Scuderia Ferrari needs to validate the latest version of the floor introduced in Japan. In this ever more complex and fast-paced Formula 1, where updates have only a chance to be tested during practice sessions, finding the optimal setup for a component is no easy task. Different scenarios can be helpful in understanding how that specific part of the car functions.
The Losail International circuit shares several similarities with Suzuka. That’s true. However, the Qatari “battlefield” offers different technical insights. Furthermore, we must consider the unique weekend format. Only one hour of practice, followed by official sessions. Two qualifying sessions: the traditional one and another for the 100km sprint race, in addition to the usual Sunday race. Everything is rushed, as always, with teams striving to achieve their best performance.
The last World Championship round didn’t see the SF-23 perform as well as it did in Singapore, but that was expected, considering the distinctive characteristics of the Asian track. It’s a trend that’s likely to continue this weekend on a front-limited circuit that doesn’t suit the inherent qualities of the Scuderia’s car. For this reason, the engineers in Maranello have conducted an in-depth study of the setup to use, convinced that a way to mitigate the flaws and optimize the strengths exists.
Ferrari SF-23: 60 minutes to provide the ideal setup
Let’s talk about rear wing configurations. Compared to 2021, the only appearance of Formula 1’s top-tier motorsport on the Qatari circuit, the proportion of load on the cars is different. Regarding Red Bull, we can observe that the RB19 has more downforce than the Ferrari. The aim is to generate more vertical downforce at the expense of a slight increase in drag, which isn’t limiting due to the high efficiency of the Austrian car.
While Ferrari and Mercedes show a very similar frontal area for the rear wing (indicated by green arrows), they have a significantly different main plane. The Prancing Horse opts for a specification closer to Milton Keynes, featuring a single-peak load distribution on the main element. Meanwhile, the RB19, as always, offers a greater incidence of the second additional flap. In the quest for additional efficiency, the angle of the main profile decreases toward the endplate.
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Mercedes chooses a specific high downforce configuration for the W14, with a double-peak load distribution rather than a spoon-shaped profile. Furthermore, just like the championship-winning cars, the “cut” between the attachment of the additional flap and the endplate is used on the all-black cars as well.
Ferrari needs to confirm its ability to make this high downforce package effective, ensuring it protects the front with a targeted mechanical setup. The modified floor worked well in Singapore, providing greater driving stability in high-speed, curvy sections of the track. When observing the average speeds in fast corners, the data was closer to McLaren‘s values than in recent history.
The SF-23 lost ground in Turn 1, especially during directional changes, resulting in a significant speed drop compared to the RB19 and the MCL60. Work has been done in this direction as well, aiming to find the right mechanical setup to mitigate this behavior. The single practice session could favor the Italian team, as Red Bull, as demonstrated throughout the season, tends to take more time to dial in the correct setup.
Source: Alessandro Arcari and Niccoló Arnerich for FUnoanalisitecnica