The New F399 Is
Maranello, 30th January – The F399, Ferrari’s car for this year’s Formula One World Championship, was presented today at the Fiorano track.
Presented At Fiorano
The Chairman of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, welcomed the top management of Fiat – Honourary Chairman Gianni Agnelli, Chairman Paolo Fresco and Managing Director Paolo Cantarella – and all the representatives of the sponsoring firms and suppliers of the Scuderia.
The task of lifting the veil (an enormous flag with the Scuderia Ferrari emblem) covering the car was entrusted to the 450 members of the Sports Management, who were thanked by the Chairman, Mr Montezemolo and by the Sporting Director, Mr Jean Todt, for the work carried out in the last few years, which has twice brought the team very close to winning the World Championship.
Mr Todt promised an even greater effort for the season which is about to begin: “We shall be even more determined because we want to lead from the first race, not from the sixth on.”
Technical Director Ross Brawn outlined the car’s general features. “The F300 was the first car built in Maranello by the new working group: it was very good but not perfect. During last season we strengthened the team, enlarging the aerodynamics and R&D groups. Moreover, we began to use the new wind tunnel. The F399 is an evolved model with many innovations. The integration between chassis and engine and the relation with the new technical partners, in particular with Bridgestone, were crucial in the designing stage. We made important changes to the original project on the basis of the results of the tests carried out in Suzuka last November.”
Car designer Rory Byrne described its technical aspects: “Although it’s an evolution, the F399 is a completely new car. We’ve improved aerodynamic efficiency and stability but, most importantly, we’ve worked on enhancing all its components and have managed to reduce its total weight by about 20 kg. Suspension was revised after the tests with Bridgestone, while the engine air vents, diffuser, rear aerodynamics and front suspension are new. The car’s centre of gravity has been lowered and power steering is now controlled electronically. I’m confident we’ll be immediately competitive.”
Engine engineer Paolo Martinelli spoke of the new 048 engine: “It’s an evolution of its predecessor: the base was good so we worked on correcting all of its components with the aim of achieving better driveability and improved performance, while maintaining reliability levels. The centre of gravity is lower and we obtained a weight loss of about 5%, thanks also to the use of new alloys and materials. Two stages of development have already been planned: the first will coincide with the first European race of the World Championship, the San Marino Grand Prix of 2 May. I hope the writing on the Bridgestone tyres - Potenza, which is the Italian word for power – is a good omen for the season.”
After the technical staff it was the drivers’ turn to speak. “I’m proud of being part of the team for the second consecutive year” – said Luca Badoer – “not only from the technical but also from the human point of view. I hope to be able to help Michael and Eddie give satisfaction to all our fans.” Eddie Irvine was optimistic: “It’s my fourth year with Ferrari and each season has been better than the last. I want to do even better in 1999 and I think this car will give me the opportunity to do so. My aim is to win a few Grand Prix and to be on the podium even more often.”
“Being with Ferrari is like belonging to a family” – said Michael Schumacher – “This year I feel very motivated but I don’t feel greater pressure. Actually, I feel better than in the past.” The German driver is not worried about the delay with which the season is beginning: “The car is very solid: a week’s delay doesn’t make much difference. And anyway there’s someone who’s even later, McLaren.”
Chairman Montezemolo ended the ceremony. “We wanted to bring all our world together here in Fiorano. I thank our shareholders and sponsors, without whose support we would not have been able to build chassis, engine and gearbox alone. In particular, I would like to thank and welcome the newcomers: Bridgestone – with whom we immediately established an excellent technical, human and professional relationship; two major Italian companies such as TIM and Ferrero, and the world’s largest courier, Federal Express. I wish to greet the Mayors of Modena, Maranello and Fiorano and fans throughout the world. I would like to promise them that we will make an even greater effort than in the past. The team is stable, determined and motivated. I hope the days of losing the title at the last race are over.
The test programme will begin at the end of next week on the Fiorano circuit and will then continue on the Mugello track. A second F399 will be ready by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the F300 will be used, equipped with components used on the new car.