Launch Analysis: Ferrari F2012

Car: Ferrari F2012
Having followed a very similar concept since the 2009 F60, Ferrari found in 2011 that the conservative route was not making up the ground to their rivals. The F150 was a fast car, but lacked that final ounce of pace to beat the Red Bulls and McLarens. This was exacerbated by the car being easy on its tyres, to the point where it had tyre warm up issues. This showed itself in qualifying were the car would not make the most of a tyre around a single lap and also in cooler weather, or where the harder Pirelli tyre was used. The team recruited Pat Fry in a major reshuffle of engineering staff. Fry spent the year assessing Ferrari problems and set about a recruitment programme of new staff and a more adventurous design programme. The resulting car is clearly very different from its predecessors.
Externally very little remains the same on the new car, it does perhaps shares Ferraris favour for a long wheelbase and clearly is set up to run a fairly steep rake angle. But only the front wing, which is derived from the late 2011 wing appears to be carried over. Even this detail was a development in preparation for 2012, Fry leading the team to follow Red Bulls format of front wing in both shape and aero elasticity.

With a similar wheelbase, the revised seating position is perhaps the only change to the cars layout. The seating position was altered for Fernando Alonso last year and has been altered once more for a lower position.


Of all the 2012 front ends Ferrari has one of the most striking, the nose being very wide and square in cross section. The width is part of philosophy to use the extended wing mounting pylons, as a pair of turning vanes cascaded with the normal undernose turning vanes. By making the nose as wide as possible within the space allowed within the regulations, more undernose surface can be used to accelerate air through the duct formed by the nose and vanes. As a result the edges are tightly radiussed and cannot be rounded as with other teams. The aesthetics of the nose being also worse for the rectangular cross section front bulkhead. Ferrari opting not to make a “V” shape of the bulkhead, in order to make the area under the raised chassis uncluttered to make the vane set up work most effectively.

The flow through this vane set up starts with the wing mounting pylons, these are wide spaced at their leading edges and they then converge to end inboard of the main turning vanes. The main turning vanes then pick up the flow accelerating between the pylons and sweep out to direct the flow towards the lower leading edge of the underfloor.
Curiously Ferrari has yet to fit a driver cooling vent into the nose. This hole is not mandatory and clearly not a requirement for a chilly Spanish pre season test.

Front wing
As previously mentioned, the front wing is a derivative of the late 2011 wing. This was extensively detailed in a previous post. The wing is a three element set up, the main plane being slotted to create the leading two elements, and then the flap trails this. An extra slot in the down-turned corner of the flap helps keep flow attached in the steepest section of wing. The footplate is formed by the wing curving down on itself, while the upper section of endplate is a separate vane, albeit joined along a lot of its length to the foot plate. Front wings are now subject to a doubling of the deflection test used by the FIA 2011. So far the Ferrari wing has not exhibited the flutter seen last year, which is not to say it is not flexing.

Front Suspension

A mention of front suspension in the cars launch analysis will be unique to Ferrari this year, as they have revisited an old direction with its layout. Every other car for well over ten years has had pushrod front suspension, but Ferrari has revived the pullrod set up for the front of the car.

This effectively turns the pushrod set up upside down, now the rod passes down from the upper wishbone and connects with the rocker, which is now mounted at the bottom of the chassis. According to Fry, this set up is a little lighter and has a slightly lower Centre of Gravity. These gains alone will not pay for the systems inclusion on the car, so the team claim to have found an aero benefit. The pullrod can be thinner, but the real gain is the pullrod is mounted near horizontal across the front suspension. This places it in line with the upwash from the front wing. Just as with the wishbones, its profile can be subtly altered within the rules to help control the wake from the wing and improve the airflow over the rear of the car. Despite appearances the pullrod is as effective in moving the rocker for a given wheel travel as a pushrod. The important factor is the angle between the rod and the wishbone is connected to, rather than the rods angle to the chassis. I’ll explain a lot more pull rod suspension in a subsequent article.

Roll hoop

Although not a performance differentiator, the new roll hoop is very different concept to that seen in previous Ferraris. A far curvier pair of inlets are formed by the structure, this shaping being at odds with the ungainly nose. It is strange Ferrari have not undercut this area and exposed the structure supporting the roll hoop, which is the common practice to achieve more airflow to the rear wing. The main inlet feeds the engines airbox, while the smaller inlet piggy-backed behind it, most likely feeds the gearbox and hydraulic oil coolers mounted above the gearbox. The lifting point for the trackside cranes is formed by beneath the main inlet and enclosed by a simple bar connecting it to the top of the chassis.


It’s perhaps the sidepods that are the big performance area for the car this year.
Starting at their leading edge, the car sports a new format Side Impact Spar (SIPS) design inside the bodywork. Since 2009 Ferrari had a staggered SIPS arrangement, with a narrower spar sat ahead of a wider spar, creating the distinctive peaked sidepod inlet. Now it spears a single spar spans the sidepod and protrudes through to form the mount for the sidepod vane. This allows the spar to be wider, which creates an easier job to absorb the impact. Viewed from above the sidepod inlet lean inwards. This makes them more efficient at meeting the diverging flow that passes around chassis to enter the sidepod.

