Faltering Ferrari pin hopes on new car
Ferrari will on Tuesday officially unveil their new car for the 2006 Formula One season which they hope will recapture the title from Renault.
The presentation takes place in the small town of Mugello near the northern city of Florence.
The car has already been seen having made an unexpectedly early debut at Fiorano on January 16 where seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher drove it for 51 laps. It was then tested by Ferrari’s new number two driver Felipe Massa at the same circuit last Friday.
The 2006 model is more compact and lighter than last year’s car which won just one race — the six-car debacle at Indianapolis — and ended up third in the standings behind Renault and McLaren.
The early performances of the new car has raised Ferrari’s hopes of being more competitive this season, while an additional boost comes from the return of tyre changes after a year’s absence.
Bridgestone supplied Ferrari’s tyres in 2004 when changes were last allowed and the Italian team dominated. But last year the tyres had to last for an entire race and Ferrari relinquished the constructors’ title for the first time since 1999 and the drivers’ crown for the first time since 2000.
Bridgestone makes its tyres differently from Michelin, who last year supplied Renault and McLaren. Michelin made their tyres specifically to last a full Grand Prix, but with tyre changes allowed once again, longevity is less important.
Massa believes the new tyre rules has increased Ferrari’s chances of reclaiming both titles.
"Everyone knows we had a difficult year with tyres last year, but the rule change will help us," said the Brazilian who has replaced compatriot Rubens Barrichello.
In another rule change aimed at reducing costs and improving safety, engines of all the cars have been reduced in size from the previous 3-litre V10s to 2,4-litre V8s.
Schumacher, who joined Ferrari in 1996 and whose current contract expires at the end of this year, may quit if he has another poor season.
"If I have no chance of winning a race and challenging for the title, I don’t think I’ll want to carry on my career," said the 37-year-old earlier this month.