Ferrari see positive signs of speed from new F1 car

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan - April 26, 2019 Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

(Reuters) - Ferrari held a pre-season team launch on Friday with some confidence that their new Formula One car, to be unveiled next month, would be a lot better than last year's flop.

Team principal Mattia Binotto told reporters in a video conference from the Ferrari museum in Maranello, against a backdrop of winning cars from the past, that the data looked promising.

"Last year the main issue was the speed on the straight lines, both power and drag," he said at the team presentation. "We've worked a lot on the power unit and the car aerodynamics to reduce the drag.

"Based on our simulations today, based on what we can see from the power output on the dyno and the drag of the car from the wind tunnel, I think we've recovered quite a lot of speed on the straight lines.

"So I'm expecting the speed not to be such an issue... we hope to be competitive but we will know it only when in Bahrain. We believe that our car is certainly more efficient compared to the one we had last year."

The new car is due to be unveiled on March 10, with the season starting in Bahrain on the 28th after three days of testing there.

Ferrari finished sixth overall in 2020, their lowest championship position since 1980 when they were 10th, and failed to win a race.

Mercedes, who took both titles for the seventh year in a row and now have Lewis Hamilton chasing his record eighth championship, won 13 of the 17 races.

Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel has now moved to Aston Martin, with 26-year-old Spaniard Carlos Sainz arriving from McLaren alongside 23-year-old Monegasque Charles Leclerc.

The lineup is Ferrari's youngest since 1968 but Leclerc is a race winner and Sainz is on his fourth team already.

Asked how optimistic he was, and whether he expected to stand on the podium again this year, Sainz said that was the million dollar question nobody could answer until the opening race in Bahrain.

"There are some encouraging signs, some encouraging data coming out," he said, speaking also in fluent Italian.

"At the same time, we don't know what the others are doing. It's the same question every winter. You might be progressing but you don't know if the others are progressing more or less."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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