Ferrari take new direction in bid to recapture the magic
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Feb 2012   |  12:48 pm GMT  |  237 comments

When we look back on the 2012 F1 season in photos and yearbooks, we will wince at the ugliness of the cars, especially the nose sections. Luckily it won’t last long, it’s a passing phase, because in 2014 the new rules mean a totally new generation of F1 cars.

Ferrari, arguably F1’s most stylish brand, has today unveiled the F2012. It’s a car whose nose is aesthetically challenged, but if it’s fast, no-one at Maranello will care about that. And it needs to be fast, because this needs to be the year Ferrari gets back into the winners’ circle on a regular basis.

The nose is a significant talking point for aesthetic reasons, but the pull rod front suspension is a talking point from an engineering stand point. It’s not been done for a while and it shows the current Ferrari technical management are not averse to taking risks.

“I’m sure that this season I can say it will be a red season.” This was the confident prediction of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo as the Italian team pulled the wraps off the radical-looking car that it hopes will take it back to world championship-winning ways in 2012.

The Formula 1 world had long been expecting Ferrari to ‘go aggressive’ with the design of their new car in wake of two seasons largely playing third fiddle to Red Bull and McLaren and so it was little surprise that the new challenger unveiled at Maranello on Friday, titled the F2012, was more outwardly different to its predecessor than was the case with the latest McLaren earlier this week.

With severe snow and ice in the area having forced the team to abandon plans to do the unveiling event at their Fiorano test track, and instead run a purely online ceremony via their website, team principal Stefano Domenicali joined race drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa on stage for the reveal of the car on stage before a recorded message from president Luca di Montezemolo was played in.

Montezemolo had already previously been quoted as describing the F2012 as “ugly” and the car duly features a new-style stepped nose – first seen on the Caterham CT01 last week but which didn’t feature on the more conventional-looking McLaren. Ferrari’s interpretation of the new nose-height regulations appears the most aggressive yet though with the angle down to the nose particularly sharp and then flattening out dramatically. The rear of the car is far sleeker though, with tighter sidepods and tightly-packaged rear bodywork as Ferrari attempt to claw downforce back lost through the banning of blown diffusers.

The design programme has been led by new technical director Pat Fry and much is expected of the new car. After being criticised for being too cautious with designs in recent years, Domenicali admitted that they had “learned” from the past and developed a new car that features “plenty of novelties and new developments”.The radical design appeared to impress both race drivers, with Massa expressing delight at its “very aggressive” appearance, while effective number one driver Alonso hopes it will give him the basis from which he can finally win his third world title. “It looks very different actually from what we’ve seen in the last two years,” he said. “I believe in the skills we have here at Ferrari, we always have to be optimistic. We have to fight for this title and get as many points in every race.”

For Massa, meanwhile, although it may only be the start of February, it was made clear that there would be no hiding place for him this season – the final one of his Ferrari contract. The vultures have been circling the 30-year-old for some time in the wake of two largely lacklustre seasons alongside Alonso, and at the launch di Montezemolo sent out a clear message to the long-serving driver: “Massa has to do something great, and something special, after a non-positive season. We are offering him the best conditions to do a great job.”

The Brazilian hasn’t won a race since melodramatic season finale of 2008 in Brazil when he came within about 30 seconds of being champion. In wake of what’s come since for Massa – including the Hungarian GP accident on 2009 when he suffered a fractured skull – his days as a serious title challenger seem a long time ago now, but for 2012 he’s feeling positive about making a return to the winners’ circle.

“I’d like to say this is going to be quite an important year for me and the whole team as well,” Massa said. “We want to fight to get the championship back and I really believe in my skills, this team and this car. I really feel focused on winning – there are plenty of positive thoughts in my head. I want to start the championship in the right way and finish in the right way.”

Domenicali had begun his speech by announcing that major sponsor Santander had extended its agreement with the team for a further three years up until 2017. The Spanish bank came on board in 2010 at the same time as the arrival of Alonso, who last year committed his future to the team until 2016.


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It seems to me, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that the area of the floor is smaller on the 2012 cars over 2011. I would’ve thought it’d be bigger.


