Ferrari unveiled its first major changes to this year’s SF-23 car at the start of the three-day Spanish GP, with more important purposes than just improving its speed.
Given that Ferrari had the pace to secure pole position at both Baku and Monaco, the team’s main goal is to make the Cavallino more competitive – through improved tire management – in the laps of the race and to make Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz less “nervous”.
The Barcelona upgrade – ahead of this year’s 7th Formula 1 race – includes a long list of redesigned aerodynamic components. Most notable are the new side vents, which abandon the classic “bathtub” shape they’ve had since these new regulations began in 2022, and adopt a solution closer to the philosophy of Red Bull’s respective vents.
Specifically, in Ferrari’s previous design, the air flowing over the side vents was directed upwards, ie over the diffuser and towards the rear wing. However, in the new design that Red Bull has implemented so successfully, these air ducts are directed downwards, ie towards the rear wing, the space between the two rear tires and towards the diffuser.
At the same time, the changes in the bottom of the SF-23 are said to be significant – something that has a more noticeable impact than the side vents. Another modification appears to have been made to the aerodynamic mirror cover management.
However, this restyling of the Italian car is not on the scale of what Mercedes presented at Monaco last week, as Scuderia’s goal is to introduce minor improvements at every race from now until the end of the season.
As well as tire management and improving the SF-23’s handling, these changes also offer an increase in the lift generated – as the Scuderia themselves say there is plenty of room for improvement in this area – which of course translates to an improvement in speed as well. .
Referring to the strategic development of the Italian car, Charles Leclerc says he doesn’t expect a ‘miracle’ in these three days in Barcelona: “Our problem at the moment is that we have a very nervous car that is fine in a qualifying lap with fresh tires and a wind that we know well and we know how to drive it.”said the Monegasque.
“Once we leave those conditions a bit, the car will… we lose a lot of lift overall. We worked a lot on that with the new car. So that will help us not to win.” same amount of speed but slightly better stability performance over the three days. And hopefully that will give us better results on Sunday as well.” concluded the 25-year-old.
Carlos Sainz said something similar: “It’s kind of a new direction we’re taking towards what we think should be the right way to develop this car: improving its handling and stability to make it a little bit better in the race.
With this first step in this direction, we are trying to remedy the existing deficits – but at the same time we know that this modernization will not change our lives overnight. It is the first step of many to come.
I can’t complain about the car we have here. You can’t imagine how hard Maranello worked on this. It was planned to come later this year, but the entire factory has been working to the limit for the past few months due to the situation to try and bring it in sooner.” concluded the Spaniard.
Scuderia director Fred Wasser added that Ferrari’s results this year were far from expectations but did not reflect the true speed of the SF-23. However, the Frenchman added that there is a clear difference in the performance of the Italian car in the one round of qualifying tests and in the race laps.
Leclerc said of this difference in performance: “For a long time we didn’t know where it came from. We are now beginning to understand it and focus our efforts on it. Whether that will materialize once we are on track remains to be seen.”added the Monegasse.
And Wasser added: “I definitely hope that we can make a step forward in Barcelona. But that won’t be the end of the car’s development. We have upgrades ready for the next two or three games after this game.”
The Frenchman was even optimistic that Ferrari can win a GP this year with the SF-23: “We can win a few races this year. We work hard and we have to keep our heads up. We hope that we will have three great days. We’re bringing upgrades, but that doesn’t mean we’re changing anything [σχεδιαστική] Our philosophy.
I believe there is room for improvement, but it would be a mistake to completely change the philosophy [σχεδιασμού του μονοθεσίου] in the middle of the season. I hope that with the updates that we will continue to release, we will help the drivers to find the limit faster. Once we manage to unleash the dynamism it has [η SF-23], From the front row we will be able to achieve victories”concluded Fred Wasser.
Both Leclerc and Sainz have tested all of the SF-23 changes in the Maranello simulator and the Barcelona circuit will help Scuderia understand them as it’s a fairly representative circuit of the cars’ aerodynamic performance.