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Ferrari rolls its game-changer, the SF70H….

The Maranello based team unveiled its 2017 challenger on February 24, 2016 at its Fiorano track in Italy. The SF70H becomes the 63rd single-seater rolled out by this outfit, and present at the launch were its drivers Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and newly signed reserve Antonio Giovanazzi.

After a dismal performance last year, and with key personnel leaving the team including losing James Allison to Mercedes, the team’s role of Technical Director  has been filled by Mattia Binotto their engine chief. Allison’s departure mid-season last year came as a huge blow to the team, and they were in the worst shape possible, with several strategy errors and lacking the edge to take fight to Mercedes.  Despite that, their 2017 challenger has some evolutionary elements and this year will be critical for them as a team.

Delving into the design of the SF70H, there are some ideas similar to their rival Mercedes, while in some areas they have made some key developments and introduced new concepts. The front-wing is the standard multi-element device, while the nose is elongated and thumb styled, a continuation from its predecessor. A large cord section is seen on the main plane of the front-wing  which suits the purpose of a lot of downforce. However, a drawback this element creates is it can stall the airflow (in the middle of corners or when front is close to the ground), which can lead to loss of downforce. This further can lead to a lot of understeer or affect car balance, a style that has often suited Kimi.

Equipped with a double wish-bone, the SF70H has a push-rod front and pull-rod rear suspension. Over the winter, they had lodged a complaint against other teams using various tricky suspensions, and the team wanted a clarification on what was legal and what wasn’t.

The area the red squad have maximised in developing at full potential are the sidepods, which are exaggerated and unusually shaped. Ahead of the air intakes on the side pods are complex aero- appendages according to the new regulations. The radical shape of the side pods and air intake ducts are the elements that add more character to the profile of this car. Featuring an undercut in the side pods and a delta wing coupled with the bargeboards means a lot of down force. It also features a T-wing on its large white central fin.

In terms of power the upgraded 062 engine unit is said to be a evolution from its predecessor, and rumours are strife about Ferrari using new piston technology involving 3D printing of piston designs at its power plant. As McLaren and Ferrari launched simultaneously, colleagues in Italy reported Kimi doing a 58 second lap opening lap around Fiorano, in cold and damp weather, 2 seconds off the F2004 top time. So has the car really suited Kimi, as has been anticipated since last year. Like all teams, the red squad too hasn’t given out too many details of the rear and will be discrete until Barcelona.

Will this be the aggressive step to a bounce back for both Sebastian and Kimi? Or will it be another disappointing year? Getting all the parts together correctly on a car is one job and getting them to work is another. Last year, they were strewn with gearbox issues, and bad strategy calls. 2017 will be critical for them with both their driver contracts up for renewal and their credibility with the board in Maranello. However if they do bounce back, and the car is just what their drivers need, Mercedes will have an uneasy run.

Here’s a gallery of the studio shots, launch and shakedown laps:

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