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Ferrari's F2012 is a bold step - but is it enough?

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BBC Sport blog editor | 12:37 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

Chastened by the disappointments of 2011, Ferrari promised an "aggressive" approach to the design of their new Formula 1 car and they have not disappointed.

The new F2012, unveiled via the internet on Friday because of unusually heavy snow at the team's base in Maranello, is the most radical of the four new cars that have broken cover so far this season.

Many will also regard it as the most unattractive, featuring as it does a pronounced 'step' on the upper nose that even Ferrari themselves have described as "not aesthetically pleasing".

Fernando Alonso, the man on whose shoulders rest Ferrari's huge expectations, paused when asked for his impressions of the car and said, politely, that it "looks very different".

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It is a design that will feature, to a greater or lesser extent, on most of the F1 cars this season - with the notable exception of the McLaren which was unveiled on Wednesday.

The McLaren is undoubtedly more beautiful than the Ferrari but it also appeared a little conservative - a charge vigorously denied by the team. In fact, that is a charge Ferrari have levelled at their own recent efforts, and the Italian team's new car is certainly anything but.

There is no doubting Ferrari's ambition. "We want to go back to the top level," said the company's flamboyant president, Luca di Montezemolo. "We want to win. We don't want to lose the world championship at the very last race [as they did in 2010]. We have all the ingredients for a perfect recipe."

That remains to be seen. Certainly this season could not be more critical for the sport's most famous team.

The fact is that since a major set of new regulations were introduced into F1 in 2009, Ferrari have not produced a car that was right on the pace.

The 2009 car was uncompetitive - taking only a single win in Kimi Raikkonen's hands. The 2010 was their best stab yet, but even though Alonso took it to the brink of the world title, he was only able to do so because Red Bull, who had a faster car, made so many errors between the team and drivers.

Last year was not quite as bad as 2009, but still Alonso, a man regarded widely as the most complete racing driver in the world, was able to take only one win, despite producing what he said himself was his best season in F1.

It's not hard to see where Ferrari may have created a problem for themselves.

Having put such emphasis on the need to be competitive this year, on the need to rid their design department of what they described as its conservatism, what happens if this year's car does not live up to their expectations?

They have already dismissed one technical director. Aldo Costa - who was at the team through the glory years with Michael Schumacher - was pushed aside and replaced by ex-McLaren engineer Pat Fry.

Equally, Alonso has effectively committed his career to them. This is, as team boss Stefano Domenicali has said, a huge benefit - he is a gold standard and no failure of pace can be laid at his door. But that is a double-edged sword. If the car is not winning, it is clearly Ferrari's fault, not his.

"Fernando did an incredible, extraordinary season [in 2011]," Domenicali said on Friday. "He has extended his relationship with us for many years and that is a sign of the responsibility we feel - we have to offer you a competitive high-performing car. I'm sure it will be winning from the very beginning."

Ferrari's F2012: Is this the car that will complement the exceptional talents of driver Fernando Alonso?

A lot rests, then, on the performance of the F2012. Whether its stepped nose, pull-rod front suspension and exhaust exits angled low down will make it competitive remains to be seen, but it is at least clear what Ferrari are trying to do.

The ugly step on the nose will undoubtedly cause more airflow disruption on the top of the car than any other seen so far, but it also means that Ferrari can get the much more important bottom part of the chassis higher across its entire width.

In theory, that means more airflow under the car, and therefore increased downforce, the holy grail for all F1 designers.

However, according to BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson - a man with 20 years' experience of designing grand prix cars - the curved chassis underside that will result from the 'eye-let' design on the Force India is actually advantageous in terms of directing the air where it needs to go - under the floor.

The pull-rod front suspension - where the rocker arms run from the top of the wheel to the bottom of the chassis rather than the other way around - has advantages in that it gets the weight of the suspension lower down in the car, and Ferrari claim there is an aerodynamic benefit, too.

And it remains to be seen whether Ferrari's solution on exhaust exits - which look like remaining a key issue this year, despite the ban on exhaust-blown diffusers - is as effective as that of their rivals.

"I really believe in the skills we have here in Ferrari," Alonso said. "We have to be optimistic. We have two months to get ready for the first race in Australia. We have to fight for this title."

Alonso, Ferrari say, works more closely with the team than even Schumacher did. But he is a very demanding man, who expects the absolute best from those around him, just as he delivers it on the track.

If the F2012 does not go better than it looks, things will get very uncomfortable at Maranello.


  • Comment number 1.

    Wow, that Ferrari is almost as ugly as the BBCSky TV dealings for Formula Half from 2012 onwards...

