Ferrari aim to capture first title since 2008 with radical F2012

2012 F1 season preview

Ferrari had little reason to be pleased with their 2011 campaign. For the second time in three years they managed just a single win during the season.

By their own high standards, Ferrari have been on the back foot since the new aerodynamic rules were introduced in 2009.

The radical and ungainly F2012 is their attempt at halting the slide – but it remains to be seen whether it is the answer to their problems.

Car 5: Fernando Alonso

It’s six years since Fernando Alonso won his last world championship.

He’s come tantalising close to adding a third on two occasions: in his fraught season with McLaren in 2007 and his first year with Ferrari in 2010.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012

Fernando Alonso is still seeking his third world championship

Following the disappointment of losing the title in the final race that year, Alonso’s hopes of challenging for the crown in 2011 were quickly dashed.

He remained on top form but the 150??? Italia was plainly not up to the task of regularly competing for wins. He often took the car to the peak of its potential and in doing so showed up a few other drivers with more competitive machinery.

The Alonso-Ferrari partnership was a long time coming but the two were clearly made for each other – a point reinforced by the length of Alonso’s current commitment to the team, taking him up to 2016, longer than that of any other driver on the grid.

The missing ingredient is a car capable of taking on Red Bull. Will the F2012 change that?

Car 6: Felipe Massa

Speculation was rife last year that Ferrari would cut Felipe Massa’s contract short by a year and replace him with another driver this season.

They didn’t, and Massa remains with the team for his seventh year. But will it be his last with the Scuderia?

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012

Felipe Massa is under pressure after two poor seasons

Massa has conspicuously under-performed compared to his team mate since returning from injury at the beginning of 2010. Last year Alonso reached the podium ten times while Massa never finished higher than fifth.

Several drivers have been tipped to take over his seat including Ferrari development driver Sergio Perez and the injured Robert Kubica.

It remains to be seen whether Massa has it in him to produce the kind of performances necessary to save his seat in F1.

He certainly enjoys the backing of his team mate. Last year Alonso said he was “extremely happy” to have Massa in the team.

Certainly, Massa seems unlikely to give Alonso much competition for the drivers’ title, and even if he did the team would no doubt tell him to get out of the way again. But how long will Ferrari be prepared to put up with Massa squandering points in the constructors’ championship?

Ferrari F2012

Ferrari’s sole win of 2011 came at Silverstone, in a race where the FIA introduced a one-off limit on the use of exhaust-blown diffusers.

By that time the poor performance of the 150??? Italia, which was particularly weak on harder tyres, had prompted the sacking of technical director Aldo Costa.

Ferrari can expect some of the off-season changes to play into their hands, such as the restrictions on exhaust blowing and Pirelli’s introduction of even softer tyre compounds.

But they still need to raise their game with the F2012. Hence the new car is the product of a design team which is now headed by former McLaren man Pat Fry.

Even by the standards of 2012 cars, the box-nosed F2012 with its prominent step is an ugly beast. But performance takes priority over aesthetics.

Having taken longer than most teams to follow Red Bull’s lead in adopting pull-rod suspension at the back of the car, Ferrari has embraced the concept totally with their new machine and are using it at the front and rear.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012

Ferrari need the F2012 to be as quick as it is ugly

The new car needed to be a radical departure from its predecessor and the F2012 certainly looks the part. But it’s given Ferrari a lot to do in the off-season and it’s been hard to discern much front-running potential in the car, unlike that of its Red Bull and McLaren rivals.

Of course we should be wary about reading the testing times and lap counts as they can flatter to deceive – just as they did for Ferrari last year, when they turned up at the first race of the season and discovered they were over a second per lap off the pace.

This is not a team which is accustomed to losing. It’s now four years since Ferrari last got their hands on a trophy.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has made no secret of his opposition to F1’s cost-cutting measures including restrictions on testing. Over the winter Ferrari and Red Bull broke ranks with the other teams over the Resources Restriction Agreement.

If Ferrari’s lack of championship success continues, expect them to increase their demands to be allowed to plough more of their considerable resources into taking the trophies back to Maranello.

Ferrari’s championship form

1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Championship position 2 2 3 1 6 4 1 4 2 5 4 5 2 3 4 6 2 1 1 1 2 1 10 5 1 1 2 2 4 4 2 3 2 3 4 4 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 2 1 1 4 3 3
Wins 3 7 7 2 1 5 0 2 2 1 5 0 1 3 0 2 0 1 0 4 2 1 0 3 6 6 4 5 6 0 2 3 4 1 2 0 2 1 3 6 0 0 0 1 1 3 5 6 6 10 9 15 8 15 1 9 9 8 1 5 1

Ferrari in 2012: Your view

Will Ferrari be able to contend for the championship in 2012? Can Massa reverse his slump in form?

