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How the Sprint format is forcing Ferrari to introduce 'small' updates

It's clear where the SF-23 is lacking to the RB19, but Ferrari has been forced into introducing smaller updates due to the upcoming Sprint races. RacingNews365's technical expert Paolo Filisetti takes a look at what their development path will be in the upcoming races.

Leclerc start 2023 Baku
To news overview © XPBimages

It's well known that one of the secrets to Red Bull's dominance in the first four races of the season has been their superior straight line speed.

Part of this is down to their excellent rear wing setup, which George Russell remarked that Mercedes could take their rear wing off on the W14 and they would still not be quicker than the RB19.

Even though Ferrari earned pole position in Baku for both the Grand Prix and the Sprint, Charles Leclerc was defenceless when Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen passed him down the long start/finish straight.

It's clear where Ferrari needs to make changes to combat the pace deficit to Red Bull, with many set to be introduced in the upcoming four races. Much of these developments will be staggered according to Team Principal Frederic Vassuer, who claims the Sprint format makes it tough to introduce upgrades.

"We will start to bring updates from Miami and for the next couple of events and the car will react to the update, but its true that with this kind of format its difficult to introduce updates and to develop the car, but it's the same for everybody," he told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"But it's true that we will have to consider this approach for the next couple of events. You will have Imola with the Sprint race twice, then Monaco is not the best place to develop the car. But this format is pushing the teams to bring small updates rather than a full package."

The team has a development plan which will unfold between Imola and Barcelona, ​​with a preview in Miami regarding the wings. As has been known for some time, a revised version of the rear suspension and a new floor will make its debut at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

In the first case, it is a modification that will allow better management of variations in the car's ride heights, effectively having greater control even with particularly extreme car setups - something the team is known to try during Friday practice sessions.

This should result in an increase in the car's lower aerodynamic efficiency which, when traveling at more constant heights and with a more stable centre of aerodynamic pressure, would lead to an increase in the downforce load generated by the floor. The latter will be evolved in time for the race in Imola, to respond adequately to the new dynamic characteristics of the car.

In Miami, some updates could be deployed by the team which could see an evolution of the front wing. This should be completed by the time they reach the Spanish GP, with the adoption of sidepods that would partially borrow the concept of the RB19.

Chinese GP cancellation enables more concentration on car developments

A dense work programme at Maranello, made possible by the cancellation of the Chinese GP, has enabled Ferrari to concentrate on their respective development plans.

At the beginning of the season, Ferrari found itself with a car that proved to be complex to extract performance from, likely a legacy of the decision taken last season to interrupt the development of the F1-75 in early summer.

While the switch in development would not have yielded any increase in the performance of last years car, it would have been useful in terms of data collection - even if they proved to be non-optimal on the SF-23.

It could be said that in 2022 the strategy followed by Ferrari was almost a technical paradox, while the dominant Red Bull had continued the development of the RB18, without being strongly influenced by rival teams. The aim was to arrive with a "mature" project, i.e. without substantial weaknesses to the RB19.

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