Ferrari throw the dice with reported final upgrade of the season at Suzuka

Uros Radovanovic
法拉利力学在前面的车的Japanese GP weekend.

Ferrari have reportedly brought their final upgrade of the season to Japan.

A team under scrutiny, Ferrari have brought what at first glance seems like an unusual rear wing configuration to Suzuka.

Having made history last time out in Singapore as the team that ended Red Bull’s winning streak, Ferrari are keen to add another win in Japan but will Red Bull return to their recognisable form?

Let’s delve into the technical details that might reveal the answer to this question.

Suzuka circuit track configuration

Suzuka is one of the few “true racing” tracks with a rich history on the calendar. Here, the aerodynamic efficiency of the cars and the skill of the drivers come to the forefront.

One of the most significant features of this track is the immense tyre wear. Lateral forces are enormous due to the fast corners, which affects the tyres, especially rears. For this weekend, Pirelli has prepared the hardest compounds, C1, C2, and C3, for this very reason.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that from an aerodynamic perspective, this track is somewhat tricky. Suzuka has many fast corners where a significant amount of downforce is crucial to maintain high speeds. Specifically, there’s only one DRS zone but two long straights. Therefore, finding a balance between these factors is quite challenging.

A range of wing configurations in play

When it comes to adapting teams to a particular track, engineers primarily focus on the rear and front wings, as they are the easiest to work on.

We can see that the level of downforce on the rear wing is medium, which will provide a good balance between fast corners and long straights. Interestingly, Red Bull has opted for a medium-downforce rear wing this time, joining other teams. Usually, their car performs well with a more aggressive configuration, by virtue of fantastic overall aerodynamic efficiency.

On the other hand, Mercedes will try a rear wing without a Gurney flap – a small “lip” on the trailing edge. This component helps keep airflow attached to the lower edge of the wing, especially at high speeds. One reason might be the lower flap on the rear wing, which has an exceptionally deep spoon-like shape. Besides Mercedes, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri have also opted for this design.

Alpine has come to Japan with a medium-to-low downforce rear wing, along with Alfa Romeo and Haas.

Ferrari’s steeper angled beam wing

Ferrari will be the team under a lot of scrutiny. Last week, they showed what they are capable of when adapting well to the track. Additionally, they had an excellent strategy, and as a team, they looked cohesive. Fan expectations are high, so this will be a real test for Ferrari.

Ferrari has arrived with what seems like an unusual rear wing configuration at first glance. The upper plane is at a slightly greater angle to ensure more downforce. It appears they’ve adjusted their aerodynamics to suit the corners better while looking for their chance on the straights with DRS assistance. The drag reduction system (DRS) zone may work in their favour more than usual, and they are expected to be one of the teams with more effective DRS performance.

Moreover, the beam wing is also at a steeper angle. This may be related to the well-known “Triple DRS” system, pioneered by Red Bull. The main goal of this philosophy is to increase the inclination of the beam wing so that airflow around it affects both the beam wing and the diffuser, creating a more pronounced reduction in aerodynamic resistance when the DRS system is open.

Another challenge for Ferrari could be tyre management. As we already know, the Italian team has struggled on tracks with high tyre wear, so engineers must pay special attention to this aspect.

A strong performance from Ferrari is expected this weekend. If they can address the tyre wear issue and continue with their excellent tactical decisions, they are almost certain to be in contention for the podium.

The Scuderia also have a new front floor fences, floor edges, mid floor and diffuser sidewall. Those performance chases are with an eye to 2024.

Second trail for the new Red Bull floor edges

Let’s recall the first and second practices in Singapore; we noticed that Red Bull had given up on their new floor design, something that is quite unusual. It’s highly likely they weren’t satisfied with the results, or perhaps due to the layout and characteristics of the track, they couldn’t gather enough useful information.

However, the new floor design is getting another trial in Japan.

What we can see is that the edge of the floor design has been altered. Because their car can ride lower to the ground at higher speeds due to its softer suspension, the floor of the Red Bull is closer to the ground than some other teams. This is one of their secrets to success, which means that the floor’s edge design is of great significance to them.

We believe that the goal of the new geometry is to further “shield” the tunnels under the car from external airflow. However, when it comes to such things, we can never be 100% certain because the picture is much broader than what we physically see. Unfortunately, we can’t see pictures of the floor (unless Sergio Perez changes that during one of the practices or qualifications), so we are left to make assumptions.

What is certain is that a much better result is expected from Red Bull in Japan. The theories that the new technical directive has affected them are, as the name suggests, just theories, and in our opinion, not very likely. Suzuka is a track that suits Red Bull excellently, and don’t be surprised if they are once again one step ahead of everyone else. Additionally, Japan is the first opportunity for Red Bull to officially secure the top spot in theConstructors’ Championship.

Formula 1 could be in for a thriller in Japan

Let’s not forget McLaren, who will be fighting Ferrari and Mercedes for top positions on Sunday. It will be very interesting to see how the teams have recovered from Singapore and whether that race is actually the beginning of a more intriguing battle for first place.

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