After having analyzed the British GP in the latest post (click here to read – italian language
) let’s go more in depth and try to find out what have been the problems encountered by the Men in red, trying to explain why we saw the worst SF70H of the year on the track of Silverstone.
After the English race what worries the most the Ferrari fans is the mediocre performance of the SF70H, never really able to compete with the Mercedes W08. Neither in Quali, and we could expect it, nor during the race, where the Italian car has always been able to make a difference over the races of this 2017 championship.
In the British GP preview, we talked about a Ferrari who really believed to put in serious troubles the Silver Arrows on the home track. This hasn’t happened. Talking with one of the of the top aerodynamics of the Italian Team in Austria, we got to know that Ferrari believed that the track of Silverstone, with its wide corners, fitted more to the characteristics of the SF70H rather than the Austrian one (where, anyway, the SF70H has been quite competitive especially in the second and third sector). Even if the Ferraris have been actually fast in the wide corners (as predicted), the red car paid its very poor aerodynamic efficiency (its real and most important Achilles’ heel). The confirmation of this comes directly from one of the two drivers of Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel:
I think that Mercedes has a very good car in terms of aerodynamic efficiency. In this 2017 season, mainly on the tracks such as Silverstone, it is even more important to have a car with such a characteristic given that there are many corners where we are no longer limited by the grip of the cars and having a car with lower drag (and similar levels of downforce) can help in improving the lap times.
Unfortunately the 2017 project of the Italian Team doesn’t give great relevance to this aspect called “aerodynamic efficiency”, key element instead of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 projects of Mercedes. The two SF70H seen on the Silverstone track have always had higher downforce setups with respect to those of the two W08 (resulting however in lower top speeds of only 2-3 km/h, sign that the Italian PU has always pushed hard in the crucial parts of the Quali). Ferrari has also tried three different setups (all of them with higher downforce than those of Mercedes) over the weekend.
Ferrari has then chosen the one with lower downforce with the “spoon-shaped” rear wing, the single profile T-Wing and only one monkey seat.
This setup has penalized both Ferraris in terms of aerodynamic efficiency. For the first time Ferrari has chosen similar levels of drag with respect to those of Mercedes, trying so to minimize that technical concept explained by Vettel. This choice resulted however in a lower loss of time on the straights but also in a lower gain (or even sometimes a loss) throughout the corners. Look at this interesting video to figure out what we just said (thanks @gertigj
What many people are wondering is: why didn’t Ferrari manage to be competitive on those wide corners, conversely to what was happening at the beginning of the season? This is confirmed by the declaration of Sebastian Vettel in the days before the Grand Prix:
Our car is really good on tracks with wide and fast corners. I think we can enjoy it this weekend. I’m looking forward to the race.
The question so is: What didn’t work on the SF70H at Silverstone?
Some people in the paddock believe that, as we have written in the Quali analysis, Ferrari has been highly penalized by the last technical directive sent by the FIA that has forced the Italian team to close the “little knife” at the beginning of the bottom of the SF70H. This part could seem not so important at a first glance, but it helped in sealing externally the bottom of the SF70H that adopts, since this year, high rake setups. Without such a sealing Ferrari has been forced to slightly diminish its rake to avoid substantial aerodynamic losses. This has however resulted in a loss in the rear downforce that Ferrari has tried to recover by means of a high downforce rear wing. Such a setup (introduced on track during the PL1 on Friday) didn’t however work.
In this way the car which has been deemed as the “easiest” one in terms of choice of setup, the most balanced and the most gentle on tyres has suddendly lost its main qualities. This is true because the tyres are in fact the component that is most affected by an aerodynamic displacement of the rear. The two SF70H seen on track on Friday in Spielberg and Silverstone were quite unbalanced with a less stable rear than before. This as a confirmation that something actually changed after the technical directive of the FIA before the Austrian GP (together with the one before Baku concerning the PU). All the team, so, had to work hard in order to give to its two drivers a competitive car on Saturday. In Austria the work seemed to be good also thanks to a track that could have hidden some limits of the car (as it will probably be in Hungary) but in Silverstone things turned out to be much more difficult, almost impossible.
In the end, we can say that in Silverstone some of the limits of the Ferrari 2017 project came up, together with some of the limitations imposed by the FIA. It is also worthwhile to say that if for the two Ferraris this has been the worst weekend of the season, for the two Silver Arrows the last race has been by far the best one; we have therefore to be careful by saying that season is completely over, because in Hungary the two teams can be close again.