Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis has admitted the team’s relative underachievement in recent years means the whole company is feeling the pressure to deliver consistent race-winning performances this year.
At the launch of the team’s F2012 on Friday its management and drivers put emphasis on the deliberately more aggressive approach the squad has taken in the conception process for this year’s car, after being accused of lacking innovation in recent years. The car duly the most striking stepped nose of the 2012 challenger’s released to date, while the team has broken with recent design convention by reintroducing a pull-rod front suspension.
The famous Maranello marque’s unequalled F1 pedigree – the team has won a record 16 constructors’ and 15 drivers’ titles – means second in the pecking order, let alone a distant third as was the case last season, is considered to be an underachievement. Indeed, Tombazis doesn’t try to hide the fact that the pressure is really now on.
“As chief designer of the Scuderia, I do feel even more pressure than normal this year because we are really all very keen and very eager to get back to being competitive and hopefully winning again,” he said in a video interview for the team’s website.
“That pressure I believe is felt by everyone – from the very upper levels of the company, to the lower level, almost by the whole company. This pressure is very tangible and it’s something that we’re all working to hopefully get a good result and manage to relieve some of that pressure.”
The F2012 is the first car to be delivered by the team’s revamped technical team, which is now led by Pat Fry following the departure of Aldo Costa last year. The restructuring process has continued apace with the recent arrivals of Steve Clark from Mercedes and ex-Bridgestone chief Hirohide Hamashima – additions Fry expects to be important ones.
“Steve Clark’s joined us who takes over the head of race engineering, which is a good help for me and means I can concentrate more on the car programme as a whole. We have Hamashima starting with us,” he said. “There’s a wealth of experience between Steve and Hamashima which we hopefully can share with our current knowledge and build and get a better understanding of how to maximise the performance of the tyres.”
Fry also revealed that Ferrari was aiming to “get our average pit stops down by maybe four tenths [of a second], if we’re lucky, five tenths” this season after being the third quickest in the field last season.