The technical team led by Enrico Cardile is said to have achieved one of the project’s targets: the red car to be presented at Fiorano on February 13 will be the first ground-effect prancing horse that will be designed at the weight limit of 798 kg, given that last year’s SF-23 was 6 kilograms above. Interventions will involve various aspects of the car, but particular focus has been placed on the chassis, transmission, hub carriers, and battery.
A sense of paranoia has erupted around Ferrari, spreading rapidly. It seems that anything written about the Maranello team in this winter phase must be fake news, on which “keyboard lions,” but also some authoritative (until yesterday) commentators have succumbed to the one-sided thought that the Scuderia is incapable of producing a car capable of challenging the unbeatable Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
The dominance of the reigning world champions in 2023 was staggering, with 21 victories for the RB19 out of 22 races. It is easy to predict, therefore, that the three-time champion Max Verstappen could achieve a four-peat, but it is not written anywhere that Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren (not necessarily in this order) cannot close in on the RB20 since the regulations have not changed, and the tires will remain the same.
In Maranello, they refrain from talking about performance: no one dares to make a direct comparison between the 676 and the SF-23, even though the wind tunnel and simulator data are crystal clear to the engineers. However, from the Sporting Management, some elements emerge that indicate a significant change: the 2024 red car that we will see at Fiorano during the presentation on February 13 seems to have reached a project target that Enrico Cardile’s team has actively pursued.
The Ferrari 676 should go below the minimum weight limit for the first time since the introduction of ground-effect car regulations. It appears that the SF-23 started last season with about 6 kg more than the 798 kg set by the FIA’s technical regulations.
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Make no mistake, even the Red Bull will go below the limit and can remove some ballast that was never seen on the RB19, but the weight loss of the red car will be a key to the leap in quality. Until the first car is fully assembled, it will be difficult to fix the actual weight, but the refinement work carried out has been meticulous and has involved almost all aspects of the car.
The chassis has been lightened, as well as the new narrower gearbox to favor a larger diffuser. Interventions have also been made on the hub carriers and the hybrid system with a battery closer to the minimum weight. We know that ten kilograms in F1 are worth about three tenths on a circuit like Barcelona, so the weight intervention alone should be worth more than a second and a half on lap time.
The beneficial effect should not be limited to pure performance but also extend to the preservation of Pirelli tires, another area of development they have worked hard on in Maranello.