Ferrari SF1000

2021-04-23 20:39

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Ferrari SF1000

The Ferrari SF1000 is the sixty-sixth single-seater built to participate in the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship. This has the task of replacing the


The Ferrari SF1000 is the sixty-sixth single-seater built to participate in the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship. This has the task of replacing the competitive Ferrari SF90, whose performance has often been obscured by some mechanical problems and due to an anomalous tire behavior. The SF1000 acronym refers to the thousandth start in a Grand Prix for Ferrari, being the first team in the history of Formula 1 to achieve this result, which took place in the first edition of the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello.


Despite the celebratory intent, the car proved to be one of the least competitive single-seaters in the history of Ferrari, with  just three podiums and a disappointing sixth place in the constructors' standings. The concept of the SF90 is further pushed towards the creation of the SF1000, which features the smallest airbox among the competing cars on the grid. The great work of integration between the engineers directed by Enrico Gualtieri and the designer of the chassis Enrico Cardile, allows to decide on a profiled bonnet like no other.


The reason is quite simple: Ferrari has much of the cooling system in the bellies, while Red Bull and Mercedes have kept radiant packs on top of the turbo. Ferrari, therefore, allows itself a triangular air scope that is contained within the dimensions of the roll bar: the dynamic grip has two lobes separated by a horizontal bulkhead, one feeds the compressor and the other the ERS radiator. Behind the head fairing there is another smaller opening, sufficient to cool the gearbox radiator.


The SF1000 is also distinguished by the presence of two showy horns on the sides of the airbox, which reach the maximum height of the engine cover and are connected to the two side camera cars (those that reflect the rear), so they become part of an aerodynamic system. But the bulk of the work of the Maranello technicians concerns the area of ​​the bellies and the gearbox: in fact, the transmission box is miniaturized not so much in the area of ​​the gears, but near the kinematics of the rear suspension.


In addition, the elements that make up the suspension are completely redesigned and compacted, so that the keel of the SF1000 in the tail is much narrower: to benefit are the two lateral channels in the Coca Cola zone which are larger, and can feed more the rear extractor.


The SF1000 also features the central aileron covering the radiator outlets: this is a Red Bull matrix solution that was taken up by the team from Maranello. The rear-view mirror support, in the extension that clings to the central wing, becomes a real flow conveyor that is surmounted by the small bridge thanks to which the mirror generates a blow.


In general, the car is redesigned to create greater aerodynamic load on the rear axle, to allow the tires to achieve the right  temperature windows more easily than the SF90, but the clarifications of the FIA ​​regarding the use of the flow meter kill the performance of the power unit not allowing the project to correctly generate load points.


A failed season


During the winter tests held on the Barcelona track in February, the SF1000 does not seem to excel in any conditions, neither on single lap nor in long runs, with any type of Pirelli compound used, also revealing some reliability problems that limit its performance mileage. This is a very difficult season for Ferrari, both on a sporting and a political level. Even before the start of the championship, the non-renewal of the relationship with Sebastian Vettel, replaced in pectore by Carlos Sainz Jr. starting from 2021, is made official; the German is therefore preparing to live his sixth and final season in Maranello in the uncomfortable situation of being separated in the house.


Furthermore, the dramatic global situation dictated by the pandemic leads the International Automobile Federation to the choice of freezing the main parts of the cars also for the 2021 season, severely limiting the areas of intervention for developments. On the political side, the approach to the 2020 championship sees Ferrari and the Federation reach an agreement for the end of the investigation on the power unit of the previous SF90, which more than one rival team had accused of irregularities: the terms of the transaction are maintained reserved by the parties, a fact that exacerbates even more the friction between the Ferrari motorized teams (in addition to Ferrari, also Alfa Romeo and Haas) and the rest of the circus.


Precisely this situation, which over the months had led the FIA ​​to release several directives on technical changes regarding the use of power units, ends up in retrospect to undermine the SF1000 project, a single-seater that since the inaugural appointment of the season in Austria shows an important loss of power, a fact that falls, in spite of themselves, also on the customer teams, and a general drop in performance compared to the SF90; specifically, with evident gaps in speed on the straight and a rather unpredictable behavior when approaching the corners.


The difficult debut will lead Ferrari to choose to anticipate a series of updates, which, however, are not sufficient to improve overall performance, to the point of reaching the drastic decision to cancel the developments already planned and instead undertake a phase of analysis of the weak points of the car: in addition to the aforementioned power gap, in general various analysts brand the SF1000 as born old, paying for a technical approach that is too traditional if not outdated, showing itself lacking in particular in the aerodynamics of the nose and side bellies, in the internal fluid dynamics and in the suspension diagram.


Nevertheless, at least in the initial part of the championship, Charles Leclerc, much more at ease on the car than Vettel, partially manages to make up for the technical shortcomings of the car and, also taking advantage of favorable racing situations such as penalties and withdrawals of other drivers, as well as the entrances of the safety car, he obtained two unexpected podium finishes, finishing second in Austria and, a month later, third in Great Britain Grand Prix.


In the rest of the season, however, the many limitations of an SF1000 emerge that are unable to get back on top, also due to the lack of significant upgrades, relegating the Ferrari standard-bearers to colorless races conducted solely for the points placement, and with the apex negative of the two consecutive appointments in Belgium and Italy.


At Spa-Francorchamps, Ferrari first recorded its worst qualifying since the 2012 European Grand Prix, with both SF1000s out of Q3, and then failing to collect points in the race, for a weekend considered to be one of the lowest points in the history of the team from Maranello; while at Monza Ferrari closed with an equally burning double retirement, a debacle that had not occurred in the most awaited appointment by the Maranello fans since 1995.


The subsequent, anonymous race offered in Tuscany, precisely in the race that marks Ferrari's thousandth start in a Grand Prix, and to top it off on the asphalt of Mugello, a circuit it owns, sanctions the definitive grip at the halfway point of the championship act of an SF1000 project undermined in its foundations and now considered irrecoverable.


In the second part of the season, Ferrari offers only a few sporadic exploits: at the Eifel, in Portugal, and at Sakhir, Leclerc scored the best qualifications of the SF1000 taking it to fourth place on the grid, as had previously happened only in Great Britain, while in Turkey, also benefiting from unstable weather conditions, it is Vettel who gets his only podium of the season by closing the race on the third step of the podium, after Leclerc himself ditched a possible second place with a mistake on the last lap.


Not scoring points in the last two races of the championship, also a consequence of a now abandoned SF1000 in terms of development, Ferrari closes the constructors' classification in sixth place, the result of 131 points and a meager tally of three podiums as the maximum result.


Failed prematurely the minimum goal of finishing at least in third place in the ranking, behind the Mercedes world champion, which, by winning the seventh consecutive marque laurel, equals the record that Maranello had set in the 1999-2004 six-year period, and being overtaken by McLaren, Racing Point , and by Renault, for the team from Maranello, is the worst result obtained since the 1980 season.


In the course of a 2020 that saw four different teams able to take at least one victory (Mercedes, Red Bull, AlphaTauri and Racing Point), Ferrari cannot even lead a lap in the lead of a Grand Prix, as it had only happened in 1973 and 1992. The eighth place finished by the best Ferrari driver in the drivers' standings, Leclerc, sends the disappointing SF1000 to annals as the worst Red of the turbo-hybrid era, which began in 2014, and one of the least competitive ever.


Andrea Rasponi

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