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Ferrari designer Tombazis pleased with “big improvement”
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  20 Jun 2012   |  7:09 am GMT  |  27 comments

Ferrari’s Chief Designer Nikolas Tombazis says the team has found “a big improvement in car performance” following intensive work on the F2012 and it goes into the European Grand Prix this weekend with confidence.

Valencia’s street track plays host to F1 for the fifth time this weekend. It is a track similar in some characteristics to the two previous races in Monaco and Montreal; low speed traction being pivotal to performance there. This was a weakness of the Ferrari at the start of the season, with the first round at Melbourne being a race in which neither car managed to reach Q3. But following a strong showing in Monaco and Montreal for both drivers the Maranello squad feel they are now on the right track.

“It’s all down to a huge amount of work, from a large number of people, with particular emphasis on aerodynamics, design and production,” said Tombazis. “It’s been intense over the past few months resulting in a big improvement in car performance. We have worked with determination to deal with all the negative points we picked up right from the first test in the winter.”

The Monaco Grand Prix was a race that Ferrari could have won, had it been for a slightly braver strategy for Alonso with a longer first stint. Along with this Felipe Massa had his strongest showing of the year, proving the car was ready to win more races. Then in Montreal Alonso took third on the grid and although it failed to win him the race he was able to lead the majority of the GP, making just one stop and proving that the car’s traction and sensitivity for the new Pirelli tyres has vastly improved.

“At the moment, we are reasonably satisfied with the point we are at now, given where we started from, however, we cannot be totally happy, as we are not in a position to dominate races,” added Tombazis.

The most recent cause for this increased performance came from reverting back to a variant of the team’s earlier exhaust configuration for the Montreal Grand Prix. “The exhaust layout in Montreal was a cousin of the one we tested in Jerez at the launch,” said Tombazis. “The former one was more complicated and created various problems for us which meant it did not contribute much in terms of lap time or making the driver feel it was a benefit. We therefore abandoned it.”

Barring Alonso’s victory in the mixed conditions of the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Italian squad were still unsettled and unable to compete with the race winners until the Spanish GP. However since then Ferrari have always been in the mix to add to that sole victory and this weekend should see further upgrades aid in giving Alonso a home win, or awarding Massa with his second win in Valencia.

“Our work is continuing at the same intensity and, our plan is to introduce developments at every race, starting with Valencia: this weekend we will be experimenting with the front wing and the floor, while having further evolutions of the exhausts,” added Tombazis.

Meanwhile Ferrari’s online auction to raise money for true earthquake victims of Emilia Romana ends today, June 20. Top item is a FERRARI 599XX evo , personalised with a plaque signed by Montezemolo, Alonso and Massa. The car will be handed over by the Ferrari drivers.

There are also many items of memorabilia from both drivers, F1 car bodywork and even an F1 engine.

To view the items click HERE

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27 Comments
  1. Arya says:

    I hear they are coming up with wing, floor and exhaust updates in Valencia. Is that a valid information? If yes, any idea what are the things in contemplation?
    F2012 doesn’t seem to like hotter track temperature as much as moderate temperature. I hope they work on that front.

  2. Iwan Kemp says:

    Good to have them back at the front and even better that they have a fight on their hands with several teams. I like it!

    Would be interesting to analyse the team’s stats in terms of point scored in which “third” of the championship.

    First four fly-away races
    Races between start of European rounds
    Races after summer break

    This is a casual opservation, but:

    Renault/ Lotus have started the last couple of seasons strong, but fall behind as the season progress. (Remember Toyota? Same pattern)
    [Good fundamental design, not enough development budget or ideas?]

    Force India and Toro Rosso starts way off and then slowly but surely make up pace and generally finish a season stronger than they started
    [Maybe not the best creative design ideas OR money better allocated over full course of season OR copying other people's winning ideas?]

    Ferrari does not start strong or fast enough, but then make it up with developments
    [ Not enough ground-breaking ideas with basic design / copying other proven designs during a season?]

    And so on and so on… Maybe an idea for an article to see who generally does what and what the possible reasons could be, James.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Some of your views arent backed up by what actually happened though.

      With “Team Enstone”, they’ve usually got better over the course of the year. 2007 started very badly but finished with potential podium contender. 2008 started with a reasonable midfielder and ended with 2 race wins. 2009 was a bad car all round as they missed several tricks, but was better at scoring points at the end of the year than the start. 2010 was a decent points scorer all the way through. 2011 started great but the noval front exit exhausts drasticdally limited their development potential and consigned them to a poor middle and end to the year. 2012 is looking similar to 2010, but at a higher level.

      Very true with Torro Rosso, they hav seemed to be much better in the second half of the year than the start, but since they can’t borrow blown diffuser knowledge from Red Bull and Ferrari this year it’ll be interesting to see how they improve.

      Force India were very consistent points scorers the last couple years but they seem to have dropped back a bit for this year.

