Scuderia Ferrari is putting in a tremendous effort. The commitment shown during the past months is commendable, even though the SF-23 is currently not performing as it should or perhaps could. We have discussed this extensively, analyzing issues and potential solutions of a project known as 675, which, despite receiving unprecedented attention, remains a question mark.
Before delving into the technical challenge to discover the measures that the brilliant minds in Maranello are producing in relation to the updates, let’s talk about the Ferrari Racing Division. The Italian factory is in turmoil. It would be pointless to hide it. The coming and going of individuals is certainly not making things easier. On the contrary, it is making everything damn harder. Uncertainty reigns supreme, in short.
Several important roles are vacant, while others are temporarily filled by so-called substitutes. It’s a harmful scenario that is unlikely to add value to the current standing of the Prancing Horse. However, significant maneuvers are underway. We reported it some time ago, at the dawn of the 2023 Formula 1 racing campaign. Everything is in the hands of Frederic Vasseur.
The engineer from France has full operational powers granted by the management with the consent of Benedetto Vigna and John Elkann. The primary desire is to recruit fresh talent from other top-level teams that can accelerate the learning curve toward the primary goal: returning to the top as quickly as possible.
Ferrari: Fred Vasseur’s “aggressive” communication
The Frenchman arrived at Ferrari to revive a Maranello team in disarray. There are very few doubts about that. It is an extremely challenging task considering the recent and disastrous past, which was poorly managed in many respects. This aftermath is complicating an already demanding scenario, where assembling a strong and cohesive team is experiencing further delays.
The reasons are already known to most: entering a context at its lowest point with confidence scares off potential personnel acquisitions. Furthermore, finding oneself disoriented in a true Waterloo and having to rebuild everything from scratch, while giving up perfectly functional entities, is quite intimidating.
Furthermore, the Italian headquarters of the historic team is seen by many as an additional logistical hurdle in their career, considering the subsequent change of location, habits, and distance from family. These are additional reasons that effectively weigh down decisions. Not to mention the so-called gardening leave, a prerogative that has been in effect within Formula 1 for some time, which prohibits engineers from immediately starting work when they change teams. Quite a challenging situation, just to give you an idea.
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However, there is a belief that the thorny matter can be brilliantly resolved. Frederic Vasseur’s recent “aggressive communication” is promising in this regard. We refer to the big names on the list who, apparently, are going through all the bureaucratic processes to arrive in Maranello. However, the wait will be long. It is even said that it will take a year and a half before their acquisitions have a decisive impact on the team.
Some rumors suggest that the media outing of the former Sauber team principal is strategically planned for a simple reason. In practice, it is a way to set expectations and clarify a fact: until 2025, we will not have the team fully assembled as we would like. Therefore, expecting a return to the top and competing for the World Championships will not be straightforward at all.
Meanwhile, there is the present. A time in which the Scuderia must necessarily improve. Not only to give meaning to the current championship, but also to build a solid foundation for the future technical project, which is now in the defining phase. In this regard, further updates will be introduced. Although the aerodynamic philosophy will follow the same path, the strategy for introducing the novelties will be accelerated.
The reasons are simple. While they are still trying to fully validate the recent package installed in Spain within the Ferrari Racing Division, and the harsh budget cap remains a hurdle that somehow hinders the technicians in Maranello, some new developments will be presented during the upcoming Grand Prix races. This is to provide additional areas of study that can best guide the team towards the 2024 program.
The measures will aim to “accommodate” the management of the airflow and maximize the performance of the beam wing/diffuser combination. This is significant, considering the current “clouded” status of the Prancing Horse. Significant modifications to the floor are mentioned, and adjustments to the developable load on the front end should not be ruled out.
On the mechanical front, the studies continue relentlessly. While the idea of redesigning the suspension system has only been briefly considered, impossible due to size constraints and cost caps, extensive data collection has taken shape even during races. We have noticed this by carefully following the on-board footage, observing how in the second Canadian stint, Adami and Marcos, the respective track engineers of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, continuously requested handling tests to understand where the Maranello car can improve.
Lastly, there’s the matter of the power unit. On multiple occasions, we have pointed out the hybrid deficit that the 066/7 engine suffers compared to Red Bull. The charging/discharging and energy storage phases from the motor generators, MGU-H and MGU-K, do not offer the same efficiency as the Honda engine. Although the nominal power in horsepower is higher than that of the Japanese power unit, accessing the support of the approximately 130 kW of power is not always possible.
This means that during a Grand Prix, unlike in a single qualifying lap where there is enough time to fully charge the batteries and thus have access to the complete surplus energy required, the power unit gap becomes evident in more intense phases, such as overtaking and defending positions. Unfortunately, this situation will remain until the end of the championship as the freeze imposed by the International Federation prohibits modifications.
The only possible solution, not to call it a “temporary fix,” is to maximize the mapping configurations and, as a result, demonstrate a certain skill in “spreading out” the 200 horsepower generated by the hybrid system over the course of a lap. Getting the setup right partially compensates for the speed deficiencies caused by the aforementioned context and facilitates traction phases.