Ferrari’s recent progress is undeniable. It’s not merely about sheer speed. In Formula 1, several factors contribute to the overall improvement of a race weekend. While some cautious reactions have emerged on the strategic front, there are still instances of last-minute decisions that underscore shortcomings, despite the progress.
This status should be addressed because, in the pinnacle of motorsport, choices made during critical moments of a Grand Prix indeed make a substantial difference. From a purely technical standpoint, the 675 project has been a profound disappointment, reflecting a flawed approach. Predetermined issues have led to the creation of a challenging car, hard to manage on the track.
The SF-23, characterized by its quirky handling, has posed quite a few challenges for the Scuderia drivers, who have been working hard to extract the best from this machine. However, the substantial effort invested by the technical department seems to be bearing fruit. Turning towards specific aerodynamic guidelines has rendered the Modena cars more drivable with a significantly more stable aerodynamic platform. Nonetheless, the issue with the front end of the Ferrari persists, which poses difficulties for the dynamic department in optimizing the setup.
The front end of the Ferrari remains its Achilles’ heel. This inherent characteristic doesn’t make it easy for the dynamic team to interpret the setup. Consequently, finding the optimal setup and delivering the best version of the car proved to be a challenging endeavor. Fortunately, things seem to be changing in this regard. Over the past month, through what we can call “cognitive tools,” the Prancing Horse has found a way to maximize its performance by refining the car’s settings.
This operation has provided greater flexibility to the red cars, as demonstrated by the recent results. Despite different layouts continuing to make a difference, there is visible progress. A practical example can be observed at Suzuka, a track where the presence of various medium-high-speed direction changes posed a challenge for the SF-23.
In the T1 section of the Japanese circuit, the Ferrari suffered against the Red Bull, while in the other two sectors, it was generally on par with the Austrian car. In the era of budget caps, making radical changes to the car is not possible. Aerodynamic updates are feasible to some extent, but altering the chassis or suspension layout is almost impossible.
Ferrari SF-23: New Floor Validated on Track for Improved Tire Degradation Management
There’s an interesting aspect that may have gone unnoticed last week. Let’s start with a brief technical consideration concerning the latest version of the floor introduced during the Japanese FP1 sessions. These modifications didn’t completely overhaul the specification, but in the world of Formula 1’s “wing car era,” we’ve come to understand that even small adjustments can be quite beneficial.
While the improvements may not be overwhelmingly evident in terms of outright performance, they significantly improve the overall handling and the vehicle’s maneuverability. This allows greater flexibility for technicians, drivers, and engineers in certain areas. Changes in the venturi channels, a crucial area for ground-effect cars, have been made to the first of the four appendices allowed by the regulatory body.
As we can observe from the image taken by the SPanish journalist Albert Fabrega, considering the absence of Scuderia Ferrari’s CFD calculations, it remains challenging to unveil the secrets behind these alterations. However, the vortical structure beneath the SF-23 has been modified by altering the pressure field.
It would be highly interesting to carefully examine the underside of the red car, as other unseen modifications are not entirely ruled out. What we can discuss, though, is the portion of the floor located in front of the rear wheel, an area that had been earmarked for changes for some time.
The removal of the step in this section of the car, achieved through significant structural lowering, aims to optimize the flow of air from the front end towards the area between the tire shoulder and the lateral wall of the diffuser. This decision has provided substantial benefits to the Modena cars, as confirmed by some of the technical staff.
Ferrari SF-23: Reduced Tire Degradation Thanks to Increased Downforce and Power Unit Management
In recent days, we’ve dedicated an article to Ferrari, emphasizing tire management. When the red cars are required to run with a high fuel load, tire management has often proven challenging for the two Carlos. This has been an area of concern over the past few months, limiting the SF-23’s performance during long runs, regardless of the Pirelli tire compound used.
Although we observed some rear-end overheating at Suzuka, especially in the final stint, tire degradation, overall, appeared to be better. The Italian pit wall had been extremely cautious due to previous poor tire wear readings, but even so, there were clear improvements, as confirmed by Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur.
This step has given Ferrari an advantage over Mercedes, the team the Italian squad is battling for the title of “second-best team in the championship.” Ferrari believes they can make up the twenty-point gap in the constructors’ standings and surpass their rivals in the remaining races of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Now, let’s delve into the reasons behind Ferrari’s improved tire management.
Firstly, it’s related to the power unit. Notably, at the beginning of September, we emphasized an important aspect of the hybrid system in PU 066/10. We discussed a different distribution of energy recovered by the motor generators and the subsequent power delivery capacity. This more delicate and gradual approach to power delivery during acceleration significantly contributes to tire management during traction, without limiting performance.
Secondly, the aforementioned modifications to the car’s floor. The opportunity to use a ride height that better aligns with the project’s standards provides an increased amount of downforce generated from the upper floor. This element plays a crucial role in tire management. We await confirmation in Qatar in a week when the two SF-23 cars are once again put to the test.
Source: Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica