Rival teams ask FIA for clarification on legality of Ferrari’s S-Duct design – report

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc drives the Ferrari SF-23. Fiorano February 2023.

Charles Leclerc takes the Ferrari SF-23 for its first laps around Fiorano after it is launched. February 2023.

The Ferrari SF-23 has been questioned over the use of an S-Duct on its design by rival teams, according to a report from Italy.

The S-Duct has been used on Formula 1 cars for more than a decade now, with the concept having previously been used to limit the impact of turbulent air from cars in front, minimising loss of downforce when following closely by channelling dirty air from the front of the car into areas where it will have less aerodynamic impact.

But according to a report from Formu1a.uno in Italy, the new Ferrari solution for the SF-23 has taken the concept of the S-Duct design and slightly changed it, implementing it into the sidepods in such a way that the airflow coming out can move towards the rear wing and beam wing, which could theoretically improve aerodynamic performance.

An opening at the rear of the sidepods hugged closely into the centre of the car allows air to flow out of the back of the car in that way as part of the design solution the Scuderia have come up with, and this has led to teams asking the FIA for clarification on whether or not this is legal – a relatively common occurrence early in a season – though Ferrari remain confident the use of the part fully complies with the technical regulations.

Ferrari fully pressed ahead with the design of the SF-23 last summer, when it became clear that Red Bull and Max Verstappen were opening up a near-unassailable lead in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship standings, with Formu1a.uno’s report also stating that upgrades which could potentially have been slated for 2022 were pushed back to be implemented on their 2023 car as a result.

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A Ferrari technician told Formu1a.uno: “We will have two or three very interesting solutions on the SF-23, a couple more hidden” as the car gets rolled out, and pre-season testing will be a chance for the Scuderia to run what they have been working on over winter.

As is always the case in Formula 1, their eyes will no doubt be looking at their rivals as well for any design innovations they may have missed or want to replicate on their own machinery moving forward, but key to their initial plans will be the SF-23 running reliably for all three days in Bahrain from Thursday.

Team principal Fred Vasseur has admitted that improving reliability on the power unit has been a key area the team has looked at, so the next three days will be crucial to see if their work has paid off.