Ferrari on Tuesday showed off their Formula One car for this year with a theatrical show of pride and passion, assuring success-starved fans that it was also very different under the skin to last year’s model.
The SF1000, marking the Italian team’s 1,000th race that comes up this year, is the car Ferrari hope can end six years of Mercedes domination and dash Lewis Hamilton’s bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles.
If the red machine looked superficially similar under the stage lights to last year’s version, team principal Mattia Binotto said appearances were deceptive.
Photo: AFP / Ferrari Press Office
“We have been as extreme in all the concepts as we could,” he told a global audience watching as the car made its appearance on stage at Reggio Emilia’s opulent Romolo Valli opera house.
“The entire car, power unit, has been packaged to have a very narrow and slim body shape,” Binotto said.
“It may look very similar to last year, but, believe me, it’s completely different and a lot of the concepts are very extreme,” said the Swiss-born Italian, who is starting his second year at the helm.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, on stage with 22-year-old Monegasque teammate Charles Leclerc, gave it his immediate seal of approval.
“I like it a lot,” said the German, who also showed off his Italian in addressing the audience. “And it’s a little bit more red than last year.”
Ferrari won three races last year, two for Leclerc and the other for Vettel, and finished runners-up to Mercedes, who won both titles for an unprecedented sixth successive season.
Last season proved a particularly cold shower for the only team to have competed in every championship since the start in 1950, with the car raising hopes by being quickest in pre-season testing, only to then fail to deliver as expected.
Both the team and drivers made errors, while a lack of reliability also led to likely wins slipping through their fingers.
Presenting the new car away from Maranello, Italy, for the first time, in a nearby city famed as the birthplace of the Italian flag and with fans thronging the square outside, Ferrari’s presentation put emotion center stage.
A violin soloist played, cymbals clashed and a youth orchestra performed stirring Formula One-themed music as the team put on a show before the serious work of testing starts in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday next week.
About 350 men and women from the racing department took their seats in the auditorium and were recognized as Ferrari’s “unsung heroes” by president Louis Camilleri.
“We all share a passion for the prancing horse,” Camilleri said. “We are all very conscious of the huge responsibilities that lie on our shoulders.”
Ferrari last won a drivers’ title with Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 and a constructors’ title in 2008.
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