Ferrari aim to capture first title since 2008 with radical F2012

2012 F1 season preview

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Ferrari had little reason to be pleased with their 2011 campaign. For the second time in three years they managed just a single win during the season.

By their own high standards, Ferrari have been on the back foot since the new aerodynamic rules were introduced in 2009.

The radical and ungainly F2012 is their attempt at halting the slide – but it remains to be seen whether it is the answer to their problems.

Car 5: Fernando Alonso

It’s six years since Fernando Alonso won his last world championship.

He’s come tantalising close to adding a third on two occasions: in his fraught season with McLaren in 2007 and his first year with Ferrari in 2010.

Fernando Alonso is still seeking his third world championship

Following the disappointment of losing the title in the final race that year, Alonso’s hopes of challenging for the crown in 2011 were quickly dashed.

He remained on top form but the 150 Italia was plainly not up to the task of regularly competing for wins. He often took the car to the peak of its potential and in doing so showed up a few other drivers with more competitive machinery.

The Alonso-Ferrari partnership was a long time coming but the two were clearly made for each other – a point reinforced by the length of Alonso’s current commitment to the team, taking him up to 2016, longer than that of any other driver on the grid.

The missing ingredient is a car capable of taking on Red Bull. Will the F2012 change that?

Car 6: Felipe Massa

Speculation was rife last year that Ferrari would cut Felipe Massa’s contract short by a year and replace him with another driver this season.

They didn’t, and Massa remains with the team for his seventh year. But will it be his last with the Scuderia?

Felipe Massa is under pressure after two poor seasons

Massa has conspicuously under-performed compared to his team mate since returning from injury at the beginning of 2010. Last year Alonso reached the podium ten times while Massa never finished higher than fifth.

Several drivers have been tipped to take over his seat including Ferrari development driver Sergio Perez and the injured Robert Kubica.

It remains to be seen whether Massa has it in him to produce the kind of performances necessary to save his seat in F1.

He certainly enjoys the backing of his team mate. Last year Alonso said he was “extremely happy” to have Massa in the team.

Certainly, Massa seems unlikely to give Alonso much competition for the drivers’ title, and even if he did the team would no doubt tell him to get out of the way again. But how long will Ferrari be prepared to put up with Massa squandering points in the constructors’ championship?

Ferrari F2012

Ferrari’s sole win of 2011 came at Silverstone, in a race where the FIA introduced a one-off limit on the use of exhaust-blown diffusers.

By that time the poor performance of the 150 Italia, which was particularly weak on harder tyres, had prompted the sacking of technical director Aldo Costa.

Ferrari can expect some of the off-season changes to play into their hands, such as the restrictions on exhaust blowing and Pirelli’s introduction of even softer tyre compounds.

But they still need to raise their game with the F2012. Hence the new car is the product of a design team which is now headed by former McLaren man Pat Fry.

Even by the standards of 2012 cars, the box-nosed F2012 with its prominent step is an ugly beast. But performance takes priority over aesthetics.

Having taken longer than most teams to follow Red Bull’s lead in adopting pull-rod suspension at the back of the car, Ferrari has embraced the concept totally with their new machine and are using it at the front and rear.

Ferrari need the F2012 to be as quick as it is ugly

The new car needed to be a radical departure from its predecessor and the F2012 certainly looks the part. But it’s given Ferrari a lot to do in the off-season and it’s been hard to discern much front-running potential in the car, unlike that of its Red Bull and McLaren rivals.

Of course we should be wary about reading the testing times and lap counts as they can flatter to deceive – just as they did for Ferrari last year, when they turned up at the first race of the season and discovered they were over a second per lap off the pace.

This is not a team which is accustomed to losing. It’s now four years since Ferrari last got their hands on a trophy.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has made no secret of his opposition to F1’s cost-cutting measures including restrictions on testing. Over the winter Ferrari and Red Bull broke ranks with the other teams over the Resources Restriction Agreement.

If Ferrari’s lack of championship success continues, expect them to increase their demands to be allowed to plough more of their considerable resources into taking the trophies back to Maranello.

Ferrari in 2012: Your view

Will Ferrari be able to contend for the championship in 2012? Can Massa reverse his slump in form?

Have your say in the comments.

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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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54 comments on “Ferrari aim to capture first title since 2008 with radical F2012”

  1. I really hope Ferrari will be up to the task of competing at the very front this year. No matter who you support, I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say Alonso DESERVES another title…

    1. I would say he does not deserve it any more or any less than any other driver on the grid. World Championships have to be earned over the course of the season; they are not somebody’s right to claim (or to be awarded) before the season has begun.

      1. prisoner monkeys…..tell that to Bernie Shekelstone!! Hes always spouting on about who he wants to win the title or who he thinks does or doesnt deserve it. To me peoples opinions dont mean jack! Alonso IS the best driver out there by a mile, plain fact when you consider hes had 20 Ferrari podiums in 2 years in the 3rd fastest car for both seasons.

        1. To me peoples opinions dont mean jack! Alonso IS the best driver out there by a mile, plain fact when you consider hes had 20 Ferrari podiums in 2 years in the 3rd fastest car for both seasons.

          No, that’s your opinion (which also doesn’t mean jack in terms of the championship), even though you have at least used something to attempt to back it up.

    2. IMO he already has more titles than he deserves. But I don’t know, maybe he can prove me wrong this season.

      1. Have you been watching F1 these past two seasons? Alonso has been the quickest (relevant to the car), most consistent and hardest working driver on that grid. He is an outstanding driver!

        1. I’d argue he’s pretty much on a part with Vettel.

    3. After two near misses I’d be very happy if he was able to get this third and well deserved WDC. I’m not saying he deserves a WDC more than anyone else ;)

      He does however deserve a fast car that can challenge at the front and at least give him a realistic chance.

    4. nobody deserves the title beforehand, but i’d like anyone to win it before vettel take’s another. prefereably button, webber or alonso. Mostly webber though…

      1. If he gets a car as fast as the others’ at the front, he could take it most likely and also make the season more interesting to us.

    5. In my eyes choosing the right/winning team is part of a champion, too. It was wrong to leave Renault 2007. It was wrong to choin Ferrari. Maybe it was wrong to leave McLaren, too.

      1. So technically you wanna tell us, that he should have joined Red Bull in 2007, a team that was just two years old and a team that was running consistently in the middle of the grid until 2009? Seriously, no-one could have foreseen five years ago (respectively seven years, given the fact Alonso made the decision to leave Renault in 2005) that RB would have the strongest car from 2010-2011(12?)

        Leaving Renault in 2007 was the best decision he could have made at that stage of his career. Renault was a pain to watch that year. Leaving McLaren in 2008 was probably wrong but given the situation at the team inevitable. Joining Ferrari in 2010 gave him the opportunity to fight for victories and championships again. Think about it.

        1. I tend to think that Renault, knowing all the way that they are going to have one of the 2 best drivers in their team, would have been a completely different team altogether in 2007 (and given Alonso a good chance for the title). Whatever follows in 2008/2009, at the end of 2009 in that case Alonso could have tried to get a seat in a Red Bull.

          Generally my point is that real champions ruthlessly try to drive for the dominant team, whereas Alonso seems to have a tendency towards money or whatever.

          1. @rankx22 Alonso has said publicly in the past that he turned down a Red Bull offer in 2009; and saying that he would prefer to drive a Ferrari with no titles rather than drive a Red Bull and get titles. (The last bit’s probably just press-speak)

    6. Does anyone else get the sneaky feeling that Alonso is toxic? He has contributed to the demise of 2 high profile team principals at Mclaren and Renault (yes he was directly involved in both).

      No doubt the heirachy at Ferrari are quacking in their boots if this car proves to be a dog……. again!!

  2. 2008 Championship position:1 ? :)
    As for me, they are in the place there i would like to see them…

    1. position 1 is because of the teams performance…they are the 2008 constructors champion you know.

  3. I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say Alonso DESERVES another title…

    Think again sonny Jim.

    1. I know quite a few people who would agree
      I also know quite a few people who would not agree…

      It doesn’t change the fact that some people want him to win again

      1. I certainly want Alonso to win races again. He’s the best F1 driver in my view and it was terrible watching him in uncompetitive cars for half of 2008, most of 2009 and most of 2011. He deserves a car capable of fighting for the championship.

  4. I hope Ferrari made championship winning car, really.

    Alonso have waited too long for the third title, not to mention frustrated title chance of Massa. at least for now, F2012 looks not bad but also not great. If it’s not one of the strongest car on the grid, their chance only last if there’s multi-way battle between all drivers of Red Bull and Mclaren and Ferrari is only marginally slower. It would be great if Alonso capitalize from front runners’ self-destruction and win title. Actually it was almost happened in 2010.

  5. At least in the early part of this season Ferrari could be in real troube unless they unlock some pace. With both Lotus and Mercedes looking like they have quick cars (remember lotus got podiums at the start of last year their core areo package was good – just a failed EBD concept) Ferrari if they struggle could see themselves relegated to 5th!!!

    1. Or worse – Force India have said they won’t settle for anything less than fifth overall.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys Now I think about it, that would mean the numbers 11 and 12 on next year’s Ferrari if Force India beat them. :O

        1. At least they could go back to a retro numbering scheme (1974-1975, 1977-1979)! But I’d rather see #1 & #2 :P

  6. If Ferrari’s lack of championship success continues, expect them to increase their demands to be allowed to plough more of their considerable resources into taking the trophies back to Maranello.

    While I agree on the need for more in-season testing, and more opportunities for third and test drivers, if the only way Ferrari can be competitive is to outspend other teams, and F1 lets them get away with this, then I’ll say my adios and switch to watching IRL exclusively as far as open-seater racing is concerned.

    It’d show that F1 is really no longer a sport.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      2nd March 2012, 13:51

      I agree cause even when in all sports big teams get the best players available, in terms of F1 the machine is like saying, in football, the possibility of one team to play with twelve, thirteen players

    2. so its ok for any other sport to be able to train and try different tactics but not the pinnacle of motorsport very biased your view maybe you should go irl now F1 doesn’t need fans like you

  7. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    2nd March 2012, 13:33

    Can’t imagine Ferrari less than 4th honestly. Really blurry to think Mercedes or Lotus are really quick all year round

  8. Many of the comments posted here are really funny. People are saying that the Ferrari looks bad but I got a gut feeling that they are sandbagging . Today the car was the 2 be fastest on Alonso’s hands. He did the fastest lap. On hard tyres and he wasn’t even looking for time. The Ferrari not only gets better and better in raw pace but also in reliability. They made around 60-70 laps more that mclaren in the last two days. Instead mclaren seems to be going backwards. Last but not least the Ferrari has put lots of new parts everyday in order to know which ones Are the ones to put on the car, they have been gathering more and more data and the engineers understand more and more the car’s potential and that translates into raw pace. Also since te car is new and radical the rooms for improvemt is way bigger than those of red bull and mclaren (evolutionary cars).

    1. I have to agree with you they’re improving buy no one would be sure they’re strong enough to challenge title or not. more than lap time needed and I think track side observation would tell. It’s shame I can’t see in my eyes.

      At the end of the day, any speculation before Melbourne could be trashed once the race started. But it doesn’t mean you can’t say they “look” bad. It’s just all we can do for a while unless you don’t say anything about performance.

    2. The consenus is that McLaren and RB are ahead but like you Ttete I have a gut feeling that either Mercedes, Ferrari or both have yet to show their hand. It is far too early to make predictions. It will be interesting to see if anyone goes for an outright fast lap on the final day. SV likes to lay down a marker but I wont be making any judgements for a couple of races.;)

  9. Also Ferrari still has the ‘film’ day at their disposal.e. ’cause the couldn’t use it due to the bad weather when they launched the car. So that’s another advantage for Ferrari.

  10. Todays comment on the BBC bout Ferrari, RBR and McLaren;

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    “I’ve been watching the cars out on the track this morning, down at the chicane at Turns seven and eight. The Ferrari looks particularly difficult to drive – Fernando Alonso has caught a couple of lurid slides when he lost rear-end grip. He’s trying to drive the car he wants to have rather than the car he has. Felipe Massa was also struggling yesterday, but the way he drives the car looks nervous. Alonso just makes it slide. The Red Bull looks neat and tidy, although it does build up a bit of understeer. The Ferrari looks like it has very ‘peaky’ grip whereas the Red Bull looks more comfortable to drive. I suspect if the drivers were to really have a go, the pace of the two cars would be close, but you’d be less likely to make a mistake in the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton has not done many laps – and when he has been out the McLaren has looked heavy with fuel.”

    Like you I’m not there but assuming these comments are correct, it looks like Ferrari still have work to do. Maybe they can do the same as McLaren did last year and produce a couple of seconds by the time they get to Melbourne.

    1. so still lack of grip huh? I really hope they would sort it out before pre-season test end…

      1. Sounds to me like Ferrari is ‘simply’ out there trying different things like they said they are trying to do with this departure of a car. And if the Red Bull looks more comfortable to drive, no surprise…look where they are coming from from last year. As to lack of grip, I thought the general idea for this year is that without EBD everyone’s downforce would be down, ie. grip too, no?

      2. What was the track temp today? it will be hotter in Australia and that could make all the difference.

  11. Expect Massa to shine in his “specialty” tracks this season, but he will be replaced in 2013. I don’t think Ferrari as a team will sort out the car until the European leg as well. Then, watch out for FA! If
    the car does not deliver again this year with wins, then FA should shop for a new team…

  12. By the way have you seen Alonsos newest movie?
    He played in movie “Hugo” as “the inspector”

    Good luck to you Alonso, now is time to show that you’re a good car developer, you have the best team and best car, this up to you self now.

