Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen insisted the new halo on Ferrari’s 2018 car would not hinder performance as the Italian stable chases a first Formula One title in a decade. The halo-fitted SF-71H was presented at the team’s headquarters in Maranello, four days before the start of pre-season testing at Barcelona. For the fourth consecutive year 38-year-old Raikkonen and four-time world champion Vettel, 30, will spearhead the Scuderia’s campaign.

“The halo looks different but to be honest we tried it last year and it wasn’t a big difference,” Raikkonen said. Vettel added: “I don’t think the halo will bother, I think it’s much less intrusive than I thought. We will all get used to using it.”

The Ferrari drivers’ approach to the halo was in stark contrast to that of Tito Wolff, the team boss of bitter rivals and defending world champions Mercedes who earlier in the day said he couldn’t stand the sight of the controversial head protection device.

“I’m not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chainsaw I would take it off,” said Wolf, who complained about the weight of the new device, at his team’s official launch. “I think we need to look after the driver’s safety, but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing and we need to come up with a solution that simply looks better.”

Ferrari’s new car is painted in the traditional red livery, but unlike its predecessors with very little white. “(The car) looks nice and usually when it looks nice, there’s speed also,” added Raikkonen. “Our goal is to always be faster. The car is excellent and next week we will know something more and we will understand how much work there is still to do,” added the Finn.

The new challenger has a longer wheelbase to move it more into line with rival Mercedes’ design.

“We have kept the aggressive concepts. The SF71H has a tighter car body and has been built to perform in high-speed circuits,” said Ferrari’s technical director, Mattia Binotto. Ferrari were second in the 2017 championship and this season will bid to challenge four-time holders Mercedes.

“We’re capable I’m certain,” said team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. Ferrari have not won the constructors title since 2008 with Raikkonen last winning the drivers title for Ferrari in 2007.

-Inputs from AFP