Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2023

Ferrari will bring updates earlier but has no plans for ‘B-spec’ car

2023 F1 season

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Ferrari is striving to bring updates for its SF-23 earlier than planned following its disappointing start to the new season.

The team which finished runners-up to Red Bull last year is languishing in fourth in the standings after three races, almost 100 points behind the reigning champions.

Rivals Mercedes, who also began the season far off Red Bull’s pace, have responded by committing to an extensive overhaul of their car. However Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said they intend to persist with the original development direction.

“It’s not a ‘B car’,” he told media including RaceFans. “We won’t come with something completely different. We will continue to update this one and try to update massively.”

The team’s update plan for the coming races will be dictated partly by the nature of the tracks F1 will race at. The long straights of Baku City Circuit demand a low-downforce set-up, and as the race is a sprint event teams will have less time than usual to evaluate any updates brought to Azerbaijan.

The extreme demands of Monaco also requires a specific package, but Ferrari will bring updates at other races over the coming rounds.

“We have a flow of updates,” said Vasseur. “Some will come not at Baku, because at Baku we have the aero package for the level of downforce, [and] with the sprint races it’s not the easiest one.

“But from Miami, Imola, not Monaco but Barcelona, each race we will have an update on the car. We are sticking to the plan. We made some adjustment in terms of balance and the behaviour and it was much better in Melbourne and we’ll continue on this direction.”

Vasseur admitted the constraints of F1’s budget cap and aerodynamic testing regulations make it hard for teams to pursue radical changes in car design.

“With the restriction in the wind tunnel if you have to start from scratch, I don’t want to say that it makes no sense, but it is very difficult,” he said. “It means that we will adapt due to the circumstances.

“We will speed up. We will put all the resources to speed up the process and the updates that were planned for Barcelona will come in Imola and we will have one or two races the update in advance. But you can’t change massively something in the course of the season.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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35 comments on “Ferrari will bring updates earlier but has no plans for ‘B-spec’ car”

  1. Given how far behind they are, I don’t think they have a design that could be made quicker than the Red Bull.

    1. I don’t think anyone has. RBR have smashed it. Even if the development restriction penalty ends up being as bad as Horner makes out, I’ll be really surprised if anyone matches them by the end of the season.

  2. I’m not expecting any team to have the budget for a B spec car in any season now because the budget cap would pretty much preclude being able to do so.

    Each team will have to make so with what they have until next season and hope that their planned incremental upgrades gets them into a better position.

  3. There’s little Vasseur can do regarding this year’s car but to speed up the updates.

    The reason being he can (I believe he will) pull the plug on this year’s car after summer break and focus on 2024. Leclerc will give him a couple of years and then he’s done. Audi, Aston, Mercedes are all lining up to get to the boy.

    1. Are they? For error-prone, cracks under pressure Charles?

      1. Only Facts!
        11th April 2023, 0:22

        Yes, but also faster-than-all-teammates, perfectionist Charles.

        Anyway, better than fast but victim Hamilton, fast but aging Alonso or plain Bottas and Zhou.

      2. @proesterchen

        For the only driver that can match Max.

      3. He is error prone but he’s all we got next to Max, Lewis and Alonso. Maybe George and Lando, but that’s it out of the current 20 imho.

  4. Sounds like another year written off, hope Vasseur can get the ship righted for next year.

    1. @slowmo This is what happens in modern F1. If a team doesn’t get it right from Day 1, it’s close to pointless to continue working on that car. With testing, development, and increasingly practice limited, it’s almost impossible to catch up over the course of a season.

      It only really makes sense to either learn for the next car (and even then there are limits to how useful that is), or when a team is fighting for the prize money – which is largely irrelevant with the increased commercial rights payouts.

      1. I’d like to believe this effect is stronger at the start of a regulatory period. Although Mercedes proved that wrong previous time around and stayed on top.

