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Lack of results forced re-think - Ferrari

ESPNF1 Staff
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Felipe Massa put the first miles on the Ferrari F2012 on Tuesday © Getty Images
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Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis says the aggressive approach taken with the new F2012 was a reaction to several years of disappointing results for the Italian team.

The new Ferrari is a dramatic departure from last year's car and has drawn attention due to its rakish looks and pull-rod front suspension. It's the first car to be designed under the leadership of technical director Pat Fry, but Tombazis said the main driving force behind the new approach was a lack of results over the last few years.

"Pat has brought in at Ferrari a very pushing approach, but also, independent of the technical director, we did a lot of analysis about why we have not been performing as we would like in the last few years and we decided the only way forward was to be a lot more aggressive in our design," he said after the car's first day of running in Jerez. "I think it is too early this year to say if we can win or not, but one thing we cannot be accused of is being too tame with this car. We have chosen a very aggressive approach and I think that is very much influenced by Pat, but also by the analysis of our approach over the last few years."

Tombazis said the team "did not have an eye on the stopwatch" during the first day of testing on Tuesday as it had various solutions to try. He admitted the radical design meant there would be a heavier workload for the team during this year's pre-season tests.

"There are a huge number of things we need to check and that's why we have decided to spend the first few days trying to understand these parameters," he added. "Compared to a relatively tame evolution we have a lot more work to do."

The F2012 is the only car new car so far to feature pull-rod suspension at the front, which Tombazis believes will offer an aerodynamic gain despite having some downsides.

"The reason we did a pull-rod suspension is primarily aerodynamic," he explained. "We were obviously concerned about the various loads on the suspension and so on so we spent a lot of time making sure that we've done all our homework there. So the suspension in quite a few areas has had to be made more robust in order to overcome these loads. If you look at the car from a front view you see how the pull-rod and the top and lower wishbones form fairly irregular triangles in relation to each other, so in the end we found a solution that was a bit more loaded but nonetheless quite acceptable."

And despite a ban on blown diffusers this year, Tombazis said Ferrari spent a lot of time working on different exhaust solutions which will be tried out during testing.

"Exhausts are, generally speaking, very complicated to get right because they are not easy to simulate 100% in the wind tunnel or in CFD," he added. "Clearly last year we had a deficit in the way we got our exhaust to work. We didn't understand as much about it as our main opponents, which effectively was the price we paid last year. As a result we have done a lot more work for this year, which I don't want to go into too much detail about, but knowing that it's still not a perfectly exact science we've also decided to have a range of experiments to do so we can try and correlate and obtain the best picture."

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