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Formula 1 Bahrain February Testing

Ferrari: FIA was "crystal clear" F1 front wing concept was legal

Ferrari said it had no doubts that its clever front wing design was fully legal when it launched its new SF-23 Formula 1 car earlier this month.

Ferrari SF-23, front wings

The Maranello-based outfit raised some eyebrows when the front wing of its 2023 challenger featured the very same slot gap separator trick concept that Mercedes had been told it could not run last year.

The idea is that the support elements are shaped in such a way that they help divert airflow to better increase outwash – something the FIA had hoped to minimise with the new generation of cars.

Last year, Mercedes was informed it could not race with them because the separator design was in breach of a rule that stated they had to ‘primarily’ be there for mechanical, structural or measurement reasons.

While that did not mean the supports could not provide some aerodynamic influence, the grey area prompted Mercedes to back away from pushing on with them to avoid trouble.

Ferrari’s use of the very same design for its SF-23 caused a bit of a stir until it emerged that the regulations over the winter had changed to remove the need for them to be mainly for non-aero reasons.

That effectively opened the door for what Ferrari did, with the team explaining that it had been given full clearance by the FIA.

Speaking to selected media including Autosport about the front wing situation causing interest from rivals, Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur said: “When we launched the car with these kind of parts, we were sure to have a discussion with the FIA.

“For them it was crystal clear that it was okay. The emotion of the other teams, I don't care.”

"It's the game of F1. Each year at test one you have this story about a winglet or this one [car part]."

Photo by: Ferrari

Vasseur played down the significance of his team doing something others had not thought of, as he said it was a pretty normal element of grand prix racing.

“It's the game of F1,” he explained. “Each year at test one you have this story about a winglet or this one [car part]. In one week’s time, we will talk about something else.”

Ferrari is not the only team to have aggressively pursued a front wing design thanks to the wording of the regulations.

Mercedes has also kept intact the endplate gap solution that ran from Miami last year but was thought to have been banned over the winter. For 2023, it has kept the basic concept but complied with the rules by attaching the flaps to the endplate.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Rival teams have been keeping a close watch on the various front wing tricks that have emerged, and will do their usual analysis before deciding if they follow suit.

Asked by Autosport about whether or not the ideas like Ferrari's were something that needed chasing, Alpine technical director Matt Harman said: “I think it's very concept specific.

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“We've had a look a few times at those. I think you may see them on our car, you may not. We will decide.

“The clarification of the regulation there is quite clear. It's clear that you can do them, and we will decide whether we do them or not. And maybe I'll let you know when they're coming.”

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