Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis has promised a more aggressive car from the Scuderia next season, as it looks to close the gap to the pace setting Red Bull.
Over the winter of 2010/11 Ferrari went too conservative under the technical leadership of Aldo Costa, leaving some ideas untested in a generally risk averse strategy. McLaren went the opposite way with initially calamitous consequences, of the kind Costa was trying to avoid, but they changed direction before the first race and got the car on track. However they, like Ferrari, have been playing catch up all year.
Meanwhile Red Bull had the best aerodynamics package, building on the pre-double diffuser design concept it launched in 2009 and improving all areas of the car. It has also been able to exploit the Pirelli tyres better than the opposition, particularly in qualifying. And with the pace of the car and front row grid slots, it has been able to make the race strategies work out pretty much every time.
For 2012 then, Tombazis has opened up some more aggressive avenues of design and development which had been closed off by Costa. “A more aggressive approach has come about as the result of the analysis we carried out of the defeats we suffered over the past few years. We realised we had been a bit too conservative and had closed our minds to some strands of development. For the new car we have sanctioned and more aggressive working method on the aerodynamic front,” he said, explaining that some long lead time parts are already in production for the 2012 car.
The rules don’t change much for next year apart from one key area – the blown diffusers will be banned and this will lose the cars a significant amount of downforce. Adapting and overcoming in that area will be the key to success in 2012.
Tombazis says that the team will experiment with some new solutions aimed at the 2012 design during the remaining races of this year, for example they plan to test out a new front wing with a different functionality to the current one.
“We have to try to learn as much as possible straight away,” says Tombazis. “Obviously we hope that these solutions will also be positive for these races.
“I think that visually, the new car is fairly different to its predecessor but if it has a wow factor, as our team principal Stefano Domenicali thought, when he first saw the model, then I hope the wow factor will also be evident from the results. We have set ourselves ambitious targets, which we intend to maintain and so, on this front, I am quite optimistic.”
Meanwhile influential Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reports today that the senior management at Ferrari are “irritated” by race engineer Rob Smedley’s choice of words over the radio to Felipe Massa, where he called on him to “destroy” Lewis Hamilton’s race.
Many fans feel that this story is a mountain being made out of a molehill by the British tabloid press to support their man Lewis Hamilton, who is facing criticism from other drivers. And there may be some truth to that.
However Gazzetta reports that the bosses at Ferrari may not feel inclined to forgive him a second time, after he landed them in front of the FIA World Council over the team orders issue at Hockenheim last year. Ferrari was exonerated on that occasion and the rules banning team orders were dropped from the F1 Sporting Regulations.
Smedley is highly regarded by other teams’ technical directors and would have a choice of UK based jobs were he to leave Ferrari.