Carlos Sainz has shed light on the fundamental challenges facing Ferrari’s SF-23, suggesting that the issues are “intrinsic” and cannot be resolved through development alone.
While Ferrari had high hopes of competing with Red Bull for the world title in the 2023 Formula One season, it quickly became apparent that their car was no match for the dominant RB19.
Throughout the season, Ferrari’s SF-23 has displayed moments of promise, particularly in race conditions, as exemplified by Charles Leclerc’s pole position in Azerbaijan last April.
However, the overall performance of the Ferrari has been inconsistent, with issues stemming from less efficient aerodynamics and concerns about tire degradation.
Sainz candidly described the SF-23 as “a very peaky car” and expressed the view that the problems within the car’s design are a significant hindrance to its performance.
“We’ve done a decent job in terms of development,” Sainz commented during a media session at Monza.
“If you look at the development race this year, we are up there in terms of cars that have developed the most, and it is clear that the biggest jump has been done by McLaren.”
Sainz acknowledged that, apart from McLaren, Ferrari had struggled to keep pace with Mercedes and Red Bull in terms of development.
However, he emphasised that the core issues affecting the SF-23 cannot be resolved solely through developmental efforts.
“But apart from them, normally, we’ve been lacking against Mercedes and Red Bull in development this year, and what we haven’t managed to do is take away the characteristics that make our car extremely tricky to drive in certain situations,” Sainz explained.
“It is an intrinsic problem in the car that you can’t take away in development and only take away by design.”
The Ferrari driver highlighted the car’s challenges in unpredictable conditions, such as windy conditions and long corners, where the SF-23’s characteristics have proven to be less favourable.
These issues have also impacted tire performance, adding to the team’s difficulties.
Sainz expressed optimism about Ferrari’s understanding of the problems and their commitment to finding solutions.
However, he acknowledged that it would take time to implement the necessary changes.
“I think we fully understand what we want from next year’s car, and what characteristics we want it to have,” Sainz stated.
“It is obviously another thing whether we can fully achieve it or not, and we are fully focused in the simulator, in the wind-tunnel and even in free practices to take the time to keep experimenting with things to make sure that we have everything covered for next year’s car.”
Despite the challenges, Sainz emphasised Ferrari’s determination to continue competing for the Constructors’ Championship with Mercedes and Aston Martin.
He also highlighted the importance of utilising practice sessions to gather valuable insights and data for future improvements.
“At some circuits, it is maybe not worth it, like maybe Monza or Singapore, but then there’s obviously some where you can definitely learn a lot,” Sainz concluded, emphasising the ongoing commitment to development and progress within the Ferrari team.