Ferrari have been criticised for their new noseThe new Ferrari appears the most innovative car unveiled this year — but while comments at the first test suggested troubled times for the Italian giants is there a reason to believe they can make it a success?
The aggressive looking high nose, shapely scooped sidepods, angled exhausts and unique all-pullrod suspension — the first in F1 since Minardi ran a similar layout 11 years ago — all combine to create a Ferrari that pushes the boundaries in many areas.
On launch, chief designer Nikolas Tombazis insisted: "One thing we can't be accused of is being too tame with the car."
But that comment suggests the team felt that they had been accused of doing just that in the past, so this year they had to buck the trend. And in doing so, some paddock experts claim Ferrari have over-radicalised, going innovative for the sake of silencing the critics rather than for a real engineering reason.
It wasn't the smoothest start to testing either.
Over the four days, Ferrari completed the fewest miles of all new cars and crucially it was Alonso who missed out, hit by problems with the hydraulics and power steering.
Reports from the track suggested the car lacked front-end grip and did not look very well balanced. The team also used aero visualisations and monitoring tools, which suggests running was not going as expected and they needed to look into some aerodynamic issues.
Alonso may have topped the times in the final session, clocking the second fastest time of any new car, but based on their other times through the week it was clearly a glory lap designed to divert the headlines.
So what is so different about the new Ferrari, and what does it say about their new approach?
The pullrod front suspension system gives a high upward angle to the wishbones, leaving plenty of space underneath in which to steer the airflow — with the potential of some significant aerodynamic gains. The layout of the suspension also means the centre of gravity of the system will lower, offsetting the rise of the nose.
The down side is that different loads are going through the suspension, leading to higher loads in some components — but Ferrari will not have introduced the system if it had not been completely happy with its performance in stress testing on the rigs at the factory.
It may be just a tiny advantage for such a major overhaul, but it shows that Ferrari are now committed to doing whatever it takes to gain even the slightest benefit.
The scalloped sidepods, meanwhile, are another approach that others have not taken and Ferrari has — demonstrating the Italian team's determination to not follow trends and take their own approach.
The sidepods dip towards the cockpit to steer air over the top — in a much more sculpted version of those on last year's McLaren — and that can create good flow down to the diffuser, combining with the exhaust exits to generate more downforce. Coupled with this, Ferrari have not gone as hard with the undercut beneath the sidepod as their rivals.
The problem is the fast flow over the upper sidepod surface can also create unwanted lift on the body of the car and whether the downforce offsets the lift remains to be made clear. If it doesn't, it's a big problem.
Much of the radical approach has come from ex-McLaren man Pat Fry, who joined the team last year.
After an initial quiet phase, there were plenty of statements from Ferrari — and they can be read in different ways.
In the middle of the test, Fry said he was not happy with where they currently were. "Performance wise I think we are okay, but we can play around with the performance and improve in some corners and some particular parts of the corner," he told Autosport. "I would not say I am happy yet until we get the whole thing working."
That is not necessarily a negative though — the new design may have a higher level of expectation than its predecessors, given its radical nature.
Meanwhile, Alonso said at the end of the test that he felt the team understands just 20 percent of what they need and added: "We arrived in Jerez thinking about one idea of the car, and maybe it was not exactly like that. But we have worked around it and found the performance there and found the level of confidence of driving this car now.
"It's very early days...there's still a lot of work to do...we need to keep understanding the car...progress in these four days has been quite big for us," he added.
That could also be taken in a positive light — that Ferrari's radical approach will just take time to come to fruition.
It needs to come good by Australia, but if it doesn't quite get there it's still not a disaster — as long as the thinking within the team is truly now aggressive and proactive, rather than defensive and reactive.
If this is the case, then understanding 20 percent means there is 80 percent of opportunity for improvement as they start to get to grips with how the new car handles.
As with anything that explores new territories, it takes some getting used to — and if Ferrari has got their sums right, learns how to tune them to the track, and keeps up the pace on the innovative thinking, then the new radical approach could still pay off.