Ferrari introduced their new 2019 F1 car SF90, marking the 90th anniversary of its existence, which should enable them to win the first constructors’ championship after 11 years – can the Ferrari SF90 be better than its very good predecessors and finally push Mercedes from its throne?
In the last two seasons Ferrari finally woke up and began to threat the leading Mercedes, although they couldn’t mantain this level throughout the whole season. This year they hope to be at least a little bit more competitive and consistent to push Mercedes hard until the very last race.
“It’s clear we pushed to improve every detail,” said new team principal Mattia Binotto.
“Pushing means we have to go further than the previous limits. This car is not a revolution, we just tried to push, raise the level and be as extreme as we could. ”
“There are several changes that are simple, like the front wing, but if you look at all the details, it is clear that we pushed very hard, tried to be innovative. The airbox above the driver’s head is very narrow and the rear end is very, very slim due to work done that you cannot see with the engine installation and the power unit elements. ”
Nose and front wing
Ferrari has retained a nose shape that they have been using since 2016 with fingertip extension in the middle and its front wing is simpler and has a maximum of five elements. The bottom element (yellow) is curved at the point where it is connected to a 50 cm wide neutral section (white) with respect to the maximum permissible radius of curvature of 5 cm, and the second (orange) and third (red) elements are also attached to the middle section.
The top two black elements are lowered towards the endplates (blue) so that a portion of the airflow will spill to the outer side of the front wheels, regaining some of the outwash effect that teams used so effectively in the past few years.
Front wing carriers, like last year, have three slots on each side (pink) to allow more air to pass under the nose and behind them there is an S-duct (green) entrance while its exit from the top monocoque is marked in the same colour. Underneath the chassis there are multi-slotted vanes (turquoise) that shape the airflow towards other aerodynamic elements behind the front wheels.
In the photo above you can see that the third element (marked orange) has a much larger surface area than the elements bellow and above it in order to somewhat compensate for the loss of downforce due to the very small surface and the angle of attack near the endplates where the elements are lowered in order to direct more air to the outer side of the front wheels.
On the underside of the wing there are also two vertical fences (purple) which must sit between 500 and 800 mm from the center of the front wing.
Front suspension and area behind the front wheels
In 2016, Ferrari ditched their pullrod front suspension and returned to the conventional pushrod (yellow) used also on the SF90 and the lower (red) and upper (orange) wishbones are relatively close, as opposed to McLaren and Mercedes highly-positioned wishbones connected to the extensions used on the front wheel.
The front brake ducts (blue) are very wide and Ferrari vertically divided them into three parts, with the central part also split horizontally into three parts. From 2019 F1 season, teams can use aerodynamic elements in very limited area dictated by the duct width itself so Ferrari may opt to exploit it more aggressively with some fins and vortex generators.
Ferrari, like some other teams as Red Bull and McLaren, used a technical regulations loophole and designed the first part of the main bargeboard (red) at last year’s height (475 mm) and later lowered it to this year’s 350 mm. Other elements behind are also respecting the 350 mm height rule.
Ferrari also uses the horizontal fin (turquoise) to shape the airflow in front of the sidepod air intakes and at the end of the main bargeboard there are several smaller and lower slotted vanes (orange) that help turn the airflow more aggressively around the bottom edge of the sidepod.
At the base of the main bargeboard there are several vortex generators (pink) and two curved blades (yellow) that Ferrari first began to use in 2017 on the innovative SF70H. Behind the front wheels, the already mentioned chassis vanes between the front wheels (blue) are also visible.
The Ferrari started the high sidepod inlet trend with the innovative SF70H that most of the teams use today. Sidepod inlets (yellow) are placed between the two side safety structures (orange) and moved as far back and up as possible.
The intake also has another smaller inlet (turquoise) in which the air flows below and above the upper safety structure and a rear view mirror mount (pink) is also attached to it, while the other mount is attached to the chassis.
Ferrari has mounted a small vertical turning vane (green) on lower safety structure that helps to turn the air around the edge of the sidepod upper shoulder (last year they also used similar vanes in this area).
The upper safety structure (orange) extends to the maximum permissible width and is vertically connected three smaller L-vanes. This year those sidepod vanes may be no more than 350 mm above the floor as they shape the turbulent airflow from the front wheels and direct it around the sidepod.
In the next photo there are three L-vanes attached to a vertical element (yellow), as well as a curved vane (orange) on the floor itself that helps to turn the air around the bottom edge of the sidepod.
In 2019, Ferrari decided to change the integration of the power unit and its cooling system, which now occupies less space while retaining cooling efficiency. The space above the engine is now significantly slimmed because multiple components are positioned in the sidepods, thus lowering the center of gravity.
This is seen by a very narrow airbox above the driver’s head (orange), which has almost triangular form (optimal for the strength of the roll structure), and below it there is another smaller inlet. The slim engine cover is also visible on yellow lines that drop very sharply from the top of the engine cover, as opposed to teams like McLaren and Red Bull that put a lot of components over the engine.
In addition to the lower center of gravity, the advantage of this type of integration is more quality airflow towards the middle part of the rear wing, which increases its aerodynamic efficiency.
With new cooling system Ferrari managed to get the best from both worlds – they kept impressively narrow sidepod shoulder with a big undercut and achieved lower centre of gravity with slimmed engine cover which also boosts rear wing performance.
Although the new Ferrari matt finish makes it difficult to track the contours of the engine cover and the sidepods, this is still possible thanks to the sponsorship inscriptions and a few barely visible reflections in places where the bending of the engine cover is more pronounced.
Rear suspension and rear end
The Ferrari uses a pullrod (red) rear suspension with double wishbone setup that today use all F1 teams and the lower wishbone (purple) is coupled with the driveshaft in the single aerodynamicaly shaped piece of carbon for a cleaner and faster airflow over the diffuser.
The upper wishbone (pink) is partly covered by the engine cover and in the part close to the rear wheel both wishbone legs are placed in a common aerodynamic shield where it is slightly raised and curved to the connecting point on the wheel for a cleaner airflow in this critical area.
For several years, Ferrari has been using double rear wing mounts (blue) that this year other teams began to copy and between them are also the exhaust pipes, with smaller exhaust pipes (yellow) positioned one above the other and above the main one (orange).
This kind of exhaust pipe layout has been tested, but not raced by Ferrari last year and has appeared on this year’s Haas VF-19. One of the possible advantages of this arrangement is the closer position of the exhaust pipes to the rear wing so it is possible to use some stronger effect of hot and fast exhaust gases in this area for better rear wing efficiency.
Above the exhaust pipes there is a twin, 750 mm wide T-wing that produces only a small amount of downforce by itself but shapes the airflow near the rear wing and increases its efficiency.
The rear wing endplates (orange) have a slit at the leading bottom edge, but also has six slots in the rear lower section of the upper section of the endplate.
The lower part of the endplate is also slotted to increase the effective span of the rear wing and the downforce it can create. Above the upper slots, Ferrari also mounted three curved horizontal strips (green) that push the air stream upward in the direction of the airflow inside the wing which also helps the airflow to reattach when DRS is deactivated.
The floor ahead of the rear wheels has been an intensive development area for several years and this has increased further in 2017 since the floor can be wider.
The Ferrari uses one transversal slit in front of the rear wheel and two independent angled slots, followed by a series of longitudinal slots and a raised floor section (orange) near the sidepod leading edge. Ferrari also uses the small horizontal fence (yellow) near the rear wheel inner face to separate the flow traveling above the diffuser from the rear wheels.
The slots allow mixing the airflow from the top and bottom of the floor, resulting in a vortices creation on the edges of the floor that help seal the floor from turbulence, especially in front of the rotating rear wheel turbulence that affects the diffuser efficiency.