      2. Last year Ferrari was arguably the fastest car at the beginning of the season, and the third-fastest at the end. Substantial progress can be made throughout a year. Ferrari just seems so bad at it, they need a car that is miles in front at the beginning of the season to make it a winner in the end. It seems to me they throw everything at the car for next year and forget to develop the existing car (which can lead to insights that might impact next year’s design). I think it’s an very unefficient development strategy.

        1. According to reports, Ferrari’s early-season competitiveness was a mirage largely based on their being closer to the weight limit than Red Bull.

          In other words, just to keep up with Red Bull as both teams reduced their extra weight Ferrari would have needed to find several tenths a lap in aero or mechanical gains above and beyond what Red Bull managed to find during the 2022 season.

          Failing that, Ferrari fell back without necessarily doing much worse than Red Bull, development-wise.

  5. Somewhat disappointingly they probably know already that the 2023 car is never going to beat the RedBull over a full season. I think Ferrari are going to have a battle on their hands to come second.

    But maybe 2nd or 3rd doesn’t really make much difference though in the greater scheme. As others have said Vasseur will hope to lead them to something more competitive in 2024.

  6. I have lost hope for Ferrari. Their last hurray was 2008. Downhill eversince. They may win some races in future but their days are numbered

    1. Ferrari finished the seasons 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 6th, 3rd, and 2nd again. The 6th place was an obvious #fail on account of the engine ‘agreement’, whereas the two 4th places were at the start of regulatory eras; in 2009 they were hamstrung by Mosley’s anti-FOTA interference (which also massively hurt McLaren, the other FOTA leader), and in 2014 they admittedly miscalculated the importance of aero vs. engine power. They were in (drivers’) title contention in 2010, 2012, and the first halves of 2013 and 2018 with further strong starts in 2017 and 2022.

      Only Mercedes and Red Bull have done better, and not at all times.

      It’s quite telling that even now that Ferrari has had a bit of an ‘everything goes wrong’ start to the season, they’re still 4th, and it’s still being called “languishing”. They’re “languishing” ahead of six other teams, half of which are car manufacturers.

      1. Yeah I agree, Ferrari isn’t doing that bad at all you can say they’re currently doing similar to the period between 1984 and 1998, which was a drought for sure but it also had a couple of title contenders but couldn’t really manage to beat the dominant Mclaren/Williams.

        The Schumacher years were the best years of Ferrari history they’re absolutely not the Ferrari norm, Ferrari only had a couple of championships per decade and it never dominated except for 2000’s, and hell compare Ferrari to the 80s-90s period best teams, Mclaren and Williams, Ferrari is in far better shape to recover.

        They may come a time when RB and Mercedes drop in performance just like Mclaren/Williams and Ferrari may very well be there to take advantage.

      2. Man I wish I sucked half as hard

  7. At the moment, Ferrari aren’t able to run as low as predicted and produce the numbers seen in the wind tunnel. The SF-23 has 2 main issues : First, unlike the RB19 it doesn’t like the new Pirellis. There is a deficit with regard to the tyres thermal management. Second, it’s unable to maximize the ground effect due to its inefficient Venturi tunnels. The upgrade package that will be introduced gradually till the Spanish GP will try to resolve the aforementioned issues.

    A new floor and a new rear suspension will be introduced in Imola and the new RBR style sidepods will arrive in Spain. New wings will be also introduced in between but they will be more track specific. The aim is to reproduce a setup that will allow the SF-23 to run lower to the ground.

    On another note, Leo Turrini has dropped a bomb in the Italian press. He reported that Vasseur has received the OK from the top management to start acquiring high profile technicians from rival teams. 2 aerodynamicists coming from RBR have already started working and will contribute to the development of the SF-23.

    It’s critical for Ferrari to sort the SF-23 issues and unlock its potential before starting the development of next year’s car that will be in the wind tunnel by the end of May regardless of whether the current concept will be ditched or not.

