Vettel confident Ferrari have the car to mount a strong title challenge

Team principal describing new SF90 design as an ‘evolution’ pushed to be ‘extreme’

Ferrari president John Elkann (centre) talks during the presentation of 2019 Formula One race car – the SF90 – at its Maranello headquarters on Friday

Ferrari president John Elkann (centre) talks during the presentation of 2019 Formula One race car – the SF90 – at its Maranello headquarters on Friday

 

Sebastian Vettel is confident Ferrari have the car to mount a strong fight for the Formula One title.

The team unveiled the SF90 at Marenello on Friday as they attempt to end more than a decade without winning F1, with the team principal, Mattia Binotto, describing the design as an “evolution” pushed to be “extreme”.

The car is named to recognise the 90 years since Enzo Ferrari established the Scuderia at Modena in 1929.

Since then they have competed in every F1 championship and are the most successful team in the sport.

However, they have not won the drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s victory in 2007 and the constructors’ since 2008. Last season their challenge fell away as Vettel made mistakes and the team failed to match the development of Mercedes.

Three days before the car’s debut in testing at Barcelona, Vettel was confident. “I think we are all excited,” he said. “You start to see the car, little bits of it and then you see it slowly come together but today is the first time to see it altogether. Now I’m really excited and can’t wait to get in.

‘On the right path’

“I am looking forward to this year. I believe the team are on the right path and hopefully we can keep improving.”

The aero regulations, especially around the front and rear wing, have changed in an attempt to improve overtaking and Ferrari’s front wing is a radical departure from the designs of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Binotto, who was technical director for the previous three years and replaced the team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, in January, is hopeful they had taken the right direction.

“Starting with 2018, we got really good achievements, and I think this car is a development of that year’s car. It’s not a revolution,” he said. “I think we simply tried to push again and raise the bar, to raise the level, try to be as extreme as we could.”

Vettel, a four-times champion, will be joined by the talented youngster Charles Leclerc in his second season, who will have no qualms about taking the fight to his teammate. But Louis Camilleri, Ferrari’s chief executive, was confident in his senior driver’s motivation. “Vettel remains as hungry as ever,” he said.

‘Totally devoted’

“I know he is totally devoted to achieve his and our ambitions and he knows the entire team will give him all their full-hearted support.”

Meanwhile, Billy Monger will be part of Channel 4’s presenting team for the new Formula One season.

The 19-year-old double amputee, who was awarded the Helen Rollason Award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity at last December’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, joins 13-time race winner David Coulthard and former Red Bull driver, Mark Webber.

Channel 4 will broadcast only July’s British Grand Prix live this season, with Sky Sports entering the first season of their exclusive UK rights deal.

The free-to-air Channel 4 will show highlights of the remaining 20 races.

Monger had both of his legs amputated following a horrific Formula Four crash at Donington Park in 2017.

Remarkably, he returned to motor racing last year, competing in the British Formula Three series in a specially-adapted car. – Guardian/agencies

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