Ferrari unveil innovative new Formula 1 car

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer

Ferrari have unveiled the new Formula 1 car they hope will enable them to win their first drivers' title since 2007.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali said they feel a "responsibility to win from the very beginning" of the season.

Lead driver Fernando Alonso said: "We have to be optimistic. We have to fight for the title."

The F2012 features an innovative step on the top of the chassis in response to regulations aimed at improving safety by lowering F1 cars' noses.

Domenicali admitted that the design was "not really so pretty" but Alonso said he was unfazed by the car's appearance.

"With the new car the first feeling has been very good from the beginning," the Spaniard said.

"I like the creative shape that we see in this new car and I think when a car surprises you from the first look it is usually a positive thing. I quite like the car, I hope it is fast."

Ferrari have made no secret of their desire to make amends for a poor 2011 in which they won only one race - the British Grand Prix with Alonso.

They have restructured the technical team, with Englishman Pat Fry replacing Italian Aldo Costa as technical director, and much is expected of the new car, dubbed the F2012.

Domenicali paid tribute to Alonso for his "incredible extraordinary season" in 2011, and pointed to the fact that the double world champion had extended his contract with Ferrari until the end of 2016.

"That is a sign of the responsibility we feel," Domenicali said, addressing Alonso directly. "We have to offer you a competitive high-performing car. I'm sure it will be winning from the very beginning."

Alonso said: "I am going to start with the same strength, determination.

"I really want to see red cars always on the podium and always winning. We will keep working all together and I'm sure we will do great this year.

"I really believe in the skills we have here in Ferrari. We have to be optimistic. We have two months to get ready for the first race in Australia (on 18 March). We have to fight for this title, we have to get as many points as possible at every race."

The car has a number of significant features. The step on the top of the nose is there to enable it to meet regulations on the dimensions of the chassis while, Ferrari said, "raising the lower part of the chassis as much as possible for aerodynamic reasons".

The team added that the rear of the car was "much narrower and more tapered" than on last year's car, partly thanks to a new gearbox casing.

The new Ferrari F2012
The new Ferrari features pull-rod front suspension

The car has exhaust outlets sited quite low down, in a bid to improve aerodynamics following the banning of last year's must-have technology, when gases were blown along the rear floor of the car, increasing downforce.

It finally follows the trend established in 2009 by Red Bull in adopting pull-rod rear suspension, which has a benefit in terms of weight distribution and aerodynamics over the previous standard, known as push-rod.

Interestingly, it also features an unusual pull-rod front suspension system - for the first time on an F1 car in 10 years.

Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa said: "We still need to get used to his new nose which is very strange, but apart form the nose the car is very aggressive, very nice, and hope we are going to see a very competitive car from beginning to end."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo praised the team's "aggressive" design, adding: "We want to go back to the top level, we want to win. We have all the ingredients for a perfect recipe."

Di Montezemolo repeated his demand for Massa to up his game in 2012. The Brazilian's contract runs out at the end of the year and he is not expected to be retained.

"As for Massa, he knows as much as we know that he has to do something great, something better after a not-so-positive season," di Montezemolo said.

"We are offering him the best conditions to do a great job."

Massa said: "For sure the biggest pressure is coming from myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself I am really motivated. I am sure we can have a great championship from the beginning to the end."

Pre-season testing starts in Jerez, Spain, on 7 February.