Maranello debut for Ferrari F138 - Team VVV

News Maranello debut for Ferrari F138


James Allen


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The second of the three major teams in the sport to unveil their 2013 title challenger, the Scuderia Ferrari F1 squad has pulled the wraps off the car it'll be fielding this year; the F138.

And, considering the car's predecessor wasn't exactly the finest platform on which to develop and push towards the hope of eventual championship glory, it's perhaps a bit of a surprise that there appear to be very few drastic upgrades to the 2013 entry.

The most noticeable change to the F138 – named in honour of this year's regulations, which will most likely legislate the use of V8 engines in Formula One racing for the last time – is the removal of the infamous 'step' nose from the F2012: Ferrari appear to beleive the aesthetic and – theoretically, at least – aerodynamic benefits of the vanity panel are enough to warrant adding a few kilos to the car's kerbweight.

Other upgrades include subtle aerodynamic revisions to the car's bodywork, in particular towards the rear: the sidepods have been lengthened, whilst the back of the F138 is noticeably narrower than the F2012's, which improves airflow at that section of the car.

The smaller exhaust exit ports also go some way to making the rear section more aerodynamically efficient than before.

Which, in theory, should at least assist the F138 in the DRS zones, in comparison to the F2012: last year, according to BBC F1's technical analyst Gary Anderson, Ferrari appeared to have difficulty in managing the airflow at the back of the car when the DRS flap was being opened and closed, so – in theory – this should be a noticeable step forward for the team.

The Scuderia has also gone to lengths to ensure us the suspension geometry – pull-rods all round, as it was on last year's car – has been revised, in particular at the rear, in order to improve the speed of the driven tyres warm up when compared to last year's car.

However, with the 2013-spec rubber being noticeably more prone to wear and degredation than the 2012 Pirellis, there's always perhaps the fear that, as seemed to be the case with the Mercedes W03, the tyre wear rates fore and aft wouldn't be evenly balanced.

That said, team principal Stephano Domenicali assures us that, thanks in part to the analysis of the team's operations that was pushed forward by Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo, the Scuderia should now be "more effective in the preparations over the coming week".

Domenicali went on to say that, whilst last year was "difficult" for the team, the areas where the team excelled – along with the new car – means "there are plenty of things that allow us to look forward to the new season".

First impressions of the Ferrari F138

Let's be honest, shall we? As poor as the F2012 was when compared with its rivals from Red Bull and McLaren, it wasn't exactly a bad car. Sure, it was never the quickest car on the grid, but it wasn't quite as far off the pace as most of the media proclaimed it to be.

After all, whilst there was a fair bit of luck and good fortune involved, you don't score second in the Constructors' Championship and come within an inch of securing Fernando Alonso his third Drivers' title with a car as woeful as most people described it as.

That said, it is still perhaps a bit of a worry that, when Ferrari's arch nemesis McLaren has pulled out a mildly more revolutionary car design out of the bag than the F138's, there don't appear to be any radical changes to the design of the car.

Granted, the radical approach wasn't exactly as successful as Ferrari initially hoped last year, and the team does have access to the former Toyota F1 team's wind tunnel this year whilst their facility in Maranello is being repaired, so development on the car and analysing where things are going wrong shouldn't be too much of an issue.

And us here at Team VVV don't exactly have PhD doctorates in motorsports engineering, so we won't slag the Ferrari technicians off too much – they should know what they're doing, and there's always the chance the squad will be up to the job of fighting for the championship throughout the entire season.

Especially when they've got an always-determined Fernando Alonso and a seemingly resurgent Felipe Massa at their disposal.

Indeed, if you read between the lines, Domenicali seems to be pretty confident in the F138's abilities on the track, and when Alonso predicts that "only three teams will win all the races" this year, you sort of have to assume he's referring to Ferrari.

Long story short, there's still always the chance the Ferrari will surprise us this year. Keep your eyes peeled on the pair of crimson single-seaters this year…

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