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Aiming to end title drought, Ferrari unveils its new F138

Associated Press

2/1/2013 9:50:33 AM

MARANELLO, Italy -- Ferrari has unveiled the car that it hopes will end a run of four years without a Formula One title.

The car's name -- F138 -- is a combination of the year and a tribute to the V8 engines which will be used for the last time this season, bringing an end to an eight-year run.

The car features an open nose and a slightly different body and tail from last year's F2012. It will be the 59th Ferrari single-seater to compete in F1.

"This is a starting point for a year with only one goal: To add to our wonderful history," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said Friday.

Ferrari last won the constructors' title in 2008 with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, while Raikkonen won the team's last drivers' title in 2007.

Ferrari has won a record 16 constructors titles.

Force India also launched its car, with Paul Di Resta pulling the covers off the VJM06 at the Silverstone circuit.

This season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17, while testing starts in Jerez, Spain, next week.

"This is just the first step of a car that could already look different in Australia," Domenicali said.

"The goal is to have a competitive car right away," Domenicali added. "Unfortunately last year we struggled during the winter and we weren't competitive right away. We're trying to be much more efficient in preparation now, to have a car capable of exalting our drivers already in Australia."

Last season, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso finished second to Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship and Massa was seventh.

Ferrari was also second to Red Bull in the constructors' standings in 2012.

"We're coming off an intense season," Domenicali said. "Finishing second was difficult emotionally. It left us with a bitter taste in our mouths."

Alonso noted that new rules could make it difficult for a repeat of last season, when seven different drivers won the opening seven races.

"I think it will be just two or three teams that will win, and I hope we will be one of those," Alonso said.

Alonso will sit out the opening tests in Jerez to work on physical training. Recently recruited test driver Pedro de la Rosa will try out the new car instead, along with Massa.

"We're such a great team that it doesn't matter who does the tests, whether it's Felipe, Pedro or I, it doesn't make much of a difference," Alonso said. "I will follow everything very closely."

In October, Ferrari extended Massa's contract for one more season. While the Brazilian hasn't won a race since a life-threatening accident at the Hungarian GP in 2009, he had a solid second half to last season, and finished third in the year-ending Brazilian GP.

"I want to be competitive from start to finish this year, not just for half of the season," Massa said.

The Force India car is the third overseen by the team's Technical Director Andrew Green, who said it is "brand new from the ground up" with the most obvious change the removal of the 'step' nose.

"The VJM06 doesn't look massively different to its predecessor, but beneath the skin we've looked at every detail to try and find more performance," Team Principal Vijay Mallya said. "I've followed the development of the car closely and I'm proud of what we have achieved. The objective now is to make sure we build on the promise of last year and have a strong start to the season."

The team, which finished seventh in the constructors championship, didn't win a race but had four top-five finishes from Di Resta and his fellow driver Nico Hulkenberg.

"Seeing the car built and complete for the first time is a special feeling," Di Resta said. "I've followed its progress in the tunnel and it looks very impressive - aggressive and fast. Now I'm just eager to get out there and see where we stand compared to our competitors."