With just four weeks remaining until Scuderia Ferrari unveils its 2024 Formula 1 single-seater, the bustling activity in Maranello is generating increasingly detailed insights into Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s upcoming single-seater. From inside the Ferrari Racing Division, specific information gradually emerges.
Within the technical office, a dedicated team is actively involved in the latest assessments and validations of initial developments, utilizing both CFD and wind tunnel simulations. These early evolutions will undergo testing in Bahrain and play a pivotal role in configuring the new single-seater for the races in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne.
It’s becoming evident that Ferrari’s aerodynamic concept will align with the trend introduced by Red Bull back in 2022, characterized by the incorporation of slanting sidepods to emphasize the downward redirection (downwash) of airflow towards the rear axle.
While the forthcoming Ferrari F1 car won’t be an exact replica of its Milton Keynes-based counterpart, it will draw inspiration from the front section of the chassis.
A few weeks ago, Ferrari Technical Director Enrico Cardile provided insights suggesting a distinct departure from the F1-75 and SF-23 in the upcoming car’s architecture. The primary alteration will focus on the lateral crushable structures (anti-intrusion cones), which, in the previous year, constrained a more radical aerodynamic evolution of the lower sidepod section.
In the debut version of the car, these components will be positioned at the upper edge of the floor, offering greater latitude to aerodynamicists to push the boundaries in this car area. Concurrently, the suspension, while retaining the front push rod and rear pull rod configurations, will undergo significant modifications in their respective geometries.
The revised front suspension design will coincide with a notable transformation in the front section of the chassis. Specifically, the chassis will no longer feature a squared profile with a flat lower surface but will adopt a “keel” profile.
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This adjustment significantly influences the lower aerodynamics of the car, particularly in managing direct flows beneath the floor. It necessitates a reduction or tapering of the lower nose section, aiming to enhance the laminar flow beneath the car to promote aerodynamic load generation with the floor.
The sidepods, especially in their lower section aligning with the leading edges of the floor, are anticipated to exhibit a different contour compared to the SF-23 and will retract a few centimeters (between 5 and 8) from the air inlets.
This strategic positioning serves the functional purpose of diverting turbulence generated by the front wheels. This not only amplifies the aerodynamic efficiency of the designated area but also facilitates the adoption of smaller cooling air intake sections.
It’s crucial to note that, while Red Bull gradually reduced the vertical section of the intakes last year, pushing the efficiency limits isn’t an unequivocal trend. As elucidated by Enrico Cardile, while it’s theoretically possible to pursue extreme concepts, two decisive factors discourage such a choice. Firstly, engineers must balance the need for minimal heat exchange, essential for ensuring engine and electronics reliability.
When pushing the design of a specific car area to its extremes, the accrued benefits become progressively marginal. Consequently, the forthcoming car appears to be a thoughtful interpretation of the most competitive concepts observed in 2023, maintaining a distinctive originality. In essence, the SF-24 (if named as such) is poised to astonish those anticipating a “red” RB19 single-seater. The front section of the chassis will boast a lower “keel” profile, departing from the flat design seen on the SF-23, all in favor of optimizing floor efficiency.