Ferrari launched their 2006 car at Mugello today hoping to benefit from a head start on their rivals.
The former world champions switched their focus to the 2006 car midway through last season, when it became apparent they stood no chance against the likes of Renault and McLaren.
While those two teams were fighting it out for the world championship, Ferrari were planning ahead and technical director Ross Brawn hopes he has found the recipe for success in a new era of 2.4-litre V8 engines.
He said: “From the midway point of last season when we realised we could not challenge for the top spots, we began concentrating more on development, especially the blend of the aerodynamic configuration and the characteristics of the new V8.
“Last year we weren’t as fast as our competitors. I hope that this year things will go better.”
Ferrari were expected to face a transitional year this term, with many of their key technical staff coming to the end of their contracts at the same time as Michael Schumacher.
Like team boss Jean Todt, Brawn is one whose contract expires at the end of this season but he showed no signs of imminent retirement.
“I’m very happy at Ferrari, very pleased with the way things are and would very much like to be involved with Ferrari in the future,” he said.
Chief designer Rory Byrne was tipped to retire at the end of the season but the South African revealed he will stay on until 2008 in a consultancy role, leaving day-to-day running of the department to Aldo Costa.
Byrne said: “I have been asked by the team to act as engineering consultant.”