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Formula 1

Gary Anderson: Ferrari update doesn’t look a Red Bull-beater

by Gary Anderson
3 min read

Ferrari arrived in Barcelona with its long-awaited upgrade package, with the focus on the visually-different sidepods as well as a few details around the rearview mirror and floor edge detail tweaks.

When I first saw Ferrari’s first stab at the new regulations at the beginning of 2022, I felt like it wasn’t a ‘connected up’ design philosophy from front to back. As time passed, I began to see how they were trying to keep the airflow on the top of the sidepods and direct it into nearer the centre of the car to help the diffuser and rear beam wing.

But now, Ferrari has just thrown that all out of the window and gone for a more Red Bull swept-down sidepod surface as it moves rearwards.

You want to get the maximum flow possible between the body surfaces that cover the gearbox and the inside of the rear tyre. The more flow the better the performance of the beam wing and diffuser.

However, having it come around the body sides and into the Coke bottle could very easily cause airflow separation problems when the car is in yaw mid-corner, resulting in increased oversteer from loss of rear grip. Bringing it over the top reduces this risk.

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There is still a smaller gutter-style recess on the inboard top surface of the sidepod. There also seems to be a small cooling exit (green arrow) feeding that gutter section.

It is just below the original version of what some people christened an ‘S’ duct exit, so perhaps these two now work together.

The new design features slightly altered the body surfaces in the leading edge undercut area. It now has a little more room to turn the airflow less abruptly.

Ferrari SF-23 F1 floor edge comparison

This improved flow around the undercut area of the front of the sidepod will therefore also enhance the flow to the floor edges. Ferrari has increased the detail in this area and the turned-up section is now more aggressive (green ellipse).

Further rearward, Ferrari now also has an inlet (blue ellipse). This allows the flow on this outer edge to be pulled into what is called the tyre squirt (yellow arrows)

Ferrari SF-23 F1 wing mirror comparison

The change to the mirror detail is tiny and, to be honest, insignificant. Ferrari has reshaped the end of the mirror pod to attempt to turn more flow outwards and the top shroud is shorter.

The Ferrari drivers have complained about rear grip inconsistencies, making that a key area for improvement. But there’s nothing I can see in this package that should tackle that.

It seems that Ferrari, like Mercedes, are looking for more downforce but there’s every chance the problem is all about the aerodynamic centre of pressure in the underfloor and better controlling that. We can’t see the underfloor to know if anything’s changed there, but from what we’ve seen and what Ferrari has said about this package, there’s no reason why that should improve.

To me, these developments, other than the floor edge, look more like pressure to change something as opposed to logical improvements from windtunnel and CFD research. I don’t see what will make it a Red Bull-beater.

That was perhaps confirmed after FP1 in Barcelona when Carlos Sainz ran the new package and Charles Leclerc ran the old package. Sainz ended up 0.032s slower, so cost-effective wise that’s no return for in excess of half-a-million dollars. In FP2 there was very little separating the drivers – both now running the new upgrade – with Leclerc and Sainz over three tenths adrift of pacesetter Verstappen.

The old version was a roll-top bathtub design. Ferrari needs to be careful it hasn’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater when it got rid of those sidepods.

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