Have your say in the comments.

2012 F1 season preview

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Images ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Jamey Price/F1 Fanatic

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54 comments on Ferrari aim to capture first title since 2008 with radical F2012

  1. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd March 2012, 5:49

    I honestly don’t think that Ferrari are struggling. McLaren and Red Bull are fine-tuning the finer details of their setups and development. Ferrari have gone for a new concept aerodynamically and mechanically and they are at the stage of time when they actually need to gather data and also find a BASELINE setup; let alone the finer details.

  2. W-K (@w-k) said on 3rd March 2012, 14:36

    On the Beeb and Autosport it has been anounced that the Ferrari press officer Luca Colajanni, has said the teams drivers press conferences are cancelled for today (Massa) and tomorrow (Alonso).

    I read that pessimistically as “we don’t want the drivers slipping up and saying how bad this car really is”

  3. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd March 2012, 15:45

    Hmm, Ferrari. Tough one.

    Regarding their driver line-up, well, specifically Massa, it’s a bit of a funny one. On the one hand, if having Massa perform as he has been doing is benefiting them in the long-run so they can support Alonso more for the WDC, fair enough. I’m sure Massa knows that and Alonso certainly does. I don’t think they’re too bothered about the WCC, they already get a hefty payout from FOM.

    Alonso is certainly one of the top two drivers as far as I’m concerned. Vettel is the other one. With the right machine he is a force to be reckoned with.

    If LdM doesn’t get his way again this year he will of course be talking to the media trying to pile the pressure on for things to change. If so he certainly won’t gain many friends round here. RBR managed to bag 4 titles in the past 2 years. If they can do it without demanding more resources surely Ferrari have it in them?

    • I’m not so sure about Massa. That guy has got speed locked in there somewhere. I still remember Schumacher in his first career couldn’t live with him at some circuits.
      I’m not convinced if the car is really good Alonso can just presume to beat him!!

      • Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 5th March 2012, 18:26

        Blackmamba, I totally agree with you about Massa, there is a lot of speed and skill in there.
        In his first season with Kimi he was critisised for simular reasons, such as his wet skills etc but in the following year he improved in all areas and trashed Kimi into the bargain. If Felipe is happy in the car, then Alonso beating him is not a given IMHO.

    • Palle (@palle) said on 4th March 2012, 18:37

      Massa haven’t been a good 2. driver for Alonso, as he almost never take points away from Alonso’s competitors to the title. So even if Ferrari don’t care about the construtors title, they should have changed Massa long ago – after 2010, where he didn’t contribute to Alonso’s campaign because he almost never took points from Webber or Vettel. The Contructors title is just as interesting, as the real battle in F1 is between the teams, starting with designing the car, the driver is merely the pilot – important yes, but Alonso don’t win the title in a bad Ferrari and he can affect the design team only so much. If You don’t agree, try to look up Newey and look at the number of titles he has contributed to and how he shifts the balance, when shifting team.

  4. SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 3rd March 2012, 16:41

    I hope Ferrari join the title fight this year – the more the merrier. It would be a shame if Alonso’s talent does not get the car it deserves too. Current testing form makes the F2012 look third fastest at best, but then with a raft of new design concepts for this year, the team should be better off looking for setup data rather than outright speed. What makes me apprehensive is that the quality of car development over the past 4-5 years has deteriorated at Maranello – they no longer demonstrate the technical prowess they did in the Byrne/Brawn/Todt/Schumacher era.

    But I have confidence in Alonso’s ability to get a team to work around him and gradually evolve into a champion squad – the changes in team management and in the aero department look promising on paper. I’m hoping that they have managed to turn things around quickly and deliver a car that is atleast within striking distance of the championship.

    Oh and if the F2012 wins the title or atleast remains in contention all year, Massa’s career will be defined one way or the other. That’s for sure.

  5. Solo (@solo) said on 3rd March 2012, 19:49

    Hmm..if they completely miss the ball they will be crying and nagging about things they want changed to their benefit and will make the sinning of the new concord agreement and them trying to **** the other teams even more complicated.
    If they win then they will feel even more like they are the top of the world as usual and be arrogant as hell during the concord agreement.
    So yeah the best scenario is probably if they are in the same position they were last year.

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