Team principal Mattia Binotto’s decision to step down after the disappointments of the 2022 campaign has left the team facing a tougher winter than expected.
Because whatever qualities Binotto’s likely successor, Fred Vasseur, will bring with him, it will take time for him to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the organization in order to determine the necessary changes.
And in the midst of F1’s cost cap era, making the wrong choice on big decisions early in the campaign is something that can have big long-term consequences.
But while questions remain over whether or not Ferrari did the right thing in letting Binotto go, at the factory the focus is on business as usual to get their 2023 F1 car together.
And for now, crucially, the team still retains key technical input from Binotto, who remains under contract and hard at work at Maranello until the end of the year.
Charles Leclerc’s message at last weekend’s FIA Prize Gala in Bologna was mostly about the technical side of the team not getting distracted by the bigger infrastructure issues at the top of the organization.
“I’m confident because we’re doing a lot of work on the simulator,” he said of the progress of the 2023 car.
“We worked extremely hard last year to try to understand what the weaknesses of this car were in order to improve for next year’s car.
“Obviously there’s also Mattia still at the factory at the moment, working and trying to help the team prepare for 2023. And again, I believe that if the transition is done in the right way, we shouldn’t suffer too much.
“I also think that after the 2021 season where we worked very well and reset a bit from 2020, it was a difficult season, we worked in the right direction and in the right direction. And that gives me the assurance that we will have a competitive car for 2023.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, comes out of the garage
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
There certainly seems to be more confidence inside Ferrari than outside at the moment, and that’s something that hasn’t always been historically true.
And while changes will no doubt come when Vasseur has had time to get his feet under the desk, it doesn’t look like Ferrari needs a major revolution or upheaval. Minor tweaks to the way things play out could be enough to make the difference in this fight with Red Bull and Mercedes.
The data from the wind tunnel work seems very positive. The 675 project (as the 2023 car is currently known) will represent a significant leap in quality over the F1-75. Engineers led by vehicle project manager Enrico Cardile focused on two key areas where it appeared the team had lost out to Red Bull in 2021.
First: he wants to improve his top speed with greater aerodynamic efficiency. The drag issue stemmed not only from the difference in speed with the DRS open, but also from approaching the aero-elasticity of certain components – where Red Bull may have done things much smarter. And that counts not only for the wings, but also for the general pitching of the car when it reaches its maximum speed in the straight line.
The second area of focus was tire management. Pirelli has opted for new front tires to help reduce understeer, which may well suit the needs of the Ferrari concept as well as Leclerc’s driving style.
In Maranello, he adapted the mathematical model of the new tires in his simulation systems and the first results are positive.
Ferrari has also been smart in offering to do whatever it can to help Pirelli with its 2023 tire development programme, knowing that any feedback it can give and can get could be crucial in terms performance on race weekends. .
From the outside, the 675 will not look much different from the F1-75. The overall concept will remain similar but there will be some tweaks: notably to the rear thanks to a change that will allow for a much more pronounced shape in the Coca-Cola area.
Another confidence-building aspect is the progress Chief Engine Officer Enrico Gualtieri and his department have made with the reliability of the 066/7 powertrain.
There have been positive signs from the test rigs that the reliability issues that marred the first phase of 2022 have been resolved, and it has boosted confidence in the team’s ability to get their engine back to full power. next year.