      Given the new technical lead at Ferrari I don’t think there’s any point comparing this year to previous ones.

      1. Ashish Sharma says:

        It almost seems that with this being Fry’s first Ferrari as technical director, the standard grouse of the Mclaren fans of starting the season with a dog of a car and out-developing everyone over the season seems to have shifted to Ferrari.

  3. Nuno says:

    James,

    As a Ferrari fan Im somehow concern with the tyres alocation for this weekend and how that will affect their performance. In the past we saw that The Scuderia didnt like so much the harder compunds. Do you think they are following the same trend this year?

    Regards
    Nuno

  4. ArJay says:

    ‘huge amount of work’
    + ‘large number of people’
    + ‘emphasis on aerodynamics, etc’
    = loads-a-money?

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Yes, but unlike last year it’s working this time.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Yep, just what Red Bull has being doing these last few years.
      Funny how when RBR play by the same rules as everyone else, they are no longer dominant.

  5. Elie says:

    Yep loads of people and money to throw at a problem.!Smaller teams don’t have that. This is exactly why F1 needs budget caps and teams like Red Bull Racing and Ferrari don’t.Hardly seems fair that a team with 550 people and €300million can beat a team with €60 million and 300 people.

    1. zombie says:

      Hardly seems fair that i drive a 10 yr old Honda but my neighbour drives a brand new Lexus. I am writing an email to Castro as we speak..

      1. Elie says:

        Are you racing your neighbour for money? Does he come round and say ..”we at Lexus “, “my wife has a 10 karat diamond ring”. Dont you wish the Rta allowed you a supercharger and do the sucker in ! Fidel was about the same age as Bernie.lol

      2. zombie says:

        If i decide to race my rickety old Honda against my neighbour’s new Lexus, i better be prepared for what i’ll be up against or don’t race at all – that’s my point. There is no point is complaining that a team is rich and they are spending more because rich teams will always spend more. Else you better have some tricks up your sleeves like Brawn did in 2009. The wonderful Brad Pitt movie “MoneyBall” highlights such similar circumstances.

  6. Irish con says:

    Since 2010 I have looked at the Ferrari and I have always thought one thing. And that is that the front wing always looks very simple on it compared to the red bull or McLaren. The end plates I always thing Ferrari has more performance to get from there. The rest of the car must be working pretty good now though.

  7. Kay says:

    Hope they keep it up~!

  8. Andrew Carter says:

    Given how their years gone so far they should be pleased. An excellent demonstration in damage limitation over the first few races, where the cars struggled to get into the top 10 in qualy, and then development turning the car into a genuin ffront runner. Quite the turn around and quicker than you’d normally expect.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      You can thank Alonso for that “damage limitation” where his car was finishing races 3-5 places higher than it should have been. But Ferrari’s development performance this year has been stellar, and looks to remain so.

  9. the pimp's main prophet says:

    Déjà vu… We’ve heard that story before. Year after year they say that it is crucial to get the car right from the season’s start and then… This and Alonso rising over the car’s weaknesses seem to be the only constants at Ferrari. We will see.

  10. Nil says:

    Hi James, what happens to the cars that are given to the drivers when they are a part of the team? Are they taken them back once the driver leaves the team? I recently read that Kimi doesn’t have his Ferrari Enzo any longer.

  11. Paul L says:

    Been a great turnaround. I struggled to envisage they would get beyond last year’s level of performance given the early season problems.

    Glad Massa is doing better also.

  12. Justin Bieber says:

    The biggest let down so far was Montreal. They should have played safe and do a 2 stop. How could they expect to keep track position on a track like Montreal?? I feel they got so exited about the car performance, they forgot how they got to the top of the WDC table.

    Alonso lost valuable point to Hamilton and Vettle. It could comeback to haunt him in november.

  13. Onko says:

    Credit must go to P. Fry,Mr Tombazis is a
    long way behind Rory.
    Luca D M, is very smart, to fire the Italian
    born and bred and replacing him with the
    Englishman in Pat Fry,no surprise when they
    named Mr L d Montezemolo European manager of
    the year.

  14. Rich C says:

    A curious disconnect here:

    The piece starts out talking about the need for low speed traction.

    But Tombazis immediately talks about aero and exhaust trickery!

    How does *that contribute to low speed traction, pray tell??

    Enough with exhaust trickery! It adds *nothing to the sport. For Christs sake, get over it!

    The FIA should just bite the bullet and say the exhaust has to be individual pipes blowing straight up.

    Or, when turbos come out, I guess at least just say that the exhaust has to exit the car totally behind *everything else.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      “Enough with exhaust trickery! It adds *nothing to the sport. For Christs sake, get over it!”

      It adds performance to the car,

      1. Rich C says:

        So would JATO bottles, whats your point?

  15. murat says:

    James do u know anything about the updates that Ferrari bringing to the Valencia?do u think Nicolas is a good designer?

  16. Tyler says:

    Translation.. I can sleep better at night now knowing my job is safe(er).

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