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Friday, 30 January 2015

Ferrari SF15-T Packs An S-PUNCH


When Scuderia Ferrari aren't winning, they're losing. This may seem like a very simple fact, but the simple fact is that in some Italians' eyes, 2nd place is a failure. So how about coming 9th and 10th in Bahrain? Or going an entire season with just two podium finishes, thus having a win-less season for the first time in 11 years? Or being beaten in the constructor's championship by Williams, a team with half the budget of Italy's de-facto national racing team? The Ferrari F14-T was ugly, heavy, slow and visibly difficult to drive quickly. If anything, in relative terms, Ferrari's season was as bad as Lotus's season last year. So of all the top teams, it's the oldest and most successful that needs to pull its finger out... and they know it.

The first thing they did was fire nearly everyone in a commanding position, including long-time president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, and brought new(er) people in. The second thing they did was fill the void left by a thoroughly fed-up Fernando Alonso with the man who denied him two more world titles, four-time champ Sebastian Vettel. The third thing they've done is build a prettier car. This one isn't named by the public, but uses a similar system, as Scuderia Ferrari's 2015 Turbo F1 car is called the SF15-T.

Yes, moving the dash across would make it look like "S-FIST." Maybe Seb packs a punch?


The new nose is much smoother, cleaner and longer than before, protruding well past the front wing, perhaps so that the area above the front wing is marginally higher in order to get more air around the underside of the car and to the diffuser. The "pullrod" front suspension they've been using since 2012 remains (essentially the "pushrod" spring actuation system upside down, giving a lower centre of gravity), but the double wishbones are updated to cleave the air better. More significantly, the rear half of the bodywork is much tighter, signifying improved packaging of the hybrid power unit. Technical director James Alison says "That’s been done through a lot of work not just in the wind tunnel but also in the design heart of the company to try and find radiator designs that were fundamentally more efficient. So for every square centimetre of radiator we’re able to extract more cooling this year than last and therefore able to close the car down at the back significantly." Hopefully greater efficiency also means it's also more powerful. Manufacturers don't officially disclose performance figures, but the deficit to the Mercedes engine last year was clear.

Esteban Gutierrez, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel
So major changes have been made for what was seemingly going to be an evolutionary year. That's perhaps normal at the beginning of a new era; they've now had a year to get their heads around the new technical regulations and work out what the best solutions for their designs are. The time and money the saved on suspension has gone into the areas where the F14-T was really lacking, but is it enough to get them back at the front? Like him or not, Fernando Alonso has regularly been the only reason that Ferrari won races before last year, and the relentless warrior with a knack for developing a car through the season is no longer at the team. Kimi Räikkönen remains after a difficult return last year, having recently become a father, and now we finally get to see what Vettel's really made of. Can he fill the shoes of the man widely regarded as the fastest and best driver on the grid? With twice as many titles, he ought to, especially given that he's a successful German entering Ferrari at a difficult time. The Tifosi will very much want history to repeat itself on that front...

Oh, and Esteban Gutierrez is their new third driver having been kicked out of Sauber, so he'll get to do some Friday practice sessions and brings with hem sponsorship form Telcel. Jean-Eric Vergne is also in Ferrari's stable, but it seems he'll just be doing work in the simulator this year. Shame. I would've put those two in each other's roles myself.

By the way, anyone else notice the Alfa Romeo badge on the back? That seems strange. Are we going to see some desperately contrived marketing campaign from them soon?







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