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Ferrari set for earlier launch of 2006 car

Ferrari's new car will take off earlier than its previous design-time consuming cars.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2005 11:02 IST

Ferrari are preparing an early launch of their 2006 car in a bid to accelerate their fightback after losing their world championship title this year, technical chief Ross Brawn said here Friday.

The Italian giants have held the constructors' crown since 1999 with lead driver Michael Schumacher winning the last five drivers' titles before losing his place at the top to Renault driver Fernando Alonso this year.

Ferrari have traditionally launched their car late to maximise design time but Brawn revealed: "We plan to bring the new car in during January, so it will be earlier than previous cars.

"The new engine has been running in a hybrid car and is being updated and revised as we go along. It will continue to run for the next four or five months and that has the longest lead time of all the parts.

"We will start running (the new car) from the middle of January and (until then) we will continue tyre testing and will be running two cars, one with an experimental engine, a V10 with eight cylinders, and one the proper V8."

New regulations will see a significant change in the design of next year's cars, with new aerodynamic rules and a change of engine design to a V8 configuration set to have a knock-on effect.

Ferrari will be hoping those changes can help them leapfrog current leading teams McLaren and Renault, who got the jump on Ferrari and their tyre suppliers Bridgestone this year after new tyre regulations shook up the grid.

Ferrari won 15 of the 18 races last year but have only won once this time around, in the controversial six-car United States Grand Prix, with Schumacher's best 'real' result a second place finish.

The German driver, who has won more races than anyone in the history of the sport, normally takes a break over the winter but Ferrari have warned him he will have to be on call this year in case they hit any problems.

"Michael needs some time away from the car like everyone and traditionally he has had a month or six weeks away from Formula One to recharge his batteries," said Brawn.

"We won't use Michael unless it is absolutely necessary, but it is possible. Reliability running is never necessary to use him and the engine is still in the early stages, so it is a question of logistics."

Ferrari already have Italian Luca Badoer and Spaniard Marc Gene on their testing books and both drivers provide a good amount of experience having worked solidly this year on testing and development.

The team will not use second race driver Rubens Barrichello over the winter because the Brazilian, out of contract at the end of December, will join BAR-Honda in January and Ferrari do not want him to reveal secrets to their rivals.

They will have full use of replacement Brazilian Felipe Massa, who currently drives for Sauber, and Brawn is not concerned about missing Barrichello's knowledge during the development stage.

Massa tested for Ferrari in 2003 and when questioned about the loss of Barrichello's experience Brawn said: "Felipe is very experienced as well, we had a lot of experience with him in testing before.

"We know he can make a good contribution. Rubens has been a good team member and I will be sad to see him go but it is a new opportunity for him and a new opportunity for us.

"I think Felipe will be very motivated and we have been pleased with the information and input that he has. It is a case of one door closes, another one opens."

First Published: Oct 10, 2005 09:00 IST