  13. Ferrari is not showing everything yet….(I TRULY HOPE THIS IS THE CASE).,.LOL


  14. sid_prasher (@)
    2nd March 2012, 19:32

    I will be happy even if ferrari is within striking distance of rbr and mclaren at the start of the season. They definitely have the ability to develop the car at a rapid rate.

    1. I’m hoping there is a lot of room for improvement in F2012.

      If Ferrari can be on the same pace as RBR and Mclaren by mid season, my money is on Alonso for the title.

  15. I thought our Hami won the title in 2008 and as far as I’m aware he wasnt driving for Ferrari…..! I’m either getting too old or the title for this post is wrong!

    1. Ferarri did win constructors title in 2008.

    2. As Saiesh correctly points out, Ferrari’s last constructors’ championship win was in 2008, hence the title.

      And I think it’s a bit presumptuous to refer to ‘our’ Hamilton – he’s not even the most popular driver here, let alone supported by everyone.

      1. Oh right, that other title only the team principals care about and nobody else, including the drivers.
        As for Hamilton’s popularity, well Keith, I’m sure he has enough fans and does not need me to defend him

  16. I honestly don’t think that Ferrari are struggling. McLaren and Red Bull are fine-tuning the finer details of their setups and development. Ferrari have gone for a new concept aerodynamically and mechanically and they are at the stage of time when they actually need to gather data and also find a BASELINE setup; let alone the finer details.

  17. On the Beeb and Autosport it has been anounced that the Ferrari press officer Luca Colajanni, has said the teams drivers press conferences are cancelled for today (Massa) and tomorrow (Alonso).

    I read that pessimistically as “we don’t want the drivers slipping up and saying how bad this car really is”

  18. Hmm, Ferrari. Tough one.

    Regarding their driver line-up, well, specifically Massa, it’s a bit of a funny one. On the one hand, if having Massa perform as he has been doing is benefiting them in the long-run so they can support Alonso more for the WDC, fair enough. I’m sure Massa knows that and Alonso certainly does. I don’t think they’re too bothered about the WCC, they already get a hefty payout from FOM.

    Alonso is certainly one of the top two drivers as far as I’m concerned. Vettel is the other one. With the right machine he is a force to be reckoned with.

    If LdM doesn’t get his way again this year he will of course be talking to the media trying to pile the pressure on for things to change. If so he certainly won’t gain many friends round here. RBR managed to bag 4 titles in the past 2 years. If they can do it without demanding more resources surely Ferrari have it in them?

    1. I’m not so sure about Massa. That guy has got speed locked in there somewhere. I still remember Schumacher in his first career couldn’t live with him at some circuits.
      I’m not convinced if the car is really good Alonso can just presume to beat him!!

      1. Blackmamba, I totally agree with you about Massa, there is a lot of speed and skill in there.
        In his first season with Kimi he was critisised for simular reasons, such as his wet skills etc but in the following year he improved in all areas and trashed Kimi into the bargain. If Felipe is happy in the car, then Alonso beating him is not a given IMHO.

    2. Massa haven’t been a good 2. driver for Alonso, as he almost never take points away from Alonso’s competitors to the title. So even if Ferrari don’t care about the construtors title, they should have changed Massa long ago – after 2010, where he didn’t contribute to Alonso’s campaign because he almost never took points from Webber or Vettel. The Contructors title is just as interesting, as the real battle in F1 is between the teams, starting with designing the car, the driver is merely the pilot – important yes, but Alonso don’t win the title in a bad Ferrari and he can affect the design team only so much. If You don’t agree, try to look up Newey and look at the number of titles he has contributed to and how he shifts the balance, when shifting team.

  19. I hope Ferrari join the title fight this year – the more the merrier. It would be a shame if Alonso’s talent does not get the car it deserves too. Current testing form makes the F2012 look third fastest at best, but then with a raft of new design concepts for this year, the team should be better off looking for setup data rather than outright speed. What makes me apprehensive is that the quality of car development over the past 4-5 years has deteriorated at Maranello – they no longer demonstrate the technical prowess they did in the Byrne/Brawn/Todt/Schumacher era.

    But I have confidence in Alonso’s ability to get a team to work around him and gradually evolve into a champion squad – the changes in team management and in the aero department look promising on paper. I’m hoping that they have managed to turn things around quickly and deliver a car that is atleast within striking distance of the championship.

    Oh and if the F2012 wins the title or atleast remains in contention all year, Massa’s career will be defined one way or the other. That’s for sure.

  20. Hmm..if they completely miss the ball they will be crying and nagging about things they want changed to their benefit and will make the sinning of the new concord agreement and them trying to **** the other teams even more complicated.
    If they win then they will feel even more like they are the top of the world as usual and be arrogant as hell during the concord agreement.
    So yeah the best scenario is probably if they are in the same position they were last year.

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