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Ferrari managers set out their stall for 2012
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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jan 2012   |  7:06 pm GMT  |  32 comments

Ferrari’s annual Wrooom event is underway at Madonna di Campiglio in Italy. This is a traditional pre season media event at which the team and management give their thoughts and assessments on the sporting and political year ahead.

I went last year, but this year had to decline, as I have to be at the Autosports International Show in Birmingham tomorrow for the BBC.

Today saw conferences from team boss Stefano Domenicali and a brief appearance by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

Montezemolo has been quite vocal over the winter about many things and today reiterated that Ferrari is ready to play its part in shaping the future of F1 despite withdrawing from the F1 Teams Association,

“We want to play, in a constructive way, a role to look ahead in F1,” he said. “I think F1 is fantastic, it is our life. This year we have celebrated 60 years, so I think we are allowed to push in a constructive way to look ahead.

“We have to look ahead in terms of technology, we have to look ahead in terms of young public, in terms of transfer of technology to the road cars because we don’t do satellites or aeroplanes.”

Domenicali said several important things. First he denied that Ferrari had done any kind of special deal with Bernie Ecclestone nor that one had been offered by the 81 year old billionaire. When Ferrari and Red Bull quit FOTA in December there were suggestions that they would succumb to a large financial package to sign up to a new Concorde Agreement, but Domenicali said no,

“In the next few months we are going to start talking about the renewal of the Concorde Agreement,” he said. “We do not have other offers around. We have not seen any offers, and no proposals have come, so in the forthcoming days we are going to start talking to see if we can meet around the table and discuss the future of F1.

Domenicali said that Ferrari has been in discussions with the other three top teams, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren, about resolving problems over the Resource Restriction Agreement, the subject which split FOTA. More meetings are scheduled for next week as the teams prepare to negotiate a new Concorde Agreement, to replace the one which expires on December 31st this year,

“Clearly this is a very important year and we are all aware of that,” he said. “It is equally clear that there is only one offer on the table, given that no alternative solutions were ever established. In the coming months, talks will get underway on the future of the Agreement as we are still in discussion, especially with the bigger teams, despite the fact we have left FOTA, on the subject of cost reduction, discussions where Ferrari has always been at the forefront.

“Furthermore, one must bear in mind that the Resource Restriction Agreement is still in force: what still needs to be established – and this something we are looking at in these days – is if we should abide by the first version, signed in 2009, or the one drawn up in Singapore in 2010. The first one envisages very severe spending cuts for 2012, the year it should run out, while the one signed in Singapore has a revised figure and is valid right up to the end of 2017.

“The key point is to understand if this is an important tool for the future,” he added. “What should happen to those who do not abide by the rules: today, only a financial type of penalty is planned, but we need to decide if it would not be better to think also of something on the sporting front and, in that case, who should decide the outcome.”

In other Ferrari news, the team has hired highly experienced operations engineer Steve Clark, formerly of Mercedes, as head of race engineers. They’ve also hired Hirohide Hamashima, one of the faces of Bridgestone Motorsport. “He will head up a new project focusing on an in-depth assessment of an area crucial to performance, which is the interaction between the car and its tyres and he will also be our technical link to Pirelli,” said Domenicali.

Hamashima is well known and trusted by Ferrari, the Scuderia had a very tight relationship with Bridgestone in the mid-2000s, the dominant years for the team.

One of Ferrari’s weaknesses since those days has been the way it struggles to make best use of use the harder compound tyres when it has to set the car up at races to operate on two compounds, as it does under current F1 rules. It has taken them some time to find a solution for this and Hamashima is the most experienced person imaginable for this job, although he doesn’t have knowledge of Pirelli compounds, he does know many of the Pirelli engineers very well as they are largely ex-Bridgestone people.

It was also revealed that the new Ferrari will be launched on February 3, a few days ahead of the first test at Jerez. It will be shaken down that same day at Fiorano.

