Reuters: Ferrari has signed up former Bridgestone Development Chief Hirohide Hamashima to help Formula One’s oldest and most successful team get the most out of the Pirelli tyres and fight for the title after a difficult 2011.
Team boss Stefano Domenicali also told reporters at a ‘Wrooom’ event in the Italian ski resort of Madonna Di Campiglio on Wednesday that Ferrari would launch the 2012 car at Maranello on Feb. 3 before testing starts in Spain the following week.
Hamashima, who worked closely with Ferrari during the Michael Schumacher years when they were the sport’s dominant team and Bridgestone’s most important partner, was one of several new arrivals at Maranello. Domenicali said Steve Clark had also joined from Mer-cedes as a track engineer.
Hamashima will “head up a new project focusing on an in-depth assessment of an area crucial to performance, which is the interaction between the car and its tyres and he will also be our technical link to Pirelli,” said Domenicali.
“He knows the world of tyres. His knowledge is fundamental and we have used this occasion to strengthen our understanding in this area,” he said. “Last year we were not that good in exploiting all the tyres we had in hand, so that is the reason why he has come into the team.” Both men will report to Technical Director Pat Fry.
The Japanese engineer led Bridgestone’s Formula One effort between 1997 and 2010, a period in which Ferrari won five drivers’ titles in a row with Schumacher, one with Kimi Raikkonen and also eight constructors’ championships.
Bridgestone pulled out of Formula One at the end of 2010, leaving Pirelli to take their place. Ferrari finished third overall last season, well behind champions Red Bull and McLaren, with just one win courtesy of Spain’s twice world champion Fernando Alonso.
The team have an unchanged line-up this season with Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa, who needs to show a significant improvement if he is to retain his place in 2013.
Domenicali said the new car would be a significant departure from last year’s.
“Especially from a mechanical point of view it is a break from the past,” he said. “There are some new concepts in the car that have never been used in our previous cars.”