Ferrari discovers part of what slows down the SF-23 in race trim


“Red Bull is on another planet when the race comes,” said Charles Leclerc after the race. “In qualifying, we can compete, but over 51 laps, it’s not possible. They have much more race pace than us.”

This reality has been read and re-read since last season’s Belgian GP. In short, when the famous technical directive 39 came into force, which scuttled the promising Ferrari F1-75 project, the Italian squad’s current car has also been impacted.

Ferrari SF-23: Work has been done to have a smaller difference between the heights from the ground used in qualifying and that in the first part of the race

Frédéric Vasseur has taken his first podium in Baku since becoming the head of the Maranello team. 

“I can only be very happy. It was a good weekend with two poles and a podium. We have taken a  step forward .” As far as performance is concerned, the French team principal rightly wanted to underline how there were already improvements in Melbourne

“The difference is that we didn’t get any points in Australia, which is what counts.” In the Baku post-race press conference, he was then asked where these improvements came from, following the significant work done by the Maranello team technicians since after Jeddah.

However, he didn’t want to go into too much detail about this new technical philosophy undertaken on the setup and development of the SF-23. “Do you think I’ll give you the answer?” he said, smiling.

Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz - Azerbaijan GP, ​​Baku

Since the Australian GP, ​​Ferrari has progressed with its understanding of the car, also helped by the introduction of a new floor, used with both cars from Melbourne, which made it possible to eliminate porpoising. can go into more detail about what the Italian team technicians then improved and changed in terms of setting up the SF-23 , ie this new technical philosophy. 

After a careful analysis of the data collected in the first two GPs of the season,  in Maranello, they have realized how their car ran much higher , in terms of ground clearance,  in the race compared to qualifying

The weight given by the over 100 kg of petrol on board was not enough to compensate for a considerably slower cornering speed (from 10 to 30 km/h depending on the type of corner) with a full tank, therefore with vertical forces that crush the car down much less important. 

Turning higher in corners is an impressive handicap with this generation of cars because it means generating much less downforce from the undercarriage, with consequent sliding and repercussions on tire use.

In Maranello, after having ‘understood’, they worked above all on the mechanical setup, in  terms of stiffness, to be able to bring the heights from the ground closer between qualifying and the first part of the race.

Even evaluating for a change in the course of who supplies the rear suspension shock absorbers.

Ferrari: the steps forward will be confirmed on more probable tracks in terms of tire management

“We will be bringing updates from Miami. However, it’s not just about updates; it’s also about how well you use your package .

“We have concentrated on this in recent weeks, and we have done it well,” said a satisfied Frédéric Vasseur at the end of the Baku GP.

It is no coincidence that the Ferrari SF-23 goes slower with a full tank of fuel. Clearly, the improvements, first in understanding and then in setup, are not to be considered miraculous , but they have allowed us to unlock part of the unexpressed potential in the first two rounds.

“Honestly, I think we have improved a bit. But when I see the gap to the Red Bulls, I think they haven’t pushed all the way. So I don’t really know how much we managed to recover , said Charles Post-race Leclerc:

“The feeling is better, but the Aston Martins also proved to be very fast today. So  we still have a lot of work to do .” 

Ferrari is working to further improve the coherence of the car between qualifying and the race. This is clearly evident, for example, not only against Red Bull but against Aston Martin and Mercedes:

“I think Red Bull has found something that we haven’t found yet. All our attention is here at the moment. In Maranello, everyone is working hard to try and understand what we can do better in the race, above all to get more performance,”   continued the Monegasque. 

This upcoming update package, which  will be introduced between  Imola  and  Barcelona , ​​should allow the Reds a new step forward in this regard.

Without forgetting that Australia and Baku turned out to be two undemanding circuits in terms of tire management . The two races were rather slow for long stretches, with the riders more inclined to save the tires than to look for performance.

“I think Ferrari was also lucky in Baku. Hard wear has been less than expected. Fernando Alonso said at the end of the race.

“The reasons? At the end of the race, there was a significant drop in temperatures which allowed the tires not to overheat too much”. 

This one second from the Spaniard allowed Leclerc to keep third position:

“In a normal, hot race, they probably would have had more problems. In Miami, things will be different .”

Here, next weekend could become a good testing ground for the Maranello team, which wants to confirm its second strength (yesterday on par with Aston Martin) . But it won’t be easy.

Author:  Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang