Ferrari: more consistency in performance between qualifying and the race in Australia. In Maranello they remain convinced of the potential of the SF-23.
After the first three races of the 2023 Formula 1 championship, Scuderia Ferrari returned to Maranello with contradictory thoughts. The SF-23 is not at the level they hoped for, but the ranking does not reflect the real value of this car. In Bahrain, a reliability problem deprived Charles Leclerc of a podium finish or – given the impressive pace of Fernando Alonso – at most of a fourth position. In Jeddah, the race was conditioned by the penalty positions and by a car which, with the Hard tyres, had a very poor pace. In Australia, however, both drivers made mistakes, leaving Ferrari without any points, even if the Scuderia asked for the right of review to regain fourth position for Carlos Sainz at the Albert Park circuit and the corresponding points for P4.
The balance is therefore largely insufficient for these first three rounds of the 2023 F1 campaign, but the last race has hinted at positive signs that the Maranello team takes home. The SF-23 was equipped with the floor tested in Jeddah and the team followed a new development line on the front setup which gave more load to the car making it more linear and consistent with the simulator data, helping the technicians to understand it better and giving them the basis for the next development stage this season.
Up to now we have seen a two-faced SF-23: in qualifying, Ferrari has often managed to extract the maximum potential from the car, while in terms of race pace it suffered from setup problems caused by a small operating window which widened the gap from Red Bull, the reference car.
The average gap per km in qualifying was 0.057″ in Bahrain, 0.025″ in Jeddah. 0.041 in Melbourne. The one in the race respectively: 0.154” 0.159” 0.043”. A fact that doesn’t lie and that confirms the improvement seen in Australia, despite a clear race management from Red Bull, but not only: also Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who partly ‘falsify’ the comparison but without changing the progress of the SF-23.
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In Maranello, the preparation work towards Baku continues unabated. After Carlos Sainz was in the simulator last week, it is now up to Charles Leclerc to test the various set-up possibilities. Some correlation problems have also been resolved thanks to the contribution of the new floor, but Baku and the subsequent races will be important for confirming progress and also testing the validity of the updates being worked on, as explained by F1 experts Giuliano Duchessa and Andrea Vergani for formu1a.uno.
Pirelli 2023: not everyone managed to make the most of the new tires.
The technicians – asked about understanding the tires – think that the new Pirelli compounds are actually faster than the previous ones, but it is still a new compound on which it was not possible to carry out extensive tests, therefore work on the balance sheet was less clear.
Some teams exploited the new tyres less than estimated in winter, ie on average 4 tenths rather than the expected second. However, an important gain is sufficient to compensate for the gap due to the anti porpoising aerodynamic limitations. Basically it can be said that the delta with the 2022 performance is almost genuine. Among other things, it was revealed that some load simulations provided by the teams were underestimated, which is why Jeddah was more cautious about keeping the pressures too low. In short, there is still much that is misunderstood in this new generation of cars.
The only fixed point of this start to the 2023 Formula One world championship is that Red Bull is clearly traveling with a half-season advantage, due to the ideal choice of the concept. Nonetheless, if you ask Ferrari if they are more concerned about Mercedes or Aston Martin in the battle for second place, they will answer that there is only one target: to close the gap with the Red Bull RB19.