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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Massa gives new Ferrari first run

Felipe Massa tests the new Ferrari at Mugello
Felipe Massa is the first to drive Ferrari's new F60 at Mugello

Ferrari have become the first team to launch their 2009 car ahead of a season that heralds the biggest Formula One rule changes for 25 years.

The team's F60 car employs a raft of features to meet the new regulations, including an energy recovery system and aerodynamic changes to aid overtaking.

Felipe Massa, who was runner-up in the 2008 drivers' championship, ran the car for two laps at the Mugello test track.

He said: "I expected it to be big, but it's small like a Formula Three car."

The Brazilian revealed he had been "a little surprised" by the car's design, adding; "I expected it to (have) huge (front) wings like they were 10 years ago.

"The new F60 seems tiny, very compact and cute. I feel emotional but I'm also happy to take it out on track for the first time."

Massa became the first F1 driver to experience a definitive 2009 car when he put the F60, named to mark Ferrari's 60th season in the sport, through its paces at Mugello.

The team had been due to debut the car at their traditional testing venue, the Fiorano track at their base in Maranello, but snowy conditions forced a change in venue.

Ferrari will enter the 2009 season as the top constructor after beating McLaren to the 2008 crown by 21 points.

But Massa, who lost the drivers' title to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by a single point last season, predicts McLaren will once again provide the main threat in the coming campaign.

"Right now it's difficult to say who will be the main rivals but for sure McLaren will make life the most difficult but there's also BMW, Renault and maybe other surprises," he said.

"We don't know how good the Ferrari will be, we've worked very hard but there's still a long way to go before the first race.

"But I feel stronger from the point of view of experience. I feel ready for a great battle."

Team principal Stefano Domenicali agreed that Ferrari faced new challenges but insisted the team are focused on staying at the pinnacle of F1.

"For the last 10 years we've been at the top, winning eight (constructors') titles," he said.

"This year is going to be unique, everything is new, different, more complicated.

"For us F1 is our life, our aim is to stay at the top."

Kimi Raikkonen, who won the world title for Ferrari in 2007, added; "Of course it's a big question mark how good the car is, and who makes the best car because the rules have changed a lot.

"But I think we are very confident that the cars will be very good."

Ferrari's new car is the first of a series of launches as F1's teams prepare their machines for the new season, which starts in Melbourne, Australia, on 29 March.

Toyota, fifth last season, unveil their challenger on 15 January, with McLaren's latest model appearing the following day.

Renault and Williams reveal their new cars on 19 January, with BMW Sauber doing the same 24 hours later.

Red Bull announced last week that their car will be launched much later than many other leading teams, on 9 February.

The new Ferrari F60
Ferrari are the first team to unveil the new specification 2009 car

All cars must comply to new 2009 regulations, which include aerodynamic modifications where the front wing will be lowered and widened and the rear wing will become taller and narrower.

Slick, untreaded tyres will also be reintroduced after 11 years on grooved tyres and teams have the option of employing a kinetic energy recovery system (Kers).

The Kers system, similar to those in hybrid road cars, works by storing energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat during braking and reapplying it during acceleration to provide a boost in power.

This boost is controlled by the driver from a button in the cockpit and it is hoped the burst of acceleration will make overtaking easier.

A cockpit-adjustable front wing is another innovation introduced with that aim.

The idea is that drivers should be able to follow other cars more closely through corners - and therefore make them more likely to be able to pass their rivals at the end of the following straight - by increasing the amount of front downforce produced by the wing.

Though the Ferrari F60 was unveiled on Monday, it is not yet the finished product that Massa and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will race in Melbourne.

All teams will introduce a series of updates to their cars between their official launches and the first race weekend in Australia.

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see also
New Ferrari breaks cover
12 Jan 09 |  Formula One
Ferrari announce sponsorship deal
19 Dec 08 |  Formula One
F1 stars may have to take pay cut
18 Dec 08 |  Formula One
F1 unveils cost-cutting blueprint
12 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Big guns back to work in F1
17 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Last-gasp Hamilton takes F1 crown
02 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Ferrari make F1 engine row threat
28 Oct 08 |  Motorsport
Ferrari keep Raikkonen until 2010
12 Sep 08 |  Formula One

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