After two positive rounds on circuits that highlighted the SF-23’s strengths or, rather, concealed the car’s many native flaws designed in Maranello, Scuderia Ferrari has returned to being the fourth force at the Miami International Autodrome in Florida, USA. Despite not being a perfect weekend for the Italian team, the negative trend that started in August last year continues. The 2023 Formula 1 single-seater is unable to generate stable downforce during the race, especially at high speeds, where the lack of grip on the car seems to be accentuated by an unpredictable behavior that challenges Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Even the Monegasque admitted that “not only from one corner to another, but even within the same corner, we can have a huge change from oversteer to understeer” and this was particularly evident in the high-speed section of the first sector, where the two Ferrari drivers were losing more than half a second to their rivals.
Disastrous Ferrari: here are the numbers, 20 km/h lost from Qualifying to the Race
After the first races following the technical directive TD39/22, the problems generated by the new rule on the flexing of the plank under the floor became evident. Despite the immense aerodynamic load available to the F1-75, the car was unable to fully exploit its potential with a high amount of fuel. In the early months of the 2022 Formula One season, Ferrari and Red Bull had a similar gap in qualifying and the race, around four-tenths of a second. However, after the winter spent behind the scenes, the gap between qualifying and the race has not decreased but has actually increased, and the SF-23 loses an additional half a second compared to Red Bull between Saturday and Sunday!
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If in Qualifying the SF-23 defends itself quite well, thanks in part to some excellent laps by Charles Leclerc as happened in Baku, the losses in the race are evident to everyone. Taking the first sector of the Miami International Autodrome as an example, perfect for our analysis given the importance of a good level of aerodynamic load and car stability, the Ferrari car loses, between qualifying and the race compared to the other top teams, an additional 2 tenths of a second compared to Red Bull and Aston Martin, and even 4 tenths of a second more than Mercedes! In terms of average speed, the other teams lose between 13 and 15 km/h from Saturday to Sunday, while Ferrari’s figure reaches 20 km/h lost, a statistic that highlights the lack of aerodynamic load and the instability of the car during the race.
Even at low speeds, the problem remains the same, albeit to a much lesser extent in the specific case of the Miami GP, where Ferrari opted for a rather soft setup. Mercedes and Aston Martin lost less in terms of minimum speed between Qualifying and the Race (around 5 km/h), while Red Bull (7 km/h) and Ferrari (almost 8 km/h) lost more compared to the other two teams. In the second sector, these numbers translate to an additional 2 tenths of a second lost compared to Red Bull and Aston Martin, and approximately 3 tenths of a second more than Mercedes on average, as explained by Formula 1 expert Andrea Vergani for formu1a.uno.
The performance window of the SF-23 is too small and unstable, something already seen last year with the W13, which struggled to work well on a single lap and then better exploit its potential on Sundays. It will be impossible to solve all the problems of the 675 project with the planned updates between Imola and Barcelona, but it will be crucial to see steps forward in this regard to verify if the path taken is the right one or if a major overhaul of the concept will be necessary for 2024, potentially leading to further setbacks compared to Red Bull.