With Ferrari being the first of the Formula One teams to unveil their 2010 design fans and media alike got their first look at how the new rule changes will change the look of the cars that will take to the grid in Bahrain in March.
However, while to the naked eye the new car looks much like the 2009 design (though not necessarily the Ferrari design) it is clear the new regulations present new challenges, as a trio of the team's engineers described at the F10's launch.
Technical director Aldo Costa began by describing the unknowns about the new tyres, which are narrower to balance the grip given by slick tyres and last year's aerodynamic changes.
“As far as the tyres are concerned it hasn't happened very often that we came to the first test with a new car with tyres we've never seen before, never used and never tested. This year we're racing after only four tests. We're confident that Bridgestone has done some excellent work, but with changing the compound four tests might not be enough.”
Chief Designer Nicholas Tombazis points out the changes needed to take advantage of the first change many will notice watching the races. “We also worked to speed up the change of tyres. In the
last years the refuelling limited us, but this year this is different, so we worked, regarding the pit stop, on the change of tyres.”
However, as designer Grecian Tombazis also had to deal with the need for a larger fuel tank in the car. “In aerodynamics rear downforce is harder to find. We're always looking to improve the car's efficiency to improve the performance. As far as the car's set up is concerned we do have some doubts about it, due to the fact that we haven't used the new tyres yet. The KERS is gone, but the minimum weight has been raised. There's more ballast to adjust the weight in case there were problems with the distribution.”
“In reality last year [KERS] worked very well, although it did create a certain deficit on the car's overall package. That fact that it's gone made us lose a performance delta, but by space-saving we gained what we lost with the KERS. The volume of the tank is much bigger than of the KERS.”
The third engineer, Luca Marmorini, in his first year as head of engines and electronics, is (naturally enough) primarily concerned with how the new rules will affect the powerplants, especially with the engine freeze still in effect.
“This year we won't have any refuelling and the motor mechanics went to use the engines in ranges they hadn't thought of before,” he says. “That's an interesting challenge in terms of performance research in the light of the 2010 rules. The motor mechanic's intervention can be found in the engine's use, because the rules don't allow modifications of internal parts, so it will be really interesting to see the results.”
But perhaps the biggest question was about 2009, did they feel it was the right decision to halt development on the car last year in favour of starting work for this season.
“We think that it was necessary to interrupt working on the F60's development, also because we didn't have the possibility to win the Championship,” Costa explains. “Now we're trying to forget last year and concentrate on 2010.”
“We analysed the reasons why we weren't strong enough last year – car, organisation, approach. The development data regarding aerodynamics, simulator and test stand makes us think that lots of development has been done.”