One word removed from the rules could make Ferrari SF-23’s slot gap separators legal

Michelle Foster
Ferrari SF-23 is launched. February 2023.

Ferrari SF-23 is launched. February 2023.

Ferrari could be courting controversy even before the first laps of pre-season testing having fitted the brand new SF-23 with a similar front wing to Mercedes’ banned Austin design.

Mercedes arrived at last year’s United States Grand Prix with a brand new front wing, but it was one that didn’t go any further than the pit lane.

The wing caught the attention of Mercedes’ rivals as it featured five new stabilisers that had a more aerodynamic design, and function, than permitted in the spirit of the regulations.

According to Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz, rival outfits felt the “slot gap separators which are masquerading as air flow conditioners around the front to create an outwash”.

That is “not allowed”, he explained, “any of the old front wing furniture that used to direct air flow in any direction you wanted to put it” is not allowed any more.

It breached Article 3.9.8 of F1’s Technical Regulations that limits the scope for such components to deliver an aero boost.

As such Mercedes did not run the wing in Austin but, after “an exchange with the FIA” as Toto Wolff put it, a revised version was on the car in Friday’s first practice at the following race in Mexico.

Fast forward a few months and eagled-eye fans spotted that Ferrari’s new SF-23, which was unveiled at the team’s Fiorano race track on Tuesday, was sporting a very similar design.

It too had the aerodynamically shaped front wing slot gap separators but according to reports this year the design could be legal this season after the FIA removed the word ‘primarily’ from the regulations.

According to, as ‘part of revised technical regulations for 2023 that were published in early December, the FIA removed the key sentence that laid down the requirement for such strakes to be ‘primarily’ for mechanical, structural or measurement reasons.

‘This means that as long as the slot gap separators provide a ‘structural connection’ between consecutive front wing profiles, and comply with strict measurement requirements, then they are now fully legal – no matter how much of an aerodynamic boost they deliver.’ recommends

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The front wing, though, is not the only difference on the new Ferrari compared to last year’s race-winning car.

“Our 2023 car is an evolution of the one we raced last year,” explained Ferrari’s head of chassis Enrico Cardile. “But, in reality, it has been completely redesigned.

“On the aerodynamic side, we increased vertical downforce, to adapt further to the new aero regulations and achieve the desired balance characteristics.

“The suspension has also been redesigned, to support aerodynamics and increase the range of adjustments that can be made to the car at the track.”

“The most obvious changes are in the area of the front suspension where we have moved to a low track rod. The front wing is also different, as is the construction of the nose, while the bodywork is a more extreme version of what we saw last season.”