With comprehensive regulation changes leading to radically different machinery for 2014, Ferrari Technical Director James Allison has targeted reliability as the key target for the team’s F14 T, which was launched this afternoon.
Allison, who joined the team late last season from Lotus, insisted that while new power units and changes to the aerodynamic regulations will create performance differences, it will be a team’s ability to finish races that will have a major influence on this year’s campaign.
“The 2014 season sees us for the first time in many years having free development of an engine from a clean sheet of paper and that’s going to bring a level of variation of power between the various engine manufacturers that makes the engine a much more important competitive factor in 2014 than it has been in previous years,” he said.
“The rules on aerodynamics are also very new,” he added. “The rate of development we have aerodynamically through the season will be very steep and the importance of aerodynamics to the championship is going to be at least as important as the differences in power levels between the various engine manufacturers.
“However, if I had to choose one thing that was likely to be the dominant factor for the whole season I would choose neither the level of power or the aerodynamic development. I would say that this year reliability is going to be absolutely fundamental.”
Echoing the technical director’s views, Fernando Alonso added: “One of things we need to have under control is the reliability of the car and to try to finish the first races of the season. That will be one of the main difficulties this year. As far as we are able to finish all the races without any problem we would be happy, and then the performance will arrive.”
Alonso, of course, will this season be paired with Kimi Raikkönen and while some observers have predicted that the partnership could be fractious, the Spanish driver insisted that he and Raikkönen will race for the team first.
“We will follow whatever the team priority is and we will try to do our best to win both championships and bring back to Ferrari some of the success it has had in the past,” he said. “The best way to achieve that is to race at 100 per cent every race to try to bring back points for the team and for ourselves. To do that we need perfect harmony and to follow the team’s priorities and do what the team asks.”
Raikkönen, too, maintained the party line and when asked what would happen if the duo find themselves racing on the same stretch of track insisted that he and Alonso “know what we have to do”.
“I don’t think there is any way of telling [what would happen]. Every situation is different,” said the Finn who is returning to the team with which he won the 2007 title. “We know what we have to do. We will race other. We respect each other, but you try to come out on top. There’s a lot of talk from outside about problems and that kind of thing but inside the team there is a very good feeling and hopefully we can bring both championships to the team.”
As for the F14 T, the new car, as with others seen so far, features a steeply dropped nose. However, unlike Lotus’ E22, which has a two-pronged arrangement, or McLaren MP4-29, which features uprights on either side of the thin nose, Ferrari’s solution is a sculpted though significant step down from the front bulkhead leading to a relatively wide and flat nose.
Under the skin, too, there are relatively few similarities to the car’s predecessor, though the team has chosen to continue with pull-rod front and rear suspension.
Alonso admitted that the new car and the new regulations, which promote efficiency though tight fuel controls, may influence driving style in F1 this season. However, the double world champion added that is looking forward to the challenge.
“I think in 2014 F1 will change a lot with the regulations,” he said. “Those will have some implications on the driving style so I’m looking forward to discovering this new Formula One.
“I think we have to be optimistic,” he added in a later online press conference. “Let’s say that there are no signs to be pessimistic. We are in a changeable time now with some big regulation changes but I think we are quite well prepared for that. The team has been working for a good time over the winter on the car. We have the technology, the people and the facilities to create and to be able to challenge in this new Formula One.”
Analysis of the car from the images available by JA on F1 Technical adviser Mark Gillan will follow.