The $10 million question is, will it be fast enough? Ferrari admitted it was guilty of being too conservative in recent years and it’s clear that they’ve taken a step in a new direction for 2012,

“It’s (the 2012 car) definitely different, because it represents a clear break with the past in terms of the design philosophy,” said Domenicali. “It’s not that pretty, because the shape defined by the technical regulations does not leave much scope, but, and this is what counts really, our hopes are that it is at the very least quick! I asked our engineers, as far back as last summer to look into every little nook and cranny of the rules to push it to the limit, but up until we see the other cars we will not know if we have taken it to the limit or are within it.”

On Thursday, the drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will speak. Massa is under pressure from the management after two lacklustre seasons, “We need to be realistic, this is a crucial season for him and his future,” said Domenicali.

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32 Comments
  1. Justin Bieber says:

    I read that Alonso spent the full winter break at Maranello working with the engineers on the new car while Hamilton was recording an R&B album in Los Angeles… ;-)

    After the near miss of 2007/2010, Alonso look like a man on a mission. If Ferrari can produce a competitive package for 2012 it could very well be the year he finally gets his third title.

    But I think the question on everyone’s mind right now is “Will Hamilton album sell better than Jacques Villeneuve album?”. Cant wait to see the videoclip of his first single on MTV. The word on the street is the album’s title will be “Winning or crash trying”.

    1. James Allen says:

      Alonso was in Vegas before he arrived at Madonna di Campiglio…

      1. Justin Bieber says:

        I was joking James! I’m sure Lewis had plenty of time keeping himself up-to-date with the car development between his GQ photoshoot and his recording sessions.

        Joke aside, I hope both drivers have a competitive car and are in the run for the championship until the end of 2012. There is nothing like a good rivalry between drivers to spice up the show.

      2. Wayne says:

        A pretty weak joke that I am suprised got published on this site at all considering it is simply an attack on Hamilton not prompted by the article.

      3. azac21 says:

        Funny nevertheless. What about the “attack” to Jacques Villeneuve?

    2. Were you in the studio with him Justin B.. ;-)

      1. Kshitij says:

        God I hope not. That has the makings of another song as bad as “Friday”.

  2. Isotope9 says:

    I think Ferrari’s relationship with Bridgestone, which ultimately dictated in which direction their car design went, has been the root of their problems since Pirelli became the sole tire supplier.

    Since most years the car is an evolution of the previous year, basic design decisions made years ago may have negatively affected the car’s performance.

    Let’s hope they get it right this year…more teams fighting for wins will ultimately make a more exciting and open championship fight.

    1. Luca says:

      will be interesting to see how they are able to deal with the tyres this year – prob a bit late to have lots of design input from the old head of bridgestone (if he has just been hired).

      Although, I am concerned more with all the ex-McLaren people that Pat Fry is shipping in on the aero side… they were up a creek last year until they successfully copied RBR at the 11th hour! Just hope they really hit the ground running.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      Not exactly, they had problems last year on the harder Bridgestone tyres. I think James alludes to the fact that its probably not a problem of being good on one and bad on another compound, but being good on two different compounds at the same time.

    3. JAG says:

      I’m pretty sure most of their problems last year were from their wind tunnel. last off season they upgraded from a 50% model to a 60% model, the larger size now allowed by the regs, and had some calibration issues. The issues didn’t really get discovered and then sorted out until 3-5 races had past.

  3. Bru72 says:

    Don’t likr the sound of it not being a pretty car…..but if it’s quick, it should become more appealing. Forza Ferrari!

    1. daphne says:

      Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. If it is a quick car, it will become very beautiful looking indeed.

  4. RichardB says:

    Why ask if Bernie paid them to split? They’d never admit to it if he did. It’s the main reason I don’t like Ferrari, they were paid £100million to split from the teams breakaway threat and given the choice to veto any new rule. Ferrari are special as they’ve been in F1 for so long, but I think that gift was pretty disgraceful.

    1. Bakdraft says:

      Couldn’t agree more with you Richard, well said. It is also the main reason I find it difficult to support them… It’s the most unsporting behaviour. I had hoped since theyset up FOTA they had turned over a new leaf… time will tell I guess…

    2. Justin Bieber says:

      That’s what you call an offer you cant refuse.

      You should blame Bernie instead. Not a single team would refuse £100million.

      1. RichardB says:

        how do you know ferrari didn’t ask for it?

