Charles Leclerc’s race in Brazil was cut short by a preventable issue. We will never know what race Leclerc could have had at Interlagos. The Ferrari driver was only a passenger as he hit the barriers on the formation lap.
The cause of his failure has been described as “A stupid thing, a banality”. An electrical fault caused his engine to go into protection mode and block the gearbox. The rear axle was blocked without the possibility of resetting – despite restarting the procedures.
The culpable component isn’t understood as part of the Ferrari Power Unit, and it had not given any alarm signals for the entire weekend. Otherwise, nothing would have prevented its replacement.
However, it was a blow to Leclerc’s ambitions in Ferrari’s chase for second place. It was also a huge blow to Leclerc’s morale at the end of the season. In Mercedes’ worst weekend of 2023, the Italian team could have halved the gap in the standings.
This would have made their chances of overtaking the German outfit more realistic.
The technicians will review the car in Las Vegas. In the meantime, as mentioned, neither the engine nor the control unit (CE) is the cause of Charles’ knockout, and they do not appear to have been compromised.
Nonetheless, experience teaches us not to take anything for granted until the car is set up and restarted in the garage. Probably what matters in this final is finding a lasting solution for 2024.
The 676 model and implementation work
A former Ferrari man himself, McLaren boss Andrea Stella, spoke about the importance of data implementation work. At the beginning of the season, McLaren was well off the pace.
However, the Woking technicians took a gigantic step forward thanks to mid-season development.
In these cases, it cannot be enough to copy. This is something teams have acknowledged and which they must implement in 2024.
Even the Ferrari team principal, despite not being someone who visits the technical departments too often, wanted to see Ferrari’s 2024 project (the 676) that has been running in the tunnel for some time now.
Here are some key points: It will be ready soon, and it will feature an undercut.
However, the project is continuously being updated, and the aerodynamic appearance is not defined. Ferrari’s approach is to leave plenty of room for manoeuvre between known features and new ones.
Contrary to what Mercedes declared, Ferrari’s corrected concept is in a transitional guise between SF-23 and Red Bull philosophy, with some of its own solutions on board. It’s difficult to expect a copy and paste, senseless.
If you don’t have information on how a concept works, you risk ending up with significant problems that have already been seen on Aston Martin’s AMR23. Instead, it is worth simplifying and deeply reviewing the vortices that generate sensible load.
Cardile’s staff concentrated their efforts until July to repair the errors during the season. The car from pre-season tests in Bahrain had a lot of porpoising and was highly unstable in fast corners due to the incorrect concept.
There were improvements after covering kilometres on the track, such as understanding better how to get around unsolvable problems.
The data is more consistent after the introduction of the Austrian floor specification. Another step forward was taken through the upgrade in Japan, which was approved before the summer break.
Naturally, we will have to expect much more. Almost nothing under the Red Bull sidepods will be carried – because the lower anti-intrusion cone has been lowered, and the entire bottom must be redesigned.
Some technical pitfalls towards Liberty Media’s great show
Due to its theoretical characteristics, Las Vegas still leaves Ferrari with opportunities to do well. High efficiency will be reworded, and car configurations will generally be low load, with Monza-like preferences. There are five non-curved corners, acceleration and braking, and another five sharp turns, all things well suited to the SF-23.
Furthermore, the Red is the most efficient with closed DRS. Despite wing configurations that will reduce the delta between open and closed DRS, verifying the length of the mobile flap activation zones will be very important. An FIA approach that Red Bull and Mercedes will pay particular attention to, for opposite reasons.