The championship is now in the final third of the 2023 Formula One season, but the development goals at Scuderia Ferrari remain the same as at the beginning of the year. The SF-23 is known for its excellent peak performance and aerodynamic load, as evidenced by its best results in both qualifying and races. However, the Maranello team’s car suffers from an excessively narrow operating window, partly due to aerodynamics that are too sensitive to driving conditions. In Suzuka, Ferrari is introducing a completely new floor with the goal of confirming the direction they are taking, even with an eye on 2024.
The objective is stability
In Japan, this is the sixth floor produced by Maranello since the beginning of the year, but the changes made are the most radical seen so far. The keyword is stability, a term that, in its most general sense, refers to the ability to not be influenced by external disturbances and changes in driving conditions. The goal of the new floor is not to increase the peak load but to achieve the same performance over a wider range of conditions, reducing its dependence on speed, steering angles, yaw, roll, and ground clearance.
In Maranello, they are working to restore confidence to the drivers in the car by providing them with a more predictable machine. Ferrari is already making adjustments to address the issue, but solving the problem requires action on both setup and aerodynamic updates. The innovations in Japan were launched at the end of July, which is why they incorporate all the lessons learned by the Prancing Horse in the early stages of the season.
The Suzuka Floor
Ferrari introduced innovations in Japan last year as well, but the updates for 2023 are much more substantial, starting with the vertical vanes at the entrance of the Venturi channels. The flow conveyors now extend towards the front and feature innovations in the contour, camber, and incidence. Ferrari is thus intervening both in controlling the flows channeled towards the rear and in the structure of the vortices generated at the ends of the vanes, with downstream repercussions on the entire floor aerodynamics.
It is therefore not surprising to find changes at the rear as well. The rear section of the floor just in front of the rear wheel rises above the ground, confirming the intention to reduce the aerodynamic sensitivity to various ground clearances. Furthermore, a different profile of the rear diffuser ramp can be observed, especially in the narrowing section inside the rear wheels. Ferrari finally reports that they have accentuated the undercut, the channel carved into the bodywork that runs along the lower contour of the sidepods. However, the visible changes from the outside are only a small part of those present on the underside of the floor.
Pending the outcome of the data, the drivers’ feedback on the new floor is positive. Carlos Sainz comments, “I tried the new floor in FP2, while Charles did it in FP1, and it seems to work. In any case, it is not a significant step in terms of aerodynamics, but we still did our Friday to test this novelty.” To get a complete picture of the effectiveness of the new floor, we will have to wait for a few races, given the need to adjust the setups based on the data collected. With the Suzuka floor, Ferrari is playing one of its last cards in the development of the SF-23, with the hope of putting pressure on Mercedes in the championship.