Ferrari will start next year’s F1 season with an updated F2004 and may only introduce its new car after the first five grands prix, the Scuderia’s chief designer, SA-born Rory Byrne, says.

Ferrari will start next year’s F1 season with an updated F2004 and may only introduce its new car after the first five grands prix, the Scuderia’s chief designer, South African-born Rory Byrne, says.


He told that Ferrari never intended to start the 2005 season with a new chassis, opting instead to continue with the F2004 until the new package was fully up to speed.


“The new car will be ready at the end of February, but we want to go deeper into research and design so the F2005 is almost perfect when it does appear. We expect its debut to be between the third and fifth races," the veteran designer said.


The third race of the 2005 season will be the Bahrain Grand Prix and the fourth race on the provisional calendar will be at Magny Cours. Ferrari hopes to have the 2005 chassis running by the San Marino Grand Prix - currently round five of the championship.


The modified F2004 will comply with 2005-specification aerodynamic regulations, but Byrne hopes to have a number of developments on the car: “The F2004 will be a significant step up in performance from the cars that raced at Interlagos and the 2005 car will have an all-new gearbox and engine”.


Now in the twilight of his career, Byrne will be replaced by Italian Aldo Costa as “chief designer” at Ferrari when he retires in February 2007. Byrne said Costa's design “signature” - not his own - would be on the new F2005 car.


"In 2007 I will go to Phuket, in Thailand, where my wife and I have bought land by the sea and will build holiday cottages for tourists," he was quoted as saying.


Byrne said Costa had already “taken over” many of his long-standing responsibilities in the design department at Maranello. However, the South African could “remain involved” in some capacity with Ferrari beyond 2007. The Scuderia’s team principal, Jean Todt, is reportedly offering Byrne a “lifetime” Ferrari deal.