The Ferrari Formula One team is back and ready for a new race season, full of opportunities to celebrate its 90th anniversary and likely finish second a lot. But the car Ferrari will race looks a bit different this year, and not just because of its new black accents: It’ll have a matte finish, for performance rather than looks.
Ferrari announced the car on Friday, in a press release enthusiastically titled “Here’s the SF90,” and said new regulations for the upcoming season required some changes from the 2018 race car. F1 put new rules in place to hopefully up overtaking during the races, forcing teams to simplify aerodynamic features of their cars this year. It hasn’t gone over too well so far.
On the Ferrari car, the release said some of the big differences this year are a weight increase, a wider and more basic front wing, a wider and higher rear wing, a simpler design on the front brake ducts and less tall barge boards, which are aerodynamic pieces that line the sides of the race cars. But what it didn’t mention was perhaps the most interesting part—that its cars are going from a gloss to a matte finish for an advantage on track.
Motorsport.com reports that team principal Mattia Binotto said the matte finish is all about performance, and not at all for making the car look cooler—even if it kind of does. From the story:
“The reason is not aesthetic, but exclusively technical,” explained Binotto. “Eliminating the shiny element gives us a few hundred grammes, which may not sound like much, but when you push everything to the limit even this has an effect.”
Ferrari is not the only team to change its paint scheme for a laptime gain, with Red Bull having famously moved to a matte finish in 2016 for weight saving reasons.
The team also has a unique way of painting its car to ensure a totally smooth surface that minimises the chances of any drag from sponsor logos.
The new looks at Ferrari will go along with a new driver lineup—halfway, at least. Sebastian Vettel will stay on the team in 2019, while 21-year-old Charles Leclerc takes Kimi Raikkonen’s old spot. And since it’s never too early to talk team orders in F1, Motorsport.com reports that Ferrari already said it’ll give Vettel priority over the new kid, especially early on in the season.
But forget that for now, and take solace in that maybe, possibly, perhaps the aero changes for this year will result in more actual overtaking and less, “Hey, buddy, move over so your teammate can pass you for title points.”
Oh, and the matte liveries. Those are cool, too, even if that wasn’t the main goal with them.