Ferrari keeps its structure for 2018

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Formula One’s most prestigious team Ferrari is believed to keep its structure which it started to establish during the 2016 season and which enabled it to crawl its way back to the front in this year’s championship.

Ferrari ended a season-long winless drought this year with Sebastian Vettel, scoring wins five times throughout the year, after playing only a secondary role in 2016. The German driver came tantalizingly close to the championship title, leading the standings during the first twelve GP weekends. His championship derailed by reliability woes and crashes after the summer break.

The team’s Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen stood seven times on the podium, scoring 205 points. It was his second highest number of points in the new point system, collecting only two championship units less than in 2013 when he drove for Lotus and ended the year in the third position.

Ferrari finished the Constructors’ Championship in the second place, scoring 522 units. It was the highest point tally since 2010 when the new point system was introduced.

The Maranello-based squad’s SF70H posed a real challenge to Mercedes W08 EQ Power+. In spite of the ongoing power advantage of the Mercedes power unit, Ferrari’s 2017 challenger was a real match on most of the tracks.

The team made a thorough restructuring in 2016, changing to a more horizontal set-up, putting off the pressure and role of key figures and accomplishing cultural changes. Media insider Leo Turrini says that the Italian team is staying on the same course for 2018.

Simone Resta remains responsible for the core design of the car. The Imola-born engineer graduated in Bologna, started working in Formula One for the Minardi team in 1998. He then joined Ferrari, taking on the role of the deputy chief designer in 2012. Ferrari and FIAT President Sergio Marchionne appointed him chief designer in 2014.

The South African semi-retired engineer and car designer Rory Byrne played a significant role as an advisor this year. The role of the legendary designer who was most famous for being the chief designer at the Benetton and Scuderia Ferrari Formula One teams is still unclear.

Enrico Cardile will take care of the aerodynamics. The engineer was previously working on Ferrari’s GT projects and was brought to the Gestione Sportiva in 2016 during the process of restructuring.

Diego Ioverno, who worked previously as the head of trackside operation, is moving to ’internal’ duties, and his skills will be absorbed by Jock Clear. The 54-year-old Portsmouth-born British engineer joined Ferrari in 2015 after working as the race engineer of Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Jacques Villeneuve and Takuma Sato.

After former engine chief Lorenso Sassi was "promoted" away to FIAT Chrysler, Corrado Iotti was appointed to head the engine department.

Beside the team personnel, there are some changes in the infrastructure. Ferrari parted ways with the Austrian company AVL which is an independent powertrain enterprise. The collaboration focused mainly on the development of Ferrari's internal combustion engine, but lack of the expected results meant that the Italian team ended the collabortation.

Wolf Zimmerman, the power unit specialist who arrived in 2014 from Mercedes and was taking care of the partnership, has left Ferrari. Under the leadership of Corrado Iotti, Ferrari are working ceaslessly on the much improved power unit which was due to make debut in the 2017 Italian GP, but reliability concerns forced the team to postpone the introduction of the new power unit.

Ferrari will unveil its 2018 car online on the 22th February, four days before the winter test period kicks off. The technical regulation remain pretty stable, however the additional weight due to the introduction of the halo, the ever-tightening engine regulation and Pirelli’s softer tyres pose new challenges to the technical staff of the teams. The question whether Ferrari’s current technical structure is effective enough will be answered by its 2018 challenger.