  • Comment number 2.

    Hope it is reliable and goes like stink though, I want Ferrari and McLaren to take the fight to the Bulls as we know they'll be quick. The nose downforce better work in disrupted airflow round corners when behind other cars, it'd be a joke if it went the way of the old Ralf/JPM Williams walrus nose car.

    "Fernando Alonso said, politely, that it "looks very different".
    (While thinking I don't care if it looks like an Austin Allegro as long as it's a pole getting flying machine.)

    Go Go Fernando...

  • Comment number 3.

    I didn't think I would see f1 cars that looked so ungainly! The noses look like they have been built with lego! However, I am not a designer and if the Mclaren is slower as a result, then I will eat my words.
    Still, strange that one ledge on the car can make the whole thing look so dissapointing.

  • Comment number 4.

    Looks similar to the other 2 cars (Caterham & force India)...either McLaren have pulled a master stroke or they will look a little silly...we shall wait and see! wonder if it was the front end they meant when they said teams would question/complain about them....

  • Comment number 5.

    Swindonbluearmy has just got there before me :-) Was going to say the same thing.

    I guess the test will be the Red Bull car and how that looks. Fingers crossed it will work out well for McLaren as they do have some of the best engineers working for them.

  • Comment number 6.

    5. At 16:21 3rd Feb 2012, mpjacko wrote:
    Indeed, as they are my local(ish) team and have 2 brit drivers I want them to do well...although Vettel is someone I hate to love...Just can't dislike the guy! cant ruddy wait for the season to start

  • Comment number 7.

    as Gary Anderson put it himself, "if the car is ugly, it better be quick". sums it up really

  • Comment number 8.

    anyone else wonder how they are going to change these nose cones? i dont see any seams. looks like it could be trickier than the old ones if they are thinner.

  • Comment number 9.

    Are people suggesting the Ferrari looks ugly because of one bump, one feature of the whole car? I find that pretty pathetic. It like suggesting a road going Ferrari is ugly because of the shape of a rear light. F1 cars look amazing. Sure some look slightly better than others but to dismiss a car as ugly because of one detail is very odd if not disingenous. Unless I'm completely mistaken and people are genuinely suggesting every detail, every curve, every part of the car is ulgy. To suggest the F1 Ferrari looks ugly makes me wonder what people think of their own road car. Most of which, for more than one detail can be classed as downright ugly.

    Admittedly I prefer the nose of the McLaren more than the Ferrari, but I still think they both look amazing. Compared to those of the 80s and earlier decades cars from the last ten or so years look like works of art.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    I hate how the ever tightening rules have now lead to very little scope to have cars that differ greatly from each other.

    Now with the FIA's every growing stack of regulations we now have to look at these ugly looking things. I know F1 cars should stir your emotions , but all this is doing is making my stomach stir from the attempts from stopping myself vomit!

    Let's hope the look of F1 cars like this last for a short time and we can go back to have beautiful and quick F1 cars!

  • Comment number 12.

    Good job I'm choosing not to watch in HD!!!

    Think McLaren may have made a blunder, have they called the car the "A" for a reason, version B with a higher nose had better be around the corner...

  • Comment number 13.

    @10 lol, nice response to 9. You certainly would not say that was beautiful, but is your suggestion better than the reverse, that is the body of Susan Boyle and the face of Kelly Brook ;)

    The Ferrari is ugly, that's not to say it is not a beautiful piece of aero engineering based on the rules. Got to separate the two, beautiful looks and beautiful design that makes it fast. Lotus 49, now that is beautiful looks, beautiful design and beautiful how JC drifted it round fast bends.

    One thing though, I wouldn't want to lose a front wing that size and have it go under the car. It's massive with huge vertical struts. Could be a 360 flip at worst or it'll be a carbon fibre mess at best...

  • Comment number 14.

    the gorgous looking Concorde had a hooked nose for take offs and landings and is still the fastest passenger airliner to date

  • Comment number 15.

    What are everyone's thoughts on the McLaren? It's certainly the best looking car but we have now seen four car launches and three of them have the stepped nose design including Ferrari. I'm concerened McLaren may have made another design error which will take them half the season to rectify! I hope I am wrong but if the new Red Bull has the stepped nose as well I think McLaren are in trouble.

  • Comment number 16.

    At 15

    Maybe we should be thinking the opposite and say that McLaren has in fact pulled it off. Until the first test, we won't know for sure but it would be interesting if Andrew could get some thoughts from some ex-engineers on the differences we are seeing between the McLaren and the rest.

