The thrilling Italian Grand Prix, despite Red Bull’s double victory, was probably one of the most exciting races since qualifying. Finally, Ferrari secured its first pole position in a non-Sprint format weekend, and this is no small detail. The technicians at Scuderia Ferrari, especially in Carlos Sainz’s box, showed that they directed the setup’s evolution in the right direction between Friday and Saturday. In essence, performance improved similarly to that of competitors. Sainz’s pole position and Charles Leclerc’s third place, just 69 thousandths of a second behind his teammate, represent the best qualifying session of the unfortunate season for the Maranello team. Over the course of the 300 km race, the actual values of the cars were normalized based on their real performance, and the SF-23 was clearly the second force on the field. So, what can we expect from the red team in the upcoming rounds of the season?
It’s necessary to clarify that Monza is unique in the calendar, much like Monaco, in that the setup of the cars and the low-downforce aerodynamic configuration find no equals in the World Championship calendar. Based on this assumption, after the race, there was a feeling that even if they maximize the SF-23’s potential on a favorable circuit, Ferrari is unlikely to perform well in the immediate future. Certainly, the engineers at Maranello have squeezed every resource at their disposal, including the homologation of the fourth power unit on Charles and Carlos’s cars. However, even the next race in Singapore could be an opportunity to confirm the hierarchies appreciated on the Monza track.
Ferrari: The new layout in Singapore offers the possibility to replicate the result of Monza
The fourteenth edition of the Singapore Grand Prix will take place on a significantly modified circuit. In particular, curves 16, 17, 18, and 19 have been eliminated.
The track has been made faster, and the lap times will be considerably shorter. In a circuit that has always seen the entry of the Safety Car in the past, the race duration approaching two hours, which has often tested the physical endurance of the drivers, should be avoided. As far as the Prancing Horse is concerned, at least on paper, all the conditions are in place to confirm themselves as the second force even in the Singapore night race. Firstly, even in the renewed layout, there are no high-speed corners, except for the two left-handers leading onto the main straight, which represent the Achilles’ heel of the 675 project. In all respects, it’s a Stop & Go circuit, with several 90-degree corners where the red car performed well in Canada and Austria. Traction will be a fundamental aspect, and from this point of view, the management of the rear tires will be crucial. Pirelli has opted for the softest dry tires in its range for the Asian race, given the low abrasiveness of the road surface, although it is a city circuit that especially in the early sessions will offer little grip in the absence of support races from the junior formulas (F3, F2, Porsche Supercup). One of the primary factors to maximize the power unit’s potential will be the management of the hybrid component. The Marina Bay circuit allows for a high capacity to recover kinetic energy during braking due to the high number of violent decelerations, especially in the new layout. On the old layout, 975 kJ were recovered under braking with the MGU-K and 2,990 kJ under acceleration with the MGU-H for a total of 3,965 kJ per lap. The ERS was used for 71% of the time. These parameters will certainly vary in relation to the new layout.
Twelve months ago, Charles Leclerc secured pole position and finished second in a race characterized by changing weather conditions. It was the last real opportunity for the F1-75 to fight for victory. The SF-23 was created to make up for the lack of aerodynamic efficiency of the 2022 project, sacrificing part of the vertical load. It would be logical to expect a less favorable scenario for the historic Italian team; however, even the super-efficient SF-90 dominated with a double victory in the 2019 edition.
However, the changes to the circuit are so invasive that they partially nullify the previous references available to the teams. Finally, the human factor. Charles Leclerc is one of the best performers on the Asian circuit, having secured the last two poles but has yet to win there. The defeat in the fraternal duel at Monza can only provide greater motivation for the Monegasque driver, who we are certain will want to demonstrate his skill on the dry lap in the challenging Marina Bay circuit and reclaim what slipped away by a hair at the “Temple of Speed.”