Charles LeClerc was not the only star on the stage where the Italian tri-colour was born 223 years ago. Here he was in Reggio Emilia, halfway between Modena and Parma, where lies the municipal theatre Romolo Valli just 30kms from “Ferrari Central” at Maranello – helping host the presentation of Ferrari’s shining new competitor to Mercedes and Red Bull.
Accompanying him was the other sensational star, the car itself, the 2020 new Ferrari SF 1000 which made its bow 30 minutes into the ceremony created especially to present it. Spanking new it looks gorgeous, and it looked super-fast – but the proof will be in the pudding with Charles behind the wheel in Barcelona testing this month.
Formula 1 rules will force a quantum change in the technology in the cars in 2021 so 2020 is the final evolution under the current rules. Nevertheless Ferrari feel they have pushed the envelope with the SF1000.
Who can forget that 2019, just behind us, was a celebration of Ferrari’s 90th anniversary with the aptly labelled SF 90. Arguably 2020 and this evolved new SF 1000 is an even bigger landmark in Ferrari’s history.
The Prancing Horse is the only team which has been continually present in Formula1 since the genesis of the world championship (1950). Ferrari will contest its 1000th Grand Prix this season, in Canada on June 14th … or at Le Castellet on June 28th if the Chinese GP (April 19) suffers as a consequence of the coronavirus.
In Leclerc and Vettel’s hands, the SF1000 will have a clear goal: that of bringing Ferrari a 2020 constructors’ championship for the first time since 2008. Ferrari will also be seeking their first drivers’ title since Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 triumph.
The next challenge has already arrived: Wednesday 19th, Thursday 20th and Friday 21st February, the first dress rehearsal gathered all the ten teams from F1 onto the race-track in Barcelona. This is a key opportunity for Leclerc to start getting to grips with this new weapon with which he will no doubt target to beat historic records for ascending F1 podiums.