Will F2012 be Ferrari’s Year?
Hot on the heels of McLaren comes the launch of Ferrari’s F2012; although they’ll be hoping the reverse is true when they hit the track. Given the team’s high standards, last year was a disappointing campaign and therefore Ferrari have taken an aggressive approach to designing this year’s charger with much of the car revised. However, with accusations that it is ugly, the pressure is on for the F2012 to justify its looks.
Last year, Ferrari found themselves desperately hanging on to the coattails of Red Bull and McLaren hoping to pick up a good result. However, with solid reliability up ahead of them, pickings were few and far between. Fernando Alonso was good for the team’s solitary victory at Silverstone but other than that, he seemed happy to receive any podium finishes that came his way. For a team and driver of their ambition, it wasn’t good enough.
Hence, a major rethink for the F2012. The most obvious talking point has been the stepped nose which even Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has described as ugly. However, it’s probably the use of pull-rod suspension all-round that will set it apart from its rivals – a pull-rod configuration at the front hasn’t been seen in F1 since 2001’s Minardi. It’s a surprising decision given they’ve opted to maintain that high nose. After all, the whole reason push-rod came to dominate was that it better suited the higher noses that became de rigour. However, Ferrari are confident that the low centre of gravity will reap benefits and that there are aerodynamic advantages to the decision too. “For mainly aerodynamic reasons, we have selected a pull rod solution,” explains Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis. “It took us quite a lot of work from the structural and design offices and vehicle dynamics department to regain all the mechanical characteristics we wanted the suspension to have. I believe we have achieved that, but we also think we have found an aerodynamic advantage from this solution.” It’s clearly a risky move, however.
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The sides have been redesigned, including repositioning of the radiators and modifications to the side impact structures, although the latter haven’t so far been split from the leading edge of the sidepods as suggested by recent figures in Gazzetta dello Sport. The rear bodywork is Red Bull-esque narrow and tapered, a feature achieved partly through a new gearbox casing and a relocation of some mechanical components, as well as exploiting that pull-rod suspension layout.
Looking at the drivers, the team certainly have nothing to worry about with Fernando Alonso. Even when he was sounding down about how high he expected to be able to qualify he never gave up come Sunday and consistently made up ground from his grid position.
However, Felipe Massa has been a different story for the last two years. Ferrari may be happy to simply have a capable number two driver but he seldom even looked like that in 2011. The Brazilian should be grateful that Ferrari a held sufficient advantage over Mercedes – he certainly didn’t look like mixing with the top five drivers no matter how hard Lewis Hamilton tried. Still, he remains popular within the team even if the Italian press appear to have lost patience. Significant improvement is needed in 2012.
But then that’s also true of Ferrari.
What do you make of Ferrari F2012? Can they challenge for more wins this year? Does they have title winning potential? Or have the changes been too brave? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari