Project 676, Ferrari SF-24, is about to be finalized. A car that aims to take a significant step forward. The goal? To get as close as possible to the impressive Red Bull. To achieve this coveted aspiration, immense efforts are being made: a new front wing, a lowered anti-intrusion cone, increased undercut with revised sidepods, changes to the floor entry, larger diffuser, and a review of suspension kinematics.
Among the various technical modifications, there is a component causing some headaches for the team led by Enrico Cardile. We are talking about a system adopted by the Scuderia on the SF-23. The current question revolves around whether this concept will be present on the car that will reveal its shape to the world on February 13, 2024, twenty-four hours before the day the world dedicates to lovers.
As previously discussed last season, the so-called S-Duct had an exclusive aerodynamic purpose, even though it might initially seem like an air intake for cooling some internal electronic components. Essentially, the solution aimed to eliminate the boundary layer of the flow adjacent to the side wall of the chassis. The fluid flowing over this component, which is essentially comparable to a flat plate, loses energy in its path, and the boundary layer tends to thicken.
Eliminating this portion of the fluid from the equation means delaying the detachment of the fluid vein and simultaneously removing from the stream that mass of flow with lower energy. Also, in this area where the flow runs adjacent to the chassis, there is also an adverse pressure gradient. The reason is simple: in the portion of the car located in front of the sidepods, we find high static pressure due to the presence of the undercut. For this reason, particles tend to lose energy, and automatic harmful detachment could occur.
The solution adopted by Ferrari during the 2023 Formula 1 season has not been copied by any other team, considering the significant difficulties that could arise in replicating this concept on an already completed car in progress. To do this, a clear internal reorganization of the components was needed to reposition the duct. The channel in question then carries the fluid to vent above the sidepods, whose famous “fish tank” accumulated various losses. Following this, we can observe the regulatory volumes allowed by the regulations.
The SF-23’s S-Duct exploited the blue volume designated by the FIA as “mid-chassis.” According to information gathered by the editorial team of FUnoanalisitecnica, we can hypothesize that Red Bull will not adopt this concept on the RB20. This is because the technicians led by Adrian Newey are convinced that with such a developed volume of the undercut, the solution cannot be accommodated. In Maranello, they will adopt a completely revised chassis, with the side anti-intrusion cone lowered by a few millimeters, in order to position it at the lower boundary of the regulatory volume.
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This repositioning aims to increase the width of the undercut on the SF-24. Therefore, the starting zone of the floor has undergone a significant reshaping, which inevitably corresponds to several inevitable relocations of some secondary internal components towards the rear, all without modifying the layout of the 066/10 power unit. However, this measure could inhibit the presence of the S-Duct, as it may no longer find the necessary space for its allocation.
However, we know that Ferrari has spent part of the budget on this solution, and therefore, it will not be abandoned so easily. We are not talking about a “primary measure” as it could be for work done on the sidepods, floor, or other macro areas of the car. The duct in question is, in fact, a secondary device that can contribute, albeit to a lesser extent, to the containment of the aerodynamic penetration coefficient.
In addition to the aforementioned internal space problems, further headaches related to the external dimensions of the car could arise. Considering the increase in several cubic millimeters of the undercut, in practice, part of the path of the duct would become visible externally, removing part of the useful volume of the undercut itself. Remember that the Red Bull-style solution involves channeling through the digging of the sidepods to maximize the fluid flow to the rear, without excessive circumnavigation of the sidepods in the style of the SF-23.
Unfortunately, images clearly depicting the internal path of the Ferrari S-Duct channel do not exist, so it remains difficult for us “ordinary mortals” to assess how this solution can be readjusted to the new SF-24 chassis. The actual gain in removing the boundary layer must be compared with the effect of the loss of a certain volume of undercut, a crucial aspect if you want to generate a good amount of outwash.
As with the diffuser, every cubic millimeter recovered for the undercut is useful for generating a lot of the car’s performance. At the same time, it needs to be understood whether the actual arrangement of the internal elements on the Ferrari would leave a certain space for the channeling; otherwise, a larger volume of the sidepods themselves would become a penalizing factor.
Source: Niccoló Arnerich and Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica