Ferrari F138, a potentially winning season, conditioned by Pirelli tires

These were years in which the team from Maranello was close to the world title by a hair's breadth, arriving with Fernando Alonso always sadly second. This happens in 2010 and 2012, and in the second case the defeat is suffered only by three points behind the World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

For the 2013 season, Ferrari is focusing all its strength on the 664 project, officially known to the public as Ferrari F138, which simply derives from the union of the year of construction and the number of cylinders of the naturally aspirated engine.

2013 is a year of transition for the various Formula 1 teams pending the entry into force of the new regulations envisaged for 2014, consequently the previous F2012 is taken as a basis for the construction of the car.

The single-seater has a replacement of the front aerodynamic line, as the so-called vanity panel covers the previous aerodynamic step. The rest of the structure is not modified but undergoes a stiffening to give solidity, in addition the front pillars no longer perform only a support function of the front wing, but help to convey the flow in the lower part of the body, to then reconnect to the diffuser rear.

To improve the aerodynamics of the side bellies of the car, the radiators are reintroduced in an inclined position, in this way the passage of hot air towards the rear diffuser is increased.

The airbox is further tapered, while the DRS undergoes minor changes to adapt to the new regulations on its use in competition. The brake sockets are in fact redesigned to also act as flow deviators, and the brakes themselves, developed by Brembo, are made with the use of the new CER 100 material and with the adoption of a thousand cooling holes.

The rear suspension maintains the previous pull-rod pattern, but the lower rear arm and the toe arm are faired in a single wing profile that also contains the drive shaft. The torsion bars are now adjustable from the front of the body, reducing the time it takes to adjust the car's height to just three minutes.

The dynamic intake of the 056 engine remains the same as the F2012, as well as the port that cools the gearbox oil cooler and the hydraulic systems, helping to cool the KERS as well. The internal bulkheads that make up the petrol tank are revised to avoid fuel rinsing. A new single MES (McLaren Electronic System) control unit is introduced to manage the 2.4-liter V8 engine.

A season conditioned by tires

The start of the championship is very promising for Ferrari, in fact the Maranello team immediately reaches the podium in Australia, thanks to the second place of Alonso, author of a good start, with Felipe Massa finishing fourth. Thanks to these 30 points earned, the Maranello team immediately takes the lead in the constructors' classification.

Drivers' errors and mechanical failures cause the team to lose points in both Malaysia and Bahrain, but at the Chinese Grand Prix, the third race of the season, Alonso breaks a fast of victories that has lasted for twelve races, i.e. from the 2012 German Grand Prix, authoritatively winning the race.

The Spaniard also managed to repeat himself in Spain, despite not being able to go beyond fifth place in qualifying, thanks to an excellent strategy and a good start. Massa also arrives on the podium, who at the end of the tests had been moved back by three positions for hindering Mark Webber.

However, starting from the Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari loses competitiveness. On the occasion of the Monegasque race Massa is the protagonist of two identical accidents, fortunately without serious consequences, while Alonso will not go beyond the seventh place.

In the following races the Asturian reaches the podium in Canada and Great Britain, recovering in both races after a disappointing qualifying, while Massa gets an eighth and a sixth place. At this point in the season, Alonso is in second place in the drivers' standings, twenty-one points behind leader Sebastian Vettel.

On the occasion of the British Grand Prix, raced at Silverstone, however, many cars accuse problems related to the failure of the tire carcasses, consequently the FIA, in the name of safety, obliges Pirelli to return to the construction specifications of the previous season. Ferrari with the old tires definitively loses competitiveness, no longer able to make the tires work properly in order to aspire to victory.

After two races in which the two drivers will not go beyond a fourth place, starting from the Belgian Grand Prix Alonso gets three consecutive second places, precisely in Belgium, Italy and in Singapore, all obtained behind Vettel, who is now heading for the world title.

In the last few races Ferrari's problems worsen and the best results obtained by the team from Maranello will be two fourth places by Alonso at the Japanese and Massa Grand Prix in India.

Precisely in this circumstance Vettel will manage to be arithmetically crowned World Champion for the fourth consecutive time, also due to the eleventh place of Alonso, the only rival still mathematically able to beat him. The bad results in the final part of the season will also cost Mercedes the loss of the second position in the constructors' championship.

Not even Alonso's return to the podium in the final Brazilian Grand Prix will be enough to reverse the situation, and Ferrari will close the world championship in third place, with 354 points, six less than Mercedes, with a total of seven podiums, two victories and two fast laps, all achieved by Fernando Alonso.

Andrea Rasponi

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