Analysis: Leclerc pushed the new Ferrari floor to its limit in Austria

Ferrari Driver, Charles Leclerc

The Austrian GP was a new breath of fresh air for Ferrari. In Barcelona, the new package of updates was not well optimised; whilst in Canada, the weather didn’t allow for a linear running programme.

Despite all this and the unorthodox Sprint Race structure, the Maranello squad was aggressive in Austria – introducing further updates. The SF-23 and its sidepods have been changed and equipped with a new front and a new floor

The innovations don’t stop there, with the final improvements at Ferrari to be completed at Silverstone. The Scuderia’s engineers will hope to see another competitive performance in Silverstone.

In Austria, the SF-23 was better than the F1-75 in all areas

The world title is now beyond reach, but in Maranello, the focus is still on improving the 2023 car, which also impacts the development of next year’s project.

The program of ‘transformation’ for the SF-23 started in Barcelona and is starting to bear fruit. During the season, we compared the car with the then-winning F1-75, mainly thanks to data analysis.

So far, the SF-23 has shown its greatest shortcomings where a lot of downforce was needed in 200 kmh corners.

It definitely improved overall efficiency but lacked peak load at medium-high speeds. The car is clearly an overall improvement from 2022, thanks also to the new Pirelli tyres, although there hasn’t been the expected jump in performance.

So far this season – excluding Miami, Jeddah and Barcelona, which have undergone changes to the circuit – Ferrari’s average is improving – at least on itself – by 0.598% (up to Canada). 

This progress is not enough to fight with Red Bull, and indeed, and has often put Ferrari behind Aston Martin and Mercedes.

AustrianGP - Red Bull Ring - Ferrari SF-23 - Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz

However, Spielberg showed something different. The improvement of the SF-23 on the F1-75 was clear in all areas. The car performed better in every fundamental: braking, traction, straight and even cornering was superior to the 2022 car.

Even in the fast ones with high loads. In qualifying, the improvement was 0.883%, about 0.3% more, which means three-tenths of a second.

These figures confirm the earnings expectations and the progress the technicians were talking about. The drivers confirmed that the new parts made an instant impact:

“The car felt much better here, especially in the fast corners, than in Barcelona. I’m very comfortable now,” said Carlos Sainz over the weekend. 

Charles Leclerc shares the same opinion, even if, for him, the focus of the analysis will be on Saturday and on the feeling with the mixed conditions:

“It’s something I need to improve in terms of setup. In those conditions, I have to figure out how to do it in order to do better.”

Ferrari: In Austria, there was no porpoising despite minimal ground clearance

The positive aspects of Ferrari don’t stop at the ‘simple’ analysis of race pace and good tyre management, even against their closest rivals – Mercedes and Aston Martin.

The one hour of free practice prompted the engineers to quickly evaluate the new package, making use of the information gathered during the filming day before deciding on a set-up that proved to be very effective in the dry. 

Austria saw the SF-23 qualify well and proved itself the second-fastest team in Spielberg. On the other hand, the Monegasque, as mentioned, had more difficulty in the wet, while Carlos Sainz performed very well even in those conditions.

Ferrari SF-23
New Ferrari fund introduced in Austria – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

The important thing for the Maranello technicians is that they have begun to reduce or remove the trigger for porpoising. The car remained very stable both on the straight and in the high-speed corners, with full fuel and empty tanks. 

This is a very important reference being one of the limiting factors of the SF-23 and one of those that, with these updates, we aimed to eliminate.

It will be important to confirm this feature at Silverstone as well so as not to have to resort to compromises in the mechanical setup and give up the downforce produced by the bottom.

The good news is that from here, Ferrari took to the track with lower ground clearance without worrying too much about bouncing – so much so that he reached the end of the race, especially in the case of Charles Leclerc, with table wear levels bordering on the regulation

No problems or worries at Ferrari. On the contrary, this is confirmation of how the SF-23 was able to travel with more aggressive heights throughout the race, expressing better potential.

Authors: Paolo D’Alessandro & Piergiuseppe Donadoni & Giuliano Duchess
Co-Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang