Ferrari SF-23: there is an S-duct to generate more rear downforce

S-Duct Ferraru SF-23 - Illustrazione Rosario Giuliana

Ferrari unveiled the SF-23 with an exciting presentation, committing to a different direction compared to the concepts shown by Mercedes and Red Bull, which can be further analyzed in the Bahrain pre-season tests. 

The Italian squad worked extensively on the SF-23 to ensure the launch everything went smoothly – which is never guaranteed for a completely new car. Thankfully for Ferrari, the car started up without delays and completed its first laps live – first with Leclerc and then with Sainz on the Fiorano circuit.

Although the parameters had been set with the maximum protection, during a shakedown, there can be hitches of various types, even more trivially than assembly.

Mercedes, for example, had a few hiccups in their first shakedown (15km) at Silverstone, the same day as the presentation of the W14. Luckily everything went well at Fiorano, and the fans received their Valentine’s Day gift.

Ferrari will not have another filming day before the tests in Bahrain 

The team carried out the first 100 km of shooting as scheduled – again at Fiorano – without any particular problems. Unlike some other teams, however, Ferrari will not carry out a second filming day before the group tests in Bahrain.

It is clear that an important question in 2023, at least in the early stages, will concern porpoising. This has also been discussed regarding the two filming days used by Alfa Romeo.

The main objective for all teams during shakedowns is to verify that the installation of the car has been completed without problems and that all systems are functioning properly. This season, given the problems encountered on the last filming days, teams want to immediately remove any doubts surrounding porpoising.

It is no coincidence that Ferrari mainly focused their preliminary work on an initial verification and correlation of the new anti-hopping floor, which, as a high-profile engineer hinted to us on the sidelines of the presentation, has been completely rethought.

Has Ferrari become a less ground-effect car than the F1-75, with higher tunnels similar to Red Bull?

This is still unclear, but we’ll find out in the upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, the SF-23 did not suffer from porpoising at Fiorano. Ferrari only suffered some bottoming, which was clear to see here the bumpiest parts of the circuit.

However, the Italian team’s technicians await the most crucial information from Bahrain. It should be noted that on the filming day, the two different positions of the back support rod made their debut.

These options consist of a more aggressive and a less aggressive position. For most of the 100 km, the first version was used, allowing a certain bending to the pavement of the floor, which on the specification tested so far, has lost the now-known oval hole in front of the rear wheels. These are both good signs. 

Speaking with a Ferrari engineer, other details were discussed. We have acquired a lot of data and a lot of metrics with the F1-75, with a job that we are happy with.

“Thanks to this, we have implemented some solutions, which are not visible (therefore mainly under the background) and which, of course, I cannot tell you.

“Clearly, we are waiting to go to the track in Bahrain to evaluate them.” The new fund is – as will be better in Bahrain – significantly different both in the design of the conveyors and in the venturi channels.

The main objective of the engineers was to produce a significant improvement in terms of downforce without penalizing aerodynamic efficiency. A really subtle technical balance, which on the F1-75 was broken with the introduction of the well-known anti-porpoising technical directive, and therefore something to be reviewed but with particular attention.

The S-Duct innovation returns in the central part of the car to generate more load at the rear

On the subject of aerodynamic efficiency and the search for further aerodynamic load, we must certainly point out a Ferrari innovation which has inserted vertical air intakes under the sidepods, similar to the old S-Ducts in the noses, abolished with this new generation of cars.

In essence, aspirators, with purely aerodynamic purposes, connect two open parts of the bodywork: one at high pressure, the inlet, to one where it is needed instead to energize the flow, ie the outlet.

This solution was first hypothesized first by colleagues from Motorsport Italia, which was later confirmed to us by qualified sources in Maranello.

In Ferrari’s particular case, the entrance comes off in the internal part of the undercut, right next to the chassis. This is a high-pressure area, still inserted in the volume associated with the frame and therefore free from strict geometric constraints, which brings the air to the upper part of SF-23’s sidepods.

It is no coincidence that the outlet is positioned just before the hot air vent slots, heated by the heat exchange with the liquids inside the car. Hot air is typically low in energy and very slow, so ideally, it should be energized.

This is precisely the function of the innovative S Duct installed on the SF-23, namely to speed up the air flowing towards the lower part of the rear wing and the beam wing with a consequent increase in the aerodynamic load at the rear.

Ferrari feels very confident about the regularity of the solution.

Perhaps more importantly, the team believes that it will be very complicated to replicate on other cars as a lot of work is needed in terms of frame and cooling design, which are difficult to change during the current season in this budget-cap era.

At Fiorano, an initial assessment of the efficiency of the new mechanics and the decline at the bottom

The new Maranello machine was constructed with many new mechanics compared to the recent past. Especially at the front, Ferrari has transformed from a suspension that is too conservative in its kinematics into a version that is more in step with the times.

There is nothing revolutionary when compared to that of its direct competitors, but it is certainly a big step forward compared to the specification mounted on the F1-75.

It is no mystery that for the mechanics, this was an important step to take. This area was already mentioned last year, with a new rear suspension in the works for the second part of the season, before it was abandoned on the F1-75 for ‘strategic’ reasons, which blocked developments at the French GP.

We have redesigned the entire front suspension by bringing the track rod lower so as to improve weight distribution as well as geometry. The rear one is now multi-link.” declared the chief designer Enrico Cardile without too much hiding.

Despite the limited aerodynamic freedom allowed by the regulations, a different set-up of the wing is expected, which changes the design of the flaps substantially with a decisive out-wash tendency to move airflow beyond the front tyres.

The 10 small shunters that were thought to be banned by the FIA ​​after the Mercedes case but have been re-issued with a new regulation update have also made a surprise appearance. “Nothing decisive, but they are useful details, and we can use them.” Cardile clarified.

As we know, ground-effect cars need to make the Venturi tunnels work at their best. This means that with greater ride heights like with Red Bull RB18 – or with lower heights like the Ferrari F1-75 – the aerodynamic platform must remain as stable as possible.

Here is where the mechanics come into play in a powerful way, which must also be able to counteract the rebound, as Red Bull teaches. The regulatory increase of 15 mm of the edges and 10 mm of the throat of the diffuser may seem minimal, but in reality, this was a big issue for aerodynamicists to deal with.

The road taken by Ferrari was to work a lot on the mechanics to widen, thus offering setup options and a car that could mechanically sit more at high mileage, approaching the behaviour of the RB18.

Authors: Giuliano Duchess and Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang