5 Bold Predictions for Ferrari's 2015 F1 Car Launch
The next chapter of Sebastian Vettel's Formula One career will officially begin on Friday, 30 Jan., when his first Ferrari car is unveiled.
The four-time world champion's departure from Red Bull Racing, with whom he won four consecutive world championships, came as a surprise when it was announced on the eve of last season's Japanese Grand Prix, but the notion of Vettel wearing those red overalls has never seemed far-fetched.
Vettel, of course, will be partnered by his friend and fellow title winner Kimi Raikkonen who, despite enduring a miserable season in 2014, survived the cull of personnel which makes the current Ferrari team almost unrecognisable from the one that paraded the F14-T just 12 months ago.
The F14-T was a major factor in Ferrari enduring their most fruitless season in over two decades in 2014, but the new SF15-T should see the team steady the ship.
Here are five predictions ahead of its launch.
Sebastian Vettel Will Wax Lyrical About Schumacher's Influence
An established world champion, aged 27, leaves the team who provided him with so much success to join an underachieving Ferrari outfit with the task of building the Prancing Horse up in his image.
Vettel's move to Ferrari at this stage of his career carries obvious parallels to Michael Schumacher's switch from Benetton in 1996 and the four-time world champion has made no attempt to hide his desire to emulate his friend and boyhood inspiration.
"When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari," was what Vettel told the team's official website when his signing was announced last November.
We can expect Vettel to pay more tributes to Schumacher, who won five consecutive titles with the team from 2000, when the SF15-T is unveiled.
The Nose Will Be Relatively Similar to the 2014 Car
Ferrari's 2014 car was statistically the worst to be produced by the team since 1993, according to the official F1 website, failing to win a single race.
The clumsy-looking F14-T was defined by its striking nose shape, which, despite being reminiscent of a skateboard ramp, was the only 2014 design that would have been permissible under the tweaked nose regulations for 2015, as per Formula1.com.
There are many areas at Ferrari, both on and off track, which need to be improved, but the nose—as unsightly as it may be—is one of the few bits that can be left unchanged.
Unless, of course, the team want to banish the bad memories of 2014 and start entirely from scratch.
Kimi Raikkonen Will Look Thoroughly Unimpressed
Car launches are not always what they say on the tin.
As much as they revolve around the unveiling of a brand new machine, these events are often PR exercises, used to welcome new sponsors and outline a team's excitement for the season ahead.
But Kimi Raikkonen doesn't do PR. He doesn't really do excitement either.
So the 2007 world champion will doubtlessly leave the smiley stuff to Seb—letting the four-time world champion please the new Mexican partners and discuss the romance of Ferrari—as he completes his annual ritual of frowning at a camera lens for the usual promotion shots.
James Allison's Impact Will Be Obvious
Joining the Maranello-based team in September 2013, James Allison arrived too late to have a meaningful influence on Ferrari's 2014 car.
The technical director, though, has had a long time to work on the SF15-T, and his influence alone makes Ferrari's launch one of the most fascinating of 2015.
Allison is one of the most acclaimed engineers in modern-day F1 and was the man behind Lotus' race-winning cars in 2012 and '13, which were not only fast but extremely consistent—a rare feat in the era of the delicate Pirelli tyres.
The Allison Effect might not be evident from the outset, but there is bound to be a quirky device on the SF15-T which will mark it down as a typical Allison car.
After years of bland machines, Ferrari's F1 cars should now have some personality again.
The New Boss Will Unveil His Master Plan
Ferrari were arguably the busiest team in Formula One over the winter, hiring and firing left, right and centre.
A statement released by the outfit last December confirmed the departures of Nikolas Tombazis and Pat Fry, who followed Stefano Domenicali, engine boss Luca Marmorini, Luca di Montezemolo, Fernando Alonso, Marco Mattiacci and tyre man Hirohide Hamashima through the exit door in 2014.
The most high-profile incoming has, of course, been Vettel, with Sky Sports' Pete Gill reporting that the team's capture of Jock Clear could be followed up with the signing of Bob Bell, his Mercedes colleague.
Although Ferrari's launch will be an online affair, the car unveiling will be Maurizio Arrivabene's first engagement as team principal, and it should present an opportunity to explain his method behind the apparent madness.
His accompanying quotes with the studio photographs of the car will arguably be more fascinating than the thoughts of Vettel and Raikkonen, as Arrivabene tries to help Ferrari rise again.