less…

    2. The nose looks like it was designed on MS Paint. I mean, none of these noses are anywhere near pretty, but christ… make an effort!

      1. Pretty much what I thought, @sjm

    3. @dennis Apparently the snow plough nose assembly is why Mclaren are able to run the nose so low, which goes against the common practice of ‘higher is better’ in terms of getting airflow through to the floor.

      To be fair it’s still way too early to make a decision on the nose or anything else. The chances are it will make very little difference, there seems to be way more to gain from the exhaust set up. Mclaren and Ferrari both look like they have placed the exhausts in a way that they can either blow the rear wing, or blow the brake duct winglets. I think this is going to herald a far bigger influence on performance than the nose.

      1. @Bleeps_and_Tweaks
        I recon both is important. I wouldn’t even dare to call one or the other more influential.

        On the nose issue, this reminds me of 2001, when the front wings had to be raised and everyone was desperate to regain downforce on the front. I think Jordan had a VERY extreme version, by lowering the complete middle section as one piece, while others were using the flowing, smooth shape. (Which I also found more attractive)
        Apparently the smooth version delivered more constistent downforce during cornering, even though the maximum achievable downforce might have been lower.

        In this case I’m wondering if the brick shaped front might not cancel out the better air flow to the bottom. Especially if you also consider that the high nose comes with a higher center of gravity as well as an awkwardly shaped front suspension geometry.

  3. Whatever explanations Mr. Tombazi might have for us fans, the look of the car does not justify the effort put in. They could do more IMO.

    Surprisingly, Pat left McLaren to produce the most ugly car ever at the red car brigade :( ……

    BTW, why the copies from the MP4-26’s air inlet and the mirrows and tail from Mercedes …. just looked like a badly “Made in China” …. not saying the Chinese are not good at copying but even them would not present us with a work like this. Totally disappointed tbh :(

    1. Every car today copied the Tyrrell 019 raised nose. And that’s just one example. After 1998 everyone copied Ferraris exhaust exits on top of the rear end… Heck… Mid-engines, anyone? If you want to be competitive in motorsport you have to adopt ideas that other people have come up with.

  4. All parts should be there in reason. but I can’t deny it’s ugly even I’m a Ferrari fan. Just be competitive as well as possible…

  5. Just noticed that profile picture where the front tyre covers up the dip in the nose makes it look like it’s been really badly Photoshopped.

    1. Is it possible to get a shot of the Ferrari and McLaren side by side? Be interesting to see. And if someone could photoshop the Ferrari with a curved nose using the same height, to compare it to the ‘flat’ nose?

    2. @keithcollantine
      I was thinking the exact same thing. In fact I was thinking about photoshopping it back up to see how that looks.

  6. so this presentation car doesn’t have its exhausts?

    1. It looks like the side pods funnel off into exhaust outlets which then direct the air onto the wheels. However as far as I can tell from the regulations this is illegal….. So who knows….

  7. If I was Kaspersky I’d have words with Ferrari about where they’ve put their sponsor…People are going to be put off that name subliminally. Whenever I’ll hear that brand or see that logo, I’ll just associate it with bad things :P

  8. front pull rod suspension. nice. is anyone else doing that this year?

    1. If I’m correct with how I’m viewing this, then the MP4-27 and 2012 FI don’t seem to have it.

      IF, and it’s a big IF, I’m correct in suggesting that it’s the way the bars are connected to the wheels, then the F2012 angles are almost a diagonal opposite of those seen in the McLaren and Force India.

      As can be seen in these comparisons:

      If I am right in this, then I do wonder what kind of advantage a front pull-rod suspension would give. Is there anyone able to enlighten us? (Providing I haven’t made a complete fool of myself)

      1. @JamieFranklinF1 You’re right. I don’t think a front pull-rod has been used since the 2001 Minardi. What happens is the suspension rockers that stay inside the chassis; can then be put lower, and thus gives a center of gravity benefit. I’m not convinced though; because the drivers’ legs then will be moved up (as where they were previously has been partially taken up for suspension rockers)

        1. @raymondu999

          Thanks, that really helps. I guess the centre of gravity would indeed benefit the whole car, as I believe it assists in improved handling. So, I don’t think a top tier team such as Ferrari would change their suspension unless it would reap rewards.

          Having said, that, there obviously have been teams in the past that have used new designs (or re-using old ones) that haven’t worked well. I guess only time will tell if it’s a success.

        2. i’m thinking the main benefit is aero – all of the elements are horizontally aligned without the diagonal pushrod

          there’s lower and upper links, but i couldn’t tell you which is steering and which is the pullrod

          1. moment of clarity:

            the lower link is the pullrod. otherwise it wouldn’t be pulling

  9. At least it’ll be easier to make a Lego model version of it

  10. interesting solution with front cameras. how will that effect it? how heavy are they?

  11. I wonder how many of these stepped noses that the various teams are coming up will end up snapping off during use. The front wings are still going to generate the same downforce, but the cross sectional area of the nose is smaller, so it would be expected that the nose will deflect more as the front wing is loaded up. To me so far it looks as if the McLaren solution not only follows the intention of the new rule, but might also end up being stronger too.

    1. Given that they all passed the FIA crashtests, I imagine they are solid enough to hold the front wings!

      1. Does the FIA test the strength of the nose in relation to the ability to hold the wing, or just the strength of the nose in a frontal impact? All the videos I have ever seen of FIA testing are testing frontal impact only. The forces generated by the downforce on the wing would affect the structure differently to the forces generated by smashing the nose perpendicularly into a wall.

        1. Furthermore, wouldn’t the purpose of the FIA nose crash test only be to demonstrate that the nose is sufficiently strong enough to absorb the impact of a collision, through it’s destruction, so that the survival cell isn’t compromised or damaged, meaning the driver is safe. I cannot imagine that passing that test confirms that nose is strong enough to resist continuous loading and unloading of the front wing while the car is being driven.

          1. Sure, @pinball, you have a point there, the purpose of the FIA crashtest is to establish how good the nosecone absorbs engergy to protect the driver’s legs.

            But because it has to be there in a structurally fit way to be able to provide that absorbtion in the first place, it also has to be fully able to cope with any stresses from air flow over the car including its front wing.

            Not to mention, that it has to be structurally fit to hold the wing to avoid a dangerous situation that would occur would the wing suddenly get torn off or the nose would crack.

  12. Mark in Florida
    4th February 2012, 15:15

    This car is a copycat design of things done on other cars. Such as the suspension from red bull,the double air intake of Mclaren and the everybody has it stepped nose.There is nothing innovative about it.If ugliness had a prize category they would come in first for this sad effort.

  13. Hello everyone!
    I don’t want to jump the gun here but isn’t true that if you car is lower to the ground and air goes faster throught it it produces greater down force than if the car is higher? In both mclaren vs ferrari car I saw that mclaren ride is higher and ferrari’s is lower… Have any of you notice that?

  14. Elliot Horwood
    4th February 2012, 23:04

    Image shows how McLaren actually have a LOWER nose than Ferrari, even with the ‘step ladder’ design ferrari have

  15. I am scratching my head how McLaren car can look so different at the front and yet still comply, any simple lay person explanations ??

    1. As I understand it the rule limits the maximum height of the nose, not the minimum height. Apparently it is desirable to have the nose as high as possible, but for whatever reason, McLaren have decided that a low nose is going to work for them, so their nose complies not only with the rule, but also the probable intention of the rule.

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