Revealed: The changes that transformed Ferrari in Singapore

Ferrari's surprising performance in Singapore Grand Prix qualifying caught Mercedes out with a "big step", as its latest Formula 1 upgrade made it a "force to be reckoned with".

Revealed: The changes that transformed Ferrari in Singapore

A significant upgrade package helped Charles Leclerc claims his third pole position in a row at a circuit most expected to be the domain of Mercedes and Red Bull.

It is part of Ferrari's pursuit of greater peak downforce, an area it has been weaker in that Mercedes and Red Bull this season.

Greater aerodynamic efficiency and a powerful engine made it a major factor at power-sensitive circuits, leading to Leclerc's poles and victories in Belgium and Italy.

But its major package to boost peak downforce has paid off in Singapore, where Leclerc surged to his fifth pole of the year.

What is Ferrari's major upgrade?

Giorgio Piola and Jake Boxall-Legge

Front wing of Ferrari SF90

Front wing of Ferrari SF90

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Ferrari's updates includes a new floor, diffuser and rear wing, but the most obvious part is at the front of the car, where the addition of 'nostrils' to the nose draws air inwards along a 'cape' section fitted to the underside.

Pioneered by Mercedes, the cape has been included by a number of teams this season in their efforts to increase the overall front-end downforce, and Ferrari has now followed suit.

The inclination of the nostrils' leading edge forces airflow passing underneath to take a longer path to match the air speed above, and hence creates a lower pressure area to limit any effects of lift.

In addition, the cape is also shaped to link up with the bargeboards further down the car and, as a result, the front wing mounting pylons have changed, losing the array of slots.

Although there will be less control over the airflow here, the cape section offers different options in managing the air moving underneath the chassis bulkhead

Ferrari has also brought a new floor to Singapore, featuring an array of fins to help direct airflow passing over the top of the floor outwards, working with the slots in the floor to provide a sealing effect.

How has it changed the car?

Ferrari SF90, front wing

Ferrari SF90, front wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Monaco and Hungary are the two circuits Singapore is compared to most often.

In Monaco, Ferrari was 0.781s and a massive 1.1% off the pace with Sebastian Vettel, although Leclerc looked like he would be more competitive but got knocked out of Q1.

Ferrari fared better in Hungary but was still uncompetitive, with Leclerc 0.471s and 0.632% from pole.

But just three races later, Leclerc is the pacesetter, backed up by Vettel in third, as Ferrari has dramatically turned the tables.

The upgrades will likely have had an impact on overall grip but more importantly appear to have given the drivers a finer balance on-track, a subtle change that gives them more confidence to attack.

Leclerc admitted it was difficult to compare Singapore to Hungary, but asked by Motorsport.com to assess the impact of the upgrade he said "it seems that it's working" and "data-wise it was working [in practice] for the engineers too".

A better balance is more likely to benefit Vettel, who has struggled with the feel of his SF90 all season compared to Leclerc.

"We didn't have such a great balance [in Hungary]," said Vettel. "I think some corners were very good, other corners we lost a lot.

"It seems like this weekend we're not losing in those corners that we were losing in Hungary.

"So, I think it's mostly adding performance to the car and in the right place, so we were able to trim the balance, so that we could extract more performance."

Ferrari (and Leclerc) nail it

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, celebrates taking pole

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, celebrates taking pole

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

The other element to Ferrari's leap forward is its execution of qualifying, an area Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted his team left something on the table.

Part of that is that Ferrari's ongoing work with adding downforce to its car and improving its understanding, not just a sudden one-off performance gain.

"From Hungary to now, we've understood also the car better," said Leclerc.

"We know the balance we need to achieve in order to have the best performance and I think that has also showed in the results on track.

"I think it's a combination of knowing where the balance needs to be and the improvements that we've made on the car."

Leclerc was also unhappy after Friday practice, even though the car itself was not performing badly, so felt refinement would enable him to extract more from himself.

"I had a very tough Friday," he said. "It was definitely not my day, I didn't feel comfortable in the car.

"But I worked quite hard and it paid off."

shares
comments
Verstappen lacks the "speed to attack" in Singapore

Previous article

Verstappen lacks the "speed to attack" in Singapore

Next article

MGU-K issue gave Ricciardo 0.000001s advantage

MGU-K issue gave Ricciardo 0.000001s advantage
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Singapore GP
Author Scott Mitchell
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021