During the FP2 session for the Monaco Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz collided with the barriers at the exit of the swimming pool chicane. The recovery of the SF-23 car on the Monaco circuit is almost always done using a crane.
This allows, once the car returns to the pit lane, for a moment to have a clear view of the floor. The floor is the area of the car that teams want to keep as secretive as possible. In fact, it is under the car where a significant portion of the aerodynamic load is developed, and with the new regulations, the profiling of the Venturi tunnels is crucial. The bottom of the Ferrari SF23 has simpler shapes compared to the RB19, let’s discover it in detail.
Observing the bargeboards on the floor from the outside to the inside, it is possible to notice a bulge inside at the VGW play sponsor area. The purpose of this solution is twofold. The wake caused by the front tires is diverted more effectively. Additionally, the section immediately after the entrance is narrower, allowing the airflow underneath the car to accelerate. The following three bargeboards have parallel shapes to guide the airflow towards the floor edge wing and create a mini aerodynamic skirt at the sides of the floor itself.
The central channel expands as the bargeboards extend longitudinally. It is in this area of the car that the useful aerodynamic load is mainly generated, ensuring unprecedented cornering speeds for Formula 1 cars compared to other motorsport categories. The next area is that of the diffuser, whose task is to decelerate the airflow and restore the pressure difference between the external environment and the car’s underside. The way the diffuser works is crucial both for controlling the airflow entering from the bargeboards and for the amount of generated downforce.
The bottom of the SF-23 features a straight section in its central part. It then gradually widens, and unlike the Red Bull, there are no ribs along its surface. This solution has been seen since the previous season on the RB18 and allows the generation of vortices that energize the airflow underneath the car.
Comparison with Red Bull
When comparing it with the floor of the RB19, it is noticeable that these two are quite different. In fact, the bargeboards used by Red Bull have a less defined outward curvature. They first extend in an (almost) straight direction, and then have a non-constant terminal radius. The airflow under the car is managed differently, and the vortices designed by the Red Bull engineers also play a role in this. The RB19 retains the double T-tray, present on the F1-75 but not used on the SF-23.
Additionally, ribs are reintroduced on the surface of the floor. Their goal is to energize the airflow and prevent separation.
Looking at the floor edge wings used by the two cars, once again, completely different shapes are observed. Ferrari once again prefers less complex and more linear shapes. On the other hand, Red Bull uses various aerodynamic appendages. The idea of the Red Bull engineers is likely to generate higher-intensity vortices to interact with the wake generated by the rear tires.
Since the previous season, Red Bull has been able to create a car that is immune to porpoising, thanks to effective suspension and a car floor that delays the phenomenon at higher speeds. The car updated for the 2023 Formula 1 season remains the benchmark in the category, and the many peculiarities present on the floor are certainly not accidental. The RB19 performs at its best in races and tire management, areas where every aspect of the car must interact perfectly to extract maximum performance.
It is important to note that interpreting the airflow management underneath an F1 car is difficult without the use of data and/or CFD simulations. However, hypotheses can be made based on theoretical knowledge.