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Sunday January 26, 2014 MYT 12:17:02 AM
Sunday January 26, 2014 MYT 12:17:31 AM
by alan baldwin
Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain sprays champagne at Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Webber of Australia during podium celebrations after the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
(Reuters) - Ferrari unveiled their eye-catching 2014 Formula One car on Saturday with Fernando Alonso hoping a fifth season with the team will be as good for him as it was for Michael Schumacher 14 years ago.
The F14 T car, its name chosen in a vote of more than a million fans, was launched on the team website ahead of pre-season testing that starts in Jerez, southern Spain, on Tuesday.
Its 'broken' nose, with a pronounced hump in the middle section before drooping wide and low, offered a different solution to rival offerings seen so far - more dolphin than anteater.
If far from the most beautiful car produced by the most glamorous of teams, it need only be a winner to be loved after a difficult 2013 for Ferrari. Alonso felt the omens were good.
Schumacher, in the thoughts of everyone at Ferrari as he lies in a coma in a French hospital after a skiing accident, had to wait until his fifth year at Ferrari before he could win his third title.
The German went on to win five in a row and become a seven-times champion.
"I'm in the fifth year now so hopefully I can repeat some of the success that he had," said Alonso, who won his two titles with Renault - the team that twice crowned Schumacher when it was Benetton.
"In the last four years we had some opportunities, especially in 2010 and 2012 when we were very close to win the championship, so this year we will try again and hopefully this time will be the good one," said Alonso.
Fourteen years on from Schumacher's breakthrough title for Ferrari in 2000, Alonso now has his lucky 14 on the car after drivers were allowed to choose permanent racing numbers.
He will be paired with 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, returning to the team from Lotus with an eye on another crown. The Finn said it was good to be back and "the aim is the same.
"Time will tell what will happen but definitely fighting for the biggest victory," said the 34-year-old, who missed the last two races of last year to have back surgery.
"Did I miss driving a Formula One car? Not really," he said in typical deadpan fashion. "It was nice to have a break. I had to have a small operation done and didn't really have a choice. I wanted to be 100 percent as pain-free as possible for the coming season."
Formula One is introducing a new V6 turbocharged engine this season with complex energy recovery systems that represent the biggest technical upheaval for at least a decade. Reliability, particularly early on, will be crucial.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said he was expecting the first days of testing to be challenging for all.
"The most important thing that we have to avoid is to fall under the big pressure that we have. We need to stay very focused on the job," he said.
The team ended up third overall last season, behind champions Red Bull and Mercedes. Alonso was runner-up to Red Bull's quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said in an address on the team website that he was confident they had all the ingredients to be successful.
"Now is the time to win," he said.
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