Ferrari will reportedly move away from their unique sidepod design and towards something more resembling Red Bull’s in Spain.
There has been no stopping the dominant Red Bull outfit across the opening six rounds of the season, Max Verstappen having picked up four victories to team-mate Sergio Perez’s two, while Ferrari have only one podium finish to show for their efforts.
It is a far cry for the title challenge which the Scuderia had been targeting going into F1 2023, but a major shift in approach is seemingly now on the horizon in a bid to take Ferrari closer to that conversation.
Autosport are reporting that as part of an upgrade package for the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari will move on from its unique ‘bathtub’ sidepod concept, and instead introduce a design more heavily influenced by the Red Bull concept, though not resembling a ‘direct copy’.
Race days have been a particular area of concern for the Scuderia so far this season, with tyre management difficulties carrying over from last season, while this season’s SF-23’s “peaky” nature is not helping with the confidence of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to push it to its limits.
“We have an upgrade, how good time will tell, but we have an upgrade coming,” Sainz told reporters ahead of the Spanish GP race weekend.
“It’s a bit of a new direction, a bit into into what we believe should be the right path into developing this car and making it a bit more of a drivable car and more consistent, better in the race, that we know is our main weakness.
“You’ve seen it hasn’t been an easy start to the season and we’ve been struggling, but it is true that with this first step into this direction we try and correct the deficiencies we have.
“But we also know that this upgrade is not going to change our life from one race to another, this still is the first step of many steps to come still.”
Leclerc would delve a little deeper into the inconsistency of the SF-23, claiming that over one lap the challenger can generally be kept in a competitive window, that evidenced by Leclerc’s pair of pole positions in Baku, though the loss of downforce then experienced when the conditions alter is significant.
“At the moment, the thing is that we have an extremely peaky car that in qualifying, on the one lap pace with new tyres, and with the wind that we know exactly how we need to drive the car, it’s okay,” he said.
“But as soon as we go a little bit out of those conditions, the car loses so much downforce overall. So, we have been working a lot on that with this new car.
“This should help us to not gain that much performance, but to at least be a bit more consistent throughout the weekend. That hopefully will help us to have a better result on the Sunday.”
To that point then, Leclerc moved to calm any suggestion of a “big miracle” coming Ferrari’s way in Spain with the introduction of this upgrade.
“We are not expecting any big miracles, to be honest,” said Leclerc.
“From now on, we want to try and bring some small upgrades every race. This one should go in the right direction. But I don’t think it will be a massive change.”
There will also be plenty of eyes on Mercedes this weekend, who having revealed their heavily-revised W14 in Monaco, which featured the ditching of their zero-pod concept, will get the chance to put it on a more traditional track in Spain and assess the results of their work.