Friday, 1 February 2013

Ferrari F138 Forsakes Fugly Front For Fans

2013 Ferrari F138
Finally finding favour with Ferrari fans (man I love alliteration), the evolved version of the F2012 becomes the second Formula 1 car to use the new Vanity Panel, covering up that unsightly step in the nose. Well hey, if any car company is vein, it's Ferrari. While their reliability has been in question almost constantly, something perhaps equally consistent is their beauty, often defining a decade with cars like the Testarossa, 250 GTO and 458. So an ugly Ferrari just won't do, and while I along with most people largely got used to the idea of stepped noses, the Ferrari's unceremonious ramp just didn't work for me, especially as they even highlighted it by putting the white race number on it, having a similar effect to adding a headlight in some ways. From the front it somehow also made the front tyres look like big floppy dog ears...

But enough whining of a car we'll barely ever see again. This is the 2013 F138. Why not call it the F2013? Because thirteen is unlucky, that's why. Also, as it's the last year of the V8 engine, mentioning it with an 8 simultaneously sorts out the Triskaidekaphobia and commemorates the closing of an era. The smooth nose joins onto yet another evolutionary design, while the revised livery features a white stripe dividing Rosso Scuderia and black highlights the shape of the car a little, and looks good. That said, the front wing struts jutting out to meet the tip of the nose can make it look a little blunt from some angles in my opinion.

Pictured: one of "some angles"
Aside from the new nose, exterior changes once again boil down to revised wings (the rear featuring slots all the way up the back of the endplates, which is unusual) and improved Coandă exhaust. The Coandă effect can be demonstrated with a straw and a hanging teaspoon, and can be more visually demonstrated with tap water, although with water the effect is actually Surface Tension, which is very similar (here's a video of those things with a slightly inaccurate description). The diffuser is a mystery, seeing as it was covered up at the official presentation. Interesting........

Open wide! Rear-facing camera almost looks like tonsils from this angle...
Internally, the KERS has been lightened and improved, while the all-pullrod suspension has been improved at the front and completely revised at the back to make it better in the corners. The exhaust system has also been completely revised.

The driver lineup this year is the same as it was last year, despite a poor showing in the first half of the season from professional second fiddle Felipe Massa. Why did he stay on for another year? Partly because Ferrari don't like newbies and would struggle to find another top driver willing to be Fernando Alonso's number two, but also because in the second half of last season, Massa was the fourth highest-scoring driver, compared to being the fourteenth best in the first half of 2012. His comeback saved his bacon. With his confidence well and truly returned to pre-Hungary-2009-accident levels, perhaps this pairing will be more Button and Hamilton than Batman and Robin. Personally I'd love to see Massa have some success this year. He got so much stick last year and I hate to see someone just as driven as anyone else become the big famous team's whipping boy. I mean come on, this guy was temporarily the 2008 world champion! Give him a chance to be a permanent world champion, even if Alonso generally out-qualifies him and made a truly heroic effort last year to outperform the dodgy car and come second in the championship against much better-sorted opposition.

We'll see how the F138 gets on against the opposition relatively soon, but for now here are some more pictures of it, starting with a comparison with the five previous Scuderia Ferrari machines:

Compare it with last year's car and tell me it's not an improvement.
"I don't sell cars; I sell engines. The cars I throw in for free since something has to hold the engines in." - Enzo Ferrari
The phrase "this is all you'll ever see of it" probably doesn't apply to this image.
Blocked-off diffuser is hiding secrets. Photographers of Jerez, take note! Also you can see the slots in the rear wing here.
Front wing has more layers than an emotionally complex soufflé. FIA Road Safety logo at the centre of the front wing.
Ferrari's current road cars look over the unveiling of their king. Fernando and Felipe avoid holding hands at the last minute.
More pics here, as always.

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