Friday, February 3, 2012

The F2012 is Finally Here

I decided not to go to Maranello today after all. The snow seems to be getting worse there and I heard reports that some trains were delayed and even stopped near Lodi yesterday. The last thing that I want to do is spend my entire day on a train! It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I know that I will most certainly end up in Maranello next month (probably not during a blizzard) so I will hopefully be able to make up for this disappointment then.

My boyfriend sent me an amazing link yesterday after hearing that the car launch had been cancelled. The picture shows the launch of Ferrari’s 1979 Formula 1 car. It was Gilles Villeneuve who braved the icy conditions on that particular winter day as only a Canadian could. Being Canadian myself I have to say that although the current snow is pretty thick, it should definitely not be enough to bring a town like Maranello to its knees. I always marvel at how Canadian cities can keep running efficiently at temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius and yet in Europe even a small amount of snowfall can create chaos; closing shops, cutting power and grounding flights. It seems as though both Ferrari and Europe could do with some more Canadians during times like these.

Even though the launch itself was cancelled, Ferrari did release the first photos of the F2012 this morning. After studying the predictive drawings in Autosprint a few days ago and seeing the launch of the new McLaren MP4-27, I was confident that the new car could still be attractive. Sadly for those of you who love to see beautiful racing cars, the new Ferrari features the stepped nose that was first noticed on the Caterham CT01. The good news is that thus far, ugly seems to be the norm, with Force India’s new VJM05 also sporting the awkward look which has been described by some of the media as being platypus-style.

Stefano Domenicali, who has already expressed his opinions on the F2012’s beauty, stated “Actually, it’s not really so pretty from my personal perspective but this is a value that doesn’t count in Formula 1.” The Ferrari team principal was also keen to highlight that the team has tried a different approach this year. “I've asked in a change in approach in the design of the car and apparently what we can see from the car that we have launched just now is it's for sure very different. It's a different approach both from the mechanical point of view and also from the aerodynamical point of view. So that is for sure something that it seems that we have achieved, but I will be happy only when I will see that this car will be competitive. Domenicali needs the F2012 to be competitive this year after a string of disappointing seasons. Despite repeated denials that his job is in danger, many tifosi have unfairly used him as a scapegoat over the past few seasons and it would be wonderful for the F2012 to silence both his and Ferrari’s doubters!

Fernando Alonso was full of praise for Ferrari when he was interviewed before the unveiling. “I believe in the skills we have here in Ferrari. We have two months to get ready before the first competition. We have to fight for the title and try to get as many points as possible. We really want to be right at the top of the ranking.” Alonso will hope to erase the painful memory of Abu Dhabi 2010 and solidify his status as the tifosi’s darling by taking his first World Championship for Ferrari this year.

Felipe Massa, who could be starting his final season for Ferrari in March, is upbeat about the F2012’s prospects. “Let me tell you that it looks really, really aggressive. This was part of my dreams. I know there was quite a lot of brainstorming when it comes to the new car. We always wanted to develop new models so I am impressed with the new car. We start in a few days and I’m sure the championship will be stunning and very competitive.” Massa will need the Scuderia’s latest championship contender to be competitive right from the start of the season in Melbourne if he is to have any chance of fending off Ferrari hopefuls like Sergio Perez and Jules Bianchi. With the cancellation of the car’s planned Fiorano shakedown, the little Brazilian is scheduled to be the first man to drive the F2012 when the team begins testing in Jerez this Tuesday.

In my eyes at least, the F2012’s first real test will come when Red Bull’s latest challenger is revealed to the world on February 6th. With Adrian Newey on board and the Red Bull RB7 being the class of the 2011 Formula 1 field, there is every reason to think that the Milton Keynes-based squad will once again this year be the one to beat. Some light may be shed on the potential of the F2012 when it can finally be compared to the Red Bull RB8. Until Monday we will all have to carry on speculating and even then there will likely be a few surprises on the Australian Grand Prix weekend which begins March 15th.

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