Did Ferrari's Russian GP Updates Help Their Desperate Situation?
Ferrari finally conjured up some upgrades for Sochi; but did they work?
The great result for Leclerc (yes, I did just call sixth place in a Ferrari 'great') in Sochi coincided with some small changes to the specification of the Ferrari SF1000, but the changes were relatively small and part of a bigger upgrade they say may help them. Mattia Binotto cancelled any speculation P6 was down purely to the new parts, “I don’t think it’s down to the upgrades. I think we’ve got a better balance here on these track characteristics.”
Nonetheless, the upgrades were felt to have been positive, in that they behaved as had been suggested in simulation. That's crucial for a team who want to make solid progress. Therefore they can be expected to contribute well to their overall design change, expected in the next few rounds.
These changes comprised of a new rear-wing endplate (shown below), some minor adjustments to the cape.
The new rear-wing endplate features a stepped transition from its taller forward section to the shallower section aft of the main plane, compared to a relatively flat design prior to it. Six narrow slots had been replaced by three much larger and effective ones that more closely resemble those on the Mercedes (see? every team does it). What these slots do is manipulate the airflow coming out from the diffuser underneath it. (The diffuser upgrades are expected at the Eifel GP).
At the front, there was a small change to the profiling of the cape. The cape, as can be seen in the drawing below, is a simple component you can easily remove and re-attach, enabling the standard one to be back-to-backed with a revised one that featured a thinner leading edge.
The effect of this within the standard nose was to open up a taller section within the ‘nostrils’ (highlighted by the yellow lines) for the airflow travelling through the underfloor and bargeboard area.
There is always a trade-off between the airflow’s volume and its speed in trying to maximise downforce. In an ideal world you'd want the maximum volume at the highest possible speed to the underfloor, however t his change will have increased the volume but reduced the speed.
All of these changes will eventually work with the future parts of the promised package. The overall idea of this is to increase the efficiency of the underfloor, helping to create more downforce. In this way the car’s excessive drag can be reduced, a key problem with the SF1000.
There is always an ideal drag/downforce trade-off for a given level of engine power – and Ferrari’s has been too draggy for its power all year.
And with their newest upgrades Ferrari are trying to remedy this, and in turn save a rotten 2021.