Much smaller and far more undercut, the sidepods now feature radiators mounted upright and splaying outwards from the rear of the car. Their new placement allows the flow through the cores to be directed outboard, rather than in towards the central tail funnel. This heated flow from the radiators passes out through the downswept chimney-fairings that differentiate the car from its rivals. This design keeps the centre of the car as slim as possible, with there being no tail funnel to obstruct the rear wing. Airflow passing through the undercut in the sidepod, still enters a coke bottle shape below the chimney-fairings and is passed over the diffuser. But these chimney-fairings also have a more important secondary use, for housing the exhaust outlets.

Additional cooling outlet area is provided in the tail of the sidepods, in between the rounded end of the chimney-fairings and the gearbox fairing. This gearbox fairing is nearly round in cross section also forms an outlet for hot air to exit from the engine bay.

With floor level exhausts no longer allowed, the teams have had to find different ways to make use of the powerful exhaust plume. Most teams have directed it over the sidepods towards the centre of the beam wing, but Ferrari have purposely placed the exits as far outboard as allowed (on the launch spec car at least). When viewed from above its clear these are aimed outboard of the rear wing endplate.

Sat inside the downswept chimney-fairings, the exhaust at first might be thought to be pointing downwards. But the rules state the exhaust outlets have to point upwards by at least ten degrees. Although not visible inside the chimney-fairings, the last 10cm of exhaust do indeed point upwards.

But the cleverly the down sweep of the chimney-fairings creates a downwash effect over the exhaust plume and this directs the combined flow downwards between the rear brake ducts and rear wing endplate. This set up will potentially reach the floor and act to seal the diffuser from the ground as with the 2011 EBD.

In testing the set up has gone through several iterations, firstly the exhausts exits were in line with the end of the chimney-fairings, but soon the exhaust tail pipes were shortened and the chimney-fairings above had to be cut back to maintain legality and also the allow the downwash flow to reach the shorter tailpipe.

At the Barcelona test the exhausts were again altered, this time being brought further inboard, approximately in line with the channel formed between the chimney-fairings and the engine cover. Now the exhausts appear to point inboard of the rear wing endplate. It’s not clear if this is an aerodynamic decision or a request for a less obviously aerodynamic solution from the FIA. Should the exhaust outlet stay in this position the sidepod and the chimney-fairings will need to be altered to optimise the downwashed airflow around the tail pipes.

Rear suspension
Almost unspoken of amidst the talk of the front pullrod set up, Ferrari also switched their rear suspension on its head and gone for pullrod on the rear of the F2012. Last year we saw the Ferrari had a very complex setup around the rear suspension rockers and placing this hardware lower down around the clutch and engine drive shaft, will be a tough task package.

Mounted to the revised gearbox, the rear top wishbone has been repositioned this year. It appears to be nearly horizontal; this places it in line with the beam wing, so the wishbone can act as a flow conditioner ahead of the wing. Even if the new gearbox is not as low as the Williams, the wishbone needs to mount to a vertical extension above the gearbox. This wishbone mounting hard point also forms the mounting for the beam wing. At first this appears to be a duct, but is just the thick swan-neck mounting similar to that used by Marussia for the past two years.

Diffuser\rear impact structure
Within the bodywork rules, there is not a lot of scope for a very different diffuser. So Ferrari have now added a full width flap around the diffuser on the new car.
Unusually Ferrari have not fully exposed the underside of the beam wing above the rear crash structure. Looking at the crash structure itself its clear it is shallow enough to allow this. Instead the crash structure has additional bodywork above and below it, which merges it with the beam wing.

As already mentioned the gearbox is a new design. The hybrid carbon and titanium case now has to mount a very different rear suspension system, with the switch to pull rod spring\damper operation and the raised upper wishbone.
Last year Ferrari were notable for having a single selector drum for their seamless shift set up. Most teams use two selectors; each one operating alternate gears, so that the phasing from one gear engaging and the other disengaging can be adjusted. Ferrari with a single selector must be confident that their system can always shift with the same aggressive phasing, without the option to go for a longer overlap.

Ferrari develop their KERS with Marelli, the system retains the same layout as in 2011 with the MGU mounted to the front of the engine and the Batteries placed under the fuel tank. The power electronics reside in the right hand sidepod.

With the engine freeze, not much can be said of the engine. Ferrari have usefully provided a high resolution image of the 056 engine, complete with integral oil tank, but lacking the KERS MGU.

21 thoughts on “Launch Analysis: Ferrari F2012

  1. Great article, thanks.

    How useful would that style of exhaust really be? With the FIA ever clamping down on off throttle blowing, doesn’t it just defeat the whole point of being able to use the exhaust gasses for aerodynamic effect?

