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The Ferrari F310 heads for Estoril

FERRARI'S new Formula 1 car - the F310 - will begin testing alongside the other teams at Estoril today. It has spent the weekend running at Fiorano in Italy, where it was launched on Thursday.

The designation is pure Ferrari: as the 310 stands for the engine capacity and the number of cylinders, but instead of a T at the end for transverse gearbox, as would have been traditional, there is an F at the front for Ferrari.

For the first time, Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli came to a Ferrari launch and helped Luca di Montezemolo, Jean Todt, MichaelĘSchumacher, Eddie Irvine and test driver Nicola Larini reveal the new car.

Designed by John Barnard and his team at Shalford in England, the F310 does not follow current design trends, retaining a low nose and featuring unusual sidepods with the radiator air intakes outboard - similar to those of the disastrous Ferrari F92A - and several interestingly placed air dams, notably one on the lower front suspension linkages.

Montezemolo said that he hoped the team would win three races this year, while Michael Schumacher continued to downplay his chances. "We will be competitive," he said. "I am certain of it, but we must work at reliability. That is why my aim to win a couple of races before challenging for the title in 1997 has not changed."

Montezemolo stressed the importance of tradition at Ferrari. "As everything changes around you - rules, circuits, we have to change as well, but what is important is that we keep the tradition of Ferrari."

In fact, the F310 launch revealed a further slide away from the Ferrari tradition of limiting sponsorship with the arrival of London luxury store Asprey as a Ferrari backer.

Asprey was recently bought by Prince Jefri of Brunei, brother of the Sultan (rumored to be the richest man in the world). The Prince, who is a renowned Ferrari collector, is planning a major expansion for the company particularly in the Asia/Pacific region.

The team continues to be backed by Marlboro, Fiat and Pioneer, while Shell replaces Agip as fuel supplier and sponsor. Technical sponsors include Italian car care company Arexons, Magneti-Marelli, Goodyear and SKF bearings.

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