The b*tch better be fast!


Unfortunately, this like will never come again. Tiny car (go to the IMS Museum if you get the chance – so much for the “big” roadster, an accident of history that they were regarded as large, but that’s a different retrogrouch rant), or the Lotus on the same page, etc.

These cars were EVIL sounding, too:


Wow let’s hope you guys don’t judge your women they way you judge this car! I love it, its aggresive, almost brutish, kind of like a polar bear. We’ll find out just how ugly it is when the rubber hits the road.

Antonis Papadakis

Ok, were are the innovations they promised?

I mean did Pat Fry improved at all the f150

and did Macca failed because Pat was no there

If Mercedes produces a fast car they will have to

deal with Schumi and maybe sometimes they

face Kimi and of course Lewis.But if Alonso finds

it hard no problem Massa pays the price and Kubica

comes in. Does it matter that he will not have driven

at all for two seasons. Serious Santader must be

paying a lot …


Just reading through comments again this evening, it occured to me, Mclaren has had a low nose design concept for some years.

I have to ask, why does Lewis have trouble with other cars, hitting them from the rear, Webber and Massa and maybe as the nose is low, the mirrors point upwards so he can’t see the Kobayashi’s and Massa’s of this world…


This car; every bolt and carbon sinew, every flowing line and jarring angle embodies the ambition of Ferrari’s lead driver. The prancing horse is now bent and twisted in his image, it articulates his aggression and personifies his undiluted and irresistible will to win. What other driver on the grid could have done this to Ferrari? It is astonishing. Viva Fernando Alonso.


I find it very disappointing that much of the talk is about the nose, and the consequent look of the car. This is because of the regulations on nose height and front bulkhead heights.

There are far more interesting parts of the car though. The front pull rod suspension, the split bargeboards, the exhaust blowing the rear brake ducts, and the much tighter packaging at the rear of the car, yet there is barely any mention of them here.


I’m speechless…. I don’t know what to say…. lets just pray it works! lol


I’ve been reading a lot of versions of it’d better be fast.

They’re all fast.

I’ve just been playing with my calculator and I hope I got this right. I chose Japan at random. Track is 5.807 ks. Last season Vettel qualified 1st at 1,30.466 and Button was second at 1,30.475 or 0.009 seconds slower. Over close to 6 kilometers this means he was slower by about half a meter. All this amazing engineering calling the Red Bull a huge success and the McLaren a dud (last year) was about half a meter over 5807 meters.

Australia will tell all. Even the trials will be only so-so informative.

Post 22 wrote “Am already getting nervous on what a Massa desperate for wins is willing to do *cringes*”

I find what Massa might do interesting this season. Hamilton is saying I’m cool. Will Massa consciously or unconsciously be aiming for him? Will he be a pin-ball in the pack at the start? Can he get his psychology (with help?) in order, to perform at his best? Will there be many rainy races?

Wishing you all a great season.


You think Massa is going to be indifferent to causing crashes in the 3rd or 4th row? Why oh why would he want to do that? He needs to start winning races, or at least start scoring podiums regularly. It’s unfathomable that he didn’t score one last year.

I’m hoping that Massa has learned that he can’t just turn in or crowd out, and get away with it (like he tried vs Alonso in Germany ’07, against Bourdais in Japan ’08, and Hamilton in India ’11).


Already, it’s not a good start to the year for Hamilton. Apart from receiving plenty of sighs and groans in response to his photo shoot, he has also been called a coward and ‘pathetic’ by the Sutil family.

This comes after him declaring that in 2012 he will come back stronger and ‘it will be his year’. Come on Lewis, enough with your false promises already! Just shut up and drive!

Tornillo Amarillo

Who is the responsible of this?

I think it is Kovalainen who was waiving in Valencia 2010 and Webber just hit his back and was sent airborne, flipping over in the air. Very dangerous.


By the looks of THE nose, i think that Kubica will join the team pretty soon!


….and in a red car, he might bag POLE as well!


