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It has been revealed that two months before it is unveiled for the public, the Scuderia’s 2018 car has successfully passed the mandatory FIA frontal impact crash tests, in place to protect the driver in such an incident.
This news is significant as, in the past few weeks, the FIA has issued a directive preventing teams from employing special front suspension geometry that lowered the ride-height of the car in corners, thus increasing available downforce. That the car – internally known as the 669 – has passed the all-important test so early indicates that Ferrari has attended to this problem.
Ferrari has retained both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for the coming season – the latter seen these days as a safe ‘number 2’ rather than a championship challenger – as it regroups to take the fight to Mercedes, where Lewis Hamilton will be looking to defend his title and Valtteri Bottas will be seeking to up his game and present his own challenge.
Getting the crash tests out of the way early is not unusual, but represents an advantage in terms of being able to continue development in advance of the season.
With the car scheduled for introduction on February 22nd, Ferrari will be ready to hit the ground running at the pre-season tests.
Opposition this season is expected to come – naturally – from defending champions Mercedes, but Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in the cars, is also bullish about its chances, while McLaren may be a dark horse, having switched to a Renault engine supply to replace the troublesome Honda, with both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne expecting a more competitive showing than in 2017.