The end is near
Yas Marina 2017
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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.

Featured Video
Behind the Scenes at the track
Behind the Scenes at the track
Featured News in ferrari
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest


I'm confused about the testing of a new front wing with 'a different functionality' to the old one - surely the only requirement for a front wing is to generate as much downforce as possible? What else can they be looking for?


Also, not a 'function' as such, but i believe there will be a height limit to the nose of the car - therefore the overall shape of the front nose/wing is limited to a degree

(not 100% sure what most cars nose heights are currently, but think they are higher than the incoming limit)


Yeah the FIA seem to be progressively tightening the rules around front end height, profile, etc basically making the high arching "Newey" nose illegal/ impractical due to lack of max front end height.


As the front wing is the first point of contact for creating downforce, its flow of air to the rest of the car is one of the most important functions of a front wing. Finding downforce from the loss of the blown difuser may be an indication of what function they are trying to test.


Far too simplistic a view. It's more about what the air does after it makes contact with the front wing, i.e. attempting to channel it to various components or parts of the car to bring together the whole package as opposed to just looking at the primary function of a wing, which is to provide downforce.


It's not just about generating as much downforce as possible at the front wing, although that does produce a lot of the cars' downforce. The problem is diverting the airflow over the car in the right way to ensure that all the other aerodynamic pieces work properly and efficiently... Not easy.


better flow to the diffuser


Hi James,

The front wing also shapes the airflow around the rest of the car. If you look at the side pods you'll see that they are narrower at the base than at the top. This is to channel air to the upper surfaces of the diffuser to help draw the air out from under the car. The front wing initiates this process.

In 2009 when the rules made the front wings extend to the outside of the tyres, McLaren alone went with aiming to send air inside the wheels. Everyone else worked out that outside was better. This meant that the McLaren wasn't gettting the rear downforce required until the German race. Hamilton was a pretty good chance of winning that one except Webber punctured his tyre at the first turn.

In terms of what the functionality is, there may be varations in the number of elements and how the adjustable flap work.




There are a lot of factors to consider when designing a front wing. For one thing it can help direct the air in a certain area; or direct it in a certain way.

For example; when the 2009 regs came into play; a lot of teams were caught out with the front wing endplates. In 2008 the ideal solution was to direct air inwards and away from the front tyres. 2009 onwards the endplate should ideally push said air outwards.

The front wing design takes into account downforce production; but you have to take into account:

a) how it produces downforce

b) how it directs air to "feed" the diffuser

c) how it directs air towards the rest of the body

Also, it's important to not generate so MUCH downforce that in fact the rest of the car is in the dirty air of the front wing.


It's going to be really interesting to see what the teams come up with next year to compensate for the loss of the Blown Rear Diffuser (BRD). I suspect that we will start to see Air Amplification Devices (AADs) – air funnelling, vortices capture, that sort of thing – being used to emulate and then surpass the current BRD system(s). Think of a scoop or curved wing funnelling air into the area of the diffuser currently being blown by the exhaust. You could, perhaps, generate vortices with the front wing and then ‘catch’ it/them to accelerate air over the diffuser.

I’m not an aerodynamicist by any chalk but I do have an imagination and I’m looking forwards to see if I’m right about AADs. (Incidentally, if I am right, you heard AAD here first!)

On the subject of Rob Smedley, maybe I’m doing him a disservice but I’ve thought ever since the Hockenheim hoo-ha last year he would be politely asked to depart when Felipe does. He’s made himself a part of the ‘Felipe Problem’ - if such a thing exists and I’m not just imagining things again…


It will be good to see ferrari back driving for pole. As much as i am a RBR fan, I am more a fan of good, close racing, which we have yet to see this year. They said the car has a wow factor to look at - to be honest, they should spend more time working on the car than looking at it! They sorted out their issues with wind tunnels etc this year and they have been off the pace for previous years, so lets see Ferrari and Mclaren pushing RBR for race wins and pole positions. Ideally, 1 or 2 tenths to separate the top teams - then we would really see which driver could get the most out of the car!


JUst because they say it wil be faster doesnt make it so. My guess is that next year will be the same as this year, Ferrari and McLaren chasing Red Bull(Newey)


McLaren went 'agressive' this year and, until they copied RBR's exhaust system, they had a total dog of a car on their hands.

