Friday, February 15, 2019

Ferrari SF90: The Scuderia's Hopeful Challenger for the 2019 Formula 1 Season

Scuderia Ferrari revealed its 2019 Formula 1 entry, the SF90, to the world's media on Friday morning. The Italian outfit hopes this black and red-themed racer will be the one to bring them within contention of another Manufacturers' Championship in 2019.

With the SF90, Ferrari has changed the shade of red used on its F1 cars; the car bears an "opaque" matte finish that technical director and newly promoted team principal Mattia Binotto acknowledges is a performance-driven change. Though the finish reduces the car's weight by a seemingly negligible amount, winning cars in F1 have always been engineered by an "every ounce counts" philosophy.

Binotto reportedly wanted to display the SF90 in a way that it gave away fewer of Ferrari's tricks as possible before winter testing begins in Barcelona, and as such, the car displayed should not be taken as an Australia-spec car. Nevertheless, the engine cover is noticeably slimmer than that of the 2018 car, lending credence to offseason rumors that Ferrari has been working on cooling efficiency. A returning "T-wing" like that seen on 2017 cars is back in lieu of a "monkey seat" in the technical grey area above the exhaust, but below the rear wing. Like most other teams to reveal their cars so far, Ferrari has designed its front wing to brush air outward, maintaining some of the outwash that the new 2019 regulations were designed to prevent.

Though a less consequential change, Ferrari has once again changed its F1 car naming scheme, for the ninth time since 2010. While its predecessor the SF71H was named in honor of a team anniversary, the SF90 name bears no obvious relation to Ferrari's heritage or its own design specification.

Ferrari's race drivers in 2019 will be comprised of tenured champion Sebastian Vettel, now in his fifth year of racing for the Scuderia, and relative newcomer Charles Leclerc, who impressed in his rookie season with Alfa Romeo Sauber. Notorious for its favoritism, Ferrari will likely designate number one and number two drivers, which in the early season are likely to be Vettel and Leclerc respectively. If Leclerc meets Ferrari's high expectations of him, he could swap roles with Vettel sometime in the 2019 season.

The SF90 will be first fired in anger during winter testing in Barcelona, where Ferrari engineers will work out whether their radical solutions to the Mercedes-AMG problem are effective.

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