Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

What Ferrari did and didn’t tell us about its new SF21 F1 car

Ferrari was the final team to unveil its 2021 Formula 1 challenger ahead of pre-season testing and opted to conceal some of the more delicate details of its new car.

What Ferrari did and didn’t tell us about its new SF21 F1 car

The majority of the floor, rear brake ducts and diffuser were hidden in the images and footage released by the team.

Even so there’s still plenty of detail for us to examine, with the SF21 treated to far more than just a lick of paint as the team hopes it can return to a more familiar position at the front of the grid after last year’s disastrous season.

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Ferrari has clearly scrutinized every facet of the car to find performance for 2021, with the homologation and token system, coupled with measures taken by the FIA to reduce downforce, having an impact on the car’s architecture.

Ferrari SF21 front wing detail

Ferrari SF21 front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Head of chassis Enrico Cardile suggested a new front wing would grace the SF21. While the one shown in the launch is not dissimilar to the one used last season, there are a number of changes to suggest it’s less of a placeholder than it might first appear.

The arc in the mainplane where it meets with the neutral section of the wing and the design of the flap’s tips above all appear to have been reconfigured in order to generate a revised vortex from the Y250 region. Meanwhile, the numerous changes that were made to the shape of the footplate during 2020 to invoke a specific flow regime have resulted in a further rethink for 2021, while the outwardly-angled fin sat atop the footplate has been changed too.

It’ll be interesting to see if these changes are retained during testing or whether an entirely new design arrives.

Ferrari SF21 detail

Ferrari SF21 detail

Photo by: Ferrari

It’s clear to see that Ferrari has made changes to the nose for 2021, and while rival teams have gravitated toward the design introduced by Mercedes several years ago, Ferrari has remained steadfast that the thumb-style nose tip can still provide the necessary aerodynamic performance it desires.

Even if it felt that they could make a leap forward by completely changing the shape of its nose it would have cost the team two development tokens to do so. It has opted for some plastic surgery instead, with the front pillars moved inward, which results in narrower channels beside the nose tip.

The cape has also been draped over the front of the nose to create a more sinuous entry point for the channels, while the cape’s main body has been extensively reworked too, as it now reaches all the way back to the turning vanes mounted beneath the chassis. The turning vanes themselves carry over the same DNA as their predecessors, with a fork-like protrusion set to meet the side of the cape.

Ferrari SF21 Nose & Cape

Ferrari SF21 Nose & Cape

Photo by: Ferrari

Ferrari SF1000 front wing Russian GP

Ferrari SF1000 front wing Russian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The SF21 also retains an ‘S’-duct too, with the inlet found just beneath the Kaspersky logo feeding a revised outlet that does away with the hood that previously featured, using the transition between the nose and chassis as a means to release the airflow instead.

The majority of the field have been using L-shaped fins to flank their ‘S’-duct outlet. For some time the Scuderia had not, but now a quartet of ornate fins can now be found mounted on either side of the SF21’s chassis.

Ferrari SF21 & SF1000 bargeboard comparison

Ferrari SF21 & SF1000 bargeboard comparison

Photo by: Ferrari

The bargeboard cluster will inevitably change over the course of the next few months but Ferrari hasn’t shown too many alterations in its launch images. But there are a couple of differences worth our attention, including the forwardmost elements (blue arrow) and the now almost universally adopted venetian blind-like slats mounted in the centre of the sidepod deflector (white arrow).

Swiveling to the front view of the SF21 and it’s clear to see that the team has made numerous tweaks to the aerodynamic package in order to unlock the car’s potential.

Ferrari SF21 front end

Ferrari SF21 front end

Photo by: Ferrari

The already significantly proportioned front brake duct inlets (circled, above), which help to drive the outwash generated by the front wing ahead of it, have been revised on this year’s car, with a more angular shape favoured, perhaps in an effort to better align the surfaces of the inlet with the suspension and bargeboard elements behind.

A new full-height deflector has been mounted between the sidepod and the outboard deflector in order to better protect the inlet from the turbulence created by the front tyre, and this will also help guide the airflow around the sidepod more effectively (green arrow).

The shoulder of the sidepod inlet has been cut away completely, reducing the overall size of the inlet and providing the airflow a route to the more heavily-contoured downwash bodywork that resides behind (blue arrow). The horizontal slat above the inlet now has two short vortex generators mounted either side of the repositioned wing mirror stalk (red arrows).

Ferrari SF21 detail

Ferrari SF21 detail

Photo by: Ferrari

Much like the majority of the field, Ferrari has designed its sidepod bodywork in order that it sweeps down toward the floor as quickly as possible, while creating a high-waisted cooling outlet at the rear in order that the car’s coke bottle region is expanded.

In an attempt to recover some of the losses associated with this year's rule changes, and to improve the aerodynamic performance of the central portion of the car, the team has made numerous changes that look to mimic the gains made by Mercedes last season.

Ferrari SF21 rear detail

Ferrari SF21 rear detail

Photo by: Ferrari

Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear suspension

Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear suspension

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari is unable to fully embrace the Mercedes-style suspension layout as it didn’t have enough tokens to change both the crash structure and gearbox carrier. However, in an attempt to imitate the design, Ferrari appears to have spent two development tokens on lengthening the gearbox carrier and raising the point at which the wishbone is mounted (blue arrow).

The shape of the gearbox carrier has likely been slimmed and raised to take advantage of a more exaggerated floor channel like the one reintroduced by the team in the closing stages of last season (below). It’s also worth noting that the removable duckbill-like flap on the rear end of the crash structure, that helped to redirect the exhaust plume upward, has been shortened and a more scalloped profile used in its place (red arrow).

Ferrari SF71H floor channels

Ferrari SF71H floor channels

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari had already revealed changes to its new airbox arrangement during a video released several weeks ago, with the SF21 outfitted with a new hood that wraps around the main triangular-shaped body within. What wasn’t clear during that footage was whether the airbox would still be flanked by the ears used last year, but it’s now clear it will be.

Ferrari SF21 detail

Ferrari SF21 detail

Photo by: Ferrari

The floor seen in the images released by the team shows the SF21 outfitted with a similar design to the one tested in Abu Dhabi last season, which featured a trio of winglets midway along the diagonal cutout and a cluster of winglets on the outer edge of the floor just ahead of the rear tyre.

Development is expected to be rampant in this region this season, meaning we’ll likely see a raft of different solutions here throughout the year.

Ferrari SF1000 floor comparison, Abu Dhabi GP

Ferrari SF1000 floor comparison, Abu Dhabi GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari
Author Matt Somerfield
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