Ferrari promise more aggressive car for 2012 with “Wow factor”
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Oct 2011   |  10:35 am GMT  |  64 comments

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.

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I don’t think “exonerated” is the right word, considering Ferrari were fined $100,000, and the FIA WMSC neither criticised nor reversed that penalty. They merely didn’t add to it, considering it proportionate.


Just one idea,

In the pre-season Ferrari was looking good in race pace and very kind with the tires, in the other way McLaren and Red Bull ate their tires heavily.

The Teams complained about the tyres and Pirelli changed to a more harder compounds which brought to Australia, I remember Trulli saying that the Tyres were totally different to the ones been tested in the pre-season.

McLaren change the car, yes for good, and way the way found a more durable tyres what helped them even more.

Red Bull found the perfect married.

Ferrari got totally lost with a tyres the couldn’t warm up,

I just got the feeling that we are talking about aerodynamics, how conservative was Aldo Costa, how good are Vettel and Red Bull (that they are), and I’m still thinking in Pirelli.

Could be Pirelli the real Champs?

Well one more thing, what a great blog!!!, probably the best I’ve visited.

Thanks to James and all of you guys I found a good F1 reading.



Grayzee (Australia)

Have just read the article and 30 odd comments from readers, it occured to me that everyone seems to be dismissing one very influential part of what makes a car go fast – the driver!

My question is: how much of the success of the RB is due to Vettel, and how much is due to the car? Webber has not had the same success, and fully acknowledges Vettel’s supremity.

Would any other driver be able to do what Vettel does? Will we ever know? Personally, I believe the RB is superior, but I think Vettel makes it look better than it is. Maybe the gap to other cars is not as great as they think. Any thoughts?


Good point, I mean at almost every race so far this year Mclaren & Ferrari have been able to mix it with and, more often than not, beat Mark Webber in a Red Bull. It is only Sebastian Vettel that is able to run away with it every race. Maybe the RedBull isn’t so far ahead of the rest at all, but clearly Sebastian Vettel is.

As with all sports, there is very little between all of the top sports men and women when it comes to ability. At the top level it all comes down to physcology and confidence.

Heres my take on the mindset of the current top team’s drivers:

1) Sebastian Vettel is clearly in a VERY good place mentally at the moment.

2) So is Jenson Button after realising he is the only one taking the fight to Vettel. When Jenson sees a result he is always able to step it up a level as was evident in Singapore over the last 15 laps. Its a shame he doesn’t maintain this level consistently.

3) Mark Webber is under achieving because he turns up every weekend focusing on how fast Vettel is rather than what he’s doing. He is such a straight, no bulls**t kind of guy that I think he is too harsh on himself. You need to believe you ARE the best in the world before you can BE the best in the world.

4) Hamilton is struggling with knowing how agressive he should drive with all the stewards decisions hanging over him. He lets frustration get to him in the heat of the moment and needs to work on this if we are to see a return of the Hamilton from the lower formulae.

5) Alonso takes no prisoners, he is intense in battle, glorious in victory and gracious in defeat (most of the time!), its just a shame the Ferrari is not allowing him to compete at the moment.

6) Massa clearly is not the same driver he was before his accident in Hungary. He seems to have no confidence or selfbelief in his ability and subconsciously is quite happy to be trailing round scrapping for 1 or 2 points every week.

Of course, all this is just my opinion! How do others see it?


Everybody’s blaming Costa for this year. Who will they blame next year?


After these comments from Ferrari, I’m now looking forward to DC saying that “this year’s my year”.


Promises, promises, promises, that’s what pulls back “Reds”, then comes after many racings: this is not what we were aiming to.. they are getting hostages to this overwhelmed expectations.


Hopefully this is not just more talk. Ferrari really have not had an exciting car since ’08, and that is not good for the brand Ferrari.

Craig in Manila

More aggressive ? Maybe they’re gonna paint it black with angry-looking teeth and eyes on the nose ?

I note that the quotes contain the words “hope” (twice) and “quite optimistic”. Doesn’t sound terribly promising but, lets hope that the promised “WOW” factor actually converts to the hoped-for “WON” factor !


They really need to fix the decade long problem of generating enough heat into it’s tyres.


Maybe they are going with the line of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”

The tires ain’t broken, just not enough heat that’s all LOL!

Seriously though, very true @ they gotta fix it.

Or could be it’s Red Bull they gotta fix.

Adrian Newey Jnr

The elephant in the room is now the tyre situation. Perhaps there is a shift from maxing aero to matching it with the tyre usage. To me that is where Ferrari have failed this year. The cars that have done well have matched the tyres better than their competitors.


James, coming back to Smedley’s comments, I had forgotten thatm last time Ferrari ended up before the WMSC.

Now I understand your reference to “unsporting” in previous article.

Thank you (bow bow)


james, could you maybe elaborate on what constitutes ‘more aggressive’.

What does that actually mean, from an engineering perspective?

You mentioned mclaren as an example, but all they did was go back to a conservative rear copying redbull elements and it happened to work for them. Maybe with more testing, their original design could have worked well.

When you’re developing a car surely you’re trying out all kinds of avenues, especially when its testing models in a wind tunnel, and designing on CFD – I don’t see what limitations there would be on trying out ‘aggressive’ concepts anyway.


My personal guess for 2012:

1. red Bull to dominate again

2. Sebastian to win 3rd title

3. Ferrari to have yet another poor year and will fight for 2nd spot with mclaren and mercedes

4. Mercedes to be stronger and will have 1-2 wins next year and will be regularly in the fight with ferrari and mclaren for podiums

I do not really understand what changed at ferrari that all of a sudden they will be where red bill is today…it doesn’t look they are going there. They feel they are there to win, but i think they have lost it


Lets hope so!

Would love to see Seb get his 3rd next year. Then take a break, let someone else have a go 🙂


Ferrari has been saying similar things for the past few years. Every time they come up with a new car, another team comes up with a better car and beats them on the track. To please the sponsors, they have to say something positive about their next car.

Adrian Newey has told that the 2012 RBR will ‘surprise’ the F1 paddock. Mercedes, McLaren and all the other teams are working on their new cars and I am sure Ferrari is going be surprised when they go to the first race in Australia in March 2012.

As for Massa, he is past his sell by date. It is Ferrari who destroyed him by making him a guinea pig. Mentally Massa is not strong and has already resigned to pay second fiddle to Alonso. As long as Alonso is there, Massa is not going to get much and he knows he doesn’t have many options in F1.


It is rumored that Rory Byrne is back in Ferrari, but in a advising role…


Too good nonetheless, even if it’s an advisory role.


Sounds like Mercedes around this time of year last year. I don’t see anyone beating Red Bull again next year. Mercedes may inch their way into the mix with Mclaren and Ferrari.


Hmm I don’t know, honestly. The world, the press, drivers, teams all say Mercedes are among the mix of Ferrari and McLaren ever since they bought Brawn. Are they really in the mix? Don’t seem so. They are more like best of the mid-field than at the back of the best.


that’s the good thing about f1. They buid new cars every year, and nobody knows who is going to win.

The three big teams are going to be at the front, that’s for sure. But what about mercedes.

Who knows.


at the beginning of the season McLaren were testing with bendy arms attached to their front wing… I really expected to see their Front Wing scraping the asphalt at some point in the season… What was that all about.


I hope Ferrari let go of Massa soon – I’m sure he can rebuild his reputation elsewhere – would be great if he could take Smedley with him… The Ferrari-Massa partnership seems too negative… I think he would fly in a Renault or a Sauber…


re: ” It (Red Bull) has also been able to exploit the Pirelli tyres better than the opposition..”

Will Pirelli have the same range of tyres for next year – or are there any changes planned?


Some small refinements but basically along the same lines, is what Paul Hembery told me.


the rules barely change… not sure how radical you can get?!


This is why these creative geniuses are paid millions mate.


Forget the “wow” factor – the new Ferrari needs a “win” factor.


His use of ‘wow’ factor is a little worrying. I bet Alonso and Massa would happily trade a little ‘wow’ for a little more ‘win’ factor.


Is this the kind of wow factor that only people like Ted Kravitz will get?


On Smedley/Gazetta’s story:

Do I see a mountain being made out of a molehill to support Smedley, who ‘is highly regarded by other teams’ technical directors and would have a choice of UK based jobs were he to leave Ferrari’.?!


I hope they can deliver on the promise. It’s a joy to see Alonso fighting at the wheel, even if he has missed out on the top spot this season.

With McLaren, Red Bull looking strong and a number of mid-fielders getting closer to the front we are in for a treat next year and potentially a closer battle.

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