Ferrari aimed for more at Suzuka, and to deny that would be foolish. This is true despite the results, which, considering the available resources, are somewhat in line with expectations. The tedious high-speed corners with sustained loads are causing unease among the red team’s engineers and drivers. The Prancing Horse knew well that challenges would be present but believed that, with the data in hand, they could manage things better.
The Japanese Friday had partly deceived the Scuderia, but they were brought back to reality on Saturday morning when changes to the car’s setup, while significant in some sense, did not improve the SF-23’s performance. The target was subsequently scaled down, with the primary focus shifting to tire degradation. It appears that there has been some slight progress in this aspect.
Slowing down to manage tire wear limits the car’s performance. However, keeping in mind the race pace at other tracks with similar characteristics, the overall lap time calculation showed a significant improvement for Ferrari. While this might be a meager consolation, optimizing and making the delicate balance between pace and tire degradation more manageable is a boost for the team’s morale.
Just this morning, we published an article on the Japanese achievements of the Modena cars. Examining a plethora of data through various graphs created directly by our editorial team, it is clear that the statement made by Frederic Vasseur after the race in the East stands true: “We’ve improved tire management,” a statement that encapsulates the entire weekend for the Scuderia.
Suzuka: Ferrari has managed to control SF-23’s tire degradation.
One inherent issue with the “Project 675” concerns tire management, a situation inherited from previous cars that the Ferrari dynamic department has not fully resolved yet. The turbulent structure of an F1 car is extremely complex and subject to various variables. The various updates on the SF-23 have attempted to address, as much as possible within budget cap limits, some issues related to the flow circulation around the car.
The most recent change chronologically concerns the floor. We are talking about visible changes on the outside that “hide” a remodelling of the vortex structure underneath the floor. The aim of the aerodynamicists is clear: to provide more downforce derived from the management of Venturi channels, a fundamental aspect in modern ground-effect wing cars. It remains to be seen, probably only in the upcoming world championship events, how this update has improved the SF-23.
In the meantime, we can comment on one thing: with the new floor, it was much easier to manage tire wear during the race. Clearly, we don’t know if this is just a coincidence or if the update is somehow related to the results. But as mentioned, in the near future, we will undoubtedly gather more information useful for a more precise assessment of the facts.
In this regard, another consideration emerges. Through the use of the splendid tool known as “onboard,” since the laps before the positioning of the cars on the grid, we noticed a certain tension regarding tire wear. There was a lot of interest and concern that seems to have “mentally limited” the strategic approach to the race.
In Formula 1, the settings used to hypothesize prospects and, consequently, the actions devised for a race are often very important. They can help you achieve a goal higher than the one estimated with a “tail between your legs.” The head of the red team seems to confirm this through his statements, supporting that, contrary to what they initially thought, managing tire degradation was easier to do than to say.
This aspect can sometimes limit race choices, narrowing the strategic action field and the achievable target. Perhaps for this reason, instead of being forced to unnecessarily extend Carlos’ second stint on the Mediums, hoping to recover from the undercut executed by Hamilton, with a bit more strategic awareness, the British driver could have remained behind the Spaniard anyway.
Ferrari SF-23: The Importance of Carlos Sainz
Lastly, a few words about the Spaniard who drives the red car. Carlos Sainz has shown much of his worth in recent races. Aside from the driver’s standings, where mere points should not judge an individual’s skill, the Madrilenian has held his own against a much more renowned teammate. He has done so by making the most of SF-23’s characteristics and adapting to a competitive environment that is certainly not perfect.
Moreover, keeping in mind that the management has indirectly made it clear who their number one driver is, judging Charles Leclerc as the more suitable talent to bet on in the hypothetical scenario where Ferrari can compete for a championship, the Maranello team should do everything possible to keep Carlos, even in the coming years. The reason is simple and can be summed up in a single word: synergy.
The ex-McLaren driver complains when things don’t go well. But let’s be clear, all of them do: Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and even Charles Leclerc, without going too far back in time. However, despite making mistakes like many colleagues, he has shown a lot of commitment to the team, even though, as it should be, he has prioritized personal goals in certain situations. This factor has not at all affected his relationship with the team.
Not to mention his greatest ability: race vision. It is an “endemic quality” that cannot be found on supermarket shelves and cannot be acquired through practice alone. It must be something that is already part of your cognitive package. It is a skill that can grow but must be intrinsic to you. Carlos Sainz possesses this natural distinctive trait, and Ferrari can do nothing but benefit from it.
Source: Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica