Ferrari work to eliminate SF-23 weaknesses, Sainz and Leclerc start sim work


Next season, in the hope of many, should see some top teams come close to Red Bull’s performance to provide a more competitive championship. There are fears that Adrian Newey has kept more than something in his pocket, and Pierre Waché, Technical Director of the Milton Keynes team, has made no secret that the RB20 will improve the 2023 car from many points of view. 

Rivals will have to work hard to prevent the dominance of Christian Horner’s team from continuing undisturbed. Among these threats is Ferrari, who fought in 2022, only to lose at the end and slip third in the World Championship in the season just ending, despite a good end. 

Work is underway in Maranello to provide Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz with a car suitable for fighting for the world championship.

Ferrari: ‘spared’ updates due to the limitations of the SF-23

This year’s car has been a puzzle for much of the season for Maranello’s engineers. The starting point was wrong, with an unstable and underperforming car compared to the simulator data over winter.

The SF-23 was started poorly, and Enrico Cardile’s technicians could only partially remedy it. The power unit’s chassis, suspension, gearbox, and layout obviously prevent major changes during the current seasons due to the budget cap, which blocks rebuilding costs that are too expensive.

The change that occurred in Barcelona was an attempt to get closer to Red Bull’s downwash philosophy, making a hybrid version of the SF-23 without totally giving up the concepts designed in Maranello.

The most important update was that of the floor introduced at Suzuka, which gave greater stability to the aerodynamic platform of the Ferrari SF-23also helping Charles Leclerc to feel a better feeling with his single-seater, making him the protagonist of a very good end to the season.

The modifications in the rear part of the bottom and in the diffuser ramp of the Ferrari SF-23 in Japan – Illustration Rosario Giuliana

The structural limitations of the car prevented the technicians from being able to work freely. This also led to the decision not to go any further, concentrating on the 676 project, which, as declared by Enrico Cardile after the break in Zandvoort, will be a “revolution” compared to this year’s project.

The chassis will be completely new, the suspensions will be modified for aerodynamic purposes as well as the rear end will be completely redone in order to extract more performance and have greater freedom of development over time.

In Maranello, it was decided to forego two development packages that could have been introduced this season, as they were not very effective given the limitations of this current car.

Ferrari preferred to direct those resources to next year’s car, including bottom and belly designs that would have further modified the SF-23 but were instead implemented in the development of next year’s car, which has long been running in the wind tunnel.

With greater freedom to modify the chassis and other key parts of the car, the technicians are exploring various development avenues.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz working on the simulator. A low profile winter for Ferrari.

Managing expectations and pressure is one of the most complicated things for the Ferrari universe.

The Italian media attention, but not only, is clearly focused on the horse for its history, its coat of arms and its importance within Formula 1. However, this year, the aim is to make a few proclamations – like that of Benedetto Vigna at the presentation – and wait not only for the day of the presentation but also directly for the first tests on the track.

These cars are susceptible and particular, and the truth does not always provide the same data as the virtual world. More than one team got burned by the simulator’s findings, having to change their minds once they went on track.

Few words and many facts: this will be Ferrari’s motto this winter, hoping to start the 2024 season with a decidedly better attitude than last.

This week in Maranello, both drivers will be engaged in simulator sessions with the new car, and their feedback will be very important to evaluate the simulator data and the behaviour of the single-seater.

The first Ferrari 2024 is virtually “ready” and will be the car that the two drivers will test in many sessions while waiting to drive it on the track in the Bahrain tests.

The attention of Frederic Vasseur and the Ferrari technicians will be on progress in all areas without setting precise performance objectives or making too many proclamations. The first answer that Ferrari will give itself will only be once it gets on track for testing and for the first weekend of the season.

Authors: Giuliano Duchessa & Paolo D’Alessandro

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang