When asked if the Ferrari 675 was more beautiful than last year’s F1-75, Fred Vasseur answered very candidly that the important thing is whether the car is fast . If the car wins, it will be beautiful in the eyes of Ferrari’s team principal.
In less than ten days, on February 11th at 11.25 am Italian time, Ferrari will reveal in Maranello the car they hope will break their F1 Championship drought.
The first chassis of the 675 was delivered on Friday, which will be used for the shakedown at Fiorano and, of course, in the tests in Bahrain scheduled from 23rd to 25th February. This also means the drivers have completed the standard measurements for their 2023 seat fit.
The ‘real’ power unit fire-up of the updated specification has already been performed correctly
At this stage of the year, the factories are extremely active , not only to prepare for the 2023 launches but also for the production of both cars.
The significance of this task can be appreciated when considering the small gap between the three days of pre-season testing and the first round of the season – which takes place at the Sakhir circuit on March 3rd.
According to reports, the Ferrari’s 2023 chassis is 2-3 kg lighter than the F1-75. This weight loss is equivalent to 1 tenth per lap. This is an interesting development, considering that the frontal, lateral and vertical impact tests have been more severe ahead of 2023.
It is now well-established that Ferrari has been concentrating on this project for some time, having given up on development in 2022 well before the summer break.
Given the problems that emerged, this was not a bad decision, especially given significantly the budget cap can affect the design and development of a modern F1 car. However, this decision means Ferrari will carry a performance deficit going into 2023 – only time will tell if this time is recovered.
Nonetheless, it must be considered that Ferrari’s direct rivals have maintained an important margin. Red Bull metaphorically took its foot off the gas – in terms of development – after Singapore, last year, a decision partly motivated by the team’s development sanctions after breaching the cost cap.
The RB18’s lightened chassis reached quite an advanced stage. However, it was quickly realized in Milton Keynes that Verstappen had no direct opponents after Spa. It then become clear there was no need to continue with developments to defeat Leclerc, even less so for Mercedes. It seems likely that many aspects of last year’s development program have been cleverly integrated into the 2023 car.
Mercedes can still close the gap, as shown when the team reminded the field of its potential by taking victory at Interlagos with Russell. This win – frankly – seemed impossible in the first races of the season when the W13 was fighting with the Haas.
It is hard to believe that Mercedes’ engineers will repeat the mistake of underestimating some of the more hidden concepts underneath the car . There is no doubt the Brackley squad has the skills and resources to unlock the potential of their package. On the other hand, it is never easy to fully recover a large deficit in F1, something Toto Wolff has also admitted in recent weeks.
Although surprises are always possible, on paper, it is likely that only three teams will fight for the world championship, performing one step above the rest. These teams will keep their cards close to their chest in pre-season.
Their success in 2023 will depend quite heavily on having correctly interpreted the further aerodynamic limitations concerning the floors, but also on using more optimal set-ups than last season.
The cars of a year ago were completely new, and we know that the engineers found themselves battling with understeer and exasperatingly stiff setups to deal with the porpoising, which exposed the single-seaters to breakage and embarrassing performance losses in low-speed corners. This year, after collecting crucial data from the many races of last season, it will be crucial to address these weaknesses to achieve a significant step forward in performance.
The minimum weight could remain at 798kg: The final decision will be made on February 20th
Article 4.1 of the 2023 technical regulation, in its current version, states that “the weight of the cars, excluding fuel, must never be less than 796 kg during any moment of the competition.”
At the time of writing, this rule has not been changed. However, according to what has been heard from various qualified sources, the weight could stay the same from 2022, meaning the 798 kg limit will not be reduced.
As previously mentioned, some macro components of the cars – such as the chassis of Ferrari and certainly of Red Bull – will be lighter. However, indications suggest the minimum weight of the power units could go from 151kg to 150kg.
The new 2023 Pirellis appear to have been slightly lowered, and there have been small, although far from unimportant, innovations, in terms of weight, including important reinforcement in that area where the frame connects to the power unit.
A final decision will be made at the F1 Commission meeting to be held on 21 February. After all, Vasseur himself, during the first meeting with the media in Maranello, mentioned this meeting as an important first appointment – in his capacity as Ferrari Team Principal – to deepen some discussions.
The French team principal will inevitably offer a different dialogue from Binotto, to make this meeting even more constructive, especially with the FIA and with some teams. It is too early to make any conclusions, though, as inappropriate comparisons are already being made between Vasseur and a great politician like Jean Todt.
Fred Vasseur is certainly tasked with changing relations with the Federation, everything else will take time. For now, what should be noted is that both were called up by Ferrari after 14 years without an F1 Championship.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang