The factories will be able to reopen from Thursday, May 21, when the closure imposed by the FIA has ended. The Ferrari factories are therefore preparing for the gradual return of the employees after the long confinement which blocked all activity for the team. The engineers will find the SF1000 which should have driven during the Australian GP and we will not see again the one tested in Barcelona in February because the car which will debut in Austria on July 5 will be different from the one which should have raced on the Albert Melbourne Park. The security protocol that the Maranello company has put in place is very strict in terms of employee protection, and there is no doubt that the need for physical distance could slow operations compared to the development plans of the company. car that had been planned.
Which Ferrari will we see at the Red Bull Ring? It's hard to say today, especially since the SF1000 did not shine during winter testing, showing clear progress in slow corners, but rising to the surface of gaps in fast and in-line turns right. Initially, the SF1000 will take to the track in Spielberg with the 065 engine of second specification, that is to say with a combustion chamber capable of working at a higher temperature, thus gaining about fifteen horses, which should bring the Italian powertrain back to the power level it was before the restrictions on the fuel flow meter.
La Scuderia has however revealed certain limits which prevented it from achieving the expected performance and according to the new work schedule arranged in front of the COVID-19, it will be clear what improvements will be made to the front part of the single-seater, deemed too conservative. But the emphasis is above all on the transmission, with the search for greater lightness, and for miniaturization of the carbon case to promote the aerodynamics of the car.
In order to supply the rear diffuser with two wider channels to increase aerodynamic support without increasing drag, Ferrari technicians have thought of a particularly narrow gearbox. The simulations indicated that the new construction would give a rear stiffness similar to that recorded on the transmission of the SF90, but analysis of the test data would have shown, on the contrary, that there are small bends which have a negative effect. on the behavior of the car on the track.
If the box flexes, sudden changes in the angle of the rear suspension can be registered with reactions that are not predictable, fueling this endemic understeer of which the pilots have complained. The problem is solved: it suffices to reinforce the composite box with an additional carbon shell, even if it means generating a loss of aerodynamic efficiency.
This construction was introduced by engineer Aldo Costa on the F2004 of Michael Schumacher, who was World Champion in 2004, who brought this idea to Mercedes in 2014 when he became the technical manager of the Brackley team. The solution turned out to be very interesting because it made it possible to modify the angles of attack of the rear suspension without incurring a penalty (the gearbox, in fact, can only be replaced after 6 GP). Ferrari, meanwhile, had certainly not given up on this solution, developing it gradually. In 2016, the technicians of the Prancing Horse had transferred the suspension mechanism of the link between the gearbox and the differential.
A courageous choice which was also dictated at the time by aerodynamic requirements. The structure, however, turned out to be not very rigid and on the SF16-H, there were four breaks in the gearbox because the gears did not fit perfectly during gear changes due to the flexibility of the housing. Today, these problems no longer exist, so the phenomenon is certainly less problematic than in 2016, but it cannot be excluded that it still has a negative effect on the SF1000.
And at Maranello, the engineers know that there is no time to lose because the chassis, gearbox and suspension that will be used in the first Grand Prix of the 2020 season will then be frozen for the development of the season 2021. If Enrico Cardile, David Sanchez and Simone Resta can correct this defect on the SF1000, it is not said that Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc cannot join the fight in mind once development has started on a healthier basis. Remember that the Haas VF-20 and Alfa Romeo C39 use the same transmission as the Ferrari, and it is not excluded that customer teams can also benefit from the stiffening of the carbon box.