January 25, 2006 To say Ferrari had a bad year in racing in 2005 is an understatement. Going into the year with six consecutive constructors titles and five consecutive drivers titles, Ferrari finished a distant third in the constructors championship and Schumacher’s claim on being best ever slipped when he too finished a third with Alonso more than doubling his points haul. Ferrari's President, Luca di Montezemolo was very clear in his pronouncement as the 2006 Ferrari F1 machinery and staff were introduced to the media at Autodrome Mugello yesterday: "After having lost two titles at the last round, in 1997 and 1998, and six consecutive world crowns, I don't want the 2005 results to seem like the end of an era. We have lived through some incredible years. Last year we suffered a little from the successive rule changes but now we are looking ahead. We want to get back to winning ways.” Accordingly, Ferrari showed a completely new car.
"It is right to change", began the President in reference to the new location, "to give priority to the track and to work without losing precious time. Today is an important day as we are presenting a car that is the fruit of a precise project that takes into consideration the regulations and experience of the past years.”
Montezemolo recalled Ferrari’s history over recent years and the aim for 2006 was to get back to a championship challenging position. "The 2006 norms are an improvement, we think", continued Montezemolo commenting on the modifications made by the Federation.
"The qualifying format will be more exciting and the tyre changes are back. We also agree with the changes planned for 2008. Formula 1 has to guarantee overtaking, it has to be an arena for experimenting with extreme technologies and, at the same time, optimise costs with cuts made to superfluous spending. The FIA is going in the right directions and we adhere to this philosophy as it fits with our ideas of Formula 1. It is a sport in which we have always been involved and in which we will continue to be.”
The President then reflected on the Scuderia's drivers: "we have on the teamDomenicali a man like Michael Schumacher, who I consider to be the best driver who has ever driven for Ferrari, not only in terms of speed but also of consistency. Michael bonds with the team even when things are not going well and is able to pull out extraordinary performances that we all remember. He has perhaps built something unrepeatable at Ferrari. Now we have Massa, a young driver of enormous potential who has been with us for years. Working with Michael will help him very much and it was right to keep up with the generational changes Formula 1 is witnessing."
Montezemolo then spoke about the technical changes: "We are living in times of significant change from a technological point of view. We had been fans of the V12 for many years and then, in the mid-1990s, were forced to switch to V10 engines with which we had great success. Now we are back to the V8s that we last used in 1964 when we won with Surtees. It is a big challenge in terms of power and reliability. It drives us all on to do our best along with our partners and technical suppliers.”
The President continued: "we are working with the Centro Ricerche Fiat, our technical partners who work on the 8 cylinder roadgoing engine, and all our partners, especially Bridgestone and Shell, to develop the engine and get the most from the car. It is pleasing to have just renewed a contract with an extremely important partner like Acer, who supply cutting edge resources. Martini Racing is another major partner and a name that is historic in racing and a symbol of made in Italy.”
The traditional press conference held at the presentation of the new single-seater that will compete in the Formula 1 world championship began with the engineers who have developed the car over the past months -Aldo Costa, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne. Byrne opened and underlined how his role in the company was changing. He was progressively filling a consultancy role for all the new House of Maranello projects and, in particular, regarding the engineering of the cars.
Alda Costa – creator of the 248 F1
Then came Aldo Costa, creator of the 248 F1, to reflect on Byrne's role and the characteristics of the car in detail. He declared, "it was mainly to do with the V8 engine and we imposed a radical change from both a mechanical and aerodynamic point of view. The aerodynamics are still at a preliminary stage and will be until the first race of the season.”
“As regards the chassis, this is totally new, above all in the centre section. We decided on this in order to optimise the weight distribution and lighten the entire structure. The same goes for the suspension, especially in the completely redesigned rear end. The transmission too is all new (though constructed from composite materials) and also the differential. In building these two new elements in particular, we had to pay close attention to the characteristics of the V8. The greater vibrations generated by the engine brought more initial problems.”
The gathered journalists then asked questions to which Brawn replied that "from the midway point of last season when we realised we could not challenge for the top spots, we began concentrating more on development, especially the blend of the aerodynamic configuration and the characteristics of the new V8. Despite the progress that the Bridgestone tyres have made with the reintroduction of tyre changes, we expect to see lap times that are a second or two slower than last year.”
In conclusion, and related again to the tyre issue, Brawn responded to newsprint journalists and emphasised how having Bridgestones this year would be an advantage as they will supply four teams, enabling Ferrari to compare development and the progress being made with other Bridgestone teams. This was a luxury Bridgestone could not offer in 2005 and in many ways, was the crucial element in Ferrari’s downfall.
Paolo Martinelli discusses theV8
Paolo Martinelli is Ferrari’s Formula 1 Engine Director, and Gilles Simon, the head of planning and engine development. Martinelli and Simon faced the journalists next.
"It is a totally new project", said Martinelli, adding that, “it is also a return to the past, as the name of the car demonstrates. “
“We started working on this engine midway through 2004 and then tested it on the bench. Last August it made its first outing, at Fiorano, and in the autumn of 2005 we completed the V8. Now we are close to the final version. Obviously, in the course of the season we will have to cope with a very steep learning curve.”
Gilles Simon's said, "the calculations were made long ago and even if the regulation changes were related to us rather late in the day, fundamental modifications such as the selection of the centre of gravity had already been made."
"The rules outline global constraints but do allow a lot of space for projectual experimentation", continued Martinelli. "The 90° angle was our choice as was settling on the minimum weight for the non-moving parts. The real challenge, however, was lightening the weight of the moving components.”
"For the first time in ten years a drop in performance was recorded and this was fundamental. The change in power meant some greater investment, but,in the long run, it will be more economical. The overall output of the engine remains unchanged and so some factors were the same as on the V10.”
Martinelli also revealed that there had been some dialogue between the engineers who work on road-going cars and those who concentrate on racing models. "We met the people who work on GTs and exchanged opinion in analysing problems and the methods to resolve them. It was by no means a one-way communication."
"We were certainly on shared ground", added Simon. "However, there are many differences, for example in our time schedules. We made a lot of input and so did they. It was a process of cross contamination.”
Todt: "The 248 will be a great stimulus for us all"
Jean Todt is the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team's Direttore Generale. Todt responded to the questions posed by the international media at the press conference to present the new 248 F1. "Seeing the new car", he began, "with the new sponsor logos and, above all, the numbers 5 and 6, is a return for us to a distant past. It will be a great incentive to improve. The entire squad wants to get back to top spot.”
As to the performance of the new car, Todt was quite cagey. He stated that he was hopeful but, at the same time, waiting for the real test against the other teams. Responding to a question regarding his future with Ferrari after 2006, the Direttore Generale preferred to stay on theme and discussed the team's chances in the coming season.
Testing until the start of the season
The detailed test programme was shown to the press pack – Barcelona, Valencia, Bahrain and Jerez before the start of the season. These tests will see the 248 on track, a car that now only exists as a single example, flanking last year's model. Todt had some words of praise for Ferrari's new driver, Felipe Massa. It was revealed that he was a very fast learner, a humble person and who displayed a good work ethic in a team. Massa should be completely at ease with the squad in a short space of time. As to Valentino Rossi testing the new car at Valencia, Todt stated, “this may be possible, but not 100% definite."
New number two driver, Felipe Massa
The first of the drivers to take the microphone was the latest to join the team, Brazilian Felipe Massa. Naturally, he declared that he was enthusiastic at making his debut with the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro during such a prestigious occasion as the presentation of the new single seater.
In response to questions about his first impressions of the 248 F1, Massa revealed, "the freezing temperatures over the past few days have made it impossible to effect real and proper tests. I have to say though, that the car is well balanced. The new engine has already proved to be particularly reliable and is surprisingly high performing.”
As to the aims for the upcoming season, Massa wants to claim his first podium place and maybe even a victory. He is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, however, and has not forgotten that the main objective is to collect as many points as possible for the team. The sensation of heading in the right direction, for the Brazilian, is testimony to the fact that, despite the pressure of his status as the newcomer, Felipe is extremely calm. He is also motivated and confident of doing well in a team that he knows well having been a test driver since 2001. The driver himself has underlined how this experience has been fundamental in his professional growth.
Official test driver, Luca Badoer
There has been a great deal of speculation about the future of Luca Badoer who went on to assure the gathered press that he would be continuing in his role as an official Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro test driver, rather than leaving to take up a place as an official driver in another team.
Talking of test drivers, the observations of Luca Badoer could not be missed. Badoer stated that all his work over the last year would bear fruit in the coming season. "This is also because the new V8 will surely change as the season nears so the races will be approached from the driver's point of view. More emphasis will be placed on the human element, rendering the new Formula 1 single seater more similar to a kart", declared the driver from Veneto.
Schumacher: "The first signs are positive"
Closing for the drivers was the eagerly awaited Michael Schumacher. After opening by stating that he did not feel like a driver close to retirement, the German then reflected on the new car and stated that "it has already given positive results in the little testing that it has been possible to carry out here.”
“Despite the fact that only a few laps were run”, he continued, “the car seemed well balanced and enjoyable to drive even though it is less powerful."
"Certainly, we will have to wait until the race to see how the strategies are modified", he replied to an English journalist querying the effect of the new set up and the new regulations.
"Sticking to talking of the rules", continued Schumacher, "I believe that Bridgestone have worked very well on the tyres. This is not only due to the fact that tyre changes have returned (and from a certain point of view this is a benefit) but that the structure of the mixtures have changed from the problematic ones of last year, especially in qualifying. As to the engine, many have asked me how it will change the style of driving with a V8. It is a question to which I always answer in the same way: that there will not be such a big difference. It is like going back to the levels of power we had ten years ago. What I think will alter radically is the race strategy and not the style of driving.”
To conclude, he spoke of his relationship with his new driving partner and the fact that Valentino Rossi could test at Valencia shortly. Michael revealed that he had a good relationship with Massa, who was a driver he feels is one of the most talented youngsters on the circuit. Schumacher deflected further questioning about the F1 future of the Moto GP world champion, preferring to focus on the season to come.