Italy’s Ferrari chases Formula One title with new 2018 racing car

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen insisted the new halo on Ferrari's 2018 car would not hinder performance as the Italian stable chases a first Formula One title in a decade.

Italy's Ferrari chases Formula One title with new 2018 racing car
Ferrari's new SF71H. Photo: Ferrari press office/AFP

The halo-fitted SF71H was presented at the team's headquarters in Maranello, four days before the start of pre-season testing at Barcelona.

For the fourth consecutive year 38-year-old Raikkonen and four-time world champion Vettel, 30, will spearhead the Scuderia's campaign.

“The halo looks different but to be honest we tried it last year and it wasn't a big difference,” Raikkonen said.

Vettel added: “I don't think the halo will bother, I think it's much less intrusive than I thought. We will all get used to using it.”

The Ferrari drivers' approach to the halo was in stark contrast to that of Tito Wolff, the team boss of bitter rivals and defending world champions Mercedes who earlier in the day said he couldn't stand the sight of the controversial head protection device.

“I'm not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chainsaw I would take it off,” said Wolf, who complained about the weight of the new device, at his team's official launch.

“I think we need to look after the driver's safety, but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing and we need to come up with a solution that simply looks better.”

Ferrari's new car is painted in the traditional red livery, but unlike its predecessors with very little white.

“[The car] looks nice and usually when it looks nice, there's speed also,” added Raikkonen.

“Our goal is to always be faster. The car is excellent and next week we will know something more and we will understand how much work there is still to do,” added the Finn.

The new challenger has a longer wheelbase to move it more into line with rival Mercedes' design.

“We have kept the aggressive concepts. The SF71H has a tighter car body and has been built to perform in high-speed circuits,” said Ferrari's technical director, Mattia Binotto.

Ferrari were second in the 2017 championship and this season will bid to challenge four-time holders Mercedes.

“We're capable, I'm certain,” said team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

Ferrari have not won the constructors' title since 2008, with Raikkonen last winning the drivers title for Ferrari in 2007.

READ ALSO: For first time in 30 years, Italy's Alfa Romeo will return to Formula 1

All photos: Ferrari press office via AFP.


IN PHOTOS: Ferrari unveils its new car for the 2020 season

Ferrari unveiled its new SF1000 car on Tuesday at a ceremony in Italy's motor racing heartland of Emilia-Romagna, ahead of the coming Formula One season.

IN PHOTOS: Ferrari unveils its new car for the 2020 season
The new Ferrari SF1000. All photos: AFP/Ferrari press office

Ferrari unveiled its new SF1000 car for the 2020 Formula One season, which they hope will deliver a first world drivers title since 2007, during a glitzy ceremony on Tuesday.

The single-seater's name acknowledges the fact that the Italian team will start its 1,000th world championship race during the coming campaign, which begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

Narrower than last season's SF90, with a deeper red colouring the body, Ferrari is pinning its hopes on the SF1000 car earning them drivers and constructors titles that have eluded them for 12 and 11 years respectively.

“I like it very much,” said German driver Sebastian Vettel.”It's much narrower at the back than last year and it is also redder, it's even better. I'm impatient to drive it, that will be even more fascinating than looking at it.”

The Scuderia broke with tradition and presented its new racing car outside of its stronghold of Maranello, unveiling it instead amid of sea of red on stage at the Teatro Romolo-Valli in the nearby city of Reggio Emilia.

“This is a very important place for our country,” chairman of the Ferrari group John Elkann explained.
“It was in this city that the tricolour flag, which became that of Italy, was created. And Ferrari is proud of Italy and of representing Italy.”

“This is a very special year,” continued Ferrari Team Manager Mattia Binotto.

“It's 70 years of Formula One, we have been there from the start and we are going to reach the figure of 1,000 Grands Prix, which is something incredible.”

Barring a forced change in the calendar because of the deadly coronavirus in Asia, the milestone should be reached in June during the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

“Maybe it looks a lot like the SF90, but I can assure you it is very different,” continued Binotto.

“We still have to make progress, especially on reliability,” he added, recalling that Ferrari, like the other teams, had to face “the double challenge” of preparing the next season in parallel with the following one, when new rules will come into force.

Binotto stressed that this season veteran Vettel and 22-year-old Charles Leclerc, who impressed on his debut last season, would be starting on an equal footing.

“We have seen that they can both fight for the best results. They are both on the same level. It is up to them to race,” he added.

Last season, the association between the experienced Vettel and Leclerc often turned into a duel, coming to a head when the two drivers collided during the Brazilian GP.

But 22-year-old Leclerc, who won two races and finished fourth place in the world championship, said lessons had been learned.

“We have learned the lesson from Brazil. We are free to race, but we are teammates,” he said.

“A lot of people are working behind us, as a team, and things like Brazil should not happen.”

Both drivers said they were impatient to try out the new car, which will be on track next week for the pre-season testing in Barcelona.

“I felt emotional when I saw it,” said Monaco's Leclerc.

“Now I can't wait to be out on track and try it and to show all the work that has been done on this car. It's going to be a great challenge,” he added. “I'm ready to learn from my mistakes to become an even better driver.”