Great photo of Felipe, Fernando, the car and the snow at the BBC website. Somehow Felipe doesn’t look too happy about the cold ………. or maybe it’s the ugly car that is upsetting him !


Dang that is one ugly car!

But yeah let’s see how it performs.


Also noticed they’ve changed wheel suppliers from BBS to OZ.

Matthew Cheshire

No – I’ve got it –

Powered by Ferrari. Styled by Lada.

They should make a nose mounted camera shaped like a wart.

Matthew Cheshire

Did they crash that on the way to the photo shoot?

There are few words that can describe that. A rugby nose? A Nanny MacFee beak?

At least if they do actually steal a red bull nose this year they can just smash it straight on and forget the panel beating


All I can say is, when it’s that ugly, it BETTER be fast.


James, Narian Karthikeyan joined HRT.

Isn’t it was a surprise. Because, no one talked about him.


James, will you be reporting from the test?


The two Barcelona tests, I have someone in Jerez


With all respect, who on earth cares about what LDM says? Each February we hear that it will be a red year. Was it not the same a year ago?


Many of the 09 cars looked like dogs with their large front wings and tiny rear wings. However if the racing is better than last year will we all be complaining? Can’t see their being too many of those slow motion shots with the cars tho in the end of races clips.


Oh dear. Not nice looking. Having said that the rear sculpting on the Force India looks impressive. I wonder if they can steal a march.

To be honest I love the look of the new Mclaren. It actually reminds me of the Brawn GP car.

Let’s hope that the adage about beautiful cars being fast rings true.


I thought at first I was looking at a bucket full of smashed crabs!


I sense 99% of us are “shell shocked”.


I hate to make comparisons, but when I look at the 2010 Indy car, I see a similar “step” in the front and side of the driver cockpit. This design not only allows the correct amount of air flow underneath the car, it must help with the top speed as well.

The Ferrari may be using this “step” in combination with the DRS to increase the top speed of the car. We may be looking at the most efficient way to balance the drag of down force with the slippery aspect of top speed.

Even with no proof, I can all but guarantee that the McLaren will be sporting a “step” in the nose prior to the first test. I am also hoping for a radical design from Lotus.


I can’t see Mclaren with a step nose before mid-season if they needed one, their chassis wouldn’t accomodate it, it’s too low.

From what I have read, it’s to do with their design philosophy and heavily sprung chassis, it’s not as simple as bolting on an F Duct.


In order for the McLaren to get a step in its nose they would have to totally change the shape of their chassis. The step is a result of the cockpit being higher than the maximum height permitted for the maximum height of the nose. McLaren’s cockpit is lower than their rivals, who have raised theirs to the maximum to increase the volume underneath and maximise airflow to the rear of the car.

McLaren have a splitter underneath their nose that helps with the airflow allowing them to run a lower cockpit, this making it in line with the nose, hence no step. In order to put a step in they would have to put the nose even lower – which would be severely detrimental to the airflow to the rear of the car.

One thing McLaren can’t do is raise the cockpit as this part of the car design is homologated and is not allowed to be changed.

The step is not an innovation – it is the result of building a car to the volumetric limits of the regulations. The teams with the step are those who have followed the Red Bull philosophy to designing a car to get as much clean air to the back of the car.

Whether it is a smart decision or not, McLaren have continued their philosophy, which features a lower nose, lower centre of gravity and less compromised sprung front end. Now, while it might make sense to follow the Red Bull philosophy given their success of the last three seasons, plus the fact with the EBD banned you need the solution that offers the best natural rear end aero, it should be noted that the Red Bull philosophy has been impacted by the new regulations while the McLaren one has not. They can continue to run the same front end whereas the high nose approach has had to be adapted.

Having said that, so far, I think the Force India looks by far and away the best packaged car, but am eagerly awaiting to see what Adrian Newey has in store.


lovely insight Ben, appreciate your thoiughts…

from *theREALBrad, as we have an imposter in our midst


lol Nah Ben, it was tongue in cheek, just having fun… 😛


Haha … I think you guys need to mediate. It’s like me putting in “John” as my name, and getting mad at some other dude named John submitting a post under his own name!

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