Catching many pundits by surprise, Ferrari's latest F1 car, the F60, made its entrance to the 2009 world championship in understated style during a low-key launch and roll-out spread between Maranello and Mugello on Monday [12 January].
Once again the first team to take the wraps off what will form the basis of its 2009 title bid, Ferrari unveiled its 55th attempt at a single-seater for the top flight of international motorsport, representing its interpretation of the sweeping regulation changes that come into force this year. The name F60, by the way, deviates from recent policy of naming the car after the year in which it competed, with the F2007 and F2008 superseded by a moniker chosen to celebrate the Scuderia's participation in all 60 editions of the F1 world championship since 1950.
The project, which goes by the internal code name of 660, also differs vastly from last year's constructors' title winner. As far as the aerodynamics are concerned, the modifications result from the rules drafted by the FIA's Overtaking Working Group - in collaboration with the teams - to encourage more overtaking.
The larger front wing - the focus of many a jibe since BMW Sauber unveiled its version in winter testing - has a neutral central profile, which will be common to all, leaving development to focus mainly on the side elements. The rear wing, meanwhile, is both higher and narrower than in the past, with the accompanying diffuser moved rearward.
The combination of changes initially led the preparatory design phase down radically different routes when it came to penning the car's sidepods and protection components. The bodywork can no longer carry the slotted apertures that had characterised Ferrari cars over the past few years, and remaining apertures have been both reduced in size and moved rearward, while the upper and rear elements are larger to aid the exit of air.
Other aerodynamic devices are also significantly reduced, with the complete removal of extraneous 'flip-ups', 'turning vanes' and such like. The new rules have even led to modifications to the tried and trusted suspension area, as these elements can no longer be enclosed to the same extent. As a result, the suspension system and the whole layout of the car have been redesigned in order to achieve the best possible weight distribution.
The design also takes into account two other significant changes that feature in the 2009 regulations - the possibility of using a kinetic energy recovery system [KERS] and the reintroduction of slick tyres. The KERS on the F60 was designed by Ferrari in collaboration with Magneti Marelli and is centrally mounted on the engine under the rear part of the chassis.
Along with the alteration in wing design, the return to tyres without grooves is also down to the work of the OWG, as is the introduction of a flap on the front wing that can be adjusted by the driver when the car is moving. The software for managing this tool, as well as the KERS, was designed in Maranello.
Additionally, the transmission has been redesigned to optimise the aerodynamic efficiency of the car. The gearbox casing is again made in carbon and is still positioned longitudinally, while the gearbox itself is fitted with a speed shifter. Finally, there is also a new braking system, with callipers designed by Brembo.