Ferrari cautious over F138 but still targetting title

2013 F1 season

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As far as Fernando Alonso is concerned his new car for 2013 is already an improvement over the one he raced last year in one respect.

“I think last year the car was beautiful but the nose of the car on the front part was a little bit strange because the regulations and this step in the nose was not nice, aesthetic,” he said after the today’s launch.

“So I think this year with a more normal Formula One nose the whole car looks a little bit more together.”

At the launch of the F2012 even Ferrari admitted it was not their most attractive car. But that paled into insignificance when it fell at the first hurdle.

It was disastrously slow out of the box and only a significant overhaul in time four round five salvaged their season. Ferrari and Alonso won praise for taking the fight to rivals who had produced quicker cars.

But, ironically, the fact he stayed in the hunt for the drivers’ championship until the bitter end may have already compromised their start to 2013 with the F138.

“Last year, we had to push on the development of the F2012 right to the end of the year, while initial development of the F138 began towards the end of last season with the bulk of the aerodynamic work being carried out in Maranello,” explained chief designer Nikolas Tombazis.

The F138 is the first Ferrari produced since their technical reorganisation, which was prompted by a comparatively lean two years in which they won four races. The role of deputy chief director his now filled by two people who work on alternating cars.

Simone Resta was the man tasked with designing the F138. “There were very few changes to the regulations, but nevertheless we chose to work on and modify all aspects of the car, trying to move forward in every area, because we felt there was a significant amount of performance that could be gained with this new car,” he said.

“I would say the biggest changes relate to the front suspension, which has an improved layout, while at the rear, the suspension is completely new. We also have a revised sidepod design, aimed at improving the aerodynamics in this area, as well as a completely new layout for the exhaust system.”

The wind tunnel at the team’s Italian base proved a persistent source of trouble last year. Although they have addressed that problem the solution for 2013 is not without some compromises:

“All the work for this season’s car will be carried out in the Toyota tunnel in Germany while we upgrade the Maranello wind tunnel to bring it up to the right level. It is now quite old and needs upgrading having served us well for 12 years,” said Tombazis.

“The ideal situation would be to have the wind tunnel right here and I cannot say that using a wind tunnel in Cologne is the perfect solution, but weighing up the medium and long term advantages of having an upgrade on our wind tunnel or carrying on as it was, we concluded that our current strategy was the best.”

Tombazis added the team would not be drawing conclusions about the F138 too soon after testing commences on Tuesday:

“The launch specification car, that will run at the first test, has had a relatively small amount of wind tunnel development because it was fixed straight after the end of the season, when we pushed so late on the F2012. However, I believe we will have a strong package for the third test and first race.”

This perhaps explains why Alonso won’t be at the first test, preferring to spend more time in the car when its closer to its definitive race one specification.

The team also has an eye on the forthcoming rules changes for 2014. Alonso said that getting the 2013 car right from the outset will make life easier for the team later in the year when their attention switches to the 2014 car.

“I know there is a big change for us, a big challenge for the engineers to change so much the engine, the car etc… It will be a lot of job from us and from the team in the late part of 2013. So for that it’s even more important to have a good start of this year to really have a clean 2014 preparation.”

Ferrari have not won a world championship since the last major change in the regulations at the beginning of 2009. President Luca di Montezemolo has never disguised his distaste for the current F1 rules, where testing is restricted and aerodynamic development has assumed critical importance at the expense of engine development, which is frozen.

But despite stressing the changes and compromises behind the scenes, Ferrari are not setting their sights for 2013 any lower than a return to championship success: “We have a clear goal, which is to give Fernando and Felipe [Massa] a competitive car, at the highest level,” said team principal Stefano Domenicali. “Then, it will be our drivers and the team that can make the difference.”

This year is Ferrari’s last chance to prove they can master the current generation of Formula One cars. The believe 2012 proved they only have to get within range of Red Bull and Alonso’s talents will take care of the rest. The coming weeks will reveal whether they’ve successfully taken that first step.

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Images © Ferrari/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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21 comments on “Ferrari cautious over F138 but still targetting title”

  1. Funny how they want to come over as people who know what they are doing, but from both interviews I rather get the impression that they are afraid to predict anything because they really don’t have a clue how good their car will be compared to the competition.

    1. I think they sound a bit strange because most of them are not native English speakers so it seems a bit awkward when they are talking, making it look as if they are a bit confused and not really sure about what they are saying.

    2. @basCD
      It’s called sandbagging. Which might be better than the habit teams that Honda/Mercedes have had over the years, always uptalking their chances ahead of each season, and then failing miserably in the development race.

      Remember what the 2006 pre-season talk was like? Brackley were going to take the fight to Renault while Ferrari would continue their 2005 slump, supposedly. We all know how that turned out.

      Having wild pre-season predictions is risky, as if they don’t come true, you will look like a bragging fool.

      1. I mean @bascb of course.

      2. I do get the impression that at Ferrari its a genuine fear of expecting too much from the car this year @kingshark

  2. I think the front wing pillars are incredibly strange: it looks as if they’ve discovered the traingle and so decided to use it pointlessly.

    1. @vettel1

      I think the front wing pillars are incredibly strange: it looks as if they’ve discovered the traingle and so decided to use it pointlessly.

      I honestly don´t see anything too strange about it Max. Obviously they must´ve done it with a reason behind it.

      I just hope that this F138 is quick out of the box! I just have blind faith that all Ferrari has to do is give Fernando and Felipe a gun instead of a knife to fight for the championship. Fernando truly just needs something god enough to fight with and he can make the difference.

      The 2013 season is shaping up to be a sequel to last year´s season!

      1. @catracho504 – Of course there is reason, from an aesthetic point of view though the pillars appear strange (usually they are simply straight whereas the Ferrari’s abruptly angles outward towards the nose). The last time Ferrari tried something new that the other teams didn’t do it didn’t turn out very well!

        I too though am looking for a competitive fight up front between the better drivers (I don’t however expect Hamilton to be in the title fight), although naturally I would like Vettel to prevail over Alonso!

        1. @vettel1

          although naturally I would like Vettel to prevail over Alonso!

          That´s a given coming from you Max!! XD

          Although i will disagree with the Hamilton part… mark my words… Lewis will get 2 wins for Mercedes or at least 2 Podiums! Yes you read it here first! I somehow believe that Mercedes is going to be the dark horse even more so than the Lotus!

          Seriously, I´m predicting this to be the most competitive season ever! Seems everybody so far just evolved their cars… and so far… the Lotus guy must be eating his words about predicting many more stepped noses!! 3 out of 4 have opted for good looking cars (I really liked the F2012 though, it was so ugly it somehow looked nice!).
          And I really feel that RBR is gonna have it´s wings cut off in Qualy!

          1. @catracho504

            Although i will disagree with the Hamilton part… mark my words… Lewis will get 2 wins for Mercedes or at least 2 Podiums

            Oh I agree, I don’t however expect him to be in the title fight (which is what I actually said)! I suspect with the relative rule stability that who was quick towards the end of last year will remain competitive at the start of this year (I also expect Ferrari will be aided by the DRS rule changes) so I’d expect Red Bull and McLaren to remain at the top, with Ferrari & Lotus pressing hard and the midfield mixing with the front as
            per 2012.

            I’d say second only to my hopes of Vettel being triumphant is that Caterham will score some point: they have shown great potential and their driver line-up isn’t the worst so I’d like to hope they can score some points and challenge the midfield, as they were promising to do last year!

    2. Looks like someone punched it in the nose then beat it with the ugly stick!

      1. @funkyf1 – that’s a pretty accurate description I’d say! ;) It looked like it was designed by making the car magnetic and driving it through a scrap heap, then simply they replaced the metal with carbon fibre!

        1. +1 – Ferrari mentality – If we maka a bada looking car, ita must be fasta!

  3. On the one hand, considering how little the regulations change you’d think that developing the F2012 at the end of last season would carry over to the F138 and be of benefit to this new car. On the other hand…it sounds like Ferrari themselves don’t know how it will turn out.
    There doesn’t seem to be any bravado or bluster about how they will perform. Maybe they’ve learned from the past few seasons that talk in this area is cheap.

    1. @colossal-squid Red Bull certainly weren’t upgrading their 2011 car but started 2012 in a worse situation. I also think you’re right, upgrading last year’s car shouldn’t have made such a big difference as compared to focussing on this year’s car. Red Bull also concentrated on 2012 and I’m sure their 2013 car will be very fast, but we’ll see.

      1. @fixy I’m sure as you are Red Bull will be the team to beat. They were fantastic from Singapore onwards last season. The problem for Ferrari as I see it is that if all the cars this year are merely refined versions of last years’, then the status quo should remain the same: Red Bull and McLaren quickest followed by Ferrari and Lotus. It’s a tall order for the Scuderia to leapfrog those two teams.

  4. hello kitty believes this car to be a world beater. twust her industry knowledge, also hulkenburg will weplace massa next year…

    1. This has to be the most surreal few seconds I’ve spent on this site…

  5. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    2nd February 2013, 2:13

    Who can answer this to me please?
    Why do teams use “modesty panels”? I mean, if they are “ashamed” of the nose shape, they should build just one structural piece instead of dividing the nose in one aerodynamic part and an aesthetical part. What’s the point of it? If they aer pretty sure the stepped nose works, why then covering it? I guess the airflow gets two different lines with or without “modesty panels”

    1. @omarr-pepper I’m by no means an expert on this but I think that if the removed the stepped noses by making a smooth nose the height of it would have to be below the maximum allowed by the regulations, whereas the modesty panel can be added on top of the stepped nose and therefore exceed the maximum height, thus allowing the team to have the highest nose possible.

  6. Any idea what the second air intake is for, just behind the traditional air intake. Furthermore as the body line trails down from that second intake it stops abruptly forming a horizontal edge parallel to the floor. Could it be a new aero design to affect airflow over the rear suspension? Has a second intake been used before and to what end? Thanks in advance!

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