Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

On This Day: 12th January 2009 - Ferrari launch celebratory F60 // Recognising sixty years in Formula One

Published by Christine

Three years ago, to this very day, Ferrari were launching their new car for the 2009 season - the F60. A change of chassis numbering reflected the team celebrating their 60th year in the sport, and they were coming off the back of a Constructor’s Championship the previous season. In fact, they had secured the previous two constructor titles, and would have also been defending double driver’s titles too, if not for that very last emotional minute at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

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Regardless of the end result, Ferrari had been competitive for two years, were fielding a strong driver lineup, and felt they had the car to produce the goods. At the launch, then Technical Director Aldo Costa revealed that the new contender was not just an iteration of the previous version, adapted to fit the new regulations.

It's a completely new car, starting from a white piece of paper. Fundamentally the biggest changes come from the new rules from an aerodynamic point of view and the introduction of new technology, which is the KERS system. Because of that we had to start work pretty early and to review the main concept of the car, so it was a very very intense and long job.

- Aldo Costa

A long job it most certainly was, as the complete redesign in aesthetic and technical terms meant Ferrari were starting from a clean slate, as were all teams lining up on the grid that day. Higher rear wings, lower front wings, and less fiddly appendages on the body meant the Ferrari was simpler looking and ready to race.

Unfortunately, when the action did get going in Australia, it became clear that though the car may have been ready to race, it certainly wasn’t up to the challenge. There were no points scored by either driver for the team until the fourth round of the season, and even then Bahrain only offered them a scant third place for Kimi Räikkönen. Teammate Felipe Massa had already notched up two retirements, and the statisticians were hard at work proclaiming 2009 to be the worst start to a season for Ferrari in their entire history.

Gradually, the Scuderia started to turn things around, and there was a run of points for Felipe Massa until he was forced out of the season by a serious accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Neither of his replacements - Luca Badoer, swiftly followed by Giancarlo Fisichella - could score any points.

It was left to Kimi to secure the team’s only victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, more by luck than judgement, and the Italian squad finished the season fourth overall. Kimi abandoned not only the ship but the entire shipping lane, to be replaced by Fernando Alonso and the team kept on moving forward. Despite a 1-2 victory at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix, the following season wasn’t all that much better for Ferrari. Their performances improved but so had the competition. Facing off increasing pace from McLaren and Red Bull, Ferrari ended the season third, with a similar story for 2011 also.

Whilst McLaren are famed for their ability to adapt their car and develop their way up the field, if necessary, Ferrari seem to have stalled mid-season for the past few years. Whereas once they were dominant, now that there is competition to be had, the red team have been left floundering. For 2012, they start as the third best team, with a driver lineup that they themselves only have 50% faith in. The entire team is currently attending the annual Wroom event, a team-building and media exercise in Italy. There are plenty of quotes filtering out from the drivers and the team regarding their hopes and aspirations for the next 12 months. Although the launches have not yet happened, perhaps this year they can build a car that will propel them to the front of the pack again. Fernando Alonso certainly thinks this might be the case:

The team has been working more effectively and in a more efficient way in the last couple of months, so I think the results, if they come, they should come immediately. I don't think we need any time. Last year we had problems with the wind tunnel, some issues with correlation. This year, if we get over our wind tunnel issues, the results should come, and if we do a good job we are able to win races.

- Fernando Alonso

The question is, when the season begins in mid-March, and the action gets underway in Australia, will they be able to do the talking out on track as well as on the ski-slope?