Earlier today Ferrari unveiled their F2008 challenger and distributed photographs and information about their 54th car. Now we can hear from key team personnel who designed and built machine, as well as from the two pilots who will hopefully defend the success of 2007; Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. But first, looking at the car we can see a few changes ourselves that show the impact the new regulations have on the vehicles. The most visually striking difference are the higher cockpit sides, introduced as a result of David Coulthard’s and Alex Wurz’s incident at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix.
The new car also lacks traction control, something Felipe Massa voiced concern over last week in support of David Coulthard’s talks with Race Director and FIA employee Charlie Whiting. However, reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen showed less concern to the change in the handling of the cars.
Now traction control is not going to help you but for me it will be a lot more fun. I think there will be an easier chance to overtake as people will make more mistakes. The sport is dangerous anyway. It doesn’t matter if you have traction control or not. If you think it is too dangerous you probably shouldn’t be in the sport. It is more tricky for sure, you need to be awake more of the time.
Without a doubt I’ll become better. Because now I know what the team wants from me. But as long as you’re not racing, you don’t know what will happen.
Ferrari and McLaren will be there. Renault had a difficult year last year but it might be a completely different story this year but nobody really knows after the first couple of tests and we get some kind of idea where everybody is. And then there’s BMW. It will be a difficult year. It’s my second year at Ferrari. I can feel that everything is going really well. I know the people I am working with and I really like the team. We need to always look at what others are doing but the main thing is that we keep pushing hard as a team and we keep improving we should be in good shape.
We want to start really well into a great season. We want to win again the world titles and we want to avoid retirements. This is the main feature to win against McLaren. That is how it was and that is how it will be in the future. Kimi Raikkonen.
Felipe was quite philosophical about the birth of the F2008.
My expectations are very high. When you first look at the car it is a special moment. It is like seeing a child being born. Now we have to let this child grow and grow as quickly as possible. The expectations for 2008 depend a lot on the car, so let’s hope it can make us fight for the championship until the end.
The electronics is a big change compared to what we had last year. The driving style is different as the driver needs to be smoother with the car, especially with the throttle. Braking is not very different. The impression is good. When you see a new Ferrari it’s always beautiful and impressive. But that’s not enough: the most important thing in the end isn’t beauty but performance and reliability.
We’ve had a very competitive 2007, where I fought for many victories and won many, and I also had some small problems that prevented me to fight until the end. The important thing is to learn from what went wrong in 2007 and to maintain the things that went well, and to try to fight in 2008 to win the championship. I’m motivated and we have a fantastic group to work with. We’ll start testing on the 14th in Jerez. We’ll have two new cars, so to be able to bring two new cars from the start will be a step forward. Felipe Massa.
Other than higher cockpit sides, the suspension has received a lot of work as the F2007 didn’t perform as well on the slower and more bumpy circuits; McLaren’s dominance at Monaco last year being a good example of the Ferrari’s weakness. The aerodynamics have been pushed further, with a lot of additions around the sidepod area and up and over the exhausts. Aside from developing the 2007 model, the Scuderia had to encompass the new standard engine control unit and make the car more sympathetic under acceleration due to the lack of traction control.
Having said all this, the team were being cagey about specific details, not wanting to give too much away following the spy saga that gripped Formula One and the Ferrari team last year. Aldo Costa did speak a little about his new car though.
From an aerodynamics point of view the car is completely different except for those elements that at this debut are temporarily identical to the old car’s. But the car will go through an evolution and so it will go to the first race with every aerodynamic surfaces re-done. The front and rear wings will be new, while at this debut they are identical to the previous car. The chassis and the sidepods are slimmer. We’ve worked on every aspect of the car to improve its efficiency. We’ve also worked on solving problems we had on certain circuits, like Monte Carlo, Hungary, Canada. We worked on certain aerodynamics aspects that could help us on those particular circuits.
A lot of work has been done on the aspects regarding electronics. From this year we have a single ECU from MES, which forced us, who were used to Magneti Marelli, to review the electronic layout of the car, and to get used to the lack of driver aids. Lots of work was done on the gearbox. As you know it will have to last for four races. The work has been scheduled around that, with lots of testing on the bench and on the track. So the dimensions of the insides of the gearbox have been changed to increase the life of its components.
There was work done on the suspensions. It’s not visible, but it aims to improve the behaviour of the car on the circuits that saw us having some difficulties last year. Finally, there are the details on various systems. Every aspect of the car, including its components, was analyzed and developed. The car is slightly shorter than last year. Last year we increased the wheelbase quite sizeably, while this year the general length of the car has remained substantially the same except for a small adjustment we’ve done for certain specific reasons. But nothing major. Aldo Costa.
Regarding the sensitive subject of security, Mario Almondo assured that controls within Maranello were at an all-time high and hopeful the issues that embroiled the team during 2007 will not be repeated.
Our level of IT security has been high for several years. This is not my personal judgement but is the result of periodical audits to ensure this is objectively true. So we have periodical programs and meetings to monitor the level and the efficiency of our IT security. Obviously security can’t be achieved without discipline and organization. So all this is linked with the organization and the behaviour of the people. Who is hired by Ferrari must subscribe to certain kinds of regulations from the ethical point of view and with regards to the use of the information systems. This is aimed at making all the people working with sensible data aware of the fact that that info is Ferrari’s assets, because the company’s assets are the know-how and the people working here. So we are trying to work full circle on these issues in order to increase awareness, because sometimes there is frankly superficial behaviour. So it’s awareness and technical know-how on what can and can’t be done. Mario Almondo.