The Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring brought a fresh wave of optimism for Scuderia Ferrari after a difficult start to the 2023 Formula One championship. The updates introduced by the Maranello team at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo didn’t immediately yield the desired results, and adverse weather conditions in Montreal disrupted their testing program.
Nevertheless, undeterred by the unconventional Sprint Race format, the Maranello team displayed an aggressive approach in Spielberg by introducing additional updates. The SF-23 underwent important changes, including new sidepods, a new front section, and an updated floor. But the pursuit of innovation doesn’t end there. The Italian side aims to complete the final set of improvements next weekend in the British Grand Prix, confident they can show another strong performance at the iconic Silverstone circuit.
While it is already clear that the Formula One world championship title is out of reach this year, the focus in Maranello remains on enhancing the 2023 F1 single-seater, which will also impact next season’s project. The transformation program for the SF-23 began in Spain and is starting to yield positive results. Throughout the 2023 Formula One campaign, the car has been compared to the previously successful F1-75, primarily through detailed data analysis.
So far, the SF-23 has shown its greatest weaknesses in high-speed corners where significant downforce is required at 200 km/h. Overall, the car has improved in terms of efficiency but lacks peak load performance in medium-high-speed ranges. It represents a significant step forward from the 2022 car, aided by the new Pirelli tires, despite the fact that the expected leap in performance hasn’t been fully realized.
Not taking in consideration Miami, Jeddah, and Barcelona, which have suffered major circuit changes, Ferrari’s average improvement this season, compared to itself, stands at 0.598% (up to the Montreal weekend). This progress is not sufficient to challenge Red Bull for race wins and has often left the Scuderia trailing behind rivals Mercedes and Aston Martin.
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Yet the Red Bull Ring pinpointed a rather different scenario. The SF-23 exhibited clear improvements over the F1-75 in all aspects. The challenger performed better in crucial areas such as braking, traction, straight-line speed, and even cornering, especially in high-load situations.
Even in fast corners, the improvement was notable. In qualifying, the SF-23 car’s performance gain reached 0.883%, an increase of about 0.3%, equivalent to three-tenths of a second, as explained by F1 experts Paolo D’Alessandro, Piergiuseppe Donadoni and Giuliano Duchess for formu1a.uno.
These figures validate the anticipated gains and the progress discussed by the team’s technicians. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz themselves confirmed the immediate impact of the new components:
“The car felt much better here, especially in the fast corners, than in Barcelona. I’m very comfortable now,” said the Spanish driver during the Austrian race weekend at the Red Bull Ring, while his Maranello teammate shared the same view, despite the fact that, in his case, there was also the setback represented by Saturday’s performance, as Charles struggled in the mixed conditions at the Red Bull Ring: “It’s something I need to improve in terms of setup. In those conditions, I have to figure out how to do it in order to do better.” – the Monegasque pointed out after Saturday’s Sprint race in Austria.