Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes this season’s regulation changes represent the biggest shake-up in Formula One in the past decade, and has indicated reliability rather than sheer pace could be the key to the 2014 title.
The Scuderia took the wraps off their new car, the F14-T, in an online launch yesterday with the message coming out of Maranello very much a simple one: this is the year to deliver.
The team’s most recent drivers’ title came back in 2007 and since then Ferrari have been denied the sport’s biggest prize by McLaren, Brawn GP and, for the last four seasons, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel.
This year marks Ferrari’s opportunity to finally wrest the initiative from their rivals, with a swathe of regulation changes set to affect both the performance and reliability of the entire grid.
Domenicali said: “The technical challenge is, as far as I remember, the biggest challenge I have seen in the last decade of Formula One. Connected to the challenge is the opportunity to make sure this is taken in the right way.”
This year’s cars will all be fitted with 1.6-litre V6 engines rather than the 2.4-litre V8 of the past few seasons, although it is the significant changes to aerodynamics that will provide the biggest visual indicator of the wholesale revisions to the regulations.
The past few days have already seen three teams adopt differing approaches to the new restrictions regarding the dimensions of frontend designs, with Williams and McLaren showcasing designs with a sharply tapered nose tip, and Lotus unveiling a radical two-pronged design.
Ferrari, too, have come up with a design that is arresting on the eye, with the F14-T sporting a wider, flatter design than those of its rivals.
The rear wing also marks a radical departure from 2013, with three major rule changes ensuring a much smaller design overall.
But it is the changes under the bodywork that appear set to provide the biggest shake up, with the bulletproof reliability of recent seasons under threat from the engine regulation changes and amend-ments to the mandatory energy recovery system.
Domenicali added: “The season will be very long. Therefore it is important to start with a reliable car from the beginning and to keep up the development on the dynamics side, something that was not there last year.
“I expect the first days of testing to be very challenging for everyone. There will be a lot of things to be tested and a lot of things to be checked, but the most important thing we need to avoid is to fall under the big pressure that we have.
“We need to stay focused on the job and make sure we do the best that we can because the company has given to us and to the engineers everything in order to do a good job.
“Therefore, we need maximum concentration and to not be distracted by the enormous pressure and the belief of what Ferrari represent for us and for the world of F1.”
Ferrari will boast arguably the strongest driver line-up of any team this season with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso joined by returning Kimi Raikkonen, the man who last delivered the drivers’ title to Maranello.
For Alonso, the Finn’s arrival will represent a much sterner task than that provided by Felipe Massa over the last few years, although the Spaniard is looking forward to the challenge.
He said: “I think with Kimi and me as a team we should be quite strong because we’ve had some success in the past in our Formula One career.
“We will follow whatever the team priority is, and we try to do our best to win both championships and bring back some of the success Ferrari had in the past. To do that we need to work in perfect harmony.”
Raikkonen, who rejoins Ferrari from Lotus where he impressed said: “It is nice to come back to Ferrari, the place I won my championship. The aim is the same. I want to do the best I can, try to win races and championships.”