Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is this the Formula One car of the future?

Ferrari has taken the unusual step of unveiling its concept for a radical car redesign on its team website.

The streamlined design, which more closely resembles a regular Ferrari sports car, was created by the team's Centro Stile design studio.
The streamlined design, which more closely resembles a regular Ferrari sports car, was created by the team's Centro Stile desig...

Ferrari explained it aimed to create a car that is "not only technologically advanced, but also captivating to the eye and aggressive-looking."

But Ferrari probably did not expect to elicit a response from racing and car design rivals Red Bull, winners of four straight team and driver titles between 2009 and 2011 thanks to the superior aerodynamic design of Adrian Newey.

Red Bull Motorsports posted its car concept, designed by Newey for a computer game in 2014 on Twitter with the cheeky message, "Way ahead of ya, @Scuderia Ferrari ;)"

The aesthetics of F1 cars have attracted plenty of criticism in recent seasons. Who can forget the duck-billed platypus and anteater noses of 2012?

"It would be good if a bit more consideration was given to aesthetics in the drafting of the regulations," suggested Newey in an interview with last season.

The rules on car design are carefully laid out in millimeters by the sport's governing body, the FIA, whose main aim is to curb speed and increase safety.

Ferrari says its concept could roar into reality on track "without having to overturn the current technical rules."

With the second winter test starting in Barcelona on Thursday, F1's nine teams are still fine tuning a radical rule change, focused on engine technology, which was introduced in 2014.

The costs of that regulation change has already seen two teams -- Caterham and Marussia -- slide off the 2015 grid because of a lack of funding.

While Ferrari have one eye on the future of F1, the Scuderia is also absorbing more immediate changes.

During the winter break, the team has welcomed a new president, Sergio Marchionne, new team boss, Maurizio Arrivabene, and new driver, Sebastian Vettel, as well as restructuring its technical department.

The 2015 Ferrari car was fastest in the opening winter test, but testing times can be deceptive and the team's true comparative pace will only be revealed at the opening Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

Ferrari may be thinking of the future but, after failing to win a race in 2014, they remain focused on present car improvements for now.