As part of an upgrade delivered at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Italian squad abandoned the bathtub in-wash sidepod design that it had used since the start of 2022.
Instead, the team switched to a more Red Bull-style of downwash solution that is aimed at changing the way airflow over the car interacts with the floor.
Having faced a difficult start to the year, the change in sidepods at this time appears to be a response to the way that Ferrari has been unable to get on terms with Red Bull so far this season.
However, Ferrari’s Jock Clear, whose official job title is driver coach for Charles Leclerc, says the changes are the result of months of work at the factory to unlock more performance for the SF-23.
And he says Ferrari only gave the green light to such a dramatic change because the new design delivered a critical aero boost rather than it being motivated by following Red Bull’s ideas.
Asked by Autosport about why Ferrari had changed sidepod concept now after being so wedded to its in-wash solution, Clear said: “When people launch their car, they're all convinced about it. So, nobody says: ‘we put these sidepods on, but we weren't convinced about them.’
“We are all convinced about what we had. But then we all have to learn from what other people are doing and also what we’re doing.
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
“We're not copying anyone, per se. We're looking at what they did, we're going back to our tunnel, and trying to find out if that works.
“It's appeared on the car now because it works. Ultimately, we only follow the science and the great thing about aerodynamics, and a great thing about this sport and the reason we do it, in my case for 30 years, is because every day is different, every year is different, every car is different.
“We're still learning. There are a million ways to solve the problems and you're never going to cover all of them.”
Clear says it would be all too easy for a team to rush through a concept shift from a rival, but that would risk having something on the car that does not work.
“As soon as you see what someone else is doing well, and you get that in your tunnel, you're disciplined enough not to have a knee jerk and just chuck it on your car, because it won't work," he explained.
“You have to give yourself a couple of months to get it sorted and to get it to work with your car. And then you say: actually, I can see where they're coming from there.’
“What you see is the result of that, and it's going to lead to a further development down that avenue. We've sort of started to investigate a new avenue to go down.”
Clear said that Ferrari would have been considering the Red Bull sidepods from the start of pre-season testing, but only committed properly to them around two months ago.
“It's one of those organic developments, isn't it?” he said. “I'm sure we looked at that from day one of the first test, where you look at the different cars and you look at everybody's solution, and you start to think: ‘okay, maybe there are other ways they could have solved this.’
“As soon as the Red Bull’s dominance became clear, obviously you have to look very, very closely at what they're doing.
“So, in a normal process, I would say that you're probably looking at two months ago where you had to choose this avenue to go down.”2023-06-09T15:30:09Z dg43tfdfdgfd