Ferrari’s disappointing start to the year in Bahrain was followed by several rumours and controversies surrounding the team. However, the track will do the talking from this Friday as the Scuderia arrives in Jeddah to recover from its first round.
Fred Vassuer set the target of winning the World Championship during the winter break, and this objective must persist – irrespective of the difficulties encountered by the SF-23 in Bahrain.
Ferrari’s team principal, despite the struggles seen in Bahrain, is confident Ferrari’s 2023 challenger has potential.
The importance of emphasising set-up and better understanding the new package has been stressed at Maranello. However, irrespective of Vasseur’s optimism, there is plenty of pressure on the Italian squad’s technicians to rebound quickly from the first round.
Ferrari will introduce a new front wing to eliminate understeer
Ferrari was certainly caught off guard by several elements in Bahrain. The most serious of these surprises was the team’s reliability issues, forcing Leclerc to retire and take a 10-place grid penalty in Jeddah.
The team’s performance in Bahrain was characterised by understeer and issues with porpoising, which were not anticipated in the factory at Maranello. These two weaknesses prevented the team from optimising the SF-23 package, forcing the team to make compromises and ultimately impacting performance.
Concerns about drivability first emerged in testing, with Charles Leclerc recognising the work necessary to tweak the SF-23 to his liking:
“I had to change my riding style a bit, but let’s say we’re finding the way,” said Leclerc on the last day of testing. A combination of data analysis and simulator work did help the Monegasque feel more comfortable in the SF-23 – as demonstrated by his strong pace in qualifying and race trim.
With Ferrari recognising the SF-23’s potential from the simulator was not being replicated on track, developments in Maranello accelerated. No upgrades for Jeddah were planned before testing, but the situation has changed – a new front wing will be introduced this weekend.
Both Ferrari SF-23s will use the single-pylon wing in Jeddah
Ferrari’s rear wing caused plenty of discussion in Bahrain, with early issues preventing the team from utilising it throughout the weekend.
Charles Leclerc first used the single rear wing on the last day of testing, after some delays, and again in FP1. However, the results were quite disappointing.
The team’s DRS system broke during testing, with the rear wing flap’s uneven opening forcing Ferrari to replace it. The rear wing support also broke during FP1, forcing the team to re-evaluate:
“The new wing has a concept that is quite young for us. It is a development that is ongoing and can take us one step further,” explained Jock Clear in Bahrain,.
“What little we’ve seen so far is still positive, so we’ll probably do it again, ” Clear explained.
The new wing will be used and fitted to both Ferrari SF-23s in Jeddah this weekend.
“We have done our tests, but the track will reflect the real conditions. That’s why we wanted to test it on the track without the aim of using it in the race.
“In recent times, you have very little time for testing, so we have to use Fridays to test some pieces. We will go back to the factory and improve it further,” explained the English engineer.
The monopylon wing is a slightly more loaded version than what was used in Bahrain, with a more pronounced spoon.
As such, this solution is designed to provide the rear of the SF-23 with greater load without penalising efficiency and top speed – which the team has worked to improve compared to last year’s F1-75.
Authors: Piergiuseppe Donadoni & Paolo D’Alessandro
Authors: Giuliano Duchess
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang