Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Tech analysis: Ferrari with a tough balancing act

Ferrari has found itself in a quandary in the latter part of 2016, with Red Bull surpassing it in the constructors' championship, regulation changes looming for 2017 and pressure from Sergio Marchionne for long-term success.

The loss of James Allison mid-way through this campaign has been a bitter pill to swallow too, with a technical director's DNA ingrained in the way a team operates for a significant time.

On top of this, the team, left with very few options to directly replace Allison, has opted for a more horizontal management structure for the foreseeable future, which will undoubtedly take time to work in the way we see other teams maximise it.

The struggles it has faced in these last few GPs has been a war between understanding the fundamental flaws of the SF16-H, improving its qualifying and race pace and making sense of any conceptual ideas during practice sessions that can be applied to next season.

It's a difficult balancing act and requires both sides of the garage to make sacrifices to their programmes to achieve their overall goal.

As such, much has been made about the improvement of Raikkonen in comparison to Vettel in the latter part of the year but, where the German has seemingly sacrificed more of his GP preparation to help understand next year's car it has often left him under prepared for the current challenge.

Ferrari SF16-H rear brake ducts comparison, Brazilian GP
Ferrari SF16-H rear brake ducts comparison, Brazilian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This push and pull in current and 2017 development has meant that the team has not only looked at new components but also made comparisons with older ones. In Brazil much of this focus was placed on rear brake cooling and aerodynamic stability.

The brake ducts' vertical fence that was revised way back in China featured a much smaller fence, exposing the lower horizontal fin to its own less interrupted airflow and allowing it a clearer pathway out the rear of the brake duct fin cluster.

However, the reduction in the fence's height also means that the inlet receives less cooled air, leading to an aero vs cooling compromise.

The wider tyres and various aerodynamic changes that surround them for 2017 are clearly a concern to the Scuderia, as some of this test work is clearly focused on getting a handle on it early.

However, the evaluation of these different brake duct configurations is also the result of another change made slightly ahead of this to the SF16-H's floor.

The vertical strake mounted just ahead and inboard of the front tyre (arrowed) creates a very specific vortex that works with, but not limited to, the slots in the floors periphery and the lower brake duct fin, in order to reduce the effect of 'tyre squirt'.

This phenomenon that if left untreated is destructive to the diffusers performance is something that Ferrari is keen to manage.

As both short and long versions of the vertical brake duct fence were used in combination with the outgoing curved strake it made perfect sense for all of their options to be explored.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Brazilian GP
Track Interlagos
Teams Ferrari
Article type Analysis
Topic Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis