Formula 1 Insight

New Car Launches
'Tis the season of F1 launches and, on Sunday, Ferrari led the way with their F2008, fittingly enough. Today McLaren were hot on their heels with the MP4/23 - the two protagonists of 2007 remain locked in battle, it would seem.

Ferrari F2008
Ferrari F2008

Last year I posted very little on the new car launches and it is unlikely that I will have much more to say on the new crop. The press releases for these functions are largely alike, full of optimism and carefully-worded technical explanations that give little away, and the cars themselves tend to look very much as they did the year before. Details like the new Ferrari's Williams/Toyota-style mustachioed nose come in for endless talk amongst F1 fans since they are easy to see, whereas the most significant changes are usually invisible.

Very often, it is what the teams don't show you that promises the most performance gain. There would be no sense in allowing competing teams to have advance warning of any serious steps forward and so such areas are kept quietly in the background. No photographs of the Ferrari rear end were handed out, for instance, tempting one to think that there is some clever stuff back there.

I don't deny that we are all eager to see the new cars but, beyond perhaps a re-design of color scheme necessitated by new sponsors, there is usually so little change that we talk mainly of the look of the car, ranking them according to our personal taste. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I have read wildly differing opinions on the looks of most F1 cars.

So what can I say of the first two launches? Apparently, the Ferrari's wheelbase has been shortened slightly in a quest to improve performance on tight circuits, the aerodynamics have been improved with new and stranger protuberances growing from the sidepods, the front is narrower and the cockpit sides higher. Whoop-de-doo.

And the story at McLaren is similar, although it is interesting that the up-and-over front wing component is not included on the car revealed in Stuttgart. Can this mean that McLaren have decided that this was a tweak that gave less advantage than hoped for and they are pursuing a different route this year? Only the races will give us the answer to that one.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of all is the identity of the teams first to launch their new cars. It is always said that those who fall out of contention towards the end of a season have a slight advantage in that they can then concentrate on the following year's design, while the leaders have to maintain their development of the existing car, losing time that could otherwise be spent on getting the new car right. Yet here we have the two leading teams first to show off their results of last year's hard work; is this evidence of larger teams being able to exceed the development pace of the others?

Williams have decided to do without a launch celebration for their 2008 challenger and one can't help but feel that this is a sensible approach, completely in keeping with the practical nature of the team. We will see their car soon enough. Super Aguri and Toro Rosso already know that there will be no launches for them too, as they will start the season with developed versions of the 2007 cars.

The first test session will be at Jerez on January 14 and that is the date I am really looking forward to. Never mind the hype - let's see the cars in action!


Forget Ferrari and Mclaren launches and their optimism. Two more days and the MIGHTY Toyota team is gonna launch their, TF107......oh no, TF108!! We will have Tomita san, oops sorry again, Yamashina san apologizing for not winning a race in 2007 and promise race wins in 2008!!

Meanwhile Pascal Vasselon will tell us how they are a "relatively young team" and how they were the fourth fastest team in 2007 in spite of scoring one fourth of Renault's tally, and how much they look forward to fight with BMW's this year!!

Its that time of the year when everybody is a championship contender!! :P

God...Nick Fry's launch speech cant come soon enough...
Date Added: 07/01/2008

Steven Roy
I think McLaren's front wing was simplified to prevent the Vodafone logos being masked by the top plane. I think as soon as it hits the track the top plane will re-appear.
Date Added: 07/01/2008

Dan M
I think that the Ferrari front wing looks great, the whole car flows nicely and the over head view shows how simplified behind the front wheels are.

McLaren barley showed any pictures, by your logic they should be full of hidden improvements.
Date Added: 07/01/2008

The time of year when everyone is a championship contender - well put, Uppili - and exactly right!

So, where Honda is concerned, you reckon it will be Fry handing out the optimism and Brawn toning it down with comments to the press? :D
Date Added: 07/01/2008

You're probably right, Steven, but didn't it strike anyone that the sponsor wants his logo to be visible in the races? Wonder why they didn't just put it on the upper element...
Date Added: 07/01/2008

Yes, I noticed the dearth of pictures, Dan. Maybe they couldn't afford a photographer this year... ;)
Date Added: 07/01/2008


First of all, thanks for your blog, it is really insightful and pardon for my English...

Ok, they have been lunch their cars… But, what do you think about the Mp4/23 been launched in the Mercedes museum? Isn’t this a kind of Mercedes supporting signal at his partner, McLaren/Ron Dennis?


Date Added: 07/01/2008

And thank you for your kind comment, Becken.

I'm quite sure that, sooner or later, Mercedes will acquire the majority shareholding in McLaren and make it more obviously their team. They might keep some of the management in place, having seen how badly Toyota have fared under boardroom control, but it will be more like BMW Sauber in that the real power is in the hands of the manufacturer. And no doubt you're right that the choice of the Mercedes Museum for the launch was quite significant. If nothing else, it looks as though McLaren did not want a launch ceremony but Mercedes intervened and offered their facilities - which is exerting rather more influence than they have done in the past.
Date Added: 07/01/2008

Pink Peril
Agree - not too fussed about the launches. The proof is in the pudding, as they say!

Although it does look a bit strange to see Heikki where Fernando should be.
Date Added: 07/01/2008

Number 38
Ferrari first, McLaren second, hmmmmm? Toyota third, nope that's not going to happen. I'm anxious to see the new Honda, not the car but the livery. If they do that political 'earth thing' again, Button had better look for a new home. Frankly the black practice car Clive uses on the banner above would be stunning.
Date Added: 08/01/2008

Alianora La Canta
I'm only bothered about one launch (Force India's), and that's largely because it's the only one at which we might learn something new...
Date Added: 09/01/2008

Even then, the rumour mill seems very certain that the second driver will be Fisichella, Alianora. There are so few surprises left, I think...
Date Added: 09/01/2008

Alianora La Canta
I know Fisi's the second driver - I've had a look at the picture Force India are using to advertise their driver announcement webcast, and I recognise the hairdo. Still doesn't stop me wondering who's doing testing for them, though, and there have been few clues on that front.
Date Added: 10/01/2008

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