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JANUARY 12, 1998

Ferrari reveals its F300...

FERRARI unveiled its new F300 Grand Prix car on Tuesday at Maranello and team principals put their necks on the line, saying that the team would have no excuses if it did not win the World Championship this year. "We want to win the World Championship," said Ferrari President Luca Montezemolo. "If we don't do that we will fail in our objectives. We have the best structure, a complete staff and organization and the best driver in the world."

Team boss Jean Todt was similarly bullish. "I will state openly today that our only goal must be to win the World Championship. After four years of restructuring, now we have to deliver."

The F300 is the work of chief designer Rory Byrne and technical director Ross Brawn, both of whom joined Ferrari in the course of 1997. "I am very happy with the car," said Brawn. "We have a very good concept and good detail and I am delighted by all our efforts."

The engineers stressed that one of Ferrari's strengths is that the entire car - including the engine - is built under the same roof and that the 1998 car is the first in recent history to have been conceived with the engine and chassis departments working hand-in-hand. The car is powered by a new V10 engine, with a new 80-degree vee-angle, which has been designed by a team led by Paolo Martinelli.

Brawn said that he reckons that the F300 will be around three seconds a lap slower than the 1997 cars because of the regulations changes, which mean that the cars are narrower and will be running on grooved tires.

The team started testing the car before Christmas but the first serious work was done last week at Fiorano. The original intention was for the team to move on to a test at Jerez in Spain but this has now put off, the team preferring to stay at Fiorano so that if there are problems they can be solved relatively quickly. Eddie Irvine will, however, be testing this week in Jerez, using an old F310B, modified to 1998 specification.

The Ferrari team structure remains much as it was last year although it should be noted that the chief race engineer GiorgioƊAscanelli will not be traveling to the Grands Prix this year, his role being taken over by Brawn. This is clearly a sideways promotion for Ascanelli and it may result in him deciding to leave Ferrari and return to England where he worked very happily with both Benetton and McLaren in the early 1990s. He has enjoyed strong links in the past with Arrows technical director John Barnard, having worked with JB at Ferrari and then at Benetton. He moved to McLaren to have the opportunity to work with Ayrton Senna but then went back to Ferrari to work with Barnard again.