2019 tech verdict: Ferrari founders, but then finds form

Giorgio Piola

After winning the pre-season testing war, this was the year that Ferrari was supposed to truly challenge Mercedes for the world championship. So what went wrong?

Besides Bahrain, where newcomer Charles Leclerc was robbed of a first win due to an engine problem, its early-season form was poor and a lack of downforce was apparent. Only when the season hit the lower-downforce or power-dependent circuits – like Montreal, the Red Bull Ring, Spa and Monza – did the slippery SF90 truly come into its own.

Its power output soon became a focus of attention, with rivals seeking FIA technical clarifications in an attempt to negate its advantage. Ferrari did make decent steps with its car’s balance and downforce levels as the season developed, proved by Sebastian Vettel's win in Singapore, but by the time it was in a position to challenge Mercedes the title race was already over.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Click on the arrows on the images below to scroll through them…

Ferrari SF90 side detail

Ferrari SF90 side detail <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 side detail Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari’s sidepod and cooling game really lifted back in 2017 when it was the first to adopt the low-slung side impact spar and pushed back sidepod inlet. The regulation changes for 2019 were widesweeping but none had a severe effect on this area of the car, so gains here might be seen as minimal. Ferrari was still keen to make improvements here though, utilising a flow-through duct alongside the chassis (blue arrow), while also following on from the example set by others when it comes to using the tail-end of the halo transition for cooling.

Ferrari SF90 floor

Ferrari SF90 floor <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 floor Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Having already tested vertical fins on the floor ahead of the rear wheels at Austin in 2018, the team pushed on with the concept for 2019. The fins help to improve flow circulation ahead of the rear wheels, helping to reduce the negative aerodynamic impact that the wheel wake and tyre squirt can create.

Ferrari SF90 DRS

Ferrari SF90 DRS <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 DRS Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari, like several other teams, used a tail section on the DRS pod for 2019. This stabilises the rear wing when DRS is activated, preventing the flap from over-extending.

Ferrari SF90 front brakes comparison

Ferrari SF90 front brakes comparison <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 front brakes comparison Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

For a number of years Ferrari has been using a blown axle solution (inset) which collected airflow at the inlet and fed it through the centre of the wheel to reduce the aerodynamic wake created by the wheel and tyre that can have a negative effect on the rest of the car. With blown axles banned for 2019, the team looked for ways to recover some of the effects it previously enjoyed and so expanded on the outer channels that drive airflow through the wheel rim instead.

Ferrari SF90 floor Azerbaijan GP

Ferrari SF90 floor Azerbaijan GP <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 floor Azerbaijan GP Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Further development of the floor slots ahead of the rear wheels was undertaken for the Azerbaijan GP, with the rearmost slot extended all the way across to the vertical strake and another slot added on the other side of it.

Ferrari SF90 detail front wing Azerbaijan GP

Ferrari SF90 detail front wing Azerbaijan GP <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 detail front wing Azerbaijan GP Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari’s front wing is the unloaded variant – a design that sees the outer portion of the wing reduced in height near the endplate to reduce the strength of the vortex created here.

Ferrari SF90 front wing endplate

Ferrari SF90 front wing endplate <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 front wing endplate Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

For the Spanish GP, Ferrari decided to make some alterations to the front wing, changing the bend in the endplate, whilst also adding a small triangular Gurney-like tab before the trailing edge of the footplate.

Ferrari SF90 front wing endplate comparsion

Ferrari SF90 front wing endplate comparsion <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 front wing endplate comparsion Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The changes seen here from the side also show how a notch was removed from the upper rear corner of the endplate too.

Ferrari SF90 front brakes, Austrian GP

Ferrari SF90 front brakes, Austrian GP <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 front brakes, Austrian GP Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Seen here at the Austrian GP, Ferrari used a scalloped face on the brake disc when it needed maximum cooling, as this design increased the total surface area available.

Ferrari SF90, rear wing endplate

Ferrari SF90, rear wing endplate <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90, rear wing endplate Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

This illustration of the rear wing from the Austrian GP shows how the team used multiple strakes on the upper section of the endplate to improve the overall performance of the wing.

Ferrari SF90, nose

Ferrari SF90, nose <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90, nose Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The team also made changes to the nose and turning vanes for the Austrian GP, with an additional longitudinal strake added at the base of the wing pillars to help improve flow around and through the slots, while the rear vane usually hung from the underside of the nose was moved back onto the chassis.

Ferrari SF90, nose

Ferrari SF90, nose <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90, nose Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

This rearward image of the front wing pillars affords a better view of the strake introduced to help with airflow management.

Ferrari SF90, bargeboard

Ferrari SF90, bargeboard <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90, bargeboard Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The team introduced a new bargeboard arrangement for the Hungarian GP in an effort to improve downforce deficiencies.

Ferrari SF90 front wing

Ferrari SF90 front wing <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90 front wing Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Already the cream of the crop in a straightline, the Scuderia were looking to devastate rivals at the ‘Temple of Speed’ and ran with an extremely skinny upper flap configuration at Monza.

Ferrari SF90, front wing comparison

Ferrari SF90, front wing comparison <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90, front wing comparison Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

In a bid to resolve its higher downforce woes, the Scuderia installed a new nose solution for the Singapore GP, which incorporated the under-nose cape solution used widely up and down the grid. This side-by-side comparison gives us a clearer understanding of how it achieved its installation with the cape integrated into the front wing pillars.

Ferrari SF90, floor

Ferrari SF90, floor <span class="copyright">Giorgio Piola</span>
Ferrari SF90, floor Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari made further changes to its floor in a bid to improve downforce and aerodynamic consistency too, integrating metal stiffeners in the floor where it was prone to flexing under load.

Ferrari SF90, exhausts comparison

Ferrari SF90, exhausts comparison
Ferrari SF90, exhausts comparison

With an eye on 2020, Ferrari arrived at the last race of the season with a new solution to test that sees the wastegate pipework once again split into two. It bears a significant resemblance to the design that Red Bull ran in the latter phases of its campaign with the tailpipes turned up to face the underside of the wing.

Read Also:

2019 tech verdict: Red Bull becomes a disruptor with Honda2019 tech verdict: McLaren on the road to recovery2019 tech verdict: Renault reaches ahead, but falls back2019 tech verdict: Podium joy as Toro Rosso jumps forward2019 tech verdict: Racing Point shows encouraging signs 2019 tech verdict: Alfa’s battle to find consistency2019 tech verdict: Haas suffers a season to forget2019 tech verdict: How Williams struggled from the start

What to Read Next

Back