F1 Car Reveals 2021: Ferrari SF21 – Will the SF1000’s Successor get Maranello back to winning ways?

It was an unfortunate launch for the SF21, with yet another leak happening just an hour before the launch of the new car. It’s never nice to see a meticulously planned event go off the rails due to external factors, but luckily F1’s most prestigious team still had something up their sleeve to launch with.

The Scuderia have been busy over the winter and there look to be numerous tweaks down the car to help quell the issues suffered at Maranello during an astoundingly poor season only helped by the outstanding talent of one Charles Leclerc.

The car debuts in a more radical change than expected in terms of livery, with the deep scarlet red of the SF1000¬† at the Tuscan Grand Prix to celebrate a millennium of F1 race starts returning on the rear of the car, along with a new typeface for the car numbering. It’s business as usual for the rest of the car, Modena choosing to stick with an attractive design from last year for the most part.

One change many fans aren’t used to is as controversial as the logo itself, the Mission Winnow branding from Phillip Morris International. PMI happen to own Marlboro Cigarettes, and a more cynical writer might suggest the brand is a way to get a large M on the car. Intentions of the brand itself aside, this year it is a striking green rather than the greyscale uses of the logo that have been in effect recently. The change was last minute according to Charles Leclerc, though it does grow on you after some time allegedly. We’ll have to see whether that’s true in due course. One thing we can do is see how likely this new car is to change Ferrari’s fortunes.

The SF21

Left: SF1000 in Abu Dhabi, Right: SF21 at Launch

The car has been given a nose-job around the thumb-tip, narrowing the wing pylons reminiscent of Mercedes, though not committing fully to the narrow nose design. Ferrari have instead opted to stay with the wide, flat nose cone, however the sculpting on the tip has been altered either side of the Ferrari logo, creating some angled tops to the nostrils which join the front edge of a subtle cape, working it harder to fuel the bargeboards. This area is also ‘pinched’ on top to promote airflow over the top of this section. The more overt use of the crash structure bodywork to direct air under the car is a surprise when most teams are providing iterative updates, though given the woes of last season it’s a pleasant surprise.

The front wing itself is also new, utilising the loaded inboard design used by the team for some time now but without the small twist upwards along the wing’s span. The endplates have been given some attention in the form of a small refinement. Rather then the trailing edge of the endplate using a stepped cut-out to reduce the tip vortices, the team has opted to use a design that’s a halfway house between the Abu Dhabi spec car, and that of Mercedes with its very gentle curved design. This could have the benefit of reducing tip vortex drag from the endplate by reducing the pressure differential when the pressure fronts meet, and increasing outwash.

Flanking the S-duct are a new set of fins and a cascade of them on each side to boot, going all in, compared to other teams on the grid using just one or two. The brake ducts are also changed compared to 2020, protruding much further from the inside tyre face than before. Visible from this angle are also how the shoulder of the sidepods are significantly slimmer than the 2020 variant, suggesting a lowered amount of cooling present in the sidepods.

Side by side from the three-quarter angle (featuring Leclerc and Sainz for good measure), it’s clear a cape is being employed under the nose, with some very subtle and potentially smaller s-duct inlets under the Kaspersky logo. Rearwards on the bargeboard assembly, it is very similar to the 2020 version, save for the sidepod turning vanes wrapping over the shoulder and down to meet the floor.

The elements linking the boomerang wings and the turning vanes off the side impact spars are now 5 horizontal louvres, while the vane itself is shorter, leaving the gap between it and the winglet branching off the sidepod much larger than before. The vertical element under this winglet also looks  much more deliberate and is a larger structure conditioning the flow round the sidepod face. The sidepods themselves have followed a number of other teams such as Mercedes and Williams in opting for a downwash design to feed the top of the floor. The biggest evidence of this is the UPS logo, which features a much more conspicuous fold than before.

Above this is the new roll hoop. Structurally the design is as before, maintaining the A frame design of late, but new fairings have been introduced to give an oval shape to the two new inlets either side of the existing ones. This could be to cool any power unit elements moved to accommodate the new sidepod concept. This change has, however meant the sidepod horn fins are smaller, though the benefits must outweigh the drawbacks of the new design if Ferrari has gone to this effort.

Changing our focus from the top to the bottom of the car, Maranello has cut away the floor as required and is being coy with any other changes it has made here, with all but nothing being on display ahead of testing on Friday the 12th March. The T-wing of the car  returns, but it’s what’s below it that really interests us.

Ferrari has seemingly spent it tokens on redeveloping the gearbox and rear suspension. This has allowed them to slim down the rear of the car specifically. This is believed to move more of the bodywork away from the top of the diffuser and direct as much high energy air as possible to it, hence the new sidepods and rear end to facilitate this. This has been a trend in a number of the 2020 cars and to see Ferrari utilising their options to facilitate it is no surprise, particularly given the new floor regulations.

Left: SF1000 in Bahrain, Right: SF21 at Launch

In profile, the SF21 has some small tweaks not visible from the other angles, such as lowering the leading edge of the bargeboard’s attachment point on the chassis. The rear wing however is identical to that run at the end of last season.

In summary, there are some promising changes made to the 2021 car, not least in the livery. The Tifosi will be hoping they are what is needed to take the team back to winning ways. TO see the other team’s efforts to stop them, check out coverage for the launches of Mercedes, Red Bull, Alpine, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Williams.

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