    Also, when will the Red Bull be released?

  • Comment number 17.

    At 16

    It's says on the Red Bull launch is on Monday so not long now to see what Newey has come up with!! Looking back, all Newey's cars have been fantastic looking with a lot of the innovations being hidden inside the car. I get what you mean on the McLaren design situation though, all the write ups are that they have gone too conservative and it is the Ferrari with all the innovation. Maybe the true innovation & design genius is that McLaren have created something that meets the new regulations whilst not compromising on looks and all in an extremely slick package?! After all, during r&d and wind tunnel testing they must have looked into the stepped nose design? Can't wait for season to start!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    That is one hideous looking car. Let's hope it is very fast, because the quicker it goes past and out of view, the better!

  • Comment number 19.

    The Italians choosing function over form EH !WHAT? Has Ferrari been bought by someone else? it's definately the ugliest F1 car eer seen.
    Can't wait to see what Adrian Newey has come up with no doubt it will be the bench mark, only a genius can make function look good.

  • Comment number 20.

    The rear end is beautifully sculpted, it's only the nose that is a bit unsightly. It's the automotive equivalent of Steffi Graf, I guess.
    If the Red Bull rolls out with the weird two-tier nose thing then I do worry that yet again McLaren will have got it wrong and will be playing catch up. Definitely it'll win the awards for looks, but if they've missed the trick and the car's a dud then it'll quickly be forgotten. Kind of like the automotive equivalent of Anna Kournikova.
    Will the Red Bull be Maria Sharapova - beautiful and quality - or Venus Williams - ghastly to look at, but terribly good.
    OK, I'm done with the female tennis analogies... I don't know where they came from....

  • Comment number 21.

    A lot of nose, bit too much, especially when you're negotiating passing manoeuvres on the first corner. I think this will backfire very badly on Ferrari

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm no engineer, but the Ferrari has a look of something that I built out of Lego when I was a kid...

  • Comment number 23.

    Well Ferrari have already designed the breadvan so perhaps this is the new Ferrari Coffeetable.
    If it wins races it will become a beautiful machine .....

  • Comment number 24.


    ferrari exists to win races , everything else is secondary , be it looks , politics or even the road cars think machiavelli lol

  • Comment number 25.

    Hope the rest of the field looks like the Mclaren not the ugly duck thing. Either McLaren are ahead of the Ferrari with their different nose or obivously far behind. I banking on McLaren to do well this year, they seem the team most likely to conquer Red Bull this year. Hope Sky figures are rubbish!

    Fingers crossed Newey has a shocker ;)

  • Comment number 26.

    Perhaps Ferrari have employed the old Skoda design team - that's the only possible explanation for such an ugly car. I bet its got a heated rear engine cover so that the mechanics keep their hands warm when pushing it - that's how innovative they have been.

    Joking aside only the first race will tell which cars are fast.

  • Comment number 27.

    I normally always say about this time of year "Well the Ferrari looks the best, it always does". But i haven't said that this year.
    Its pretty silly all this talk of aesthetics. Its as if the last few years Ferrari have just made a car look pretty, trying to justify that the reason the car looks nasty is because they thought about aerodynamics/setup etc.
    I really do hope Ferrari are able to challenge. If they pull it off, everyone will keep quiet, if not, they won't hear the end of it.
    My only fear is that Ferrari always seem to build a car that isn't as versatile in terms of setup, when compared to RedBull and McLaren. RedBull seem to have no problems with their tyres, maybe except for China and Japan. But you'd agree they are fine between the two tyres. McLaren are pretty good too across both compounds. Ferrari seem to be able to setup a solid pace on the softer tyre, but the hard tyre destroys them.

    I hope Ferrari's technical reshuffle, and new approach to the car has cured this problems. There's nothing worse than seeing Alonso on soft tyres catching Vettel as he is slower on the hards, then Alonso swapping to the hard tyres and being as slow as a slug!

  • Comment number 28.

    Don't threat Dave Pirelli are shifting there whole range of tyres to softer compounds and Ferrari have bought in an ex Bridgestone man to help understand tyre interaction better, maybe something in pullrod front suspension other than CoG and aero benefit for setting up the car.
    Let also not forget Ferrari had the fastest car when blown diffusers were banned last year...

    Think we will get used to these noses as we did the tiny rear wings, when in motion from the angles most cameras are at it will be less obvious.

  • Comment number 29.

    I couldn't care less what the F2012 looks like as long as it's fast and gives Alonso his third championship.

    The F1 cars from the 1970s and 1980s were way uglier, the turbo ones were minging but fantastically (and illegally) quick.

