Ferrari unveils the F2007

When Ferrari unveils a new road car, it's big news. Slightly less so when the Prancing Horse takes the wraps off the next season's F1 race car; the strict FIA regulations pretty much have Formula One designers' and engineers' jewels in a vice, so each new car is by and large the same as the old one, with slight modifications. The devil is in the details on this red screamer – don't expect some groundbreaking innovation like a third set of wheels or a vacuum-powered ground-effects system.

Ferrari took the wraps off the F2007, its fifty-third F1 car, at a press conference Sunday in Maranello. Although some details will be tweaked before and throughout the season, this is fundamentally the car which Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa will be driving in pursuit of the 2007 driver's and constructor's championship. Visibly the car looks mostly the same as the 2006-spec 248 it replaces. The suspension was redone primarily for aerodynamic efficiency; the side-pods were reshaped to accommodate the new cooling system; the air intake atop the car was changed; the rear end of the car is narrower thanks to the revised carbon fiber gearbox housing; and the entire car rides on a longer wheelbase. In meeting 2007 safety requirements, the weight of the car is up nearly ten kilograms over the 248.

More after the jump.

After sponsors Vodaphone left for McLaren, Italia Telecom stepped up their sponsorship with Alice, their broadband internet company whose logo appears on the new car that gives up some white in favor of more red. Otherwise, Marlboro stays on as title sponsor, Shell picks up a bit of Vodaphone's slack, while Martini and other minor sponsors stay with the team for the 2007 season.

Like all F1 cars, it's built around a carbon fiber tub to which all the components, from the suspension to the engine, are mounted. FIA regulations restrict engine development, so the 056 engine used last year carries over with few modifications: the combustion chamber, valves, and inlet and exhaust chambers were changed to optimize the torque curve; the pistons were redesigned for reliability at the 19,000 rpm redline and the cooling systems were reconfigured. The 32-valve aluminum V8 is mounted longitudinally as a stressed member of the chassis, hooked up to a seven-speed paddle-shifted transmission.

2007 should be an interesting season for Scuderia Ferrari as they step into the post-Schumacher era, the top team management changes around, Felipe Massa steps out of the champion's shadow and Kimi Raikonnen throws off the shackles of a prohibitively underperforming car.

[Source: Ferrari via Italiaspeed]

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