Ferrari unveil their radically-designed car for the 2012 Formula One season
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso wants to challenge for a third drivers' title
The Spaniard finished 2011 fourth, 135 points behind champion Sebastian Vettel
Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa describes the F2012 as "really aggressive"
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso set his sights on a title charge in 2012 Friday as Ferrari unveiled the radical design of their car for the new season.
The F2012, Ferrari’s 58th F1 car, features a dramatic steeped-nose look in order to conform to new regulations regarding the height of the front chassis.
Spain’s Alonso finished 2011 fourth in the drivers’ standings, 135 points behind Red Bull’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel, after claiming just one race win at the British Grand Prix.
“It looks very different from what we have seen in the last two years,” Alonso said at the launch, which was originally scheduled to take place Thursday but was pushed back 24 hours due to heavy snowfall.
“My third season at Ferrari and I am going to start with the same strength and determination. I want to do great.
“Of course it will be quite competitive for the whole season, but we want to see red cars on the podium. We start next week in Jerez and we keep working together. I am sure we will do well this year.”
Ferrari have won a record 16 constructors’ titles and the Italian marque have clinched 15 drivers’ championships – more than any other team.
But a disappointing campaign last year saw them finish third in the standings, 122 points adrift of McLaren and a massive 275 points behind double constructors’ championship winners Red Bull.
“I believe in the skills we have here in Ferrari,” former McLaren driver Alonso said. We have two months to get ready before the first competition.
“We have to fight for the title and try and get as many points as possible. We really want to be right at the top of the ranking.
“We have to be as consistent and resolute as possible and I am sure, really, really sure we will be able to get great targets and great responsibility for driving for Ferrari.”
Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa also endured a frustrating season, but the Brazilian is confident the new car can fire Ferrari to success.
“Let me tell you that it looks really, really aggressive,” said Massa. “This was part of my dreams. I know there was quite a lot of brainstorming when it comes to the new car.
“We always wanted to develop new models so I am impressed with the new car. We start in a few days and I am sure the championship will be stunning and very competitive.”
Ferrari were not the only team showing off their new car Friday. Silverstone-based Force India had drivers Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg on hand to reveal the VJM05.
Britain’s Di Resta, the cousin of IndyCar legend Dario Franchitti, enjoyed a successful rookie season with the Indian-owned team, collecting 27 points to finish 13th in the drivers’ championship.
“Seeing the new car built and complete for the first time is always an exciting moment,” the 25-year-old said. “I’ve had a good winter and I’ve recharged my batteries, but now I’m fully focused on 2012 and looking forward to the start of testing.
“There’s a really positive feeling in the team, good stability and hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the end of last year.”
German driver Nico Hulkenberg has taken the place of compatriot Adrian Sutil, who was handed an 18-month suspended jail sentence earlier this week for injuring Eric Lux – the chief executive of Lotus’ parent company Genii Capital.
“Preparations for the new season have been full-on with simulator sessions and lots of fitness training,” said Hulkenberg, who last raced for Williams in 2010.
“I feel ready to get back to racing and I’m excited to find out what the new car feels like next week.”
Elsewhere, veteran Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan has returned to Spanish team HRT. The 35-year-old’s recruitment means all 24 places on the grid for the 2012 season have now been filled.
Karthikeyan took part in the first eight races of 2011 with the Madrid-based team before making way for young Red Bull prospect Daniel Ricciardo. He last raced at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in October.
“It has taken a lot of hard work to make this happen but I am absolutely elated to feature on the 2012 grid with HRT F1 team,” the former NASCAR racer said.
“I was pleased with our strong performance at the Indian Grand Prix, in front of my passionate home fans and I look forward to building on this result in 2012.
“I have been training hard since the end of 2011, ensuring I was ready for the rigors of F1 if an opportunity arose.”
The 2012 Formula One season will begin with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 18.