The most intriguing changes Ferrari has made to the SF-23 F1 car

Ferrari's new Formula 1 car, the SF-23, is clearly a highly optimised version of last year's challenger.

The most intriguing changes Ferrari has made to the SF-23 F1 car

But while it may stick to the core philosophy of the F1-75, there are some fascinating areas of development that the Scuderia has focused on. 

Starting with the sidepods, this has been a focus of all the car launches so far this season, with most of the field gravitating towards a variation of the Red Bull design that proved to be successful last season.

Ferrari has, as you'd expect, retained its own concept though, albeit with the bathtub solution thoroughly re-engineered.

As part of these changes, the gills, which had previously provided a continuous set of outlets along the sidepod and engine cover's surface, have been split into two distinct sections, with the rearmost set into their own interchangeable panel.

This will provide the team with a way to change the car's cooling parameters without the need to carry multiple large pieces of bodywork around the world.

Perhaps the most interesting addition in this region is the side duct that's positioned alongside the trailing leg of the halo and which extends the width of the chassis as it widens beside the cockpit (blue arrow).

Ferrari SF-23 sidepod detail

Ferrari SF-23 sidepod detail

It's unclear if this is simply an additional cooling outlet or whether it has more of an aerodynamic function which is powered by an inlet that's been cleverly hidden away beneath the main sidepod inlet.

This can be found in the undercut region, where there's also a vertical baffle beside the chassis (inset, blue arrow). This creates an inlet that's either connected to the aforementioned side duct in a similar fashion to how the 'S' duct used to create a conduit for the airflow around the nose or, it is simply a way to enhance the overall cooling capabilities of the sidepod.

Ferrari SF-23. detail

Ferrari SF-23. detail

Photo by: Ferrari

The shape of the main inlet has also been revised, while further effort has been made to increase the depth of the undercut, with the lower side impact protection spar's tip exposed and a bodywork blister used to cover it.

The mini step undercut that parades around the bottom of the sidepod's flank also appears to have been enlarged, enabling better passage for the airflow towards the rear of the sidepod assembly, where a low-line cooling outlet can be found en route to the coke bottle region.

Ferrari SF-23. detail cockpit
Ferrari SF-23. detail side

The central section of the car is littered with new fins and winglets, some of which take inspiration from what other teams ran last season.

But there are several new additions too, with Ferrari clearly looking for any available box region within the regulations with which to add flow conditioning devices.

The main mirror assembly carries a similar DNA to its predecessor but, in the process of extending the mirrors' width to fulfil the requirements of the new regulations, the team has also taken a leaf from Mercedes and AlphaTauri's book, with a trio of winglets sprouting from the sidepod's outer corner.

The arched strakes which could be found atop the halo have been retained, but are also joined by a boomerang winglet to help smooth the airflow's passage over and around the safety structure.

Then, reaching out over the triangular winglets on the upper rear corner of the halo's trailing legs, we find a pair of generously shaped cascade winglets. These are similar, if you will, to the cascades we used to find on the front wing to help with vorticity control from the Y250 region.

Above these, but below the horn-style winglets that have adorned Ferrari challengers for some time now, we find another winglet on either side of the airbox. This will undoubtedly help tie in the airflow with the aforementioned cascades and horn winglets.

Ferrari SF-23. detail front wing

Ferrari SF-23. detail front wing

Photo by: Ferrari

At the front of the car, there are more changes too, as Ferrari has abandoned the longer, tapered nose tip solution it ran last year and opted for a more rounded version that sat back on the second main plane element.

This switch exposes the first element to more airflow and sets up the other elements beside it with a slightly different flow regime.

Now, we can't go any further without covering the elephant in the room - Ferrari looks set to utilise a set of flow conditioning slot gap separator brackets that look suspiciously like the ones that Mercedes was told it couldn't run after it unveiled them at the United States Grand Prix last season.

If we take a look at the relevant section of the regulations regarding auxiliary front wing components there's been numerous changes for 2023, and the most important of these states:

The following components will be permitted in addition to the Front Wing Assembly: f̶o̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶m̶a̶r̶i̶l̶y̶ ̶m̶e̶c̶h̶a̶n̶i̶c̶a̶l̶,̶ ̶s̶t̶r̶u̶c̶t̶u̶r̶a̶l̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶m̶e̶a̶s̶u̶r̶e̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶s̶o̶n̶s̶:̶

The FIA's deletion of the sentence regarding 'primarily' here is pivotal, as while there's another amendment further down (below, bold sections added to the regulations) it doesn't impose the same intent as was originally the case. This will allow all of the teams to now create brackets that also have an aerodynamic function.

Up to eight slot gap separator brackets, per side of the car, which c̶o̶n̶n̶e̶c̶t̶ provide a structural connection between consecutive FW Profiles. T̶h̶e̶s̶e̶ Each brackets̶ must:

Ferrari SF-23. detail front wing
Mercedes W13 front wing comparison
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