With his crash at the French GP, Charles Leclerc involuntarily gave the F1 paparazzi a look at the newly modified Ferrari underbody. We show you the exclusive photos and explain the most interesting details.
With the start of the season, a new era has begun for Formula 1 engineers. The completely changed aerodynamic concept forced all technicians to rethink. The 2022 cars generate significantly more downforce via the underbody than their predecessors. That's why the focus here is on development.
Even after 13 races, the learning curve is still steep. The big task is to make the cars hover as low as possible over the tarmac without bouncing at high speeds. Aerodynamic bouncing ("porpoising") puts man and material to the test. But if you drive too high, you lose performance.
Ferrari is still struggling with bouncing, but so far the drivers have been able to deal with it to some extent. In exchange for the poor ride comfort, there is plenty of downforce. In addition to having the most downforce, the F1-75 also has the best traction out of tight corners, according to pilots and competitor engineers alike.
Ferrari strong in corners
Lots of downforce and good traction are also reflected in low tire wear. The red car's only weakness is its high drag. Thanks to DRS use in qualifying, Charles Leclerc can regularly drive to pole position. But especially on fast tracks, Red Bull turned the tables in the race again and again.
In order to generate downforce more efficiently, Ferrari initially introduced some new rear wing variants in the first part of the season. A new underbody was then added in France. The component was not modified in individual details, as is usually seen with the competition, but completely rebuilt from front to back.
After evaluating the data from the first test laps, the engineers were satisfied. The progress promised by the wind tunnel and CFD simulations arrived at the track. With the pole positions in Paul Ricard and Budapest, the potential was also evident on the clock. The Ferrari was the fastest car in the field.
Unfortunately, something kept getting in the way of the races. In Budapest, the tire-friendly Ferrari did not bring the hard Pirelli compound up to temperature, which cost Leclerc victory. A week earlier in France, the Monegasque retired after a driving error while in the lead.
Rare underbody photos
The crash at Le Castellet gave fans interested in technology and the engineers of the competition the opportunity to study the new underbody in detail. As the Ferrari was heaved over the gang, the photographers were ready to target the sensitive area.Photos were taken that no technician likes to see of his own car.
The Ferrari F1-75 was already approved for launch in Monaco. Back then, Carlos Sainz had to park his car involuntarily after Sergio Perez crashed into the barrier right in front of him in the porter corner. The two unfortunate incidents now allow us to directly compare the two underbody versions.
The numerous modifications can be clearly seen from the frog perspective. The performance operation begins at the entrance to the air ducts. The tunnel roof of the upgrade is now heavily stepped, while the previous model showed an elegantly curved line. Of the four vertical baffles, it was primarily the exterior that was modified. It now protrudes a fair bit further forward.
Two so-called "vortex generators" are now attached to the outer edge of the underbody further back. Artificial vortices are created on the sharp-edged fins, which are intended to prevent the airflow from escaping to the side. Two narrow fins, which the regulations allow in the rear area of the underbody, also serve the same purpose. In the new model, they have been slightly enlarged and more strongly curved.
New shapes in the central area
But the area around the so-called plank is the most interesting. The air flow must be directed as quietly as possible around the lowest point of the car. The new underbody is slimmer overall in the central area. A small step can be seen on the outside in the front area. On the old model, there was a notch further back, where the underbody converges again.
At the very end, the central part of the bottom is now much more pointed. This should lead the air more concentrated into the diffuser. You can clearly see that the new underbody is more detailed overall. Compared to the very rugged Red Bull underbody, the Ferrari counterpart looks much more elegant. Critics would call it "easier".
The Ferrari pictures are always interesting as a visual object for the competition. However, it is unlikely that there will be copying campaigns this year. A completely new underbody consumes a lot of money and human resources that at this point in the season would be better spent on next year's car. But we wouldn't be surprised if the Ferrari shapes were to be found on one or the other 2023 model.