After years of close fights against Williams and McLaren, the Prancing Horse manages to establish itself on the competition and win both world titles in 2000. In the Japanese Grand Prix, in Suzuka, when Schumacher crosses the finish line first, ahead of his great rival, Mika Hakkinen, the red wall literally explodes with joy, because in addition to the first place obtained in the standings dedicated to the drivers, a long fast that lasted more than twenty years: the last title won by Ferrari dates back to 1979, with Jody Scheckter.
The euphoria linked to the 2000 triumph, however, does not destabilize the work of the men of Maranello, who are obviously satisfied with the year ended, but the hunger for victory is still very great, and in Ferrari they now have the awareness that it is no longer necessary to bridge the gap with rivals, but rather to increase it in one's favor.
In other words, the Ferrari F1-2000 will serve as the basis for creating cars that are not simply fast and winning, but dominating. And the heir to the 2000 single-seater, the F2001, will testify how great Ferrari's victory ambitions are.
News related to the new safety regulations
The novelties of the F2001 are obvious, and there is a certain detachment from the philosophy presented the previous year with the F1-2000: the nose is lower and has a twisted front wing.
The novelties depend on the important regulatory changes sanctioned by the FIA in favor of safety, and at the same time, of the reduction of performance, which force the technical director Ross Brawn, and the designer Rory Byrne, to make important changes during the design phase.
Starting from the 2001 season, the Federation has imposed much stricter crash-tests in the rear area of the car, and in the side impact test, aspects that force the men of the Red to review the entire construction process of the composite fiber monocoque, to prevent the innovations from penalizing the aerodynamics of the car in any way, also taking into account the new designs of the cars, characterized by enlarged cockpits, in order to facilitate the extraction of the driver in the event of an accident.
In addition to this, the FIA introduces a leg protection, useful for mitigating blows in the event of an accident.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that the F2001 will come to absorb impacts four times more violent in the side crash, compared to the F1-2000.
The idea of the FIA leads to obtaining the desired results, without however limiting the innovative capacity of the team from Maranello, which emerges completely with the design of the new single-seater, exploiting the regulatory innovations: the chassis beltline is slightly higher than the past, while part of the missing space is recovered by reducing the capacity of the petrol tank, installed just behind the driver.
At an aerodynamic level, the FIA requires a five centimeters front wing lift, resulting in a reduction in the aerodynamic load at the front of the car. This aspect will affect a lot, because inevitably the car will be unbalanced, forcing the technicians to work on the shape of the rear wing as well, just to find a certain balance.
The stroke of genius, however, comes thanks to the team directed by Nikolas Tombazis: working in the wind tunnel, a spoiler with a twisted profile is designed, which will immediately become the reference for all the rival teams, immediately engaged to re-propose it on their cars.
Thanks to this solution, despite the changes imposed by the FIA, the single-seaters will be able to replicate the aerodynamic values of the previous year.
The structural novelty of the V10 engines
In Formula One, a useful material for the construction of engines has been found for some time, beryllium. This metal is very advantageous, because in addition to being incredibly resistant to stress, it is also very light.
These two properties of beryllium made this material indispensable for the construction of some parts of the engine, so much so that, using the latter, Mercedes had created a small and powerful engine, in effect the best of the grid. Ferrari, however, discovers that during processing, this metal releases toxic and potentially deadly substances, putting the safety of the technicians at risk. This problem is immediately reported to the FIA, which, given the situation, rightly decides to ban its use.
In Maranello, it is tradition that all materials considered harmful should be banned and not used, therefore this limitation will have a huge impact, from the point of view of engine efficiency, more on the performance of the opponents, given that the 050 engine of the Red will maintain all the values of previous years, while the Mercedes engines will suffer a lot from the loss of beryllium, especially from the point of view of reliability, an aspect that in the past had made McLaren a winner and almost unbeatable.
In Maranello, for years, innovative and alternative constructive solutions have been adopted, such as the micro-cast base, which allows the weight to be contained within 100 kg, while with the elimination of the barrels the distance between the cylinders was reduced, in favor of a shorter length.
To try to recover the lost advantage, McLaren and Williams will adopt a system called anti-spin, which will allow a cut in the ignition of some cylinders during acceleration, thus limiting the slipping of the rear wheels, but the British teams will suffer numerous breakages at the engine and/or transmission, due to the increased stress to which these components are subjected.
And while the other teams try to solve the many reliability problems, Ferrari continues to refine its car, introducing a new chassis in Japan, in the last test of the season, lightened by a few kilos compared to previous versions, marked with the number 214.
The report of an extraordinary season
Right from the start, the F2001 shows all its potential, and the end-of-season numbers speak for themselves: nine wins for Schumacher and second drivers' title won in Hungary, with four races to go. In the space of a couple of years, Ferrari did not simply return to winning, but to dominate.
At the same time, the return to success of the Red also rekindles the unbridled passion of thousands and thousands of fans: as Patrick Head, Williams technical director will point out, Schumacher's 2001 season will have many similarities with the extraordinary 1992 championship won by Nigel Mansell.
The British driver's dominance, however, was little appreciated, depriving Formula One of the spectacles generated by a close fight. The unstoppable march of the Red, on the other hand, fills the stands of the Hungaroring. Precisely this factor surprised Head, so much so that he came to define the traits of Ferrari's power.
The 179 points obtained by Ferrari in 2001 further confirm the superiority of the F2001, with which, however, Barrichello does not fit perfectly, who ends the season in third place in the drivers' championship, even behind Coulthard and his McLaren.
The successes achieved by Ferrari 2001, due to the great skill in knowing how to interpret the regulations, contribute to the continuous growth of a team that had already reached impressive levels of competitiveness, but which at the same time is preparing for the 2002 season, a year in which Ferrari will be able to highlight his strength even more.
Simone Pietro Zazza