Ferrari became only the second team to complete an online launch this season, as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen took the wraps off of the latest product of Maranello yesterday afternoon. The F14T was named by the fans yet has split the community in two, with some suggesting that it is the best looking car to be unveiled so far, while others feel that its unbalanced look negatively impacts from an aesthetic standpoint. However, if it is quick when it hits the tarmac, Ferrari fans will quickly forget any aesthetic downsides.
|The F14T features a more conventional nose – at least in terms of this season so far
Aesthetically Pleasing… Almost
Well, noses have been the talk of the week so far and while the Ferrari design is again, highly unique, it looks much more natural than that of their rivals – And that is a positive thing. The nose is clinically finished, without a Mclaren-esque extension, despite featuring two vertical spars. However, these are shorter than those featured on the MP4-29.
The more controversial section of the car comes in the joint section of the front wing and chassis. In compliance with the lowered chassis and nose height, the team have opted for a dramatic slope as oppose to the gradual gradient featured on the cars unveiled so far. The gradient is not as dramatic as the step nose, yet it is still considered to be an eye-sore by many fans. It has also contributed to a somewhat unbalanced look as the front end of the car appears unstable and Ferrari fans will hope that this does not translate to on-track performance. It seems unlikely that the team would make a fundamental balance mistake, yet it will be interesting to see if the dramatic nose ‘dip’ is of aerodynamic help or hindrance.
Meanwhile, many of the Tifosi have expressed a slight distaste at the livery, which features an expansive area of black around the exhaust region – Ferrari fans feel that a Ferrari should be entirely red. However, this is very much a subjective viewpoint and I personally relish the contrast of colours; (now I sound like an art student!)
Also at the rear of the car, Ferrari have opted for the single support pillar for the rear wing almost identical to that of McLaren. This is as a replacement for the lower beam wing, yet is something that Williams have not opted to include. Yet another area of the car where wind-tunnels and designers have disagreed. Another interesting development is the sidepods, where small air intakes have been fitted. These do look reminiscent of Sauber’s ill-fated sidepod design last season, so Ferrari will hope that they do not suffer similar aerodynamic inefficiencies.
The Last Role of the Dice
Stefano Domenicalli has been a man under-pressure for several seasons now, as the high expectations of the Tifosi have not been met. The Italian media may love their team, but they are not shy of dishing out the criticism as they demand achievement. However, with Kimi Raikkonen joining Fernando Alonso at Ferrari for 2014, the Scuderia probably have their best chance of claiming one or even two titles since their last double crown in 2007.
The signing of Raikkonen appears to be the last role of the dice before the likely arrival of Sebastian Vettel in 2015. Raikkonen is very much a short term solution, yet a strong one indeed. The partnership with Alonso has the potential to cause explosions within the team, but Ferrari are seemingly prioritizing the constructors title over the potential for drivers success. While rival teams have opted for a clear number one and two driver for the coming season, by electing two equal competitors, Ferrari are banking on constructors glory. However, it will only become a reality if the F14 T is a good baseline, with a promising development strategy, (and no correlation issues.)
Luce Di Montezemolo expressed his desire for Ferrari to end their five year streak without obtaining the silverware at yesterday’s event. The Italian stated, “I’m confident because I think we have a strong team, and I think we have all the ingredients to be a successful. We have two very strong drivers; I’m pleased to have Kimi back because Kimi has been the last driver to win the Championship with us, and Fernando has made fantastic seasons achieving second place in three of the last four years.”
Allison’s Magic Touch?
Another factor which could make the F14 T a force to be reckoned with is the influence of James Allison. After leaving Enstone last year, the Brit rejoined Ferrari and became the teams Chassis Technical Director, taking some of Pat Fry’s responsibilities. It is hoped that Allison’s experience will aid the wind-tunnel to track transitions, which have been plagued by correlation issues in the past few years, which Pat Fry has struggled to address. Fry, Allison and Byrne as a combined force are particularly strong. Di Montezemolo has also declared his early opinions in regards to his new technical team, stating; “I have a lot of confidence in new technical director James Allison and in the work that our people have made with the engine.”
The F14 T is possibly the best looking car to be unveiled yet, but with yet another different interpretation of the latest Formula One rulebook, it is yet to be seen whether Ferrari have gone in the right direction this winter. Jerez is sure to be full of surprises, and Maranello will hope that their nightmares do not become a reality.