Ferrari faced a less-than-stellar season in 2011, claiming only one victory and coming a distant third in the Constructor’s Championship. Luca di Montezemolo promised an “aggressive” approach in 2012, and it seems that he stuck to his word. A sketch of what the car will look like has been released over the internet. It is unclear whether Ferrari revealed this sketch intentionally or not, but even this simple sketch (below) says a lot about the 2012 Ferrari Car.
Although this is a relatively simple, rear three-quarters view of the chassis, there is a lot to be learned from this picture. Some obvious characteristics of the 2012 car include the exhaust pipes protruding from the body in front of the rear suspension. All teams will have a set-up similar to this, as the blown floors have been banned for the 2012 season, and the exhaust pipes can no longer blow exhaust fumes to the floor. Also, one can notice the “third wing,” located to the right and left of the steering wheel. I was surprised to see such large wings on the Ferrari, and I was reminded of the aero-aid madness of 2007-2008 when I first saw it. However, I haven’t seen any regulation changes that would allow these new wings, so I was perplexed as to why Ferrari have been able, or have chosen to fit them to the car this year. Perhaps they could be for additional safety from a side-impact, or maybe they are indeed basic aero aids. If teams are now allowed to use wings like these to create downforce, one can expect every car on the grid to have similar wings.
Some less noticeable, but still dramatic changes are the front wing, the sidepods, and the front suspension. Since 2009, Ferrari have typically gone with a straighter, higher nose relative to their rivals. In the sketch above, one can notice that the nose seems to dip down in front of the front axle, which may hint at a change in aero strategy by Ferrari. What most interests me about this sketch is the packaging of the radiators in the sidepods. If you look closely, you can see that the floor of the car is actually a couple of inches wider than the body work. Ferrari must have done an incredible job to package their radiators in such a way that they could have so much room on the side. The sidepods also seem to be quite high, which sparks images in my head of the Ferrari 641 from 1990, but I don’t want to get myself too excited about it. Ferrari seems to have taken inspiration from McLaren, as the sidepods seem to have been cutaway slightly on the inside, similar to what McLaren had on their MP4-26. Finally, a note on the suspension. There are rumors on the internet that the 2012 Ferrari will have pull-rod suspension for both the front and rear, meaning they would be the first to do so. Most teams on the grid run a pull-rod rear, but Ferrari could be the first team to do both front and rear if they choose to run that suspension set up this year.
Ferrari had promised an exciting, aggressive car for the 2012 season, and even from this simple sketch one can tell that they were serious. Ferrari need to win a championship, not only for themselves but also for the sake of the tifosi, and for Formula 1 as a whole. With their 2012 car, it certainly seems that they are taking innovative risks in order to achieve this goal.