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Alonso gets taste of new car

2013-02-19 08:18

READY TO ROLL: Fernando Alonso, who was absent during testing at Jerez, will get his first taste of the new Ferrari F1 car at the second round of testing. Image: AFP

Author: ALAN BALDWIN

 
LONDON, England - Fernando Alonso will test his new Ferrari for the first time in Spain on Tuesday, Februaury 19, 2013, while former champion team Williams will bring Formula 1's "launch season" to a close as the last team to unveil its 2013 car.

There won't be much fanfare, if any, at either event when the second of three pre-season tests gets under way at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

THING OF THE PAST

In days gone by the unveiling of new cars was an excuse for excess - whether through extravagant presentations in glamorous locations or enlisting the Spice Girls as part of the show - but the current age of austerity has ended such lavish gestures.

Forget putting the car on a plinth in Venice's St Mark's Square (Benetton 2001) or hiring the Cirque du Soleil to perform at London's Albert Hall (Jordan 1998). The norm for 2013 has been for the bright and shiny new cars being pushed out of the garage into the sunlight and then sent on their way after a few brief words from team boss and drivers.

When tail-ender Marussia revealed its car in Jerez t(Feb 2013) the team merely rolled it on to the grid and removed the travel cover without even a driver next to it. 2012 champion team Red Bull splashed out on Champagne and finger food for guests but otherwise showed off its cars at the factory; McLaren and Ferrari did likewise.

McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "There are some reality checks going around." His team's launch involved temporary seating in the factory atrium with a drive-past of classic cars to mark McLaren's 50th anniversary.

"We used to hire Alexandra Palace and launches were a competition," he reminisced. "People don't want to see million-pound extravaganzas any more. Times have changed. We peaked."

PROMISING CAR

Williams is the last team to launch - the others all getting their cars out before or at Jerez - but the livery has already been revealed and new bits tried out at the previous test. The emphasis will be on getting Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado on track and putting kilometres under his belt as much as anything.

Ferrari tested its F138 with Brazilian Felipe Massa at Jerez, with Alonso absent. Today (Feb 19 2013), in front of his home fans, will be the Spaniard's first run in a promising-looking car that will carry his hopes of a third championship but it will be a test like any other.

The spirit in F1, even if the smallest team still spends tens of millions a year, is very different to what it was in the extravagant years of the 1990's and the start of the new century. "That was one of the allures of F1, we were in the decade of excess," Whitmarsh added. "I think we have to grow up as a sport and realise that there comes a point where that's not attractive any more and we have to be about efficiency.

"If we were seen as the gas-guzzling, money-profligate sport that we were so proud to boast about in the 1980's I think we'd be losing relevance and touch with our audience."

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