Formula One: Ferrari to launch 2020 car on Feb 11

A photo taken on Dec 1, 2019, shows Ferrari's Charles Leclerc during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. PHOTO: REUTERS

MARANELLO (REUTERS) - Ferrari will launch their new Formula One car on Feb 11 and expect it to have less outright speed than this year's but be better equipped to take the fight to champions Mercedes after a disappointing 2019.

Team boss Mattia Binotto told reporters at the Maranello factory that Ferrari were aiming to put a lot more aerodynamic downforce on the as-yet unnamed 2020 car.

The sport's oldest, most glamorous and successful team have not won a drivers' title since Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen was champion in 2007.

"We are not expecting to be as fast on the straight as we have been," said Binotto. "Our car is aiming for more downforce and by consequence, we are certainly working more on drag."

Binotto said the new chassis was going through crash tests while developments continued in the wind tunnel, with a few more sessions to run before finalising the package for initial Barcelona testing in February.

Binotto said there would be "quite significant changes on the engine", with the power unit a source of controversy this year amid speculation Ferrari were bending the rules -allegations they have firmly denied.

Ferrari started 2019 as favourites after setting impressive times in testing but failed to live up to expectations. Binotto called the opening race in Australia "a cold shower".

Mercedes won both titles for an unprecedented sixth year in succession while Lewis Hamilton, who ended the year as a six times world champion, won 11 of 21 races.

Ferrari won three, two with Monegasque newcomer Charles Leclerc who out-performed four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, but suffered reliability problems and team and driver errors.

Binotto said Ferrari, whose driver line-up will be unchanged, would not start 2020 as favourites.

"We didn't have the best car in 2019," he said. "So, we cannot be the favourites. The ones that won the championship this year, the ones that won the last titles are setting the bar and are having the fastest car by the end of the season.

"So we are the challengers."

Ferrari chief executive Louis Camilleri saw encouraging signs for the future even if the team had not met their ambitions.

"If you look back in the history of Formula One, where teams have done very well...there is one common thread, which was that there was a lot of stability within the team and therefore they learnt to work very closely together," he said.

"That is something we are very focused on, Mattia has been spending a lot of time to ensure that we have a cohesive, united team."

Camilleri said Ferrari were prepared to invest in people and infrastructure, with a new simulator under construction. The team would have a bigger budget also to prepare for sweeping rule changes in 2021.

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