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What's In A Name?



31 MAR - 03 APR 2016


Names and nicknames are a lot of fun, so to start with here’s another question for you: what does a Pampas Bull have to do with the most successful marque in Formula 1 history?

Ferrari’s F138 was launched in Maranello at the end of last week. The Lotus E21 was the 21st car to come from that team’s Enstone stable, but where does the Italian constructor get its nomenclature from?

The logic behind the naming of the Scuderia’s 59th car is not that complicated: 13 is for the year 2013, 8 for the number of cylinders, and their juxtaposition in the F138’s name acknowledges the fact that this will be the last year, for the foreseeable future, of that particular engine architecture in Formula 1.

In 2014 we switch to V6 turbo-charged power and, as Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo admitted at the F138 launch, that’s not something familiar to the Maranello marque.

“A V6 engine is not part of the Ferrari tradition and in the name of the F138, we are paying homage to the 8-cylinder engine and the fact this is the last year we will use it,” said the President. But he sounded a warning note for the team’s rivals at the same time.

“I continue to maintain, for economic, musical and power reasons that it would be better to stick with 8 cylinders. But the decision has been taken to build the V6 and if next year, there will be modifications that are in the best interests of Formula 1, then I will even be pleased to see this engine at work and in fact, I’m sure Ferrari is capable of building the strongest V6 in the world.”


F138, responding to last year’s difficulties in calibrating wind-tunnel data, has been designed solely in the ex-Toyota wind-tunnel at their former F1 facility in Cologne, Germany.

  • Carbon-fibre and honeycomb composite structure
  • Ferrari longitudinal quickshift semi-automatic sequential gearbox; seven gears plus reverse; limited-slip differential
  • Brembo ventilated carbon-fibre disc brakes
  • Independent suspension, pull-rod activated torsion springs front and rear
  • Weight (with water, lubricant and driver) 642 kg
  • Ferrari Type 056 8-cylinder engine in a 90° vee
  • 4 valves per cylinder; pneumatic distribution
  • Total displacement 2398cc
  • Weight 95 kg
  • Electronic injection and ignition


Ferrari has pulled out all the stops to make sure it is not left behind, as it seemed to be at the start of 2012. Part of the effort is a restructuring of team management, with Chief Designer Nikolas Tomazis now helped by not one but two Deputies. At the same time Ferrari has two design ‘cells’ working on the 2013 and the significantly different 2014 cars.

“There was a significant performance gap to be closed,” says Tombazis as he looks back to 2012 and forward to the new season.

“I would say the biggest changes relate to the front suspension, which has an improved layout, while at the rear the suspension is completely new. We also have a revised sidepod design, aimed at improving the aerodynamics in this area, as well as a completely new layout for the exhaust system.”

Eagle-eyed fans will also note that F138 has a light but effective ‘vanity panel’ over the ‘ugly duckling’ stepped nose. Overall the Maranello backroom people have followed two guiding principles: weight loss and increased rigidity.


Less weight and improved rigidity? Maybe that’s what Fernando Alonso is targeting as he opts to miss this week’s first test at Jerez, concentrating instead on the fitness levels he will need to sustain another 19- or 20-race campaign.

“I can’t say if it’s a nice car or if it’s good enough to make the difference,” said the 31-year-old Spaniard with typical candour, “because tenths are not visible to the eye – you need to see them from the cockpit.”

But Alonso is adamant that the Scuderia’s drivers – who this year include, in a development role, the veteran Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa – act and speak as one. “We are lucky in this team to have a very good entente,” he insisted. “Pedro and Felipe and me, we are one person and the same.”

Tell Massa that when he gets his next ‘telephone call’ from long-time race engineer Rob Smedley, we hear you say...

Alonso is the latest in a litany of Ferrari’s Grand Prix-winning drivers that stretches back almost to the beginnings of the World Championship in 1950. So far Fernando is the 37th on that list; Ferrari have won 219 times in their 851 World Championship races and they are the only team with more than 200 of everything: wins, poles and fastest laps.


Technical Director Pat Fry acknowledged that the F138 seen at the launch is a very different animal from the one we will meet on the grid at Albert Park. Such is the pace of development that the three pre-season tests – two in Jerez, the last one in Barcelona – will bring a host of changes.

But the overall objective is the time-honoured one in all forms of motor racing.

“We will have a better idea of what our true performance level is come the third test,” said Fry, “but I’m not going to be happy until we are clearly quickest.”

That sentiment was echoed by Team Principal Stefano Domenicali. “There will be three teams who win all the races,” said the immensely popular Italian, “and we have to be one of those teams.

“The key objective that we must have is of immediately delivering a competitive car to our drivers.”

*How did you go with our nicknaming conundrum? The answer is that it took Ferrari until the fourth Grand Prix of 1951, the British round at Silverstone, to claim the first of those 219 victories. It went to Froilan Gonzalez, a burly driver from Argentina whose nickname was... ‘The Pampas Bull’. The 37-strong list had started.

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