    • Under braking i imagine the effect would be almost completely negated, but the plume will still seal the diffuser through high speed corners where i imagine the diffuser does alot of work, maybe also helping while on the power through corner exits too.

  2. Nice work, Craig, thanks for sharing it. So you basically don’t agree with Piola’s assessment of the F2012 being “at least 8 cm longer than the F150”? Or is it that 8 cms don’t actually make any significant difference in wheelbase?

  3. Great job Craig, as usual. Looking forward to your analysis of the other cars. Question: Can the inboard swept FW mounting pylons & the underside of the high nose act as a sort of a venturi effect? This was mentioned in the Official Ferrari magazine and I was just wanting your take on it. Thanks again mate!

    • While Craig didn’t call it by the name venturi effect, he did mention the design of the front wing pylons accelerating the flow between them as they converge, which is basically a description of the venturi effect.

      “The flow through this vane set up starts with the wing mounting pylons, these are wide spaced at their leading edges and they then converge to end inboard of the main turning vanes. The main turning vanes then pick up the flow accelerating between the pylons and sweep out to direct the flow towards the lower leading edge of the underfloor.”

      • Dang Scott, lol. It was late when I read the article & completely missed him using those words. Indeed accelerating the airflow is in turn using the venturi effect. Thanks mate, need to pay more attention next time. :))

  4. Thank you very much craig for your detailed analysis.

    Is the black/yellow part on top of cylinder head the oil tank ? And the tall structure with prancing horse on it is the intake duct?

  5. Craig, I was wondering if the initial wide mounted exhaust may be causing issues with the handling of the F2012. Both Pat Fry and Alonso have mentioned the car being inconsistent from entry, mid and corner exit. It occurs to me that throttle variations could be causing the exhaust to unsettle the car, forcing Ferrari to try a more ‘aero neutral’ exhaust position as seen in the testing photo above. Personally I would like to see the exhaust chimney removed completely, as it just looks wrong.

    • Scott, if they are to choose this rather neutral approach for the exhaust, I’d at least expect to see different fairings which are more retracted to the shape of the sidepod.
      It’s reported that on the third test they are going to feature lots of new parts, more notably a new floor.

      P.S. I almost forgot about the rear pull-rod .. this car has to deal with two completely new suspension systems. No wonder that they do so much isolation testing.

    • These intermittent losses of downforce were due to deformation of some aerodynamic parts which were poorly manufactured. This has been rectified at Barcelona.

    • I’m interested as well in seeing what direction they take. I assume the exhaust exiting using the Acer ducts/exhaust fairings is helping accelerate the airflow coming out of the radiators.
      But if they move them inboard more I can’t seem them keeping the Acer ducts, & doubt they’d even be legal no?

  6. Craig, great write up. Is that turbo looking thing on the bottom of the engine a water pump or something? If so, it’s massive!

  7. Pingback: F1 2012 Season - Page 6

  8. “But the cleverly the down sweep of the chimney-fairings creates a downwash effect over the exhaust plume…” That’s the first time I have heard “chimney” and “exhaust plume” used in the same sentence in, what, four or five years? A return to the exhaust chimneys?

  9. Craig,

    I’m fascinated by the Ferrari’s front suspension geometry – in fact it makes me wince. I always understood that for camber control on roll, the ideal length ratio of top and bottom wishbones was around 1/3 (maybe F1 cars just don’t roll anymore). With the Ferrari however (and it has to be said quite a few 2011/2012 cars), not only do the wishbones appear to be roughly equal length, they are at such an extreme droop angle at the neutral position, that there must be a significant increase in effective front track on bump – and surely, as the wheel is pushed outward it must “un-stick” from the road (this is something that, with it’s lower nose, the McLaren avoids, which makes me wonder why they have to run the car so stiff at the front). The Ferrari’s front pull-rod arrangement makes all this seem even more wrong-headed to me (I’m a primarily a speaker designer by trade so talking “off piste”). I appreciate, as you wrote, that the heave geometry of the pull-rod set up is defined by the angle between the rod and the upper wishbone, but looking at the thing (your front-on drawing), and visualising what happens on heave (or to the outside wheel on roll), the way the geometry is set up it looks as if the heave on the Ferrari is resisted as much by sideways force on the tyre as it is by the resistance of the heave spring. Your promised piece on pull-rod suspension is much anticipated.


    • Exactly what I’ve been thinking. My reaction on seeing the pullrod angle was that there were going to be enormous loads and little movement on the rod. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t the load be a function of the tangent of the angle? When I first heard that Ferrari were going with a pullrod front I posted that that was not going to happen, exactly for the reasons above; I was wrong about them having it, but I still believe they are asking for enormous difficulty with setup and damper settings. I know they can multiply the movement with a bell crank or something, but I don’t see how this can be effective. Of course, these cars have very little suspension movement; a lot of the suspension is in tire flex now, but still, they are going over bumps! I am curious to read Scarb’s
      pullrod analysis.

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