With the launch of the Ferrari SF-23 2023 F1 car, Ferrari showed that 2023 has the potential of being watershed year for F1. For the first time in over ten years the top three teams have the potential of battling it out on relatively competitive terms.
Up until 2020 F1 was becoming a little “Oh hum”. How far is Lewis and Mercedes going to be ahead this year. And then in 2021 we had the nail biting – and very disappointing end. Lewis lost in the final race due to a renegade decision. Despite this Max was a worthy competitor and the final points separation and time difference was miniscule.
2022 started with a bang – except Mercedes was nowhere to be seen, having made decisions with their car which placed them into the mid field.
Ferrari did the opposite and Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc had some epic battles. After the first few races it looked like we had a competition in our hands.
Of course, we all know that never happened. Ferrari made some unfortunate strategic decisions and then came the problems with reliability. The end result was that Max romped home with the championship. Charles came home in a distant second challenged to the end by “Checo” Perez, Max’s team mate.
So what comes next?
Ferrari SF-23 2023 F1 Car
There is a new car, and a new team principal and the atmosphere seems lighter and more confident.
The Ferrari SF-23 2023 F1 Sidepods
Ferrari have kept the basic shape of the sidepods. They haven’t followed the rest of the field (other than Mercedes) moving towards a variation of Red Bull’s design. Underneath the sidepod is a completely re-engineered system.
The gills have been divided into two separate sections, with the two at the back integrated into its own interchangeable panel.
This seems to be a useful tool that the team can use to change the cooling parameters of the car at different circuits.
Ferrari have introduced a side duct located next to the trailing leg of the halo. It stretches the whole width of the chassis and is wider next to the cockpit.
No-one is clarifying whether this is to provide more cooling or whether there is a deeper aerodynamic benefit.
The Middle Section Of The Ferrari SF-23 2023 F1
The middle part of the car houses new fins and winglets which seem to be similar to some of the changes other teams made on 2022.
There are also some additions that are uniquely Ferrari. The team is using the new rules to add several air flow conditioning devices.
The mirrors have been extended to comply with the new regulations. While doing this Ferrari have taken input from Mercedes by adding three winglets attached to the outer corner of the sidepod.
The strakes located on the halo have been kept and a small wing has been added to control the airflow around the halo.
A new winglet has appeared on the side of the airbox. Presumably this is to help connect the airflow to the other winglets.
The Front Wing Of The Ferrari SF-23 2023 F1
Interestingly the front wing is similar to the design that Mercedes introduced at the United States Grand Prix, but then withdrew after the other teams complained. The new wing included five strakes that where fashioned in such a way that they assisted the airflow.
Mercedes had previously received approval for the wing design from the FIA, but the other teams complained on the basis that Article 3.9.8 of F1’s Technical Regulations had been breached. The rule indicates that although slot gap separators were allowed, the intention should never have been to deliver a direct aerodynamic benefit.
Rather than fight the issue, Mercedes reverted to the old wing. When the new wing finally appeared at the Mexican grand prix the strakes had been removed.
The new Ferrari wing has the same five strakes, however this year they are allowed. The reason for this is because the rule has been amended and now allows the strakes if the primary reason for them to be included is for mechanical, structural or measurement reasons.
Even if they deliver a significant aero benefit, as long as the primary reason is for mechanical, structural or measurement reasons they are legal.
Interestingly, Mercedes has not included this feature in their W14.
The Nose Of The Ferrari SF-23
The SF23 has adopted a shorter more rounded nose than the one they ran last year.
The Engine Of The Ferrari SF-23
The big elephant in the room is whether or not the team has managed to cure the reliability problems. Is the car going to deliver a competitive result on a sustainable basis. The alternative is Ferrari fans being left with their hands in the air wandering why!
As the regulations stand, teams are not allowed to develop their engines to introduce more performance. They are, however, allowed to develop the power units to improve reliability.
The scuttlebutt is that Ferrari have found another 20hp to 30hp in their quest to improve reliability. This is perfectly within the regulations, if it can be proven that the power growth is as a result of reliability gains.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is not happy, and believes that teams that have gained more power are notv playing by the rules.
Enrico Gualtieri, Ferrari’s Formula 1 engine boss has said that the entire engine process has been changed. This includes changes to the assembly process. They also redesigned the failing components.
Fred Vasseur, Ferrari F1 team boss has repeated has said that judgement cannot be passed until the car is on the track and running.
The car has seemingly run well on the dyno which has made everyone cautiously optimistic.