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F1 tech review: Ferrari follows rivals’ route to get back on track

Ferrari rolled out a steady development plan for its SF-23 throughout 2023, including a switch of sidepod architecture – following Red Bull, Alpine and AlphaTauri – and at least won a race.

Ferrari SF-23 comparison Spanish GP

Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

It came very close to overhauling Mercedes for the runner-up spot to the dominant Red Bull.

Let’s take a detailed look at some of the car’s finer details in full.

Ferrari SF23 front wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF23 front wing comparison

The SF-23’s nose assembly differed from its predecessor by virtue of its length, as the tip is no longer connected to the mainplane.


Ferrari SF-23 S-duct detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 S-duct detail

The SF-23 had an interesting feature that was unique to Ferrari and allowed airflow captured below the inlet to escape into the upper surface of the sidepod.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

The SF-23 without some of the lower chassis bodywork in place allows us to see the internal bib structure and the sprung stay that connects it to the underside of the chassis.


Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, rear wing detail

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, rear wing detail

The SF-23’s rear wing with DRS in use.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

The SF-23’s chassis dips down to allow the lower wishbone to be positioned lower.


Ferrari SF-23, new rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23, new rear wing

Ferrari introduced a new rear wing at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which featured a single central support pillar, rather than the twin pillar arrangement.


Ferrari SF-23, old rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23, old rear wing

The older specification rear wing with the twin pillar arrangement.


Ferrari SF-23 front wing end plate detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 front wing end plate detail

Ferrari took a nibble out of its front wing endplate as part of an update for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the C-shaped cutout in the lower corner likely targeting an improved outwash effect.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A close up of the slot gap separator brackets installed on the SF-23’s front wing, which offer more aerodynamic support than the regular horseshoe-style brackets would.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Another angle showing the slot gap separator brackets and how they might infer more outwash.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

The SF-23’s nose without the vanity panel in place shows how the inner crash structure and outer panels are packaged.


Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 detail

Ferrari rigged the SF-23 with more sensors in Baku to gather additional data.


Ferrari SF-23 rear detail with flow-vis paint

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 rear detail with flow-vis paint

Flo-viz paint was also used as a means of getting visual confirmation of performance on the rear wing, beam wing, diffuser, etc.


Ferrari SF-23 front brake comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 front brake comparison

A comparison of the F1-75 front brake arrangement (left) and the SF-23 (right) shows how the Scuderia opted to move the caliper into the low-slung position, to adopt the disc fairing. Notably a new drill pattern was also favoured to better help control temperatures across a broader range.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Ferrari’s high downforce rear wing offering for the Monaco Grand Prix featured a single mounting pillar.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A close up of the chassis duct beneath the main sidepod inlet.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A close up of the outlet from the chassis duct and the two cooling gill panels within the sidepod’s bathtub.


Ferrari SF-23 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 floor detail

The SF-23’s floor edge had two cutouts to create a separation point in the centre, with the rear portion of the floor both tapering inwards and upwards.


Ferrari SF-23 floor front

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 floor front

The leading edge of the Ferrari SF-23’s floor and the floor fences.


Ferrari SF-23 comparison Spanish GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 comparison Spanish GP

A new sidepod package arrived for the SF-23 at the Spanish Grand Prix, as the team moved away from their bathtub-style solution and adopted something more akin to the downwash ramped solutions many of their rivals were now using.


Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 detail

The revised floor edge on the SF-23 featured an elongated edge wing with an upturned section at the front, while a metal bracket was used to connect the rearmost section of the floor with the edge wing.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A close up of the SF-23’s chassis without the vanity panel in place allows us to see some of the inboard suspension elements.


Ferrari SF-23 Detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 Detail

A close up of the SF-23’s wing mirror and the surfaces that wrap around it.


Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 detail

A close up of the SF-23’s halo and airbox region which is littered with flow adjusting fins and winglets.


Ferrari SF-23 new endplate, Austrian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 new endplate, Austrian GP

A new front wing design was employed at the Austrian Grand Prix, with the C-shaped cutout in the endplate filled in once more and a small winglet incorporated instead. The shape of the endplate’s leading edge was altered too (dotted line).


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A look at the leading edge of the floor and floor fences with the floor left detached from the chassis as the car is worked on in the garage.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Ferrari employed a bi-plane style beam wing arrangement at the British GP, with a slatted upper element set forward of the lower element.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A look at the power unit before it’s pushed into place behind the chassis.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Mechanics install a larger camera pod on the front wing so that more equipment can be installed to monitor front wing flex.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Matt Kew

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Ferrari trialled a single lower beam wing element on the SF-23 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.


Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 detail

A close up of the rear section of floor on the SF-23 with the floor connecting block for the metal stay now setup as a bridge between the floor and edge wing.


Ferrari SF-23 rear wing detail, Belgian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 rear wing detail, Belgian GP

A new rear wing design was introduced at the Belgian Grand Prix, as Ferrari presented its version of the open-ended tip section solution that many of their competitors had already raced. A central cutout was also present on the trailing edge of the upper flap, with a Gurney also applied (see insets for comparison with regular specs).


Ferrari SF-23 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 rear wing

Ferrari’s rear wing for the Italian Grand Prix was simply a 2022 redux, with the team likely happy to save the resources required to develop a bespoke solution.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A single element beam wing was selected and paired with the low downforce rear wing at the Italian Grand Prix.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Filip Cleeren

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

The SF-23’s upper flap on the front wing was also trimmed heavily to help match downforce levels front-to-rear considering the choice made at the rear of the car.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

A rare glimpse of the rear crash structure, suspension and brake assembly on the SF-23 as it's stood upright in the garage.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

The rear brake disc and caliper fairings were heat treated with a silver paint.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

An unusual view of the front wing without the two moveable flaps not in place.


Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 technical detail

An overview of the SF-23 where the team made changes to the floor, floor fences and the diffuser’s sidewall.


Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 detail

Larger gills were employed in Mexico to help with cooling in the rarefied air.


Ferrari SF-23 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Ferrari SF-23 detail

The rear crash structure, suspension and rear brake assembly from above.


Ferrari SF-23 rear wing comparison, Las Vegas GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari SF-23 rear wing comparison, Las Vegas GP

The SF-23 was outfitted with two solutions at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, as the team looked for the right balance between the downforce required (Belgian GP specification) versus the straightline speed advantage that could be garnered (Italian GP spec).


Here’s the list of the components that Ferrari listed as having changed in the car presentation document prior to each race.

  • Saudi Arabia
    • FWEP
    • Floor edge
    • Beam Wing
    •  
  • Australia
    • N/A
  • Azerbaijan
    • Rear wing
  • Miami
    • Floor
  • Monaco
    • RBD
    • Rear Wing
  • Spain
    • Floor
    • Sidepods (gulleys)
    • Rear wing
  • Canada
    • N/A
  • Austria
    • Front wing
    • Floor body
  • Great Britain
    • N/A
  • Hungary
    • Front wing (Reprofiled and full width Gurney)
  • Belgium
    • Rear wing
  • Netherlands
    • N/A
  • Italy
    • Front wing
    • Rear wing
  • Singapore
    • Front wing flap
  • Japan
    • Floor - fences, edge, mid floor and diffuser sidewall
  • Qatar
    • N/A
  • USA
    • N/A
  • Mexico
    • Additional cockpit louvres
    • Rear cooling exit Gurney
  • Brazil
    • N/A
  • Las Vegas
    • N/A
  • Abu Dhabi
    • N/A

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