Maranello / Italy, January 26
Every other year in January the Scuderia Ferrari celebrates the
presentation of the Formula 1 car in its hometown of Maranello. In 2004,
Monday, January 26 was the day. As usual, the Scuderia did launch its car
for the 2004 season later than most of the other teams: Toyota and Jaguar
had unveiled their cars exactly one week earlier, Sauber had invited the
international press for January 12 already, and BMW-Williams had been
ready on January 6 already. However, the new Renault had its debut three
days after the new Ferrari. McLaren-Mercedes’ MP4-19 has been seen
testing on various circuits since November already.
This time, the event was held at the “Vecchia Meccanica”, a former
production hall right behind the office building inside the factory compound.
Not only hundreds of photographers, journalists and guests of honour had
been invited to the newly erected auditiorium, but also between 100 and
150 Ferrari owners from all over the world. One could register for the event
via Ferrari’s owners website (www.owners.ferrari.com); for 384,-€ per
person, one could buy a package that included a welcome drink on the
Pista di Fiorano, a very short night tour of the factory by bus (!), a dinner in
the factory-owned “Cavallino” restaurant (all in Sunday evening), a stay in a
hotel in Sassuolo and of course the access to the presentation ceremony.
As usual Ferrari did display the current production range. The 360 Spider,
the Challenge Stradale and the 575M Maranello were presented in a
Rosso Corsa livery, as was the latest “baby” of the marque, the 612
Scaglietti. A strange choice for this HUGE 2+2 coupe… The Enzo Ferrari
that is still in production, but of course sold out, was missing in this
display, but instead on could admire the 575 GTC and the new (2004) 360
Always amazing for foreigners is the variety of the invited guests of honour:
They are not only officials of suppliers and sponsors, of the mother
company Fiat or from the world of Formula One, but also officials of the
state and local government, the mayors of Modena and Maranello, high
ranking military and police officials and even members of the clergy. Their
presence demonstrates the ranking of the presentation of Ferrari’s new
Formula 1 car in the Italian daily life: About the same as a state visit!
The name of the new “red goddess”, as the Italians call the current Ferrari
Formula 1 car, is very simple: F2004. Although the media had named the
forthcoming Ferrari exactly like this in advance, one wasn’t absolutely sure
whether Ferrari wouldn’t choose another designation for the new one
which would have left the way of the established nomenclature. Especially
the fact that the F2004 is the 50th Formula 1 car that left the Gestione
Sportiva would have been a good reason to call the 2004 car ”F1-50” or
something like that. But… the Scuderia chose to keep up with the
well-known structure of designations.
Ferrari’s director of communications and marketing, Dr. Antonio Ghini,
opened the event — surprisingly — right in time at 11.00 h. After a couple of
words by Ferrari’s sporting director Jean Todt, Michael Schumacher,
Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer lifted the red cover that had hidden
the new F2004. It instantly became obvious that evolution instead of
revolution had been the aim of the F2004’s designers — but why should
one change a winning car? From the outside, the new car is very similar to
its predecessor, the F2003-GA. Minor changes become obvious after an
intense inspection or comparison only. Some experts and journalists had
been expecting revolutionary aerodynamics to the car’s nose, as seen on
the FW26 von BMW-Williams. Ferrari didn’t go this way.
The measurements of the F2004 are identical to the ones found on the
F2003-GA, except the wheelbase that lost five centimetres. Despite of the
fact that both the chassis and the gearbox of the F2004 lost weight
compared to the components in the F2003-GA, the overall weight of the
F2004 is slightly higher (605 kg). The most striking changes can be found
on the F2004’s side boxes: The flaps and wings on them have been
substantially re-designed. The side panels of the rear wing were enlarged
according to an FIA regulation demanding more space for sponsor
stickers. The internal project code of the F2004 is 655, the new V10 engine
is type 053.
Chief designer Rory Byrne confirmed that some design elements are still
to be changed prior to the first Grand Prix in Australia in March — thus
starting speculations about WHAT will be changed.
Chief engine designer Paolo Martinelli had a tough job to do: Changes in
the FIA regulations demand that each driver uses only ONE engine per
race weekend, so for qualifying AND race. So, the new 053 had to be
slightly more powerful (it probably produces about 890 hp), but at the same
time it needs to be much more durable.
The Scuderia’s technical director Ross Brawn said that he was proud to
present the best Ferrari Formula 1 car they had ever built... so far!
After all, everybody chose rather moderate words to describe the
forthcoming season. It will be hard, tough and demanding — that’s the
punch line. It will not be easy to become World Champion for the fifth
(driver) or sixth (team) consecutive year, but the Scuderia is at least
Well, they should: In the first test at Fiorano, Michael Schumacher took the
new F2004 to a new track record of 0:55’999…