Scuderia Ferrari: 2017 Preview
Ferrari's latest creation, the SF70H. | Photo: Twitter/Scuderia Ferrari

Is it to be this year for Ferrari? Now approaching their tenth season since last winning the Constructors' Championship and their eleventh without a drivers' title, success really has to come soon. But, is the SF70H the car to deliver it? On first glances, no.

Apart from two near misses in the decade thus far, courtesy of an inspired 2010 and 2012 from Fernando Alonso and a small renaissance in 2015 in the under-fire Maurizio Arrivabene and Sebastian Vettel's debut season, it's been a tumultuous period for the Italian giants - more of a limping horse than a prancing one. 2016 marked their second winless year in three seasons, not good enough for a constructor who'd only fallen to that low last in 1993.

The driver lineup remains unchanged, with Vettel alongside Kimi Raikkonen, who may be in his last year in the sport. This time for good. GP2 star Antonio Giovinazzi adds a welcome Italian name to the third driver role, replacing the dropped Jean-Eric Vergne.

On the technical side of the personnel, the loss of James Allison last year hurt, the wound opened up again by his arrival at Mercedes. It could be another painful year at Maranello.

The car

Unveiled in a uniquely silent launch at Fiorano yesterday, the SF70H has turned heads. But not for all the right reasons. Reportedly having trouble with the rear end of the car, it seems Ferrari have already hit problems. But don't let that take away from the fact that the new car features an impressive amount of intricate detail.

Similarly to the Mercedes W08, the sidepods have been pushed up and widened to create a very aggressive look to the car, and in addition, they've been merged with a host of turning vanes at the side of the car. The bargeboards are less square than others that we've seen so far. Due to this design, the back of the car is a very tight package, with Ferrari opting to undercut the sidepod and floor, something unique to the grid.

The sidepod inlets are distinctly rectangular. | Photo: Twitter/Craig Scarborough
The sidepod inlets are distinctly rectangular. | Photo: Twitter/Craig Scarborough

But, most of the attention was drawn towards the T-Wing sitting atop a shark fin. We suspect that Mercedes will do the same thing, but heavy winds at Silverstone put paid to any chance of a fin on Thursday. Not only going for a T-Wing, the SF70H features a monkey seat on the rear wing in order to aid performance. I wish I could say more about the back end of the car, but Ferrari have kept that firmly under wraps. Have they discovered something special, or are they hiding those reported flaws?

The nose design is similar to the SF16-H, with a stubbed end to it, but there are numerous developments on show. As expected, an S-Duct features, that will help carry air into the airbox intake, relatively small in comparison to what we've seen with others, particularly Renault and Mercedes. As mentioned on Thursday with Mercedes. Ferrari have readopted their chassis fins on the top of the front part of the monocoque, last seen on the F2008.

Not much can be taken from the simple front wing as Ferrari are famously secretive until the first race. I certainly wouldn't bet on seeing the current spec wing in testing, let alone Melbourne.

The retro livery seen last year has been given the boot, with red pretty much all over, despite the shark fin and the T, front and rear wings. It makes for a cleaner look than last year.

The drivers

5 - Sebastian Vettel

Races - 178
Championships - 4 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
Wins - 42
Podiums - 86
Pole Positions - 46
Points - 2,108
Best Finish - 1x 42
Debut - United States 2007

With the number of comparisons made between Vettel and Michael Schumacher, they certainly share the unfortunate experience of a troubled first two years with Ferrari. Although 2015 saw three wins for Vettel, the German was never really in with a shout of winning a fifth world title. And as for 2016, a poor car and some cruel luck made the year a write off. In Schumacher's third year with the Scuderia, he took the title down to the last race; can Vettel do the same?

It's a tough ask but never write off the 29-year-old. A changed figure from the tightly wound personality that soured his last year at Red Bull in particular, Vettel is more relaxed and a happier bunny (okay, bar Russia and Mexico last year...), despite success not flowing for him as it did at the start of the decade. He knows there's a chance of a period of greatness for him and Ferrari, and the shake up in rules could provide a way in, certainly early on.

Vettel ended 2016 with a podium in Abu Dhabi. | Photo: Getty Images.Rainer W. Schlegelmilch
Vettel ended 2016 with a podium in Abu Dhabi. | Photo: Getty Images/Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

He's had the beating of good friend Raikkonen over the course of their two seasons as teammates, and he'd expect to repeat that feat this year. If he could mingle with the Mercedes and the Red Bull cars, it would provide an awesome spectacle.

7 - Kimi Raikkonen

Races - 252
Championships - 1 (2007)
Wins - 20
Podiums - 84
Pole Positions - 16
Points - 1,360
Debut - Australia 2001

After a hefty amount of debate around his future last year, Raikkonen must've been uber keen to be out of the media spotlight once his contract with Ferrari was extended. The ice cool, unwillingly iconic Finn marks the 10th anniversary since his sole World Championship.

Without a win since the opening race of 2013 with Lotus, Raikkonen is under a certain amount of pressure to improve this time round, only taking four podiums in 2016, none of them coming in the second half of the season.

2017 could be Raikkonen's last year in F1. | Photo: Twitter/Scuderia Ferrari
2017 could be Raikkonen's last year in F1. | Photo: Twitter/Scuderia Ferrari

An undoubtedly quick and committed driver, the 39-year old has said it's "pointless" to speculate about the new season just yet, but was happy with the SF70H after a quick run yesterday at Fiorano.

It may be his final chance for F1 glory.

What can the team accomplish?

Part of you wants to say that the team can put up a very good fight against the Red Bulls and the two Mercedes cars. But, with Force India confident of improvement, the other part remains cautious, on the back of a very disappointing year. If Williams improve and Renault are capable of a top five finish, the year could get very hairy very quickly for the Scuderia.

The SF70H features a number of intricate details, but will the problems outweigh them? Also, how good is the Ferrari power unit?

Did you know?

Ferrari's all dominant F2004 still holds the lap record at nine circuits, six of them are still on the Formula One calendar. With the new cars rumoured to be three to five seconds faster per lap, how many will remain come December?

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