Following loss of its top driver, Ferrari head Montezemolo kicks off new season with a new car
It should seem strange that the unveiling of the fifty third Formula 1 single-seater built by Ferrari was also the proclamation of a new Ferrari but with the retirement of Michael Schumacher and the loss of Ross Brawn, Ferrari supremo Montezemolo underlined just that. "This is a complete new Ferrari, and I don't speak just about the car but about the whole Scuderia. There is a new driver, who is succeeding a driver that has been with us since 1996. It is a very important substitution; not only because Michael has won more races than anyone else in our history, but also because he created a personal relationship with the company and the men. It is true that Massa is here for his second year and so we can say that he is still young. But he already has some experience and he grew a lot over the last year. There are two young managers - Stefano Domenicali, Sporting Director, and Mario Almondo, Technical Director - who come from the school of Ferrari. Over all those years we put all our resources in internal growth, which is a very important fact."
The project, known internally as the 658, represents the Scuderia's interpretation of the technical regulations that apply for 2007, with changes principally concerning safety, through the introduction of more stringent front and rear crash tests and the addition of a composite material structure to provide lateral protection to the sides of the driver. These modifications have led to a significant increase in the weight of the car, in the region of just under ten kilogrammes.
The F2007 carbon-fibre and honeycomb composite chassis has been significantly modified when compared to the 248 F1 – the chassis department of the F1 team numbers 200 full-time employees. The design was revised to accommodate a new front suspension that represents a major conceptual innovation, mainly in terms of aerodynamics. The shape of the side-pods and their openings are also revised, based on modifications to the cooling system, which also implies exits for the radiators on the upper part of the bodywork, while the engine air intake is also substantially different.
The car has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. The rear of the car is much narrower, taking advantage of the more sculpted shape of the gearbox housing, which again this year is made from carbon fibre. The gearbox itself, which is still mounted longitudinally, is fitted with an innovative quick-shift system (seven plus reverse). The rear suspension is similar to that on the 248 F1, but a significant development programme is planned in this area, in order to get the most out of the system, based on making progress in understanding the behaviour of the 2007 tyres. The front and rear aerodynamic configuration is also expected to change considerably before the start of the World Championship. The position of the rear view mirrors seen on the 2006 car remains unchanged and the same goes for the exhaust system.
In accordance with the regulations that come into force this year, the basic structure of the engine remains the same as the one homologated at the end of last season. Therefore, the 056 engine continues as a load bearing member and is again mounted longitudinally. Based on what is permitted in the regulations, the following modifications have been carried out to the engine signed off with the FIA in October 2006:
the combustion chamber, the valves, the inlet and exhaust chambers, all aimed at optimising the torque curve, given the engine rev limit of 19,000 rpm;
the piston, the piston pin and the piston cooling jets to aim for the best possible reliability when running at the limit of 19,000 rpm;
the fluid systems (water and oil) and components to facilitate the integration of the 056 into the new car.
Ferrari CEO Jean Todt spoke at the press conference held at the company's famous race track in Maranello.
Jean Todt: "The year 2007 is different to the last years for many reasons. Usually this first greeting of the year it is held at Campiglio, but last week I remained here to work on other things within the company. This fact is a symbol of the new cycle at Ferrari. Yesterday we did some shopping in Milan with Michael and we talked about many things. Right now he is in the garage to have a look at the car, but he is not the driver. I had a strange feeling seeing Kimi dressed in red, because until now we had to hide when we spoke to each other, while now we can do it in a normal way. Ross Brawn is fishing; you met the new Technical Director Mario Almondo in Campiglio and today you got to know also Aldo Costa and Gilles Simon, as heads of their respective departments.
"The upcoming championship will be a difficult battle, because we have strong and ambitious competitors. We have always been ambitious, we also try to be strong. Obviously we have to reply with facts and right now we have the elements. The car is ready and tomorrow Massa will drive it if the weather allows it. It will be a working day also for our customers, as the day will be concluded with the prize giving for the Corse Clienti season 2006.
"As far as the new organization of the Scuderia is concerned, I have to underline that Ross Brawn was the Technical Director excluding the engine, while Almondo is Technical Director of the chassis and the engine. This organisation is interesting, because Almondo has ample experience at Ferrari; he has different responsibilities and a different role than Ross. At the race track Baldisserri will be the boss; it is a different distribution of roles; the responsibilities are divided differently.
"Kimi's team will be the one that was Michael's last year; there will be no modifications. As far as the competitiveness is concerned we can see an improvement at all levels in the simulations. We have to confirm that on the race track, because what counts in the end is the stop watch. There is the big difference concerning the tyres, which will be new and different for everyone. We do not expect an advantage. We've already seen that there are around two to three seconds difference, as compared to 2006. Last year we were competitive but not reliable enough. So we absolutely have to get back to the levels of the years 2000 to 2004 when we were victorious.
Ferrari company head Luca di Montezemolo alkso spoke, proclaiming, "the aim is to win the Championship."
The Ferrari President went on: "I am glad to be able to share with you one of the first laps of this new car. I am extremely satisfied with this kind of presentation, because for us it was important to have a working day immediately, to be able to collect some precious data on this completely new car. I am glad that we were able to keep the timeframe that we had set for ourselves. For me this, as every year, is a day of big emotions; it is the beginning of a new adventure."
Montezemolo underlined that this year Ferrari is a complete new team, which knew how to conserve the experience gained over the last years: "This is a complete new Ferrari, and I don't speak just about the car but about the whole Scuderia. There is a new driver, who is succeeding a driver that has been with us since 1996. It is a very important substitution; not only because Michael has won more races than anyone else in our history, but also because he created a personal relationship with the company and the men. It is true that Massa is here for his second year and so we can say that he is still young. But he already has some experience and he grew a lot over the last year. There are two young managers - Stefano Domenicali, Sporting Director, and Mario Almondo, Technical Director - who come from the school of Ferrari. Over all those years we put all our resources in internal growth, which is a very important fact."
"From 1997 until today - apart from 2005 - we always won. And if we didn't win it was because we lost the Championship in the last race. This shows that Ferrari has always been, for many, many years, at the top. The competitors have changed, but we have always been the ones to beat. This year," Montezemolo declared, defining the goal for 2007, "we want to win the Championship."
So the eyes are on the reliability of the car, considering the new technical regulations and the new systems points are given to teams and drivers in the races, which will reward the constancy of the results: "To win the Championship reliability is needed more than anything else. In the last year we lost because of a lack of reliability at the beginning of the season. The single-tyre rule is good, it eliminates many insecurities and so the performances of the cars will be very close. Victories and pole positions will be matters of tenths of a second. The score will reward the reliability. Think about last year when we could have won the Constructor's Championship with the old system. It's easy to understand that reliability is fundamental and I am glad that we start driving the new car today, to collect data to develop and refine the car."
Montezemolo was also talking about the drivers, as of this year the new couple with the Brazilian Felipe Massa and the Finn Kimi Raikkonen will drive the "Rosse": "We had Raikkonen on our agenda since the race in Magny-Cours in the year 2002 and Michael was impressed by him even before then, when he saw him in Mugello on board of the Sauber-Ferrari. The Finnish school has always emitted determined and strong personalities, who have never been impressed by external elements. Kimi is also at the right point in his career to win. He comes to Ferrari at the right point of his maturity and we have to put him in the condition to gain results. Massa had a very good season in the year 2006; he won two races and gained many points. He is fast and very concentrated. He is preparing himself physically very well. The two drivers start on the same conditions, as always in the history of Ferrari. They are young, fast and determined; but with a greater experience than many young drivers, who started in the Formula 1 over the last years."
At the President's press conference there was also room for Michael Schumacher, who already feels very well in his new position. "Michael has already adopted a new mentality; I'd say even a new dimension. This morning he was at the box and listening to the comments of the drivers. I really enjoyed seeing him enthusiastic like that. He could have done something else, but he decided to stay, to contribute to the team. This shows not only his personality but also what kind of relationship he has with Ferrari; it is very personal and reaches very deep." "This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ferrari," Montezemolo went on and pointed out the celebrations for this important anniversary. "I remember many things: 1974, when we won our 50th race with Ferrari, 1991, when I came back to Maranello and 1993, when Jean Todt joined us. We had lots of cars, technology and people over all those years. We won the prize 'Great places of work' and this means quality of life in general; not just quality of the work environment. The people who work at Ferrari are the base of the commercial successes: the workers, the technicians and the drivers. We will beat every sales record in the year 2007 and with the Scuderia we will stay on top of the Formula 1."
"Determination, passion, the wish to work well and hard: these are the elements characterizing the upcoming season," Montezemolo concluded. "I have another intense year as the head of Confindustria, but my life is here and I hope that I can still give something to Ferrari."