Ferrari: Red Bull-style F1 sidepods not a knee-jerk copy 

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During the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari introduced a notable upgrade, abandoning their bathtub in-wash sidepod design that had been utilized since the beginning of 2022. Instead, the team opted for a Red Bull-inspired downwash solution, aiming to alter the interaction between the car’s airflow and the floor.

Ferrari has faced a challenging start to the season, prompting speculation that the sidepod change was a direct response to their struggles against Red Bull. However, Jock Clear, Ferrari’s driver coach for Charles Leclerc, clarifies that the decision was the culmination of months of intensive work at the factory, focused on extracting more performance from the SF-23.

Clear emphasizes that Ferrari’s adoption of the new design was driven by the significant aerodynamic benefits it offered, rather than merely following Red Bull’s lead. When questioned about the timing of the sidepod concept change, Clear explains that teams are initially convinced about their choices during car launches. However, they must continuously learn from other teams and their own developments.

“We’re not copying anyone, per se,” Clear affirms. “We’re studying what they did, reevaluating our wind tunnel data, and determining if it works for us. It’s now on the car because it works. We rely on science, and that’s the beauty of aerodynamics and our sport. Every day, every year, and every car bring new challenges. We are always learning, and there are countless ways to solve problems, even though we can’t explore them all.”

Clear acknowledges the temptation to hastily adopt a rival’s concept but emphasizes the importance of discipline. Rushing such changes risks incorporating something onto the car that is ineffective. He stresses the need for a meticulous process that allows for sufficient time to understand and integrate the new concept effectively.

“As soon as you observe what another team is doing successfully, and you test it in your own wind tunnel, you have the discipline not to impulsively apply it to your car because it won’t work,” Clear explains. “You need a few months to sort it out and make it compatible with your car. Only then can you say, ‘I see the reasoning behind it.'”

According to Clear, Ferrari had likely been evaluating the Red Bull sidepods since pre-season testing but committed fully to them only around two months ago. The decision was part of an organic development process where various solutions were considered from the start. As Red Bull’s dominance became apparent, Ferrari scrutinized their approach closely and eventually decided to pursue a similar avenue.

“It’s a natural progression, isn’t it?” Clear muses. “I’m certain we began evaluating it from the first day of testing, examining different cars and their solutions, contemplating alternative ways to solve the challenges. When Red Bull’s superiority became evident, we had to closely examine their approach. So, in the normal course of events, I would say we committed to this path around two months ago.”

In summary, Ferrari’s shift in sidepod design was a calculated move rooted in extensive research and analysis. While drawing inspiration from Red Bull’s success, the decision was driven by a desire to enhance aerodynamic performance rather than blindly copying their rivals. Ferrari’s ongoing commitment to progress and adaptability demonstrates the ever-evolving nature of Formula 1.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about sidepod design

Q: What prompted Ferrari to change their sidepod design?

A: Ferrari’s decision to change their sidepod design was driven by their desire to enhance performance and address their struggles during the season. While they took inspiration from Red Bull’s successful design, the decision was primarily based on months of internal research and analysis at the factory to unlock more potential for the SF-23 car.

Q: Did Ferrari simply copy Red Bull’s sidepod design?

A: No, Ferrari denies simply copying Red Bull’s sidepod design. They state that they studied what Red Bull did, evaluated it in their wind tunnel, and determined if it would work for their own car. The adoption of the new design was based on its proven aerodynamic benefits and was a result of Ferrari’s commitment to scientific analysis and continuous learning in the field of aerodynamics.

Q: How long did Ferrari consider the Red Bull sidepods?

A: Ferrari was likely considering the Red Bull sidepods from the beginning of pre-season testing. However, they committed fully to the new design around two months before the Spanish Grand Prix. This timeframe allowed them to thoroughly evaluate the concept, ensure compatibility with their car, and make any necessary adjustments for optimal performance.

Q: Are sidepod design changes common in Formula 1?

A: Yes, sidepod design changes are relatively common in Formula 1. Teams constantly strive to find competitive advantages and improve aerodynamic performance. They closely analyze their own designs, as well as those of rival teams, and make adjustments based on their findings. The ever-evolving nature of the sport necessitates continuous development and adaptation to stay competitive.

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