F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

8th November, 1998

Ferrari - preview the 1999 Contender.

With the success of the McLaren in 1998, Ferrari have paid special attention to the details that were so beneficial to the Woking team in the earlier races... The F650 is an inherently 'long wheelbase' car, with the extra length built in to the body, giving it the same 'long nose' look McLaren had this year.

To compensate for this, much of the ballast mass has been shifted forward to balance the centres of gravity and aerodynamic downforce - not a problem for the fundamentally light Ferrari.

The F650 rear suspension will be remarkably similar to that used by McLaren this year, utilising a double action. It will consist of a metal double cylinder in two sections at the end of the rear suspension... controlling the behaviour of the tail, responding differently as the speed and the track situations change.

The driving position is relatively low in the cockpit, both reducing turbulence behind the drivers helmet, and moving it further from the air intake. This should assist the quest for maximum efficiency at the air intake to the engine, enabling the power plant always to operate at its best possible performance along the power curve. How the new driving position affects Michael Schumacher (who prefers to be relatively upright) is yet to be established.

In many respects, these changes will leave the Ferrari - superficially at least - resembling a 1998 McLaren in Ferrari livery.

There are going to be some interesting differences, however:

The brakes are expected to be something a little bit special; the Ferrari technicians are known to be studying changes to the mechanics of the brakes that control the pressure of the "brake-bite". This should legally improve the way of balancing the braking inserting into the curve, without strictly being termed anti-lock braking. The goal is to achieve the best braking (and acceleration) with a minimal tyre wear.

The engine is expected to be the next evolution of the already top of the field V10 - producing around 835hp. With the continuous development of the 3D mapping system, improved drivability will be an important step forward here too. Another important step forward is the much higher running temperature, allowing reduced radiator exposure... so expect the sidepod air intakes to be smaller - allowing better aerodynamics. They sidepods themselves cannot be significantly smaller, or the car will fail the side impact tests.

More obvious will be the aerodynamic changes: look out for some extra trappings on the car; there is a real possibility that Ferrari have found a way around the banned T wing rule (McLaren 1995), enabling devices in the form of 'flaps' to make an appearance... at least until all the teams run them, and the FIA bans them.

It is suspected that the F650 has already made its first run... During the final days preparing for the Japanese Grand Prix, the team may have tested a disguised F650, calling it an F300 - in which case Ferrari's official test driver Luca Badoer completing some 150 laps at the Mugello circuit... who said the 1999 contender would suffer from this years efforts?

What do you think of Ferrari's chances in 1999? Voice your opinion on the F1 Forum.

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