Ferrari introduced the latest upgrade to the SF-23’s floor at Suzuka in the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. Nevertheless, more planned enhancements are expected, as they free up wind tunnel space for the Ferrari 676, known as “Project 676” for the 2024 car.
The races held following the summer break featured circuits with entirely different layouts: maximum load at Zandvoort and Singapore, medium to high load at Suzuka, and minimal load at Monza. In the Netherlands, the SF-23 struggled in all corners due to a lack of balance between the front and rear wings, but in Singapore, it secured Maranello’s first victory in 2023. Until last week, even a front-limited track like Suzuka could have been disastrous, but the final result confirmed the SF-23’s improvement. This was made possible, in part, thanks to the last floor upgrade, which freed up wind tunnel space for the Ferrari 2024, also known as “Project 676.”
Encouraging Results from the Suzuka Floor
The new floor introduced at Suzuka was the final significant upgrade planned for the 2023 Formula 1 season. The innovations in the new spec allowed Ferrari to limit damage in the first sector, the most challenging for the SF-23. In the long curves of the Japanese track, the two Ferrari cars found more stability, enabling Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc to push harder throughout. Degradation also improved at Suzuka, nearly matching McLaren and Mercedes’ values. During various sessions in Japan, onboard footage revealed further improvements in porpoising management, making the red cars more stable on the straights compared to previous races. It’s highly likely that the construction of the new floor included stiffer areas to prevent flexing and harmful underfloor intrusions.
Ferrari Project 676
Furthermore, on-track data correlated positively with the wind tunnel results. This factor is extremely important, as it provides an excellent foundation for the 2024 car’s development.
Project 676 Ready Ahead of Schedule?
Ferrari’s pursuit of upgrades in 2023 witnessed various novelties introduced throughout the season: three floor specifications, three front wings, an equal number of rear wings, and entirely redesigned sidepods. However, the interventions on the SF-23 do not seem to end there, as Fred Vasseur had announced further minor updates up to Austin. These, in reality, were already planned and ready for introduction on both SF-23 cars. This scheduling has undoubtedly demanded great efforts from Fred Vasseur’s personnel in Maranello, enabling the wind tunnel to be freed up ahead of schedule. In fact, it seems that the Ferrari 676, the code name for the 2024 car, is almost assembled and ready for initial testing. With the wind tunnel available, the remaining hours are devoted exclusively to the upcoming car to begin development early and arrive prepared for testing.
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Ferrari’s 2023 Formula 1 season started with great promises, given Benedetto Vigna’s words, but the results have been the opposite. However, something has emerged that marked a significant departure from previous seasons, namely Fred Vasseur’s approach. The team principal, elected less than a year ago, asked the team not to halt the SF-23’s development to understand it better and avoid repeating the same mistakes in 2024. Is this the right path? It will undoubtedly take time, but the direction taken appears to be the right one.