I , more than anything F1 related, want an end to having a RBR which is untouchable. Watching Vettel coast to pole after pole and win after win is not great entertainment. That producers share this opinion is obvious by the fact that we have hardly seen Vettel on TV for many of the races.

Additionally I want to see Vettel really have to battle, the odd isolated incident that we have seen this year (such as at Monza with Alonso which was the sort of move that either comes of and makes you look great or the back snaps round and you hit the wall) prove nothing at all. There are still many more examples of where Vettel has come unstuck when coming through the field than examples of wheel to wheel racing ending in his favour.

Pundits are as likely to 'forgive' prematurely as they are to 'condem', as they allow themselves to get caught up in that one moment (like we all do).

No doubt Vettel deserves his title this year, no doubt at all but still......


Wayne, you sound like you're thinking the same thing as me. I've got a good respect for the stats and history of this sport and to see Vettel saling past the likes of Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Kimi Raikkonen and catching up with Hakkinen, Hill and Nelson Piquet - while barely even being challenged in races - is starting to wind me up a bit. Clearly Vettel is pretty D good, but some of the drivers mentioend above actually had to go out and RACE to get their victories.

No one is going to tell me that Schumacher would have won 91 races if he was racing between 1980 and 1993 (I know he was in 1993 but I am referring generally to the era of Prost, Senna, Mansell and Piquest). A lot of Schumacher's wins were like Vettel's current wins, but a lot of his wins were very hard fought and well deserved. Maybe he would have ended up with a similar number to Mansell Prost or Senna.

I don't recall many instances of Vettel doing any actual racing rather than driving the fastest car very fast indeed.

If Vettel carries on like this and overtakes Mansell's number - 31 - I might just get a bit queezy.


@ Wayne and dom jones, i think you are veteran f1 fans who have actually seen Senna, Prost and Co. race, so i can understand ur sentiments. i havent seen them live (i was much too young then), but i like them and their generation too. and i agree abt Schumi's wins too, like the Spanish, Hungarian and Belgian GPs (96, 95 and 98, i think?) and the 2004 French GP, where he had an equal (if not inferior) car to his rivals, were all phenomenal, and showed what a racer he was. likewise for Senna, Mansell, etc.

Having said that, Vettel has never proudly proclaimed that he's better than them all, nor is he to blame if McLaren and Ferrari design worse cars as compared to RBR. the only annoying thing abt him is the finger! 🙂

if he doesnt do what he's currently doing, i.e., cruising to victories, then that'll look even worse, and wud be unjust to Newey's efforts.

and about his overtake in Monza, i think the statement makes it an even more impressive overtake, because given the same situation, with his position in WDC and all, i think many other drivers wud have preferred not to make that move, and it shows his audacity and his spirit. the fact that he's still pushing (on the last lap of a GP with a 11 second lead, that too!), even after winning the title(s) is quite an impressive fact and given an opportunity (silverstone 2010??) i think he will also be able to demonstrate his overtaking capabilities.

and just to clarify my general stand and bias when it comes to driver and team support: i'm a die hard fan of Alonso, Schumi, Senna, Ferrari and Newey (not necessarily RBR). also like Webber, Button and Hamilton (when he's in the mood)


Great news on the 2012 car! But I will judge results...still, it is good to read something that gives hope.

On Smedley - do they have a better person to replace him?

At Ferrari, they can get rid of all decent folks...and this might be the reason why they are where they are today.


"Mountain out of a molehill" sums it up perfectly. If Ferrari bosses are still aggrieved by Smedley's "Alonso is faster than you" message, than it's their own fault. The team boss should have had the guts to deliver this message to Massa.

Instead he left it to the race engineer, who is trained to deliver short, concise messages to the driver leaving no room for misinterpretation.

And the whole world understood Smedley's message perfectly clear. 🙂


I've long thought that a lot of the recent conservatism in design is a subconcious reaction to the hire/fire nature of modern day ferrari

They have scapegoated high profile figures like Dyer, Costa and others.

Why would you as a designed stick your neck out at Ferrari and design an octopus exhaust which didnt work. You'd get the firing squad treatment fairly quickly.

Surely Innovation is about being able to take risks without the fear of failure/recrimination.

For every 1 success you get probably 10 times that in failure of ideas.

