Monday, February 23, 2009

Ferrari 2009 – The New F60

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss feels modern technology (in F1) owes ecology an apology. There is a global-crisis which has affected Formula One as well. He has therefore proposed a few regulations this year to provide 'responsible entertainment' to fans by reducing both the emissions and the team spendings. The teams according to him also have to think about the drastic dip in revenues of their sponsors and accordingly cut costs. Various teams were at loggerheads with him on the cost-cutting issue but now it seems the dark clouds have parted as these teams have started unveiling their cars for the new season.

Losing is inevitable. But the smart ones never forget the lesson. And that is what Ferrari is doing. After a heart-breaking and nerve-wrecking defeat by a solitary point to the nearest rival Mclaren in the driver's championship category, instead of resting on its laurels they have taken the initiative and unveiled its new car before their rivals for the year 2009. They thus have proved that they are keen to resume their title contention, are aiming to win the technological battle with other teams and are looking to get the most out of the new modifications.

Ferrari is the only team to have taken part in all the races since 1950. Since this was its 60th year, the car is called F60. This is its 55th Ferrari overall which would be used in Formula One. Thus, the number one racing team has many things to prove in the new season and surely has a big-role to play in shaping the future of Formula One.

There was a slight aberration though. The unleashing of the new car takes place every year in Fiorano, but the heavy snowfall there made the Ferrari officials change their minds. The place finalised this time was their Mugello track in Italy.

The new car carried a lot of modifications which are mostly on the aerodynamics aspect of the car which are in line with the new rule agreed by all teams to enable more overtaking on the track. The front wings looked wider than before and the rear wings higher. The entire layout of the car has been modelled in order to achieve proper weight distribution.

Another superb modification in the new car is a feature of Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) which has been developed in collaboration with Magneti Marelli, an Italian automotive company which deals in the development of high-end components. KERS would also play a big role in reducing the amount of carbon-dioxide (a green house gas) released in the atmosphere. Ferrari technicians however were unsure of how the car would react after these changes and are following a wait and watch policy as they were to study the response of the new engine after the tests. The elegant Felipe Massa wasn’t able to hide his surprise. He said he was expecting a larger car but to him this was too smaller. It seemed a Formula 3 car to him.

With 8 Constructor’s Championships in the last decade, Ferrari is easily the best team so far. And since it is the only car to come this far (since last 60 years), it can be said that the fortunes of Formula one racing are inter-twined with that of Ferrari. With 8 trophies in the kitty it is heartening to see the pride in the team which has kept it still unsatisfied and it wants to win more trophies.

Murphy’s Law states that if something goes wrong, it usually will. Ferrari team is well aware of this and is looking forward to keep the errors down which cost it the driver’s championship last year. But the biggest challenge is to reduce the human errors like the one that happened at Marina Bay in Singapore when the fuel hose stuck in Felipe’s car while refilling which eventually lost him the race and the championship.

To Ferrari’s claim that they would win both the trophies this year, we, the fans tell you that we are with you. We, as fans, can go through the wall for you.

In the New Year the preparations for the new season have to start. Felipe Massa got a chance to test the new F60. The Brazilian was present at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain to test the new car. The test however was delayed due to bad weather. He however appeared to be satisfied with the test and mentioned that the car has behaved better than his test at the Mugello circuit last month.

While Massa remained confined due to bad weather, he was able to catch the friendly football match between Brazil and Italy. He would be handing over the charge of the new car to team mate Kimi Raikonnen for testing.

Kimi Raikkonen tested the new F60 at the Mugello circuit. Last week Mclaren tested their own car and their new car got a Thumbs Up from Lewis Hamilton. It was now Ferrari’s chance to respond. The conditions were damp but in wet conditions, Kimi tested the car for 54 laps and was satisfied with the performance.

On the otherhand, Mclaren driver Lewis Hamilton commented that the Mclaren car this year may not be as good as one he used the last year with which he won the driver’s championship. This seems like a word of caution for his team. While the decision makers and fans are involved in heated decisions on whether the new rule (Driver winning most races would be the eventual Champion) be introduced or not, the focus of every driver would be on his car and its behaviour. Last year, Lewis was the World Champion as he won the championship by a single point, however he won few races than Ferrari’s Massa.

There are rumours of Lewis Hamilton moving to Team Ferrari next season to drive along side Massa. He would be paid double of the salary he is getting currently with Mclaren. If he joins Ferrari, what about Kimi? He won only 2 races last season compared to Massa’s 6. Would it be a bye-bye to Kimi? I hope not. He is too good a driver. I am sure he would silence his critics by his performance this year.

The drivers, the cars, the head-honchos, the media and the attention of the common man may right now be in Melbourne, at the inaugural race. Hope the new season start with a bang!

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