Championship runners up Ferrari have set a date of February the 22nd for pulling the covers off their 2018 car – four days before the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Confident Ferrari confirm 2018 launch date
From back in August of last year, when we overhauled the organisation, I totally believed that these guys, with Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal and Mattia Binotto heading up the technical side, would be capable of doing something amazing
The Italian squad, who are the first team to set a launch date for the coming season, are confident that the 'giant strides' made in 2017 can be maintained, with president Sergio Marchionne saying there are already clear signs of progress with their new car.
"Given where we started from last year, this season we have taken giant strides forward,” Marchionne reflected at the team's annual Christmas lunch celebrations.
“Having said that, the second half of 2017 was…character building. We learned a lot over the past six months, trying to move forward and that’s the most important thing.
"From back in August of last year, when we overhauled the organisation, I totally believed that these guys, with Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal and Mattia Binotto heading up the technical side, would be capable of doing something amazing.
"We really believed we could do much more: but in 2017, we were unable to reach our objectives. That has also resulted in some changes to the organisation of the Gestione Sportiva.
"We can already see significant signs of change when it comes to the team’s production capacity. The important thing is to start 2018 with all this expertise and experience and to manage this organisation.
"I have no doubt that we will be competitive.”
Marchionne also insisted he had complete faith in both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, saying the team have an 'obligation' to provide such a talented pairing with a car worthy of silverware.
"Sebastian Vettel is a guy who studies a lot, studies himself and is committed, therefore, I think that we will see less of his emotive side. I think he has learned enough," Marchionne said.
"I continue to maintain we have an obligation towards these drivers, to give them a car with which they can race the others.
"I think we gave them a great car in 2017 and so, from now on, it’s down to him.
"As for Kimi Raikkonen, I believe he is really great, truly talented and I have never doubted his abilities. I tell you, he’s a really top guy, otherwise he wouldn’t have taken pole at a track like Monaco."
Ferrari finished the 2017 season in second position, 146 points behind champions Mercedes. It’s the second time in five years the Scuderia have finished as runners up, with Vettel’s second place in the drivers’ standings Ferrari’s highest placing since Fernando Alonso finished in the same position in 2013.
The Prancing Horse have not captured either title since 2008 when they defeated McLaren to win a record 16th constructors’ crown.