      2. Rach says:

        Of course Ecclestone gives into Ferrari’s every whim(!) Or maybe, he offered the money to Ferrari as without them his business empire would be worth next nothing. If the other teams had wanted the same deal as Ferrari they should have negotiated better. Alas, they had Ron Dennis.

  5. Seán Craddock says:

    I find the signing of Hamashima very interesting. Have any other teams got a person playing a similar role or is this just Ferrari trying to fix their hard tyre situation? All the teams have a Pirelli representative with them at each GP weekend don’t they?

    I can’t wait to see the new Ferrari on track!

    1. Brad says:

      Last year I read that Mclaren has an expert (also from Bridgestone I think) that helped the drivers become more familiar with the characteristics of the pirellis

  6. jmv says:

    So its gonna be an ugly car… i hope for them that it will be fast.. because otherwise it will be ugly AND slow.. not really the trademark of a Ferrari.

    As for Domenicali.. what can one say? he looks to be at the mercy of the Gods.. hoping that they provided the Ferrari engineers with magnificent visions of excellent designs.

    Eversince he took over the team has been sliding into decline. Even an Alonso in the past two years could not keep the team up.

    If you compare Domenicali and Jean Todt, the latter was his own person who stamped his authority on the F1 racing team from A to Z.

    Domenicali in my mind still carries this image of being a puppet put forward by Montezemolo, to speak as il Presidente wants to hear.

    1. Werewolf says:

      The 1979 Ferrari that Scheckter took to the title was no beauty but its 1980 development was ugly in every sense of the word!

  7. “We need to be realistic, this is a crucial season for him and his future,” said Domenicali.

    Has Domenicali’s job ever been under threat? 4-5 years at the top and he hasn’t built on from the success built by Todt and Brawn…

  8. goferet says:

    The $10 million question is, will it be fast enough?
    ————————————————

    I will take that $10 million right now,thank you very much!

    And the answer is, yes of course the Ferrari will be fast enough though it will struggle on the hard compound as usual (though this year, the hard compound will be much softer)

    But from what I gather, Ferrari being Ferrari they aren’t happy with a car that can match the competition, they want a car that can totally obliterate the competition (am talking about 1 sec a lap kinda car here)

    So no, Ferrari (nor any team) will be getting their hands on that kind of trophy wife.

    Interesting, so Ferrari had no plans to really quit FOTA, so all those theatricks was simply to threaten the other teams with the hope of getting a better deal.

    Aah yes, I understand Ferrari culture more & more as time goes by.

    P.s.

    ”Madonna di Campigligo”

    Oooo those Italians sure do have sexy names.

    My personal favourite has to be Lamborghini.

  9. andrew says:

    Montizemelo…”thou doth protest too much”. Standby for some real action or else!

  10. Rich C says:

    I can’t imagine that these ppl are ditzy enough to have two overlapping but contradictory RRA’s, as 3-Car Monte suggests. So that’s just more smokescreen.

  11. Andrew Kirk says:

    Other issue with Ferrari is the development race which they were beaten soundly last year unable to keep up with either Red Bull or Mclaren. Alonso will be fired up and a man on mission more than ever before! Massa will be cleaning out his locker. I can’t see how he is going to turn it around. Then again who to replace him?

  12. Darren says:

    Ferrari will be 5th in the constructors championship

    1. Werewolf says:

      Better then than 1980 – they didn’t even make double points figures despite reigning champion Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve on board!

  13. WoZ says:

    Roll on February 3.

  14. zombie says:

    James, did you hear anything about Rory Byrne playing an active role in the design and development of this year’s car ? He was certainly very visible in the later part of 2011. Also, it was mentioned that Pat Fry has brought in some of his ex-Mclaren buddies into Ferrari, any thoughts on that?

    Lastly, how about some pics from the Wroom 2012? Its always a delight to see Ferrari and Ducati together.Cheers!

  15. Sudha S says:

    Can somebody pullup the pre-season talk and predictions of the teams before the 2011 season? It would be interesting to see what they said and what actually happened during the season.
    They probably all said the same things they are saying now about having improved , fast cars and fancy new innovations.

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