  • Comment number 30.

    The nose is crap LOOKS like its been hack away at. surely with the wind tunnels show that the McLaren have the better car weather not red bull have stepped nose or not.

  • Comment number 31.


  • Comment number 32.

    Remember that Homer Simpson episode where he's allowed complete control to design a new car for his long lost brother's automobile company?
    The results were

    I rest my case m'lud....

  • Comment number 33.

    To everyone debating whether McLaren have got their nose wrong, here are a couple of points to consider...

    -McLaren has been running a lower nose than the rest of the field for past few seasons, it's part of their design.
    -McLaren run a pretty big rake, if you look at a side view, the rear is about 10cm higher than the front, this is letting them run a lower nose.
    -McLaren have a unique feature not being mentioned here, which is a vain under the nose. It's snow plough shaped and runs almost the full length of the nose. This is supposed to be the "key" aero element.

    Ferrari and McLaren are simply running two very different styles, which will probably be pretty equal. If anything, Ferrari have been conservative, sticking to guidelines and maximising space around the nose. McLaren have been daring and gone for something unusual!

  • Comment number 34.

    I want to say that I am disgusted that the BBC is not putting all the F1 races on TV. It makes a mockery of all the fans like me who are not wealthy but support the sport. That horrid little man B. E needs to retire. It was us that made the sport a wealthy proposition and this is how he has paid back the fans. Now I have to subscribe to sky which I hate just to see my favourite sport. If they did that to other sports like foot ball and boring golf then there would be much more notice taken. What's more the so called team of commentators cannot even support the general public. It is OK for them they will be at all the live races but the poor buggers like me who pay the BBC licence wont be able to see it live NOT UNTIL APRIL. It is a disgrace. I am boycotting the Olympic Games why should we be subjected to that crap all day.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 33

    Good spot with the snow plough; I hadn't noticed that. The other cars don't seem to have it, so it'll almost certainly be protested then copied within a few races. Unless it turns out to be useless like the octopus exhaust.

    @ 34

    Yes everyone was annoyed about the deal, but it's done.
    Ecclestone is a nasty piece of work and routinely puts his profits before the fans, but it is true to say that he has done more for the sport than we all want to admit.
    Football is already on Sky; the BBC only has highlights. Everyone was angry about it in the early 90s, but most football fans would now agree that the availability and coverage of the sport is better than ever.
    Brundle, Kravitz et all probably feel as let down as anyone else by the deal so why would you blame them for moving to Sky?
    I dare say viewing figures for the Olympics were at least as high as F1 so that is why you are 'subjected' to it. Non F1 fans would wonder why they are 'subjected' to F1 on a regular basis.

    We get it. You don't like the deal. You don't like Sky. If people must persist with bringing this up please say something new or relevant.

  • Comment number 36.

    @ 34, also.

    I see this is your first comment, so sorry for rounding on you. You are entitled to vent your frustration and you are quite justified in feeling aggrieved. I just get annoyed at the regular moaners who ruin every single discussion about F1 by making pointless protests. Comments on this forum will not have an impact, the complaints ought to be elsewhere.

  • Comment number 37.

    @33 "McLaren have a unique feature... It's snow plough shaped and runs almost the full length of the nose. This is supposed to be the "key" aero element."

    Bet Ferrari wish they had designed this feature for their launch day. They could have ploughed the white stuff off track to show off their Ferrari 2012.f1.L.E.G.O. (or the Testarrugliolegio)

    Can't help but think it'll be the design of the rear of the cars, especially the Red Bulls that'll make them stick better than ever. When the McLaren hits the track I bet it has a lot less silver bodywork than the launch car which hid everything. Plus I bet it has a big diffuser, unlike the launch car!

    @34, I think it is right you can express your views here, shame on the BBC deal. Imagine if they did this subscription only F1 championship deal in Germany, Spain and Italy!!!
    The BBC will finally have turned to the dark side when they inevitably show off that they got more viewers for Silverstone 2012 race than Sky did, which will no doubt be presented smugly via 'iPad Jake' and will be laughable compared to 2011 viewing figures.

    Also, what's with the chat about BBC potentially ditching F1 altogether after 2013? Instead of kicking both nuts at once you politically soften the blow with firstly a kick to the left then later a kick to the right. I hope not...

    Finally, is there anything to Whiting rushing to the Jerez test stories, to check out the McLarens legallity or just suspected scaremongering by other teams?

  • Comment number 38.

