Ferrari targets big gains with new car

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At the launch of Ferrari’s 2020 car, team principal Mattia Binotto hinted that his outfit has pursued a different avenue with its brand-new machine compared to its last year’s car, the SF90 despite to the similarities.

The Italian team unveiled its new car, the SF1000 at the iconic Romolo Valli Theatre in Reggio Emilia, some 30km from Ferrari’s Maranello hometown. For the spectacular and extravagant ceremony, the Scuderia chose the location where the Italian tricolour was born in 1979.

At the beautiful presentation that featured an orchestra, choir and ballet dancers, the covers finally came off the car that will bear the name of SF1000, referring to the 1000th Formula 1 race of Ferrari. That particular milestone will come either in Monaco or Canada depending on the Chinese Grand Prix, which looks set to be cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

Similar look, but extreme solutions

Binotto disclosed that his outfit was keen on finding extra performance on every single area of the new machine. The Swiss-Italian picked out several key areas which stood in the centre of attraction of the Ferrari engineers over the course of the development process. Weight reduction, greater flexibility in terms of setting up the car, aerodynamic performance and packiging were among the main areas where Ferrari targeted the biggest gains compared to the car’s predecessor, the SF90.

"Certainly the regulations remain stable so it is difficult to transform completely the car. The starting point is last year's car, the SF90, but certainly we're extreme on all the concepts as much as we could.

"We try to go for maximum aero performance, and try to maximise downforce level, so the entire car - the monocoque, the power unit layout, the gearbox - has been really packaged to have a narrower slim body shape."

The Lausanne-born labelled some of the new solutions and concepts as „extreme” which resulted in a completely re-shaped and re-designed car compared to the team’s previous race machine.

"The suspension has been designed to have greater flexibility when being on the race track, so we can adapt the set-up to whatever suits the drivers and the circuit. We put a lot of effort to keep the weight down. We worked a lot on the power unit, not only for packaging, but we work on each single component to cope as well with the changing technical regulations, where the oil consumption will be reduced by 50%."

Quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel reiterated the thoughts of Mattia Binotto, stressing out that Ferrari had to dig deep to find the right solutions in the pursue for more downforce.

"In the back part of the car everything sits a lot tighter so there's a lot of work behind that because it's not so easy. So we found some clever solutions to be able to achieve it. I can't wait to drive it because that's obviously more exciting than looking at it,” he said.

Six key areas for better overal performance

The nose section of the SF1000 is an "extreme" development of the SF90 of 2019 for this part and features a bigger overhang of the structural components that support the front wing. This design avenue was first introduced at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix where Ferrari completely ditched the previous concept for a cape element to help the car’s performance in the mid-speed corners. The team said that the new nose design featuring extreme solutions made it difficult for the composites engineers to make sure that it passes the obligatory crash tests.

The push-rod front suspension is a similar design to that of the SF90. Although it does not feature a Mercedes-like solution which incorporates a long titanium extension from the wheel hub that holds the outboard end of the upper wishbone, it is a solution that has also been designed by the engineers to help achieve the maximum aerodynamic efficiency. Both the brake ducts and the suspension mounting point have been defined with the aim to pay particular attention to maximise aero downforce while also ensuring the right cooling level for the brake discs.

The cooling system represented one of the toughest challenges for the Italians’ engineers as it had already been extreme enough before. However, to further enhance the aerodynamic efficiency of the car, every part of the cooling system had to be designed to be even tighter while some cooling elements have been lowered to further lower the car’s centre of gravity.

While Ferrari’s previous car, the SF90 was based around a low-drag concept, priority has been given to the aerodynamic downforce of the car. The rear bodywork on the Ferrari SF1000 is more tight-fitting than on the 2019 car, thanks to the work carried out on optimising the shape and layout of the components under the engine cover. The gearbox casing has been reduced in size to allow for this more extreme bodywork shape.

Despite being labelled as the field-leading engine-manufacturer in the previous season, Ferrari have made alterations to their power unit as well. In 2019, Ferrari’s power unit was said to be the most powerful concept, but Ferrari’s engineers have carried out modifications to the structure of the complex power unit and also altered the cylinders to further enhance the reliability and the outright performance of the engine.