Monday 12 January 2009

F1: Ferrari presents its 2009 car

(ANSA) - Maranello, January 12 - Ferrari on Monday officially unveiled its new car for the upcoming Formula One season which has been totally revamped to meet 2009 specification and regulation changes.

The car was first unveiled on Ferrari's website, which was immediately jammed by curious fans, and was later presented to the public at the Mugello circuit in Tuscany for its track debut. Driver Felipe Massa took the F60 for its inaugural spin around the track and later remarked how small it was, ''a bit like a Formula 3 car''. ''Let's hope it's as quick as it looks,'' he added.

Massa, who lost the 2008 world championship to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by one point in the last race, said on his team's website that ''when you race for Ferrari and you take the car for its first run on the track it's always quite an important and emotional day''.

The new Ferrari, the first 2009 Formula 1 car to be presented, was named F60 after the number of championships the legendary Italian team has competed in, collecting 15 drivers' and 16 constructors' titles.

Designers said the car cost less than its most recent predecessors, in part because it uses last year's F56 engine, and was ''built to overtake''.

Because of its physical changes, the team has already nicknamed the new car 'the ferret' because of its elongated 'snout'. Last year's model was called 'the shark'.

Many of the changes in this year's car were aerodynamic and responded to regulation changes which went into effect in 2009, including those regarding suspension, the introduction of the 'kinetic energy recovery system' (KERS) and the return of 'slick', untreaded tires.

''This year everything is new, different and more complicated. The only thing that has not changed is our main objective of staying on top,'' Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said at the presentation.

Ferrari has won eight of the last ten constructors' championships.

The track debut of the F60 was moved to Mugello because Ferrari's home track at Fiorano near Bologna was iced out.

During Monday's press conference, Domenicali said he did not envision Ferrari supplying motors to whoever buys the Honda team, which was put up for sale by the Japanese carmaker when it decided towards the end of 2008 to quit racing as a cost-cutting measure.

Speculation that Ferrari might supply the ex-Honda team with its engines arose after Ferrari's former technical director Ross Brawn, who moved to Honda last year, told the Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport than he had been in contact with his old team to explore such a possibility.

The 17-race 2009 Formula 1 season opens March 29 with the Australian Grand Prix.

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