If you looked very closely, you could see several suspicious air scoops on the new Ferrari SF-23. Are the openings in the fairing just for cooling or is it an innovative aerodynamic trick? We go in search of clues.
In Formula 1, the engineers always try to keep their best ideas secret for as long as possible. Before the season, the technicians regularly fight against the marketing department. Of course, sponsors get a lot more attention if you show their logos on the new car at the season opener, and not just a beefed-up discontinued model rolls in front of the cameras.
While Red Bull always keeps a secret about the new car for a long time, Ferrari traditionally shows the real new Red Goddess a week before the official test drives. That was also the case this year. In the course of the big unveiling party, the SF-23 even did a few test laps on the in-house test track in Fiorano.
The Ferrari employees always made sure not to reveal too much. The nervous engineers insisted that the underbody edge and the entrance to the air ducts always had to be covered when the car was in the garage. You couldn't get to the new car from the side to photograph possible details.
Ferrari air scoops in the shade
In contrast to previous years, the studio pictures did not show the car from behind this time. In addition, Ferrari tried to play with light and shadow so skilfully that the most sensitive areas disappeared in the dark. But despite all the precautionary measures, it was not entirely possible to hide all the interesting details.
If you pushed the brightness control up in the photo editing program, you suddenly saw things that were previously hidden. For example, Photoshop made a vertical scoop visible directly on the edge of the cockpit in front of the side pods. Separate openings are not uncommon in this area. This is where the technicians like to tap air to cool electronic components or the battery.
In the case of the Ferrari scoops, it could also be a new trick. Photos of the hood, taken at an angle from behind, show a new air vent on the side behind the cockpit. The first suspicion was that hot air from the coolers was being routed outside. But there is also another theory: With a new entrance at the front and a new exit at the back, the suspicion arises that both are connected to a channel.
Revival of the S-well idea?
The Formula 1 aerodynamicists had shown a similar trick at the front for years. The S-duct led air from the bottom up through the nose. This effectively sucked away the turbulent flow on the underside of the car.On the upper side, the air was blown out over the front end in such a targeted manner that it lay snugly against the fairing.
The S-shaft is now history. No holes at all will be allowed on the top and bottom of the nose since 2022. Openings in the carbon structure may only be installed at the tip of the nose. Many teams introduce air here and direct it to the cockpit to give the driver some cooling during hot races.
The insights from the S-shaft trick have not been forgotten. It is quite possible that Ferrari will revive the idea further back on the car. After all, you can always use fewer air turbulences and a flow that is close to the fairing.
Waiting for a naked Ferrari
The fact that the two input scoops for cooling the electronics actually appear a bit oversized also supports this theory. In addition, Ferrari did not show any signs of overheating in the pre-season that would require larger-sized cooling.
We will probably only get the answer in a few weeks when we can photograph the car in the garage during the test drives or the first Grand Prix in Bahrain without a fairing. Then the game of hide-and-seek at Ferrari should finally be over.