Ferrari knows how to turn the presentation of a new Formula 1 car into an event. But everyone in charge knows that they don't just have to cut a good figure on the show stage. auto motor und sport F1 reporter Michael Schmidt was present at the SF-23 unveiling in Maranello and captured the atmosphere in the Scuderia camp.
Ferrari wouldn't be Ferrari if the oldest racing team in Formula 1 didn't celebrate the presentation of the new car. It's not just any presentation in virtual space, but a live event with style. As soon as you arrive at the traffic in Maranello, you can tell that something special is about to happen. All parking spaces in the 17,000-inhabitant community are already occupied in the morning. There is a striking number of Ferrari personnel patrolling the streets. Police check the access roads and you start to ask yourself: Is the Pope coming today?
Not quite. But the unveiling of the new Formula 1 Ferrari holds something sacred for many fans. And they came in droves. Ferrari had invited 500 Tifosi from various Ferrari clubs, packed them into a grandstand at the Fiorano test track and tuned in to the event with the Italian national anthem, which was themed: Forza Ferrari semper. Those who didn't make it into the inner circle positioned themselves on the bridge on the main road, which offers a good view of the Fiorano test track. The line of people there was 300 meters long.
They all wanted to be there live at a novelty. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz did the first five laps in the new car as soon as the curtain fell. A two-part maiden voyage of almost 15 kilometers – the regulations do not allow more. The new team boss Frederic Vasseur had his drivers toss a coin to see who got to start first.
In the end, the "16", Leclerc's start number, fell. After two laps, the vice world champion from 2022 handed over to Sainz, who then added another three laps on the three-kilometer route. Everything went smoothly. Sainz praised the courage of the team: "We took a big risk to send the car onto the track right away in front of the world. You can really make a fool of yourself there."
Goose bumps in Maranello
On this sunny winter's day in Maranello, Ferrari gave its fans many goose bumps. Carlos Sainz summed it up: "Ferrari is the only team that conveys such an atmosphere." Colleague Leclerc added: "This place and this team have something special. It's pure passion. It doesn't exist anywhere else."
The assignment has become so important for his teammate that he moved from sophisticated Madrid to provincial Maranello in the second week of January. "I wanted to be closer to the team because I'm always in the simulator anyway. In my third year at Ferrari, my goal can only be to win the title.This requires the best driver and the best team. I wanted to make sure that I improve as a driver and address the weaknesses that crept in last year." One downside was moving to Italy. "The food is too good, especially the antipasti. Now I have to lose another kilogram before Bahrain."
The beautiful tradition was pushed into the background a bit during the Corona period. Airing the ceiling, the speeches, the puzzles about the model designation are a ritual that Enzo Ferrari used to practice The new Ferrari is simply called "SF-23". After the many birthdays in recent years, the Scuderia ran out of anniversaries this time.
But is the SF-23 just a rehash of last year's car? After all, the predecessor was F1- 75 of the competition is the inspiration for many of their 2023 creations. Ferrari can't have been that wrong in the first year of Ground Effect. The copiers looked to Red Bull or Ferrari. Many mixed up the characteristic features of the two fastest cars of the previous season.
Cost cap prevents revolution
Team boss Vasseur speaks of an evolution: "The concept has remained the same and has been adapted. The rules don't give you the leeway to turn everything upside down. In addition, because of the budget cap, we had to be careful to take over as many parts as possible from the predecessor. I expect that soon all cars will be assimilated."
In fact, at first glance, the Ferrari SF-23 looks like an F1-75 that has grown up and been cleaned of its weak points. The elegant nose is his remained, only now it no longer docks on the main leaf, but on the first flap. The wide and high sidepods again make up the face of the car, but with a more expansive recess and a new arrangement of the cooling outlet gills.
The cooling inlets are higher but narrower, the airbox is significantly flatter, all coolers are near the ground, and the rear wing still stands on two stilts.You can see from the shape of the wing that reducing air resistance had top priority.The suspension kinematics with pushrods at the front and pullrods rear remained the same, but Ferrari is now operating with a lowered tie rod on the front axle
Screens on the underbody
We will only discover some secrets of the car in Bahrain. When presenting the car, the engineers made sure that their new child was only shown from the front. Photographers and film crews had to keep a distance of five meters. The front venturi ducts and the edges of the underbody were covered with modesty panels. Nobody got to see the diffuser area.
A lot of unpainted black carbon fiber surface on the wings and sides reveals that Ferrari also had to struggle with the weight limit of 798 kilograms.When asked if you were at the limit, Vasseur cleverly avoided: "As far as I'm concerned, no. But you certainly didn't want to know that." Sainz was satisfied with what he saw: "The Ferrari was the most beautiful car last year. I think it looks even better now."
After getting to know each other on the track, the drivers expressed caution. "I only drove ten kilometers, wasn't at the limit, and we had demonstration tires on it. Not much can be said about that, except that everything worked without any problems," reported Leclerc. The many kilometers in the simulator had much more significance: "The new car feels different and better. There is no reason why we should not achieve our goals with it."
A main focus of the engineers was to improve the vehicle balance. "Last year it was sometimes quite critical. Sometimes the car was good in slow corners and not in fast ones. Sometimes the other way around. I'm hopeful that I can go to the limit this year under all circumstances," explained Leclerc.
Vasseur still learning
The new capo is still learning. The Italian is still a bit bumpy. "I won't be able to give interviews in Italian until next year," Vasseur said. The 54-year-old Frenchman notices every day on his way to work that Ferrari race director is a special job. "You're greeted and spoken to by fans when you drive into the factory. I think that's only at Ferrari."
You don't get to know more than 1,000 employees in four weeks. Vasseur is already at home in the factory. The experience on the race track is still ahead of him. "With such a large team, you mainly have direct contact with the second, third level. Working with my people on the track is still new territory for me. Fortunately, the DNA is the same in every team. At Ferrari, the higher expectations and the pressure to do so. But that can also inspire you."
The goal is obvious. Nothing more and nothing less than the world title is required of the Scuderia. When Vasseur said during question time with ex-driver Marc Gené that the big task is both an honor and a responsibility for him, applause erupted in the fan stands. On days like these, the Ferrari family sticks together.
In the gallery we show you the SF-23 in detail and the first action photos from the route.