Ferrari has unveiled the new SF15-T 2015 Formula 1 car that it hopes will get it back in the hunt for victories with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen this season.
After a disappointing 2014 campaign that has prompted a major management and staffing overhaul, the team is determined that the changes it has made will help move it back up the grid.
The James Allison-designed car features a long protruding nose and an aggressive sidepod concept.
But key to Ferrari’s hopes will be what is underneath the skin, with the Italian team’s power unit having been one the weak points of its 2014 season.
The team has undertaken a comprehensive overhaul of its engine in the hope of closing the gap on the benchmark Mercedes.
As well as new management, Ferrari has a change on the driver front too with Vettel lining up alongside Raikkonen this year.
Vettel is due to give the car its first official run at Jerez in Spain on Sunday, when F1’s first pre-season test starts.
Interview with Kimi:
Kimi Raikkonen is encouraged by the looks of the new Ferrari and is confident the team has learned its lessons from last year.
Raikkonen struggled with Ferrari in 2014, failing to finish a race higher than fourth and ending up 12th in the drivers’ standings. He is hoping the lack of front end grip and feel that made life so difficult for him last year has been addressed, but without driving the car he said he could only form an initial impression from the way to looks.
“It looks nice,” Raikkonen said It looks different to last year’s car. From all the details, for me at least, it looks good and when it looks good it should be a pretty good car. We have to wait until we start testing to see how it really is, but the first impression is good.
“I think we learned a lot from last year with the difficulties that we had. Obviously we had some bad luck at a few races, but sometimes you have a year like that and everything seems to be a bit difficult and we understood a lot of things. Hopefully this year we can turn things around and be more strong, and as a team be more where we should be. We need to go little by little.”
Raikkonen said there was no point in making predictions or setting goals at this stage.
“Obviously we want to be as strong as we can, but it’s too early to say where we are going to be. As long as we do our things 100% and work as one team with two cars to push things forward and keep building from over the winter, we’ll go from there and that will be the starting point. The results will come and there’s no point from my side to put any goals yet. We’ll start at the first test and go forward from there and see what we have and where we are. I’m sure the result will come.”
Sebastian Vettel thinks his relationship with Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari will be more “straightforward” than most Formula 1 team-mate partnerships.
Raikkonen said when Vettel was announced as his 2015 team-mate that he knew the German better than any of his other F1 rivals and expected it to be a “fun” partnership.
As Ferrari launched its new SF14-T on Friday, Vettel suggested the Finn would be particularly easy to work with by F1 standards.
“I don’t expect any problems,” said Vettel.
“He will be a difficult team-mate to beat on the track because he’s very quick and very talented, but off the track we get on well.
“Usually there are not being words being exchanged, but it’s very straightforward – which is something I appreciate in Kimi and it doesn’t happen that often in Formula 1.”
Team boss Mauricio Arrivabene underlined that he did not want driver dynamics to be hog the limelight this season.
Last year’s match-up between Fernando Alonso and Raikkonen was the subject of much pre-season speculation, while in previous years Felipe Massa’s number two status to Alonso had proved consistently topical.
“They have to work together as team-mates, they have to work with the team,” Arrivabene said of his 2015 drivers.
“I want to be talking about the overall team and not only about the driver.
“Everybody is pushing and working together in the same direction and I am expecting the drivers to do the same.”
Raikkonen agreed with Vettel that they should make a harmonious pairing.
“It’s the first time working with him but I’m sure we’ll have a good understanding of each other and to push the team forward,” said the 2007 champion.
“Obviously we’ll fight against each other, but in a good way, and we’ll push each other to do better things.”
Maurizio Arrivabene says that sights are set on at least ending its victory drought that extends back to the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
“I am just realistic,” he said. “Nobody has the magic to change things, when things are unchangeable.
“We find the car, the car was ready December of [last] year, and we apply certain modifications that in our opinion, are quite interesting.
“I don’t want to say that we are going to win the world championship but for sure we are committed at least to win two races.”
Newly arrived Sebastian Vettel backed up his bosses’ claim that modest targets had to be the aim for 2015 – but the team would not complain if more success came.
“I think we would be happy with that,” he said about Arrivabene’s ambition. “But of course we would be happy if we win more.
“We have to be realistic. There is a lot of change that’s happened over the winter. So I think the most important thing is we start getting into the groove quickly in winter testing and then we start to make progress.
“If the situation is like last year, it will be very difficult to fight for victory. But that’s our goal, we’re not here to finish second.”
Although too early to predict exactly how competitive the new chassis and engine will be, Arrivabene does at least believe that the SF15-T has at least got off to a better start in the visual stakes than its predecessor.
“Ferrari said a long time ago that the best car is a winning car,” he said. “Last year was an ugly car and a non-winning on top of this.
“I like the car of this year in terms of aesthetics, I don’t know about performance, but it is really sexy.”
James Allison has also explained the reasons behind sticking with pull-rod front suspension:
“Every year you set out what areas of the car you think you should put your effort into and improve them. These are decisions that need to be taken carefully because when you make a choice to work on one part of the car, you are effectively making a decision not to work on another part of the car as you don’t have infinite resources. So you have to pick the things that you think will bring you the maximum amount of return for your efforts.
“Push-rod and pull-rod on the front has pros and cons on both. The pull-rod is probably harder to get light and stiff, but it is probably a bit easier to get aerodynamic performance from it. So it is swings and roundabouts and it was an area of the car that wasn’t felt to be a problem on last year’s car and therefore not an area that really merited investment in this time round.”
All quotes taken from ferrari.com video interviews: