The new matte paintwork on Ferrari’s 2019 car was used for technical reasons rather than cosmetic, according to team principal Mattia Binotto.
Although Ferrari rarely deviates from an all red livery, the new SF90 is distinctive because of its matte finish. The team presented the car at its factory in Maranello on Friday and the new look seemed to win the approval of fans.
Red Bull has raced with a matte livery since the start of the 2016 season, but it was always thought to be for cosmetic reasons. However, Binotto said Ferrari’s paint offers a small weight-saving advantage that could not be ignored.
“It’s not a matter of looks, there is a technical reason why it is matte,” he said. “The weight is lower — we are talking about some hundreds of grams — but as we are pushing these technologies it made the difference. It’s a matte finish and it makes the car lighter.”
Sebastian Vettel, who has a history of naming his cars, added that the new paint job might change his approach.
“I think it is the first matte racing car I have driven,” he said. “If I would give boys names, I think Matt would be a proposal, but obviously it has to be a female [name]. I will have a think.”
Although it may be one of the more obvious changes to the car, the paintwork will only offer a minimal performance advantage. Binotto said the overall philosophy of the SF90 had not changed dramatically from its predecessor, the SF71-H, but that the many changes to the detail of the car had been aimed at improving drivability.
“When I say it’s an evolution, I mean that the basic principles are the same,” he said. “We focused on each detail and each single piece is different compared to last year and we tried to push our limits and raise the bar. We pushed the actual physical limits of the car, but also the key features of the new aerodynamics were conceived based on the new regulations, so it’s not that easy now to revolutionise these cars in terms of aerodynamics.
“The ride height might change and other elements could change, but I think that our cars should be consistent so it is easier for our drivers to drive them. Aerodynamics play a key role in trying to find that consistency.”
Binotto added: “We have re-engineered many of the components in the car and the engine. It’s a thinner car and even the roll hoop is thinner but we haven’t increased the surface of the radiator, so this means that in terms of cooling we have worked so much. I think this is an important part of what was done with the rest of the aerodynamics in terms of improving the drivability of the car.”
Asked if he had been keeping an eye on the opposition during the recent week of launches, Binotto said: “We went through all of these pictures and every engineer has to do this. As soon as the cars are unveiled you have to examine the detail and compare it with our car. In terms of competitors, it will be Mercedes and Red Bull and I’m pretty sure these two cars are very nice.
“We can really see that a huge amount of effort was deployed in these two cars and there was plenty of commitment from both two teams. But I’m sure that we have done exactly the same thing and we are going to use our weapons to fight and keep fighting and then keep racing and working against competitors on the track.”