Ferrari unveil 'aggressive' new F1 car


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The Independent Online

Felipe Massa has vowed to return to winning ways after being told he must deliver "something special" to make up for two years of under-achievement at Ferrari.

Click here or click 'VIEW GALLERY' to see more images for the Ferrari F2012

The Brazilian's claim to one of the most sought-after seats in Formula One has come under scrutiny following a 47-race winless streak dating back to the final round of the 2008 season - the same day he famously lost out on the world title to Lewis Hamilton by one point.

A fractured skull suffered in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix curtailed Massa's 2009 campaign, while in each of the past two seasons he struggled to match the pace of his two-time world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Speaking at the launch of the team's new car, the F2012, Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo again warned time was now running out for Massa, who has driven for the team since 2006 and is in the final year of his contract.

"As for Massa, he knows as well as we know that he has to do something great, and something special, after a non-positive season," said Di Montezemolo.

"He's got all of the ingredients necessary for getting top results."

Massa hopes the team's "aggressive" new car will help him to maximise the performance of Pirelli's tyres - something that he has often highlighted as the reason for his lack of performance relative to Alonso.

"It looks really, really aggressive," Massa said after taking the wraps off the team's new challenger this morning.

"I know there has been plenty of brainstorming when it comes to this new car.

"This is going to be quite an important year for me and the whole team.

"This is going to be the victory year. We want to fight to get the championship back.

"I want to start the season in the right way and get to the end of the championship in an even better way."

The launch of the new Ferrari was an online affair after the team was forced to cancel their official launch - due to be attended by around 300 people - due to heavy snowfall in Maranello, their north Italian base.

The freezing conditions also meant the abandonment of a planned shakedown of the car at the team's Fiorano test track, meaning the F2012's maiden run will now likely be at the first official test of the year, beginning in Jerez on Tuesday.

Massa's team-mate Alonso believes the test in Spain could be the start of a big year for Ferrari, who are seeking their first drivers' title since 2007 and first constructors' since 2008.

"We start next week in Jerez and we keep working together and of course I am sure we will do well this year," the Spaniard said.

"I believe in the skills we have here at Ferrari, we always have to be optimistic.

"We have to fight for this title and get as many points as we can in every race.

"It's my third season at Ferrari and I am going to start with the same strength and determination. We want to see red cars on the podium."

Ferrari claims the F2012 boasts a "fundamentally revised" design from their 2011 car, which managed just one victory and third place - 275 points behind champions Red Bull - in the constructors' standings.

The car adheres to new rules regarding the position of the exhaust pipes and engine mapping, but its most striking feature is an arresting 'platypus' nose, a design which caused a stir when Caterham revealed a similar concept last week.

Rivals McLaren succeeded in circumventing the need to create a step in the nose in order to meet new FIA restrictions on the height of that area of the car, but Ferrari technical director Pat Fry has elected to forego style in pursuit of substance.

Ferrari conceded the design was "not aesthetically pleasing" but team principal Stefano Domenicali insisted he was only concerned with its performance.

"Actually it's not really so pretty from my personal perspective, but this is a value that doesn't count in F1," he said.

"The fact that it's ugly or very nice doesn't count a lot, the most important thing is the car has to be performing.

"I am sure our car will be winning right from the beginning."

Meanwhile, Ferrari have confirmed the extension of their sponsorship deal with Santander until the end of the 2017 season.

The Spanish bank's deal with the Scuderia is heavily linked to lead driver Alonso, who is contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2016.