Ferrari exudes the romanticism of Formula One and particularly in the early days as the likes of Ascari, Fangio and Mike Hawthron claimed titles in those big front end V12 Ferrari classics. Yet for the Prancing Italian Station team success has been sparse in recent years, limited to race wins but no championships.
However, the romance is set to return as Ferrari launch their car on Valentines day next week at the Fiorano circuit, where the SF-23 will then get its first outing on one of the team’s “filming days”.
Ferrari: 3 main areas to improve the car
The noises coming from Maranello all winter have been very positive as the team quickly realised they had three areas on which to improve.
While fairly satisfied with the overall aero package the team identified the front and rear wings on the Red Bull car flexed more than on the F1-75. So the team has invested in a more ‘elastic’ compound for the construction of the wings which like Red Bull should still see them pas the FIA’s mandatory flexibility tests.
On the whole Ferrari were fairly happy with the 2022 Pirelli which suited their car design to understeer. Such is the importance of understanding the new rubber Ferrari opted willingly to take part in all of the closed season Pirelli testing sending Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz rather than a reserve driver like Robert Kubica who was initially slated for their test by Alfa Romeo.
New Pirelli characteristics countered by suspension
The team believe the new suspension design will counter any moves Pirelli has made to improve corner turn in (and oversteer) and reduce degradation.
Finally the ‘frozen’ power unit’s fragile tendencies needed addressing. Ferrari have made changes to both the hybrid systems and the V6 engine in order to improve reliability. The improved units have been run for more than the required mileage at full power on the dinos which will return the early season pace the F1-75 demonstrated last season.
Following the bonfires of Barcelona last season, Ferrari were forced to run the power unit at less than full performance which Binotto admitted had “cost us between 15 and 20 bhp from then on.”
SF-23 with 30BHP more and 1 second a lap quicker
Rumours in the Italian media suggest these corrections together with other improvements will see the SF-23 PU produce 30 BHP more than its earlier iteration and the whole package is 1 second a lap quicker than its predecessor.
At a recent Ferrari media day Fred Vasseur attempted to play down the expectation. “The numbers, I don’t know where the numbers are coming from, but it’s just a joke,” Vasseur claimed.
Yet reports emerge in Germany today from AMuS that the 2023 Ferrari F1 car will be “lighter, more reliable, aerodynamically more efficient and with more engine power” and that Ferrari sources are “super confident”.
Horner wary of improved Ferrari performance
Speaking to the same publication, Christian Horner notes “In theory nobody can gain a lot of horsepower anymore.
“But Ferrari obviously had reliability problems last season. If they have fixed those problems, they can get more out of the same engine this year. That will inevitably lead to progress at Ferrari.”
“I think Ferrari has a lot more margin so we have to take that into account,” Horner said. “We all saw how they really scaled the engine back last year after their reliability issues.
“We only had minor reliability problems last year – certainly not to the extent of Ferrari.”
Red Bull’s disappearing lightweight chassis
That said Red Bull Racing’s double world champion made somewhat of a faux par when he announced the soon to arrive “lighter chases” for the RB18 just prior to one of the most dominant victories at the Belgium GP.
Given all the talk of Red Bull breaching cost caps, the topic was played down when Red Bull senior staff were questioned about it by the media. Further, the lightweight chassis never arrived so presumably Red Bull have that in hand for their 2023 F1 challenger.
The shakedown of the SF-23 next week in Fiorano will reveal little of the cars full potential. That will come the following week when pre-season testing sees all the new cars on track in anger.
If Ferrari can deliver on the closed season hype, then F1 fans should be in for a competitive treat similar to that of the early 2022 season, before the wheels came off the challenge from the Red Team.