Ferrari SF-23: new development direction starts with Red Bull-style bellies but not only

Paolo D’Alessandro

To call Ferrari’s start to the championship disastrous is, perhaps, still reductive. After a very promising start last season, the Scuderia di Maranello got lost and since the introduction of the TD39 seems not to have recovered, and this project, the evolution of the previous one, is showing its shortcomings. At Monte Carlo, a circuit deemed favorable on the eve of the race by the Maranello men themselves, the SF-23 disappointed, finishing the race behind even Alpine. Then in Monte Carlo we could see all the simplicity in the bottom of the SF-23 compared to the competition.

In the last event, we saw Mercedes finally depart from its aerodynamic concept-zero sidepods-in favor of more
more conventional sidepods.
At Maranello, the belief that the SF-23 has untapped potential remains, as Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur, points out thickly: “Ours is a problem of consistency in the race because, except perhaps Jeddah, we have always been in the fight for pole position. In Miami, for example, the first stint of the race was good, while in Monaco we could not show it because we got stuck behind Ocon. We have to find consistency because our car changes behavior often, even from corner to corner.”

Ferrari SF-23: new development direction in Barcelona to find consistency in the race

Ferrari’s updates were expected and arrived in Spain, without delay but rather ahead of the primordial schedule. In Monte Carlo all eyes were on Mercedes, now it is up to Maranello to respond to turn their season around and try to close the gap, not only on Red Bull, but also and especially on Aston Martin and, in the race, Mercedes. Engineers headed by Enrico Cardile have been doing significant work on a package that will partially revise the concepts on which the SF-23 was born, a car developed from a base that was the F1-75. It was Carlos Sainz who anticipated this, after Miami, speaking of Spain as a stage where Ferrari would test a ‘new development direction’ to solve the limitations of this project. When asked about the matter, Vasseur explained what Ferrari is looking for from these developments, “The intention is not to add aerodynamic load, but to make it more consistent and put it in a better operating window.” These are the same comments made by Mercedes prior to the introduction of their development package.

At Brackley, work was done on the bellies and the front and side bottom areas (fences and sidewalk), but also on the front suspension with a clever solution to take advantage of an anti-dive effect without having to homologate a new chassis (impossible this season, under budget cap). What Ferrari has focused on, however, concerns mainly the aerodynamic aspect. Indeed, the Frenchman, in the latest statements, denied the arrival of a new front and/or rear suspension “We will not have a new front suspension (…) I don’t know who talked about a new rear suspension, certainly not me ,” he said in response to questions from various colleagues.


SF-23 changes: new bellies, revised bottom and a modification to the mirrors

One of the problems of the SF-23, to which the lack of consistency in the race is due, is related to the heights from the ground once the 100 KG of gasoline is embarked. The upgrades brought to Spain will serve to further alleviate these ills. The Italian team will abandon the particular and ‘unique’ inwash solution used since the first F1-75 specification, which was further developed on the current season’s car, to a solution more reminiscent of other cars, with the now well-known downwash effect first brought to the track by Red Bull. The engine hood has also been revised, and despite all these changes, the power unit cooling system has not changed.

Since the suspension and chassis cannot be renewed, the bellies will not feature the important lower undercut now seen on most cars. This is because of an important limitation related to the position of the anti-intrusion cone (SIS), which is not embedded in the bottom but positioned much higher (see illustration above). However, Ferrari has worked to try to expand it from the previous solution, so much so that the SIS fairing will be even more prominent.


The evolutionary package is, for now, mounted only on Carlos Sainz’s SF-23.

Officially, for budget cap reasons, Ferrari will focus on evolving the SF-23’s aerodynamics, not bringing to the track revised solutions to the front and rear mechanics, except, for the latter, with an evolution on the dampers.

The other major new feature of the package will be on the largely revised car floor, while of lesser importance will be those to the rear-view mirrors (the upper fairing has been shortened) and the appendages positioned to the rear of the Halo protection system. The bottom returns to a solution already seen on last season’s F1-75, namely the hole in front of the rear wheels, and with the new belly pan specification has a much less exposed surface at the rear. This is because the airflow to the top of the diffuser will now come from the downwash of the bellies and no longer from the inwash that was there in the previous solution. The new evolutionary package is for now fitted only to Sainz’s SF-23, with Ferrari not ruling out comparative tests between packages in tomorrow’s free practice.

Authors: Piergiuseppe Donadoni and Paolo D’Alessandro

Co Authors: Giuliano Duchessa and Rosario Giuliana