Ferrari took the wraps off their new F138 Formula One car on Friday and set their sights on a winning start to the season after turning last year’s beast into a beauty, and providing drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa with a winning chance from round one in Melbourne.
The broken, stepped nose that drew shocked gasps when unveiled last season – with some saying it was the ugliest Ferrari yet – was smoothed over with a more aesthetically-pleasing, flowing front.
Looking fast and being fast do not always go together, but even ugly cars are loved when they become winners. The signs were at least more promising ahead of the first test of the season in Jerez next week.
“It is more beautiful,” agreed team principal Stefano Domenicali after the wraps came off at the Maranello factory.
Ferrari was painfully off the pace at the start of 2012 but their reliability and the prowess of Fernando Alonso kept them in the chase with the Spaniard fighting for the title all the way to Brazil.
The double world champion, denied a third crown by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, told reporters that the Italian team could not afford to make the same mistake.
“There will be three teams who win all the races and we have to be one of those,” said Alonso, who will miss the Jerez test to give himself more time to prepare physically and mentally for the battle to come.
Last year saw seven winners in the first seven races, with six different teams triumphant over the season, but Alonso said that would not happen again.
“I think it was a one-off as a result of the regulation changes,” he said. “Now, with things a bit more stabilised, we saw at the end of the  season the top teams emerge and so I think it will be highly unlikely we will have seven races and seven winners.”
Champions Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren were the top three teams last year, with McLaren winning the final race in Brazil.
The Ferrari’s 138 designation derives from the year and the V8 engine, which will be replaced in Formula One by a turbocharged V6 in 2014, after eight seasons of use.
Domenicali said that the team, which is now using the Toyota F1 wind tunnel in Cologne while the Maranello one is redesigned, had changed procedures to ensure the best possible start to its season.
“Unfortunately in recent years we have at the beginning of the winter … not been able to be right on top of what we are doing,” said the Italian.
“We have already forgotten those things which left us with regret last year and we have started improving on the positive aspects of 2012, such as reliability and strategy during the races.”