Ferrari: Hungary will determine the team’s development direction

At Silverstone, Ferrari made a semi-disaster of the race that saw Verstappen take his eighth win of the season in Silverstone. Currently, the reigning World Champion is practically 4 Grands Prix ahead of his first pursuer, Checo Perez, who is also in an awkward position after several wasted qualifying sessions.

Will anyone challenge Red Bull?

Hard to say if it will happen this year. The McLaren of Silverstone, just three-tenths from the Red Bull pace, could have been an illusory case, at least in some phases of the race. 

However, Christian Horner provided some clarity after the race:

“Mclaren pushed us to the maximum today. We are running everything on the 2024 car because we are struggling with fewer hours in the tunnel. We think the others will get very close after the summer.”

Ferrari completely failed with its set-up at Silverstone

The Ferrari SF-23 finished at the foot of the points zone with a car that doesn’t seem to have confirmed the steps we had seen in Canada and Austria.

The P9 and P10 of Leclerc and Sainz represent a largely disappointing result that cannot satisfy the technicians after the excellent results from Austria. 

There the SF-23 provided excellent feedback both in terms of performance and correlation with updates. The British stage was clear that it would not have been the best location where this Ferrari could have expressed itself, for purely layout-related issues, more in line with enhancing Mercedes.

The surprising McLaren, and the confirmation of Mercedes on a friendly track, accentuated the difficulties of an SF-23put even more into crisis by the vicissitudes of the race. 

However, Charles Leclerc himself admitted that the car lacked pace and was no match for Mercedes this weekend (aside from the McLaren exploit).

“My first pit stop came too early, and that penalized me. However, we were almost forced to stop because we had no pace, and Russell could make an undercut,”- admitted the Monegasque.

Nonetheless, the change in tyre specification imposed by Pirelli to deal with the greater loads on these cars should not be underestimated.

It seems that the technicians have not achieved the best setup, with a too-timid ignition of the tyres. Basically, while up to Barcelona, the degradation had been massive, on the English layout, the Scuderia was too kind and underperformed.

The simulations show a deficit of 15 seconds over race distance compared to Ferrari’s potential. That means, on average, 2.5-tenths are lost per lap

Domino effect with hasty strategy and little courage?
Yes! But the SF-23 presented in the race was not for the podium

Silverstone represented the definitive test of the progress that had been seen a week earlier on the SF-23. The English track was supposed to be the litmus test of the goodness of the development package, strongly desired by the aerodynamic department led by Cardile. 

Under the guidance of the Italian technician, the aerodynamic department has prepared acceleration work in the factory with major efforts to anticipate the aerodynamic innovations initially envisaged for Hungary.

Comparison of Ferrari front wings – Illustration Rosario Giuliana

In Maranello, we will work during the week to analyze in view of Budapest what didn’t work as expected at Silverstone. The strategy conditioned the race of Leclerc and Sainz. 

In addition, the 20 degrees cooler asphalt on Sunday meant that there was essentially zero degradation on all compounds, making even a single stop possible starting with the soft tire (as done by Russell in the Mercedes). 

Leclerc’s early pit (forced to make another stop) and leaving Sainz on hard in the last stint restarting from the safety car put the Ferraris in even more crisis on race pace.

The Mercedes-Aston-Ferrari fight continues to offer significant alternation of performances, in which it will now be interesting to see what McLaren will do in Budapest.

It is undeniable that the Maranello technicians were very apprehensive about the performance at Silverstone, above all to understand if it was worth getting to grips with the developments again. 

The Maranello team’s optimisation work has shown that it still has a fairly marked limit, especially if a practice session is lost, as happened to Leclerc in FP2.

Ferrari’s Final exam postponed to Hungary?

Vasseur was not too concerned about the performance of the SF-23 at Silverstone, giving more weight to the “fear of daring” rather than the pure performance of the SF-23. Technical programming and future developments could greatly depend on how the car performs in Hungary. 

The Hungaroring will serve as a sort of “postponed exam” after Silverstone. Basically, it will be necessary to understand if the direction is the right one to determine if “the game is worth the candle” to try to continue the work in the wind tunnel. 

In terms of budget cap, Ferrari is not very far from the limit allowed by regulation, and the aerodynamic department is trying to play well the last shots that remain after the news from Austria.

The changes to the venturi entries of the Ferrari SF23 fund introduced in Austria – Illustration Rosario Giuliana

The all-new beam wing at Silverstone was something the Maranello-based team did not use since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the second GP of the season. 

The problems related to an attitude window that was too small were partially resolved with the corrections to the floor and allowed the use of an aerodynamic setup that included the beam wing kept aside.

Comparison between the beam wing at Silverstone and the one at the Red Bull Ring

Cardile wanted to make a “switch” in the development program, also trying to be more daring in bringing new pieces directly to the track without taking too much hesitation related to simulations. 

The work program in the tunnel continues with the search for a greater “comfort zone” to extract the maximum potential immediately through the structure.

If this phase produces something concrete, we will only see it between Qatar and Japan, barring further forcing that we cannot exclude from Cardile.

Small updates scheduled for Hungary

According to what has been learned, in Hungary, some small aerodynamic corrections should be seen in the front area of ​​the car, with a slight revision of the last flap of the front wing

On this front, the teams seem to converge towards a configuration that increasingly seeks out-wash for better aerodynamic efficiency.

Mercedes itself, with the new specification introduced at Silverstone, has changed its philosophy precisely in the direction of a greater direction of airflow towards the outside.

Comparison between the old and the new front wing of the Mercedes W14 – Illustration Rosario Giuliana

In Budapest, the SF-23 will return in a high-load configuration, and the technicians expect a McLaren to return with a performance more similar to Austria

An important reading key will be to see how the new structure tyres will behave with higher asphalt temperatures. The Silverstone round made “anomalous” by strategies and asphalt conditions has now shifted attention to the Hungaroring, above all to understand if the SF-23 can work better on the tyres. 

McLaren seemed to have excellent behaviour, always lighting the tires quickly in low temperatures, partly facilitated, partly very good, on a track where there was basically no degradation.

Authors: Rosario Giuliana and Giuliano Duchess

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang