Ferrari’s most aggressively-designed car for a number of years made its track debut at Jerez on Tuesday, and afterwards its designer explained the approach the team is taking to the opening test of pre-season.
The F2012 features a number of wholesale technical departures compared to last year’s disappointing challenger, notably pull-rod front and rear suspensions along with fundamental changes towards the rear of the car.
Although the team’s recent cars have proved disappointing, Ferrari has nonetheless often been consistently at the sharp end of the winter testing timesheets with its cars invariably proving reliable out of the box.
On Monday at Jerez Felipe Massa, carrying out the programme for the first two days of the test, completed 69 laps in a best time that was over two seconds off the initial pace set by Kimi Raikkonen in the new Lotus. But Nikolas Tombazis, Ferrari’s chief designer, said that with the new car featuring a number of new concepts the team will be more than ever focusing on data gathering and experimenting with different set-up solutions initially to establish a way forward for development.
“This car represents a clear break with the one that preceded it and it features concepts that are very different for us and that require much more fine tuning,” he said. “That’s why today we absolutely did not have an eye on the stopwatch, preferring to concentrate on gathering as much data as possible in order to get as good an understanding as possible of the behaviour of the car. We have much to do, but all in all, there are reasons to be pleased with the three hundred kilometres that we put together with Felipe at the wheel.
“We had to experiment with different solutions and that will be the case for the next few days as well: it’s obvious that some delivered what was expected while others did not, but that’s the purpose of testing, getting to understand how a car behaves and how best to develop it.”
He also said, that whatever the ultimate performance of the F2012 once the season gets underway, Ferrari certainly couldn’t again be accused of being too conservative with the design of its new car.
“We decided that the only way to make a step forward was to be much more aggressive in our approach to the design of the car,” Tombazis added. “It’s true that the arrival of Pat [Fry] in the role of Technical Director made a significant contribution to this change, but it was a direction our group had already initiated. It is obviously too early to say if this year we will be able to win or not, but no one will be able to accuse us of having been timid in the design of this car.”