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What Ferrari's floor update path reveals about its F1 2023 priorities

Ferrari has faced an interesting challenge at the start of the 2023 Formula 1 season in deciding on a development direction for its car.

Ferrari SF-23 floor detail

Photo by: 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.

Rather than chasing an out-and-out performance deficit between itself and Red Bull in all conditions, it has had to get on top of why it appears to be close to its rival in qualifying but is far adrift in the race.

There is no straightforward answer to it, as it is not a simple case, like Mercedes has, of realising its concept does not work and it needs to head in another direction.

That is why, so far, we have seen only a few minor revisions introduced over the first part of the season. However, these are enough to give us some clues about what is top of the to-do list.

While the team has been working on a new rear suspension that will now be introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix, in Miami Ferrari introduced a revamped floor and diffuser, with numerous changes made up and down the assembly.

Ferrari SF-23 floor detail
Ferrari SF-23 outer floor and fence comparison (highlighted)

Several changes were made to the floor's leading-edge geometry, with the more steeply angled outer section of the floor (blue arrows, inset) abandoned in favour of a shallower drop-off as it meets with the outer fence.

This resulted in a more pronounced bulge aft of the fence in the downward ramp section of the floor (highlighted in yellow). The shape and height of the trailing edge of the floor fence ahead of it were also altered as a consequence.

The change in curvature has an impact on the airflow's behaviour on the top surface. But, perhaps more critically, it also changes the available pocket of space in the underfloor beneath, with the shape of the floor fences also likely optimised in order to further enhance the effect.

In response to the aforementioned alterations, there were also changes to the various surface contours used on the floor's edge.

The upwardly rolled scroll section, the cutouts and the section that tapers toward the rear tyre were all carefully reprofiled to take advantage of the changes ahead of them, while also being mindful of the issues posed by tyre squirt.

Ferrari SF-23 new floor detail, 2022 comparison inset

Ferrari SF-23 new floor detail, 2022 comparison inset

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It's interesting that while some of Ferrari's rivals have made extensive changes in this area of the car, adopting the more obvious and external edge wing design that the Maranello squad had in the early stages of last season, it has not gone back.

Instead, Ferrari has stayed the course with design decisions taken during the 2022 campaign adapted to suit the regulation changes imposed on the teams this season.

In this respect, it appears that Ferrari prefers a more benign platform rather than one that chases peak performance at the risk of a lack of consistency.

Looking through the changes made to its floor and diffuser, it is clear the team is prioritising further improving the SF-23's balance and offering its drivers better aerodynamic stability through the range of low, medium and high-speed corners.

To take advantage of the changes made to the floor upstream, Ferrari also made subtle modifications to the diffuser, as the team modified the shape of the central boat tail section, extending the keel rearwards, in a similar vein to an update introduced by the Scuderia during 2022.

Ferrari SF-23 diffuser

Ferrari SF-23 diffuser

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

And, while there are plenty of changes that are visible to us, there's always one area of intrigue when it comes to floor updates: the underfloor.

Unfortunately, we're unable to see if any changes have been made, given the scale of the other alterations, but it would be understandable if the team had made optimisations in this regard too.

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