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Some indiscretions from Italy about the new Ferrari F1 car
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jan 2012   |  11:07 am GMT  |  178 comments

Italian technical journalist Giorgio Piola has struck again, releasing some details of the new Ferrari due to be launched at Maranello on Friday February 3rd.

The car has been described as “ugly” by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and it’s certainly a new departure from the DNA of Ferraris of recent years, but all there are agreed that if it’s fast enough, it will certainly be beautiful!

Among the indiscretions Piola has published in Gazzetta dello Sport today are that the suspension is a pull-rod system, the first on a Ferrari for 11 years. This is what Red Bull has been using since 2009 and many others have followed.

It works well with a lower nose and allows a lower centre of gravity on the car. At the rear it allows the back to sit low, clearly part of Ferrari’s strategy for coping with the loss of the blown diffusers.

The new rules, lowering the nose on the cars, means that the nose droops down.

The drivers are more reclined in the new Ferrari. The sidepods are very narrow and the crash structures to protect the driver are in two wing like shapes in front of the leading edge of the sidepods, above the radiator inlet line. In addition to meeting the crash requirements, they will clearly have an aerodynamic function.

All the teams are working on innovative sidepod ideas to try to get the best possible airflow to the rear of the car to make up for the lost downforce from the banning of the blown diffusers. Sidepods offer quite a bit of freedom to the designers.

According to Piola the front and rear wings at the launch will be old specification, not the 2012 ones.

The exhaust outlets will be at the lower end of the range specified in the new rules, blowing across the bottom profile of the rear wing. But there is a development plan, apparently, to move to what McLaren and Red Bull is believed to be doing, which is to exit the exhausts high up, to blow across the top profile.

The car, under the guidance of technical director and former McLaren designer Pat Fry, is the work of Nikolas Tombazis, with legendary Ferrari designer Rory Byrne a significant contributor in the background. It’s believed that Byrne is behind the innovation on the protective structures in the form of a wing in front of the sidepods.

Last year there was a lot of imagery around the launch of the pride of Italy, celebrating its 150th Anniversary.

Although the political tone might be lower this year, the team and particularly Montezemolo, will be well aware that Italy needs something to be proud of at this difficult time, with the economy in crisis and the recent sinking of one of its cruise ships another embarrassing episode for the country.

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James this is the first piece with ANY words about McLaren (or Red Bull) secret plan.

Very interesting. Do you have any knowledge about where such a ‘leak’ (or any info basically) came out from?

I’m also always wondering if McLaren’s experience with a year of sidepod uniqueness will help this year.



What’s the word on the front and rear wings being an old spec?

Is this because Ferrari haven’t finished developing them yet, or are they just keeping their cards close to their chests?


Always almost the latter I’d say (agreeing with JA), much like the double-diffuser years where all teams covered up the back of the cars, or in previous year where teams also unveiled their new cars with old parts. Nothing new really.


The latter


UGLY is subjective dont you think?

Bring on F1 2012!!!


Ugly is the new black


Hi James,

You state that the exhaust exit “will be at the lower end of the range specified in the new rules, blowing across the bottom profile of the rear wing”, but I’ve read in various other sources that the exhaust is notable high. Could you possibly provide a bit more clarification on that?

Many thanks.


That’s supposed to be “notably high”, by the way.


I hope that during the 2012 season, the Scuderia Ferrari will bounce back with his future car as Fernando Alonso might well not stay very long in Maranello :


James, slightly off topic but when the FIA bans things like the reactive suspension system suddenly, wont teams like Lotus, who innovated the system, be disadvantaged since they might have spent crucial development time behind it? Is this not unfair in the part of the FIA not to clarify the regulations clearly in the first place itself?


James, is this make or break year for Stefano Domenicali?


Good question, but just imagine what this will do for Italy’s image (and self-esteem) if they have to bring a “foreigner” to manage their team. If SD gets replaced (and I think he should), he will surely get replaced by another Italian; I can’t see Ferrari picking a cool-headed, no-nonsense Englishman and then watch him win championship after championship.

A non-Italian would mean Italians are not good picks for any sort of management position (inclusing ship captains).


Nothing wrong with people not of Italian nationality steering the team to WDC / WCC. Todt is French, Bryne is South African and Brawn is of course English and they were all part of it to help Ferrari. Nobody cared what nationality they were.


I reckon Certainly Chris 2nd place absolute minimum in the drivers and constructors or he is out of there!


Judging from the picture in this article, the Ferrari is very aerodynamic. So fast that you can barely catch it with the camera. Will be hard to follow F1 this season with the cars being this fast..

(of course ironic in case you haven’t figured that out yet. hehe)


‘The car has been described as “ugly” by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’

Goodness, I remember when the 2009 car was labled as ugly and somehow we got used to it, but not all of us though.

Sure hope the ugly Ferrari can perform or else it will be another oh no from Nando, silently. Prost was sacked from the truck comment.


Yer for sure used to it now, but if you put any car pre-2009 I bet you’ll still find the old ones look a lot better.

I still prefer the old ones from 1998 – 2008. Those older ones like MP4/4 still looks bloody awesome!


Totally agree with you.


Leave those yachts and come back to the paddock Byrney!!


@ Tim ” …looking to the new Indy car with its boxed rear wheels with interest in the safety benefits?”

No Tim.

IndyCar is one of those ghastly ‘spec’ series that actually levels the playing field, and is run by those ghastly Americans on a ghastly mix of road/street/oval courses.

F1, being the Pinnacle, would not deign to look at them for anything.


OK I am an American and a few in our open wheel ranks destroyed our series fifteen years ago, one that was a very good series….but “ghastly”…please we are working hard to get it corrected in the face of horrible deaths and a struggling economy….we are still trying…we are not “ghastly Americans” nor any of the other things you called our series or us as humans.


Apparently your sarcasm detector is malfunctioning, old chap.

And just fyi don’t tell a soul but I, too, am one of those ghastly Americans.

I was merely sending up the usual Euro attitude, which I learned from living there for years.

And yes, Champ Cars were the best. At Indy, one driven by a Mr. A. Luyendyk still holds the absolute lap record of 239+ mph, at which speed of course an F1 car would come unhinged and start shedding movable aero bits.


James, off topic but with teams restricted to testing only one car at the upcoming test sessions, which of the drivers will inherit the test car for the opening race and which get a new one out of the box. Alternatively does the test car get put aside with both drivers getting a new car to start the season proper?


Great question. I’ll find out. Often the race chassis are numbers 2 & 3. Brawn did the whole 2009 season with only two cars plus a spare tub. That makes those cars two pretty – and Button’s in particular – very valuable!


James, why did Merc / Brawn initially refused to deliver Jenson the car as promised as stated in his contract when they offered to build him another one, when they could delivery the car Jenson drove and build themselves another car for demo / museum display purposes since they have all the blueprints anyway?


Didn’t Rubens write off his chassis in his Quali crash in Singapore? Also one of the Brawn’s was turned into a Mercedes Demo car for Goodwood and other events. So it is possible there is only one left, presumably in a garage in Frome/The Channel Islands.


probably the best car on a budget in recent memory…


Thanks RickeeBoy for explaining; I’m sure it’s what James meant but I missed the point. Does anyone know where Jenson KEEPS the car? And, is it useable (Can he just take it for a spin?!), or would it need an army of team mechanics and a ton of computer-controlled machinery to start it up, as I believe most F1 cars need?


Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, the engine gets taken out of the car, so only the car bar the powerplant is delivered.

Even IF the engine stays with the car, it’d need a starter thing shoved to the back of the car to start it up, which takes around an hour to warm up from what I heard on some F1-special programme on TV.


and ….. this is the BGP001 which Jenson had to sue Mercedes to get back as it was in his Brawn contract to keep if he won the Championship …. Good on you Jenson – Naughty Mercedes.. you got caught out.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James – it would be great if a journalist like yourself did a few articles/blog posts on the key personnel behind the scenes. Most people can identify the team principals, but what about the key engineers, etc? It would be good to get your insight into who the players are and who is making a difference or giving their team an edge.


Good idea thanks


Thank you!


Totally agree, would be great. Also good start to the year on this site, love stories like this one


A new look, ugly or not, would be welcome.

