It’s that time of the season and with the first Grand Prix at Melbourne coming up in two months time, the first 2008-spec Formula One racing car is launch and to set the ball rolling, this is the car in which the 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will defend his drivers’ title for this year’s championship season.
The new Ferrari F2008 looks similar to last season’s title-winning chassis but with a new standard ECU and some new aerodynamics. The car, codenamed internally as the 659, has been designed for the new sporting regulations in 2008, with no driving aids allowed.
Raikkonen hopes the F2008 – designed under the guidance of technical director Aldo Costa – will again bring title success for the Maranello-based squad. In fact, the Iceman is looking forward to driving without traction control though the potential for more crashes is the biggest issue for the world champions ahead of the first race in Melbourne on March 16th.
“Now traction control is not going to help you but for me it will be a lot more fun. I think there will be an easier chance to overtake as people will make more mistakes,” Raikkonen told a news conference.
“The sport is dangerous anyway. It doesn’t matter if you have traction control or not. If you think it is too dangerous you probably shouldn’t be in the sport. It is more tricky for sure, you need to be awake more of the time.”
The Finn’s team-mate Felipe Massa was less positive about the changes and said drivers had asked for safety assurances from the FIA, Formula One’s governing body.
“We had an email exchange but we haven’t tested the car yet. The GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) has for sure been trying to increase safety levels. This is a very important change. It will have to be a smoother driving style,” said the Brazilian, who was still enamoured with the new Ferrari.
“My expectations are very high. When you first look at the car it is a special moment. It is like seeing a child being born. Now we have to let this child grow and grow as quickly as possible.”
Both drivers said it was too early to tell who their main challengers would be this year given the new rules and that Fernando Alonso has returned back to Renault. The Finn believes that Ferrari and rival McLaren will again be the main protagonists in 2008.
“Ferrari and McLaren will be there,” he added. “Renault had a difficult year last year but it might be a completely different story this year but nobody really knows after the first couple of tests and we get some kind of idea where everybody is. And then there’s BMW.
“It will be a difficult year. It’s my second year at Ferrari. I can feel that everything is going really well. I know the people I am working with and I really like the team.
“We need to always look at what others are doing but the main thing is that we keep pushing hard as a team and we keep improving we should be in good shape.”
Let’s see how good the world champions will be during the all-important testing as Formula One 2008 gears up for a new season of racing.