Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Why Ferrari hit a ceiling with its 2023 F1 car development

Ferrari's chassis technical director Enrico Cardile has given an in-depth explanation of why the team hit a development plateau with its 2023 Formula 1 car.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Ferrari

Ferrari arrived at the start of 2023 with an evolution of the 2022 car that challenged Red Bull at the start of last season but then faded away.

The SF-23 again proved promising over one lap but struggled from wild aerodynamic inconsistencies that made it suffer over a race stint, especially on hot, high-downforce circuits.

Ferrari embarked on an aggressive development project in Maranello, but while it added aerodynamic load and mitigated some of its weaknesses through a range of updates, it failed to fully get on top of its race pace issues.

Chassis chief Cardile explained the team soon found the SF-23's chassis a limiting factor of what it could achieve.

"The 2023 car has been developed in continuity with the 2022 car, trying to improve some limitations of the previous car," Cardile told select media, including Autosport.

"All in all, our goal has been achieved because the car on track behaved exactly how it has been developed.

"The problem was that soon we realised that the direction we took was not the most profitable, so we reviewed internally our targets for the aero development. The first step has been with the spring package, where we changed the floor and bodywork, followed by another step in Austria.

"But then we reached the limitations of the architecture or what we were able to do with the chassis."

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Erik Junius

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Under the cost cap, introducing a B-spec chassis during the season is not feasible, so a team's initial chassis design as well as other packaging choices limited the extent it could re-develop.

For Ferrari, these constraints were mainly related to the sidepods, with its decision to place the lower of the mandatory side impact spars as high as it could coming back to bite it.

"The limitations were mainly on the chassis, because the main difference between our car and the Red Bull style car was under the radiator inlet and the pod design, ours was fatter than the Red Bull one," Cardile explained.

"The reason why is because we were using this portion of the bodywork to pressurise the area in front to control the tyre wake.

"On the other hand, digging below the radiator inlet we can promote a better flow towards the rear end of the car, benefiting in terms of the rear load, but then we have to recover the tyre wake control somewhere else.

Read Also:

"By having this 'fatter' pod we didn't need to design a very 3D shape in the chassis because we put the electronics just below the radiators.

"And the Side Impact Structure (SIS), the lower one we put on the maximum height allowed by the regulations because we found performance cleaning the top surface of the front floor.

"Once you decide that to achieve a different target you need different shapes, these two facts, the position of the electronics and the design of the chassis, and this lower SIS position quickly became a constraint.

"In our case that would have implied a new chassis and a new gearbox, basically a brand new car, which is not achievable during the season for many reasons."

Behind the dominant Red Bull RB19, which appeared to work in all conditions and corner types, most other teams found the operating window of their cars extremely limited, which induced some wild fluctuations in form.

Across 2023 Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren all had the second-fastest car at various points while struggling on other weekends.

Cardile believes Ferrari's well-documented inconsistencies and tyre wear struggles were largely the result of its aerodynamics, playing down the influence of its suspension design.

That aero map also dictated how sensitive the Ferrari SF-23 was to yaw, which particularly affected the confidence of its drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in windy conditions.

"We think we know why our performance degrades in the race and for us, it's related to how the aero map is made and the peak downforce we can have," he explained.

"Suspension set-up to me is a bit overrated because, at the end of the day, you design the suspension to gain aero and at the same time have reasonable kinematics.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

"The problem with tyre wear is how the car operates, and how the car operates is absolutely ruled by the aero behaviour of the car. So, everything is down to aero unless the suspension design is massively wrong."

As its 2023 chassis design was not compatible with the aerodynamic direction it wanted to pursue, the team shifted focus to its 2024 car relatively early, which is set to be a full redesign. Instead of bringing massive updates, it began experimenting more with its set-up choices after the summer break to accelerate that learning for next year.

"Next year's car will turn the page," added Cardile. "We kept the target that we set ourselves but we understood that to achieve this target we need different contents on the car. So, next year's car has been designed differently from the 2022 one."

Ferrari's goal for 2024, then, is not only to develop a car with better peak performance, but one whose performance is less 'fragile' and doesn't just work well in specific circumstances, such as in Singapore where Sainz kept Red Bull from a clean sweep of race wins.

"The peak performance is probably not miles away from Red Bull, but we need the full commitment of the driver, we need the right ambient conditions, we need the right combination of corners," Cardile summed up.

"We need a lot of stuff which makes the performance difficult to repeat during the race stint, when the tyres start to give up and the balance of the car changes. The impression we have is that the Red Bull's platform is more robust than ours.

"Red Bull is demonstrating that it's not impossible [to have a car that performs everywhere]. It's just a matter of hard work with the right targets."

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Magazine: 116-page 2023 F1 season review
Next article Why a 2001 decision is at the root of current FIA v FOM tensions

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe