‘Positive numbers’ as Charles Leclerc tests new Ferrari SF23 in simulator

Michelle Foster
The rear of Charles Leclerc-driven Ferrari SF-23. Australia April 2023

Ferrari believe they've resolved the SF-23's troubles with the 2024 SF-24.

Lagging behind Red Bull with a deficit they didn’t foresee, Ferrari have “adjusted” their development plan with reports their reprofiled sidepods are ready earlier than expected.

But will the Scuderia risk running them in Baku, a race weekend with just one practice session and where accidents and Safety Cars are par for the course?

Three races into this season and it’s fair to say Ferrari have failed to live up to pre-season hype, hype they themselves created with talk of a car of “unprecedented speed”.

Instead they’ve found themselves well off the pace of Red Bull’s RB19 with Aston Martin and Mercedes also nipping ahead, all three having reached the podium – which is something Ferrari have yet to achieve.

It’s forced Ferrari into not only accelerating their development programme, but also into taking bigger steps. Steps that are said to include reprofiled sidepods.

And according to Motorsport.com those are ready to be raced.

Reporting that Ferrari’s “aerodynamic package that has arrived ready earlier than expected”, the Italian edition claims this includes “more hollowed out sidepods in the lower part to increase the opening under the radiator vents and the flow rate.” The redesign is also intended to reduce drag and bring better airflow to the floor.

Declaring it to be a “step forward”, it has required a few other alterations to the car with Ferrari “revising the cooling system of the 066/7” with ducts having to be repositioned.

But whether Ferrari, initially reported to be introducing the upgrade at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, round six, will bring it forward to Baku has yet to be revealed.

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This year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix is set to be the first to run a standalone sprint qualifying leaving the teams with just one practice session, FP1 on Friday, in which to test new parts.

That doesn’t give Ferrari much time to do back-to-back testing between the old design and the new one, which could force their hand into delaying its debut until Imola.

The good news, though, is Charles Leclerc has tried the revamped design in the simulator with “positive numbers” coming out.

Team boss Frederic Vasseur recently spoke about the Scuderia’s upgrade plan for 2023, the Frenchman admitting they’ve accelerated it in light of their deficit to Red Bull.

“Honestly, I [don’t] even think Red Bull can say that they have everything under control, it’s the DNA of our business,” he said as per scuderiafans.com.

“You have to do a better job in every single race and to understand more and to extract more of the potential of the car.

“For sure, we have adjusted, a little bit, the direction of the development over the last few weeks, but it’s true for everybody on the grid.”

Ferrari have scored just 26 points in the opening three races of this campaign, the Scuderia trailing Red Bull by 97 already. In the Drivers’ standings, Carlos Sainz is the best placed with 20 but that’s 49 less than what Max Verstappen has scored.