Welcome back, too, to Rory Byrne, one of the design greats often overlooked because Schumacher, Todt and Brawn had the higher profiles.

Perhaps, if Di Montezemolo spouted and pouted less, Ferrari would have won more recently?


I really do hope for a competative Ferarri or more so a competative Alonso to truly see what Vettel is made off.

But I can’t help but sense this is all a bit desperate and this stuff is all leaked intentionally to boast morale. It is still copying others and a lot of it long overdue and in fact signalling defeat over your own design principles.. It seems to suggest think they can Play catch up while the rest stand still.

Notice how McLaren have been quiet thus far, unlike previous years where they too created expectations right through after testing and failed badly to turn up with a winnig car out of the box.

I suspect it will be mclaren vs redbull with another disappointing year for tifosi which will signal the end for domenicali, massa and a few more.


james can u tell me your thoughts on the coming season and speacily you think they can stop redbulls?


Until the cars run in testing it’s hard to say. Even then we’ve seen Ferrari test well in the last couple of seasons, but then not be so competitive in the early races.

It’s also a long season, a lot can change. I think they’ll be closer, but that Red Bull development path is pretty impressive


I’ve just seen the new drawings of new ferrari f12.what are your thoughts on the wings and side pods and alsothe hump on the nose?


Who cares about Red Anymore???? The Black is the color passion in 2012…. Go Kimi 🙂


An F1 car that wins races and championships is NEVER ugly.


James I ordered your latest book as I have done for the two previous copies by following the “order a signed copy” link from your website. Unfortunately the book was delivered with no signature which was disappointing.


I don’t see how that is possible, I signed every one of them. When did you order it?


Hi James

Thanks for replying, it was on 28th of December 2011: Order reference number: 364054




We’re on it.


I’m fascinated to see what Ferrari have come up with, even if it’s ugly it has to be a brave design if it’s gonna have any chance this season. I’m also intrigued as to what Rory Byrne has achieved with these side-pod wings. Or U-wings I’ve heard them called. Here’s a link that may give an idea of what these could look like:


Just seen pics of the Caterham, a day before launch, I know what Montezemolo means about ugly.


There hasn’t been a pretty F1 car since about 97!


The F2003 was certainly a very beautiful car…


Well if you want ugly you need to go back a few more years to the “claw” front end!


I’ve always maintained that beauty is in the eye of the fellow on the podium spraying champagn on the crowd, i.e., winning makes it all good. (Fortunately Honda’s “My earth dream” never did well enough to challenge my thesis.)


James is the front suspension pull-rod too?


I doubt it is pullrod as since modern F1 car aero has open air space under the high nose and in front of the splitter/tray. This means there is nowhere to mount the rockers and dampers for a pullrod suspension without ditching the splitter.


Where their is will theirs a way and Ferrari found a way to have front pull-rod and high chassis, impressive!


I read elsewhere that it is a pull rod suspension.Trying to emulate Red Bull.Nothing new really ! Couldnt care less what Ferrari build or what Montezemolo think. The only reason Ferrari succeed at all of late is the english designers and great drivers. I sensed in 2008/9 there was more going on behind the scenes that contributed to Kimis departure. Ferrari is not a team for most drivers, you either have to ‘run’ the team as Michael did or kiss @&!/ as everyone else has to survive-not just perform.


Your right. Now I’m wondering why Ferrari made the hump. I assumed that the hump nosed cars were doing so to house the rockers and shocks on top (as they did before) but Ferrari shouldn’t have that excuse. Definatly a question I am hoping to find an answer to.


Thanks etm.your right RB7 is front pushrod rear pullrod.I relayed what was posted elsewhere-perhaps they were referring to RB8..Anyways looks like a few teams going for high front end (see first pics caterham), maybe chance for a few to try diffrent suspension set up.


The RB7 has a pushrod front suspension. It is the rear of the RB7 that is pullrod. The combination of a pullrod front suspension and a high nose would be unusual and not an example of Ferrari emulating Redbull.


Ouch, I botched that first sentence. Should read:

I doubt it, as modern F1 car aero has an open air space under the high nose and in front of the splitter/tray.


Yes, I too have read some interesting comments about that, can someone clear it up?


I’ve heard that too. Would be very impressive if they got it to work.

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