After Force India, Williams, McLaren-Honda and Sauber, Ferrari-Day has finally come. “Digital spotlights” are now turned on, focused on the new SF15-T, the first Ferrari branded Marchionne, entrusted to Vettel-Raikkonen pair that together represents a good five World Titles.
Now we are very nearly to switch on the engines. Although there are still cars to be revealed – those in late with the overcoming of crash-tests, like Red Bull, those struggling with budget problems, like Force India and others with problems of continuity, like Marussia and Caterham – today, February 1st, starts officially the new season, with the first day of winter test sessions in Jerez Spanish track. Among cars yet to be revealed (whose veils will fall down in Jerez, although their first images have been unveiled), there are World Champions in office, that is to say Mercedes that has dominated the scene with Hamilton and Rosberg. Thanks to the incredible power proved in 2014, are certainly the favourites thanks to the continuity of the project. Behind them, there is Williams FW37 of Bottas and Massa, which showed a precise development of the 2024 car with so much satisfaction to the English team. Then there is the McLaren-Honda MP4-30. Engineers have done a great job. Very impressive the sidepods, tapered in the back part and lower than competitors. Also nose is to note, in addition to being pleasing to the eye, should work well for the aerodynamic flow under the bottom. Certainly, the attention will be on Honda, to evaluate the job of Japanese. At Ferrari, the new car has an attractive nose, but so large sidepods may be questionable and create some problems for flows passage.
Lotus, after a very disappointing 2014, is debuting with Mercedes E23 Hybrid motorization. Great effort has been made in Enstone, to bring the car in Spain. There is clean break with past season. Same situation at Sauber. The Swiss team is looking for redemption after closing the year with zero points. A lot of work has been done to place Ferrari’s engine as best as possible. They have high and long sidepods too. New car, but also new livery. New colours captured my attention; those blue (although much lighter) and yellow that bring me back to a past Minardi.
Finally we have Toro Rosso. Aesthetically and technically it looks more and more like Red Bull RB11. They moved into sidepods the ERS unit, moving forward about 100 mm the Turbo V6 engine Energy F1 Hybrid. So, they have been able to achieve a very rear, facilitating flows passage towards the rear.
Unfortunately, Force India will not be in Jerez, whose assembly is slowed by financial problems. In Mexico they have launched the new livery, but soon debut will come also for them. The two Cinderellas (Marussia and Caterham), assuming that they will play the game, will have to deal with a significant difference in performance with the rest of the lot.
At this point, we just have to switch on the engines and go on track. Let the show begin!
Gian Carlo Minardi