The new Ferrari F2004 was launched in Maranello this morning, with no sign of the radical design everyone was expecting. The F2004, the fiftieth car built by Ferrari to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship, represents a further evolution of the concepts already seen in the F2003-GA.
However, every element of the car has been completely redesigned in an attempt to create the best environment to get the most out of the new 053 engine and the Bridgestone tyres.
The aerodynamic configuration has been fine tuned in the light of changes to the technical regulations, improving the efficiency of the package. Furthermore the car boasts a lower centre of gravity, while weight distribution has been improved as regards the chassis and the engine. These aerodynamic changes include a clearly sleeker nose, which is not a little more pointy, a new engine cover and a higher air happer, to decrease the effect of the driver's helmet turbulence.
The chassis is new, both in terms of design and construction. Its weight has been reduced and it has an improved structure when compared with the F2003-GA. The bodywork, exhausts and the rear end have been redesigned, producing an improvement in aerodynamic performance.
The front and rear suspension has been revised in order to improve the vehicle’s dynamic handling which leads to a greater efficiency in terms of getting the most out of the Bridgestone tyres, while also optimising the performance of the aerodynamic package. New materials have been used in the engine and transmission in order to reduce its size and weight.
Modifications to the sporting regulations regarding the number of engines that can be used in the course of a Grand Prix weekend set new targets for the 053 engine design project: achieving the optimum reliability level, even though engine life now has to be double that in the past, while striving to improve performance. Once again the engine is a stressed member and is mounted longitudinally. Shell has played an important role in the research and design of the 053 and in terms of reaching the performance and reliability targets, coming up with new fuel and lubricants.
The transmission is once again mounted longitudinally to maintain the same layout as on the F2003-GA. It is a completely new design, providing a reduction in size and weight.
The titanium gearbox has seven speeds (plus reverse) and, because of changes to the technical regulations, is operated directly by the driver. In keeping with a trend initiated by Ferrari back in 1997, which is now standard Formula 1 practice, the car features high-level exhausts, but compared with previous versions, they are mounted nearer the car’s centre line.
The F2004 represents a further step forward in the history of Ferrari’s single seaters. A great deal of time and attention was paid to making the most of the new materials and to optimising the various design stages as well as the quality control methods, all aimed at improving overall reliability and performance while making the car as safe as possible.