Ferrari is assembling Project 676. It is doing so with all due solemnity, as this phase is very delicate. Within the current regulatory framework, the car’s floor is the most crucial element for downforce production, as it represents the component capable of generating the highest amount of greater vertical lift. During the last season, the SF-23 suffered various mechanical issues at the front and some limitations regarding aerodynamics.
Not surprisingly, in times past, Frederic Vasseur had declared, “We will modify 95% of the car. We have tried to improve every detail in search of better performance.” The team principal confirms significant modifications on multiple fronts for 2024. From an aerodynamic perspective, Ferrari realized it had reached a deadlock concerning the sidepod concepts. Already last winter, just before the presentation, the Italian team had questioned its choices.
This incorrect setup was just the most glaring “defect,” as other design shortcomings were present, leading to the Maranello single-seater showing a significant technical delay compared to Red Bull. The Milton Keynes team built its fortunes by carefully managing the fluid that travels from the nose to the rear diffuser. As we recall, Ferrari updated the sidepods, presenting a new look from the Spanish Grand Prix, but its development had reached an asymptote, becoming outdated.
Ferrari, Project 676: The Benefits of Positioning the Side Intrusion Cone F1 Differently
The “technical blind alley” arises from the placement of the lateral intrusion cone, which can be freely positioned within a regulatory volume. The reigning world champion team decided to place it at the lower limit to incorporate it into the initial portion of the floor. Ferrari, on the other hand, chose to position it higher. To improve matters, on the 2024 car, Maranello’s technicians have lowered it by about 30 millimeters, advancing it to incorporate it with the floor.
The consequent measure increases the volume of the so-called “undercut” by several cubic centimeters. Essentially, there are two advantages to this solution: a greater flow of clean fluid toward the rear of the car and a superior outwash effect, as the undercut manages to generate greater static pressure in that area. All this results in a greater pressure difference between the flow adjacent to the chassis and the outermost flow.
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The ensuing benefit concerns the effective management of the so-called tire wake, a phenomenon visible in the CFD-generated image above. The car in question is only a standard model of a current F1, still useful for better visualizing certain concepts. Through the image, we can easily observe the total pressure exerted using a color scale. Although overall we cannot define this simulation as perfect, we can grasp the importance of managing the tire wake.
On the SF-23, the management of turbulence generated by the front tires was delegated due to the greater width of the sidepods. This factor strongly helped reduce the car’s drag and thus its efficiency. Adequate flow to the rear was then ensured through the inwash of fluid just before the rear tire. However, the quality and quantity of this phenomenon were lower than those produced by Red Bull.
For Project 676, Ferrari has likely modified the design of the four vertical appendices at the entrance to the floor allowed by regulations. In 2023, they had a constant radius, while direct competitors had chosen a different path, playing more with the profiles of the appendices and their mutual distance. This way, they obtained more lateral expansion and a more substantial vortex under the car to stabilize the fluid.
Thanks to the additional simulation, we can highlight the comparison between two opposing philosophies of vertical fences. In the first case, on the left, we see a straighter and decidedly less effective appearance, while in the second, we find a more advantageous configuration. The conformation of these fences is therefore decidedly more useful for managing the structure of the fluid traveling through the floor.
Considering the changes in the philosophy of the sidepods for the red car, the flow structure in this area will change radically. We should not be surprised if the aerodynamics department of GES, in an attempt to surprise rivals, has studied new design approaches for the initial portion of the floor. Enrico Cardile had expressed himself as follows: “The car for next year will be designed differently, with a modified chassis and rear end, in an attempt to extract the performance potential that we lack.”
Source: Niccoló Arnerich and Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica