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Ferrari unveils SF1000 car for coming F1 season

By AFP - Feb 13,2020 - Last updated at Feb 13,2020

Ferrari Executive Chairman John Elkann (centre) delivers a speech by the new Ferrari Formula One SF1000 as Formula One drivers Sebastian Vettel (2nd right) Charles Leclerc look on during its unveiling ceremony in Reggio Emilia, Italy, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

REGGIO EMILIA, Italy — Ferrari unveiled its new SF1000 car for the 2020 Formula One season, which they hope will deliver a first world drivers title since 2007, during a glitzy ceremony on Tuesday.

The single-seater’s name acknowledges the fact that the Italian team will start its 1,000th world championship race during the coming campaign, which begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

Narrower than last season’s SF90, with a deeper red colouring the body, Ferrari is pinning its hopes on the SF1000 car earning them drivers and constructors titles that have eluded them for 12 and 11 years respectively.

“I like it very much,” said German driver Sebastian Vettel. 

“It’s much narrower at the back than last year and it is also redder, it’s even better. I’m impatient to drive it, that will be even more fascinating than looking at it.”

The Scuderia broke with tradition and presented its new racing car outside of its stronghold of Maranello, unveiling it instead amid of sea of red on stage at the Teatro Romolo-Valli in the nearby city of Reggio Emilia.

“This is a very important place for our country,” Chairman of the Ferrari group John Elkann explained.

“It was in this city that the tricolour flag, which became that of Italy, was created. And Ferrari is proud of Italy and of representing Italy.”

“This is a very special year,” continued Ferrari Team Manager Mattia Binotto. 

“It’s 70 years of Formula One, we have been there from the start and we are going to reach the figure of 1,000 Grands Prix, which is something incredible.” 

Barring a forced change in the calendar because of the deadly coronavirus in Asia, the milestone should be reached in June during the Canadian Grand Prix.

 

Equal footing

 

Binotto stressed that this season veteran Vettel and 22-year-old Charles Leclerc, who impressed on his debut last season, would be starting on an equal footing.

“We have seen that they can both fight for the best results. They are both on the same level. It is up to them to race,” he added.

Vettel, a four-time world champion with Red Bull and twice runner-up with Ferrari, insisted it was not a hard decision for him to accept.

“I don’t see it that way,” said the 32-year-old. 

“I don’t see Charles going up and me going down. We have the same car and, for me, it doesn’t change anything. That was also the case last season.”

Last season, the association between the experienced Vettel and Leclerc often turned into a duel, coming to a head when the two drivers collided during the Brazilian GP. 

But Leclerc, who won two races and finished fourth place in the world championship, said lessons had been learned.

“We have learned the lesson from Brazil. We are free to race, but we are teammates,” he said. 

“A lot of people are working behind us, as a team, and things like Brazil should not happen.”

Both drivers said they were impatient to try out the new car, which will be on track next week for the pre-season testing in Barcelona. 

“I felt emotional when I saw it,” said Monaco’s Leclerc.

“Now I can’t wait to be out on track and try it and to show all the work that has been done on this car.

“It’s going to be a great challenge. I’m ready to learn from my mistakes to become an even better driver.

“What all of us want at Ferrari is to be world champions.”

 

Vettel Ferrari’s ‘first choice’

 

Binotto insisted that Vettel remained the team’s “first choice” for the future despite reports that Lewis Hamilton could join the Italian stable next season.

“Seb is our first choice, our preference,” Binotto said during the presentation of the team’s new SF1000 car for the 2020 season at Reggio Emilia in northern Italy.

Vettel, 32, joined Ferrari in 2015 and the German’s contract ends at the end of the coming season, as does world champion Hamilton’s at Mercedes.

“We’re focused on our drivers. We’re not thinking about it for the moment,” added Binotto.

“We’re talking with Seb and we’ll take the time needed. We are focused on the car and the tests. There will be a time for the rest.”

“I think it’s good to live in the present moment and the present moment is what’s behind us,” said Vettel, pointing to the new car Ferrari. “We will have time,” he added.

Ferrari’s second driver Charles Leclerc extended his contract with the Scuderia this winter until 2024.

Hamilton is preparing to launch his bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ championship titles after cruising to a six title last campaign.

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