Just an opinion, and fully expecting to be shot down by Tifosi 🙂


It's a good point but one that I don't think is confined to modern history. Ferrari employees have had the pressure of the nation and the history of the company for decades now and back then Enzo Ferrari was unafraid of giving people the boot when things weren't going well.

Cautiousness isn't always a bad thing and it worked for them in 1979 when their ground-effect was comparatively basic to accommodate the V12 engine. Other teams came up with things where the handling was very temperamental and Ferrari stole a march early on in the season to win both championships despite a second-half storm by Williams. However, in 1991 they thought it sufficient to merely upgrade the previous year's car, thereby leaving them several steps behind McLaren and Williams. That was the car Alain Prost likened to 'a truck' shortly before being fired by the team.

Of course there is a flip-side of the pressure of the tifosi and history; to be competing for such a well-supported and historic team is a real privelige and it's up to the team to channel that positively. In fairness I think they are pretty good at doing this these days (and the team is also less political, another important factor) and this is why, although they're not dominating, they're still competing despite their conservatism. To be fair to Aldo Costa, I remember him coming up with some fairly radical ideas for Ferrari's 2007 car and they came within a whisker of the championship last year. Maybe that 2007-like small change will help Ferrari find that extra few tenths relative to rivals in 2012.


Yes, but this is F1, not a lower formula. The team want a result, not a monumental f-up. That said, a pretty good result is acceptable, not a major design failure because you didn't try hard enough. There is a difference.


I'm fully aware this is the premier formula. I've been watching it for about 25 years. 😉

The point I am making is why we rarely get the same knee-jerk reactions from other successful teams?

McLaren want a result, Redbull want a result, mercedes want a result.


Is that you speaking John Barnard? Ready to give it a third shot @ Ferrari?:-)


I know there is an element of humour in your reply, but you're missing the point.

Copying from others last year designs, or not introducing innovations yourself.

I'm not proposing some fighter jet replica. Just designers being able to innovate without getting the chop. That existed when brawn and byrne were at ferrari.


There was indeed an element of humour in my reply, but I did got your point and agree with it to a large extent. Ferrari hasn't been very innovative lately, I think the most recent innovative idea that comes to my mind is the whole in the nose that was used in a couple of low downforce races in 2008 (I think), but since then I cannot recall any 'wow' or less visible innovative elements to their car.

This being said, I think that one cannot blaim Ferrari for taking a more conservative approach in 2009 when there was the big chance in rules, I think all the more established teams took that defendable approach and in a way they are all still paying the price for that today as that's where Brawn and RedBull took an innovative approach that paid them huge dividends.

As far as Barnard is concerned: I've always felt that Barnard never got the credit he deserved for his innovative work at Ferrari. I know that these were the very political days at the Scuderia and I know that it is probably also because Barnard never wanted to relocate to Italy, but he was a true innovator (and not only at Ferrari). So my reference to Barnard was not just a joke, it was to echo your thoughts that Ferrari is ready for a new (or old) innovator!


Okay, am getting scared about the beast Ferrari want to roll out next year, and if Silverstone is anything to go by (when the blown diffuser was banned) then 2012, is just about to get interesting!

And from what I understand, Newey's cars tend to go through a phrase of two & a half seasons of domination after new rules are introduced before their advantage is wiped out & 2012, would be over two years since the Red Bull show.

You know what, 2012 has that feel about it, as in, it feels another year in which Ferrari will lose the title at the last race again for that pit wall personnel doesn't exactly give one confidence.

Hahahahahahahaha Smedley & Massa wanted to destroy another driver's race but it appears it's them getting destroyed in the press.

It never pays to be mean spirited, just ask Fernando Alonso!


I've been thinking the same all summer. The one race w/o the blown diffuser this year, Ferrari won it. To have 3-4 teams within a 10th or two on any given race day would be good for he sport.


Also on Smedley - I totally thinks it's a molehill. I work as part of a team in a multimedia company and we've had the opportunity to talk to Munster Rugby sportsmen and this is exactly the sort of attitude that fires sports people up for the challenge ahead - if anyone thinks that the words are literal then they obviously have never had to challenge a team member to do better.


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.


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'.?!


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


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.


Forget the "wow" factor - the new Ferrari needs a "win" factor.


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


This is why these creative geniuses are paid millions mate.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 🙂


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.


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)

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.


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.

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 !


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.


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.


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


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

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?


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.


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.

Top Tags
SEARCH Scuderia Ferrari
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!