Enrico Cardile, technical director of the historic Ferrari racing team. Over the past few weeks, the Italian engineer has shared various concepts, discussing both the past and the future. One of the intriguing considerations involves the desire to produce a car with a clear distinctive feature: a broad operating window. This is an imperative characteristic within the current regulatory framework, capable of making a significant difference in terms of performance.
The Ferrari Racing Division (GES) has been working on this for months. They utilize the abundant expertise gained during the previous season, which may have been unsuccessful in terms of sports results but proved highly useful in understanding key strategic points related to the current regulations. In doing so, particular attention has been paid to avoiding a situation that, in the recent past, effectively compromised a significant part of the 2023 project.
The SF-23 exhibited very good competitiveness in slow corners. This resulted from meticulous aerodynamic work, which, in turn, reflected in a loss of performance in medium-fast corners. The lesson learned? Correcting a car’s flaw should not lead to weakening other areas of the car. Undoubtedly, this lesson is crucial, and repeating the same mistake for two consecutive years would be unacceptable.
On the other hand, there are those who have identified their weaknesses, addressed them effectively, and simultaneously strengthened what was already working. We are, of course, talking about Red Bull. The genius from Stratford-Upon-Avon, Adrian Newey, has an edge over everyone else, as demonstrated over the years. Even the Milton Keynes-based team is not perfect. Nevertheless, they have interpreted the latest regulatory era brilliantly. They haven’t overhauled the concepts of the RB18 but have refined them skillfully.
Ferrari: The Fundamental Mistake Red Bull Didn’t Make
Let’s take a step back to the 2022 season, summer, the infamous “TD039.” This refers to a technical directive aimed at regulating dangerous oscillations of the cars, limiting porpoising to ensure more safety for the drivers. Firstly, it’s important to note that Red Bull designed a car that could handle this tedious phenomenon well. Adrian Newey, a professor of ground effect, had anticipated it and carefully addressed it during the design phase.
Later, at the beginning of the last season, to follow up on the aforementioned directive, the FIA established a different measure for the floor combined with a minimum ground clearance. Measures that were known for some time. Ferrari tried to work on this factor, mindful of the serious issues faced after the TD039 came into effect in August 2022. However, several misjudgments in meters poisoned the technical ability of the minds in Maranello. The results, in this regard, are evident.
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This is because F1 cars are not stationary. When they run on the track, during the vehicle’s motion, the floor excursions vary, along with the so-called ride height. As individual simulations also have a significant cost, especially in the budget cap era, they need to be used sparingly. Therefore, every F1 team has tried to optimize its car around the ground height envisioned for the technical design.
Not to mention the “robustness” conundrum, i.e., how much the aerodynamic parameters deviate as soon as there are “disturbances” from the intended ride height during the design phase. Ferrari got into clear confusion in this regard. If we add to all this the weakness of the front end observed on the SF-23, the problem is compounded. A car quite susceptible to certain speed ranges that, although improved to some extent with the latest version of the floor from the Japanese Grand Prix, continued to show clear structural limitations not solvable in the short term.
Let’s go back to Red Bull and the intrinsic ability of the technical department to foresee potentially harmful hypothetical scenarios. Often, the brilliance of an individual can be appreciated through the desire not to pin medals on their chest. In this, too, Newey is number one. The behind-the-scenes revelation by the British engineer once again shows his greatness.
The English engineer was actually opposed to a good portion of the Austrian technical department, claiming it was important to “fight” against the introduction of the TD039 directive, which could potentially limit the car’s capabilities. But Adrian knows best, and considering that high-speed corners were not a strong point for Ferrari in 2022, he advocated for the regulatory change. Analyzing the facts, once again, the Briton was right…
Source: Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica