Car news

01 February 2013

Ferrari and Force India reveal F1 cars

Maranello revealed the new F138, while Silverstone hosted the launch of Force India's VJM06

TopGear.com
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Ferrari and Force India launched the third and fourth new cars of the 2013 F1 season this morning, and Sauber and Red Bull launch this weekend. Mercedes meanwhile will unveil Lewis Hamilton's 2013 contender on Monday. Why the rush? Well,  next Tuesday dear TopGear.commers, the season starts in anger with the first official test. We'll see the remaining cars then, all save the Williams FW35 which won't appear until the second official test on 19th February.

Whether you were there or not, the McLaren launch was some event, with a touchingly brave little film that took ‘Bruce McLaren' back to the scene of the 1970 Goodwood accident that killed him. Race cars and road cars were all mixed up to get the message across that MacPeople are more than just racers. No such kerfuffle over in Maranello this morning. They have a very simple way of mixing road and racing red at Ferrari: they just call the Grand Prix car ‘the single seater'. We love that.

Officially Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa's new F138 (from ‘2013' and ‘V8', suggesting next year's turbo car will be the ‘146', which last time we looked was an especially crappy Alfa Romeo), is an evolution of last year's albeit with a ‘modesty panel' to hide the step in the nose. Both the front (copied by McLaren on the Mac28 in what techies are suggesting is a brave move) and rear suspensions are the alternative pull-rod types, where the rocker arm is attached to the bottom of the tub. It's better for centre of gravity, but as Ferrari's drivers found out at the start of last season, it can mess with the handling. But hey if Ferrari and McLaren are going with it, who are we to argue.

It is needed because both cars have pushed the front of the tub structure as high as they can to open the way for the breeze to get tidily to the back of the car; the higher the tub, the higher the CoG, hence the pull rod rocker, geddit? Ferrari say the car is all new, and who are we to say? The nose and gorgeous new red white and black paint jobs plus some new sponsors (including its first Chinese partner, Weichai Power) aside, it looks a lot like the F2012.

Then again, that car did nearly win the title. Significantly the car was developed in Toyota's old F1 tunnel in Germany after Ferrari discovered last season that, once again, its wind tunnel was not telling them what they thought it was. The official tunnel - it's in a space-age pod designed by the bloke who designed London's Shard - is officially out of commission for now. That can't make things easy. Gulp.

Meanwhile over at Silverstone Force India became the first F1 team to show a 2013 car in motion. Maybe because the team has been the subject of an awful lot of gossip regarding their finances this winter; "look! We've made a new car and it works and everything!" However, having only the one driver on hand probably didn't help silence the naysayers. Paul di Resta looked typically Paul di Resta (is he shy? Is he sulky? We're not sure anymore to be honest), ignoring the fact he seemed to have tweeted a ‘welcome-to-the-team' Bruno Senna note, only to delete it. Bruno is in the frame for the drive and we hope he gets it, he raced well last year. He just needed to nail qualifying. Last year was his first proper complete season, don't forget.

The Force India VJM06 Mercedes, like the Mac28 and the new Ferrari, again takes advantage of the cosmetic rules that allow the step in the levels of the nose to be covered with a ‘modesty panel' and it looks pretty sharp, we think. Tech details are thin on the ground, the team just saying it's "pushed hard" in all areas. Well you would hope so, wouldn't you? Whether you were being paid or not.

Tags: f1, formula one, f138, vjm06, force india, ferrari

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