    That "bib" / "rake" / "snow plough" McLaren have been running for a few seasons would have been studied by other teams by now, even I have included it on CAD designs as part of my CV which got me an interview at Red Bull two years ago. It will help to generate a bit more front end downforce, but not really sure has enough effect to suck more air under the car than running a higher nose.

    A lot of good designs come from nature, millions of years of evolution can give quite tried and tested solutions. Checks this out for a Ferrari-esque nose...

  • Comment number 39.

    "I can't afford Sky". Life ain't fair - You should have listened harder at school. Try actually going to see a GP live! Sky is cheap.

  • Comment number 40.

    @34. elizabeth

    The prime movers behind the Sky deal were Adam Parr and Martin Whitmarsh.

    Parr (Executive member of FOTA) said 6 weeks before the BBC spent all of 2 days doing the deal with Sky:

    "When Murdoch buys us, it's all going to change ... (Bernie) believes that if he sells the rights to the BBC in the UK, for example, they should have the rights to everything. They can re-play it on their iPlayer system, they can do the internet, they can do everything. He thinks that's the way to maximise revenue. I think it's time that we challenge him ... We're not getting what we want ... We need to change a few things."

    While Bernie said:

    "The BBC held all the cards, the BBC got to grips with Sky themselves. I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn't run out until 2014. My hands were tied, the BBC brought Sky to us with the idea of a joint contract, It was not us (FOM) who made that decision."

    And Norbert Haug said:

    ""I think you need to see things right, it was BBC taking the decision, the initiative (came) from the BBC."

    While all Martin Whitmarsh the chairman of FOTA could say was:

    "There won't be a premium for watching Formula 1 on Sky, and it's better than expected."

    When FOTA clearly expressed an interest in putting F1 behind a pay wall, the BBC ran with it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Maybe the McLaren is more "aesthetically pleasing", but more important for a F1 car is to be powerful, fast and reliable. Hopefully the new technological choices made by Ferrari (stepped nose, pull-rod front suspension and exhaust exits angled low down) will help the car to be more competitive and ready to fight for the title !

  • Comment number 42.


    Not all is about listening at school, you also have to be fortunate too, I went Uni, doubt I could afford to if I were younger and it were under todays conditions. We have high unemployment in this country and many even with degrees don't have the money.

    I can however afford Sky and a tv license, but I am not paying anymore, it is about principle that we shouldn't have to, as much as you don't pay for itv, avg antivirus or to go to world series by Renault....

    You give these people money for nothing and they will only further ask you for more, generally for little improvements either.

    If you are happy to push the significant amount of followers of F1 away, to how it was in the 60s 70s don't come running to me when the sport can no longer financially support itself.

    I will put those who buy sky for F1 in the same bracket as BBC, FOTA, Bernie and all overs who contributed to the death of Formula 1 when it happens.

  • Comment number 43.

    To all the BBC haters who are not paying a license fee for some sort of protest, why do you keep using the BBC website whilst listening to BBC radio, whilst watching BBC top gear on BBCiplayer? You can't have it both ways. Take your protest to Bernie instead

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm looking forward to see all the new cars at the opening grand prix in glorious high definition on sky, and on the plus side if the races run late due to red flags etc the reaction at the end of the race won't be cut short just to show songs of praise or the eastenders omnibus!

  • Comment number 45.


    BBC are mainly to blame and from all that we do know they held the cards in the deal, so we will bring our protest direct to them and at least by voicing why we aren't paying tv license they have some sort of feedback in order to rectify.

    With regard the paying for programmes Top Gear is pretty much the only interest I have in BBC output now, F1 source will come from elsewhere, pretty sure I can get RTL, Sky, Speed and other coverage of race, TG is sold to so many countries it is largely self funding and is why Dr Clarkson is not out of a job, no matter what he says. For years I have paid a TV license for tv and radio coverage for which I probably only used

  • Comment number 46.


  • Comment number 47.

    ... less than 10% of their output, so even if I did, think I am entitled to some free stuff.

    If others follow my example you may complain that BBC would be forced to raise your tv license fee or face extinction, well to that I say it will only be forced down the same route as F1 with it ever decreasing fanbase....

  • Comment number 48.

    Not sure whats worse, this car or the BBC wasting the disgracefully small sport budget on bowls, and wimbledon rather then a sport which is growing in popularity not shrinking, and that Brits are competitive in. And no football!? Which idiot makes these decisions?

  • Comment number 49.

    Dizzy, think you mean "was" growing in popularity, not only have they been unable to pick up a growing sport that helps bring money to this economy, they have actually starts the ball rolling to destroy it.

    BBC - not serving in Britians interests


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