Ferrari has unveiled the car it hopes can halt Mercedes' recent dominance of Formula One and claim its first championship in over a decade.
The Italian team took the covers off its new car, the SF90, at an event at its factory in Maranello, Italy, where new signing Charles Leclerc appeared alongside Sebastian Vettel. The highly-rated Leclerc is a long-time member of the Ferrari academy and moved up to the famous team after an impressive rookie season at Sauber (now Alfa Romeo) last year.
Ferrari's last title was the constructors' in 2008, while its last drivers' title was Kimi Raikkonen's the year before. Last year appeared to have been its best chance in recent memory to win again, but a series of mistakes from Vettel and from the strategy department cost the team dearly. The failure to win last year prompted a reshuffle of the race operation, with team prinicpal Maurizio Arrivabene replaced by popular technical chief Mattia Binotto in January.
As well as 2019 marking the 90th anniversary of Enzo Ferrari founding his famous company, there is an added incentive in F1's record books to stopping Mercedes this year. If the German manufacturer wins another championship, it will match the record of six straight constructors' titles Ferrari won between 1999 and 2004.
Explaining the philosophy of the new car, Binotto said: "Starting in 2018, we got really good achievements and it's a development of last year's car, it's not a revolution.
"I think we simply tried to push again to raise the bar, to raise the level, try to be as extreme a we could. Obviously there are a few changes which are straightforward, there is the front wing that for technical regulations has changed since last time. But I think if you look at it in all the details certainly we tried to push very hard. The roll hoop is very narrow and very slim. If you look as well at the bodywork on the back it's very, very slim.
"That is thanks to the entire job -- which you cannot see because it's below -- in terms of power unit installation, packaging... A lot of effort has been done and I think the final shape is the result of all this effort. We like it."
Binotto was also given a ringing endorsement by Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri.
"We begin a new exciting chapter in our history, led by Mattia Binotto," he said. "Mattia has been with Ferrari for about a quarter of a century. His stellar career over that period is clear testament to his exceptional abilities and leadership skills.
"He knows the Scuderia inside out. He is very much a team player, decisive, talented and determined to make a huge difference at all levels. I have every confidence that he will lead the Scuderia to ever greater heights."