The Ferrari SF-23 single-seater won’t go down in history for its ease of handling or predictability. Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and the Ferrari engineers found it challenging to discern its optimal performance window. Within this often narrow range, the Maranello-based team frequently secured the second-fastest position but struggled to challenge Red Bull, who was clearly superior in terms of race pace.
The primary issue at the start of the 2023 Formula One season, coupled with persistent porpoising, was a deficient front end, particularly noticeable in medium and high-speed corners.
This limitation severely impacted the confidence of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and it wasn’t until the updates introduced at the Japanese Grand Prix that the problem began to be effectively addressed.
Identified as a concern to resolve during the previous winter, Ferrari’s lack of front-end grip persisted despite mechanical and aerodynamic improvements.
The SF-23 exhibited constraints in its front end and setup range.
The revision of last year’s nose, a departure from the aesthetically pleasing solution on the F1-75, involved significant changes to the wing’s main plane and endplate elements.
For the SF-23 single-seater, the decision was made to shift the nose fairing backward, with the clear goal to enhance the airflow of the main profile, aligning with the popular approach adopted by other teams.
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The flaps underwent a complete redesign, primarily redirecting airflow toward the car body and, secondarily, managing outward airflow.
A year ago during the Bahrain pre-season tests, the technical team evaluated the car as deficient, and rectifying the issues, led by Enrico Cardile, was neither straightforward nor painless.
The image of David Sanchez conversing with a concerned Charles Leclerc stood out, and David Sanchez eventually resigned, seemingly a scapegoat for a troubled project. However, his decision had been made weeks before Mattia Binotto‘s dismissal.
The French engineer (of Spanish origins) was among the most determined within the technical team to persist with the in-wash aerodynamic concept on the SF-23.
A parallel narrative unfolded at Mercedes, where Mike Elliott pursued the “zeropod” concept. Despite lacking a strong nose, the SF-23’s front wing design wasn’t solely responsible; instability significantly constrained setup possibilities. Addressing these vulnerabilities required a new front wing and floor, although these fixes only partially mitigated the issues.
Ferrari 2024: The front wing will bear a closer resemblance to the Red Bull RB19
The front of the upcoming Ferrari 2024 has undergone revisions, but it won’t deviate significantly from last year’s design.
The Ferrari nose will continue to be set back, while the front wing will adopt a configuration more akin to the RB19. This echoes the approach already taken by Haas in Austin, with Ferrari expected to implement it at a more advanced level.
Consequently, the flaps should successfully integrate the outwash design proposed by Adrian Newey & Pierre Wache. A similar approach was adopted by Mercedes with their front wing introduced at Silverstone. Red Bull’s 2023 concept facilitated highly efficient front wing specifications and lower drag than competitors.
Ferrari’s project 676 will debut with revised mechanics to broaden and differentiate setup options.
Changes won’t be limited to push/pull patterns, which remain unchanged. Instead, alterations will focus on the design of triangles and dynamics of the wing’s swinging arm.
In theory, this should enhance aerodynamic balance and performance in high-speed corners. Conversely, increased anti-dive in the car should make it less sensitive under braking, achieved by significantly reducing the forward rotation of the vehicle.
This significant change is part of the 95% mentioned by Fred Vasseur: “We have to sacrifice something to improve others,” noted Spanish driver Carlos Sainz about the new single-seater for the upcoming Formula 1 campaign. The challenge for engineers and drivers will be maintaining the SF-23’s relatively strong braking power.
Yet the modifications to be witnessed on the next Ferrari’s front end aren’t merely about vehicle dynamics but also aerodynamics, as explained by F1 experts Giuliano Duchessa, Piergiuseppe Donadoni and Rosario Giuliana in a recent article for formu1a.uno. With airflow playing a crucial role in these cars, redirecting air to the floor becomes imperative. As seen in the past two years, optimizing interactions between suspension and aerodynamics is pivotal for performance and the potential for long-term development, a key aspect the Maranello team needs to focus on this winter.