    1. @tifoso1989 How have they managed to get it so wrong compared to last year’s car though? That seemed to work quite well and was definitely very competitive to begin with.

      Or is it that their developments compared to the 2022 car have just not worked as well as other teams eg Merc and Aston?

      1. @phil-f1-21
        It’s the TD039 and the new 2023 rules that stipulated that the floor edges must be raised by 15mm; the diffuser throat height has been also raised and the diffuser edge stiffness has been increased. The F1-75 was the best interpretation of the ground effect rules from straightaway out of the box.

        The Ferrari concept is all about maximizing the ground effect while RBR’s concept relies on working better the diffuser which is Adrian Newey territory. Ferrari invested heavily into making a floor with a very low roof. Everything (PU, auxiliaries, radiators…) had to be installed as low as possible which also explains the low engine cover that improved airflow to the rear wing.

        The RB18 has been designed with porpoising in mind, the rear suspension and aero of the car work in a great synergy to prevent the airflow from stalling when the floor is under load.

        As for why Ferrari got it so wrong compared to last year is that there are having an issue translating the numbers seen in their simulations and wind tunnel to the track. As I said that they are trying to work around that issue in order to reproduce a setup that can make the car run lower to the ground.

        1. Well explained. You seem to have a very detailed insight into all of this. Do you work for Ferrari?…..(joke). Thanks.

      2. Ferrari were competitive early in the season because they had a weight advantage over Red Bull.

        As Red Bull worked to get closer to the minimum weight, Ferrari failed to make similar performance gains elsewhere in their design, so they fell back relative to Red Bull as the season progressed.

  8. It’s critical for Ferrari to sort the SF-23 issues and unlock its potential before starting the development of next year’s car

    That’s just as untrue as similar claims were about the W13.

    1. @proesterchen

      regardless of whether the current concept will be ditched or not

      You forgot to read the end of the sentence. It’s not about the concept itself, it’s about the team’s ability to tackle complex problem solving and car development challenges. If Ferrari can’t resolve the SF-23 issues sooner rather than later and unlock its **potential then they may be dropped in a limbo for a very long time. Pace wise the car improved in Australia and more improvements are expected with the coming upgrades.

      ** Potential means the numbers seen in the simulations and in the wind tunnel. It’s different from the expectation which is challenging for the the WDC.

      1. it’s about the team’s ability to tackle complex problem solving and car development challenges.

        If there is no pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow, any efforts spent on travelling their are ultimately wasted, as Mercedes had to learn the hard way.

        Formula 1 is not uni. You don’t get brownie points for solving problems with a car that’s a second off the pace.

        1. *there

        2. @proesterchen

          Formula 1 is not uni. You don’t get brownie points for solving problems with a car that’s a second off the pace.

          RBR have entered the chat !

          1. Red Bull Racing would certainly put a much smaller number on their current pace advantage, if only in deference to their Italian colleagues.

          2. @proesterchen
            What was RBR doing in the hybrid era before the ground effect cars were introduced in 2022 ?

          3. RBR spent the turbo-hybrid era chasing a fundamentally flawed aerodynamics concept down the rabbit hole and getting beat, 7 times in a row, in the process.

      2. @tifoso1989 Exactly. Both for developing the current car and designing the new one, understanding exactly why the car is behaving the way it does is critical because so much of the development is now digital and simulated. If the numbers don’t match, that’s a big problem.

        1. Absolutely !

  9. Correct me if I’m too much severe but basically if you don’t win at least one title during first 5-7 years of career you’re no longer seen as champion material. Even if you have some excuse like the car isn’t fast enough, your value just starts to decrease in people’s eyes and saying people i also mean team managers and owners. They smile and still call you future champion but in reality they start to look around.

    What i want to say Leclerc’s time is going off. He’ll be lucky to have a gift of fate in his late years like Hakkinen, Button or even Mansell (but at least Nigel had a chance in ’86) but now it only reminds me of Alesi.

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