The Rory Byrne-penned Ferrari F2004, which was unveiled in Maranello on Monday, looks much the same as the F2003-GA, but it is noticeably smaller and shorter than its predecessor.

The Rory Byrne-penned Ferrari F2004, which was unveiled in Maranello on Monday, looks much the same as the F2003-GA, but it is noticeably smaller and shorter than its predecessor.


The new car may bear a striking resemblance to last year's successful design, but there are some important detail changes. The car has a shorter wheelbase than last year's car, has a lower centre of gravity, while weight distribution has been improved via the chassis and the engine. The cockpit opening has also been moved further back.


The chassis weight has been reduced, front and rear suspension revised and the bodywork, exhausts and the rear end have been redesigned to produce improved aerodynamic performance.


Designer Byrne said there would be big changes on the aerodynamic front before the opening race weekend at Melbourne in March.


"In order to continue making steps forward, every area effecting aerodynamics has been further developed and many new components will be introduced during our test programme in February," said Byrne. "The car we'll race in Melbourne will look different in many areas to the one that you see here.


“The fundamental design philosophy of the F2004 is the same as its predecessors in terms of optimising its aerodynamic efficiency, lowering the centre of gravity height and maximising performance on the Bridgestone tyres and 053 engine.


“There are no fundamental changes to the chassis structure, but it is completely new in terms of shape as a result of its aerodynamic requirements," he added. “Almost every component has been redesigned.”


Meanwhile, modifications to the sporting regulations regarding the number of engines that can be used in the course of a grand prix weekend set new targets for the 053 engine design project. Ferrari is confident that the three-litre V10 unit's engine life will be double to that in the past.


The transmission features a completely new design, providing a reduction in size and weight, the Scuderia claims. The titanium gearbox has seven speeds (plus reverse) and, because of changes to the technical regulations, is operated directly by the driver. In keeping with a trend initiated by Ferrari back in 1997, the car has high-level exhausts, but compared with previous versions, they are mounted nearer the car's centre line.


Technical director Ross Brawn said: "Once again, this car represents another significant step in performance. Our analysis of the 2003 season highlighted the areas where we were strong and those where we weak.


"We did not react aggressively enough to the opportunities presented by the 2003 regulation changes. For 2004 we have ensured that we will not make the same mistake," he added.