Technical analysis – Ferrari’s updates from Austin

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Ferrari debuted a series of developments during the American GP weekend in Austin. The Italian squad updated several main elements of the SF70-H, among others the diffusor, the floor and the front wing.

Despite to the season approaching its final stages, Ferrari continues to bring updates to the SF70-H which has been the first car of the fabled Italian team which proved to be a real frontrunner in many years. Ferrari may have lost the battle for the Constructors’ title at Austin, but the team still wants to try out new parts which have been in the pipeline for many weeks and can provide the engineers with useful information regarding the development path of the 2018’s car.

Ferrari has been inconstant with its developments throughout the previous years, but it managed to turn the page this year and bring updates which confirmed the expected results measured back at the factory.

The team debuted a new front wing on the high-speed, flowing circuit of Texas. It features a new fin behind the endplate. It is shaped like the trailing edge of the endplate. This fin will create more outwash ahead of the front tyre, lowering drag and tyre turbulence. Ferrari has not been too aggressive with this part of the front wing so far, but this move is a clear try to close in on Mercedes in terms of top speed which proved to be the Anglo-German team’s strength this year. Instead of creating new vortexes, this additional fin simply increase the outwash of the endplate with its shape.

The endplate itself got updated as well. The modification affected mainly its length and trailing edge to enable a good placement for the small fin. It was decreased in its length and the trailing edge has also been re-sculptured with a smaller hole between the lower edge of the endplate and the extension of the mainplane..

Controlling the airflow has gained in importance this year with the technical regulation changes. Due to the wider tyres and the bigger diffusor, the clean airflow became even more critical. The slots in front of the rear tyres provide engineers with one opportunity to calm the turbulent airflows down, make the diffusor work better and lower the drag.

To work on that area, Ferrari introduced a modified underfloor. It has the same rearmost slot, but it features only four slots instead of five. They are, however, re-shaped and are placed with a greater angle relative to the edge of the floor.

These modified slots are directed just inside the rear tyre, and as energetic flows, they will draw air into them which would otherwise collide with the wheels, while also sealing the diffusor from turbulent air flying from the tyre.

The team also presented a new diffusor in Austin which was the result of a long working procedure. In fact, the diffusor with a more aggressive configuration was first tested in the post-Hungarian GP test back in August and the final version which debuted on the COTA track was a further refined modification of that.

The new diffusor has a much more accented middle section. It features a totally level upper edge design which results in a greater expansion effect by the diffusor, raising the low pressure region behind the car. To achieve that, Ferrari had to completely redesign the mid-section of the diffusor which required extensive and long-lasting testing.

This more aggressive design leads to higher downforce, but achieving this is not that linear. To achieve this increase in downforce, the airflow has to be attached to the more steeply inclined surface. It is achieved with tiny vortex generators.

The engineers also added a pair of aluminium fins to both sides of the rear crash structure.