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The Launch Season

The season of hope and hype is with us; already Toyota and Ferrari have revealed their challengers for 2007 and McLaren will do the same today. All the teams are excited about their new cars and expect great things in the coming races. It was ever so.

F2007

Ferrari F2007

One thing that seems to be common to all the launches so far (plus the Red Bull RB3, as yet un-launched but discussed by Adrian Newey recently) is that the cars are completely new – the only item retained from the previous model is the brake pedal. It’s good to know that at least everyone’s getting that darn pedal right.

Seriously, however, these launches do enable us to view the new cars and look for fresh ideas. Very often it is impossible to see any great changes, especially when the color scheme is altered, so disguising details that would be apparent otherwise. Toyota have followed in this tradition and their new car looks pretty much the same as last year’s.

The Ferrari is changed considerably, however, especially in the front suspension department. I do not pretend to understand all this talk of single and zero keels but the difference is plain to see: the lower wishbones have moved upwards. Apparently this will mean a lot of work adjusting the suspension to suit the tires and is one more change that the team will have to deal with in the coming months.

Otherwise the Ferrari red has shifted slightly to a more orange shade and white outlining has appeared at various edges. It is still very identifiable as a Ferrari, however.

Now we await first sight of the new McLaren, a car described by its drivers as the most beautiful they have ever seen. So much rides upon the performance of this car that we hardly care what it looks like. “Will it be quick?” is what we all really want to know.

And that’s the thing about launches – they are interesting from the technical point of view but nobody knows how well the cars will go until the lights go out for the start of the first race. Even testing is a notoriously bad indicator, any number of teams in the past having had their hopes buoyed by good testing times only to be brought down to earth when the races show up serious deficiencies in the car.

So pardon me if I find it hard to get excited by the launch season and have lumped three together like this. If anyone comes out with something truly ground-breaking and different, my enthusiasm will know no bounds, I promise. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on what is happening and long for the start of the season.

Just like everyone else, I suppose…

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