The Ferrari SF71H, internal code 669, is the sixty-fourth single-seater built by the car manufacturer Ferrari, built to participate in the 2018 Formula 1 world championship, and destined to improve the excellent performance of the parent car, the SF70H.
The car takes up and refines the concepts present on the Ferrari SF70H as regard to the front end, increasing the wheelbase from 3594 to 3678 millimeters, and comes with a very tapered rear end, resulting particularly elaborate as regards the aerodynamics of the bellies.
The air intakes are also narrower, but channeling the flows from different points; on the contrary, the airscope is wider than the SF70H. In fact, the latter is divided into three areas: the central one brings air to the compressor while the two side ones are used as a cooling system for the Power Unit.
There are also aerodynamic appendages on the mirrors in order to deflect the anomalous flows generated by the Halo protection device, one of the novelties of the 2018 season, made mandatory by the FIA starting this season, also equipped with an appendix at the top. Near it, there are aerodynamic appendages, allowed by the technical regulations, which have the function of energizing the boundary layer thus limiting the negative effects in terms of the quality of the flow arriving on the rear wing.
Since the Spanish Grand Prix, the mirrors have been integrated into the Halo instead of the car body, improving the rear visibility of the drivers. Despite the restrictions imposed by the regulations, the car has a gear wing at the rear that acts as a flow diverter, a solution also adopted by other rival teams.
In addition, aerodynamic updates are made to the bargerboards and flow diverters, which frame the side air intakes and whose shapes appear simpler than those of the previous car.
Compared to the 2017 single-seater, the front wing supports have been modified on the Ferrari SF71H: these are now elongated, to better convey the flow to the bottom of the car and towards the rear. This change prompts the Maranello engineers to review the S-Duct socket, which is located just behind the wing support pillars.
However, the Ferrari SF71H project marries a different philosophy than the 2017 single-seater, as already seen from the presentation. Compared to the previous car, the new car immediately showed a much longer wheelbase in order to improve aerodynamic efficiency on fast tracks.
Focusing on the central part of the SF71H, certainly the most interesting and full of novelties, it should be emphasized that the working group directed by Mattia Binotto managed to evolve and improve a solution subsequently copied by various teams, i.e. the initial part of the bellies: the sides remain very far back to increase the distance between the front wheel and the side cooling intake, thus facilitating the management of the outflows from the front wing and, above all, better controlling the negative effects generated by the big Pirelli front tires.
In the area of the sides, the aerodynamics of Maranello are able to create a more extreme solution than that used the previous year, while maintaining its merits and limiting defects as much as possible: the anti-intrusion cone remains very low but is fully integrated into the side, while the cooling intakes are miniaturized, significantly reducing the transverse dimensions of the bellies, which create disturbances to the flow directed towards the rear of the car.
As for the bargeboards, in the lower part they do not undergo major changes compared to the specification used at the end of the past season; The lateral flow diverters, on the other hand, undergo a major restyling while maintaining the macro characteristics of those used on the SF70-H, a different matter.
One of the visible areas that is most modified is the airbox intake, which has significantly increased in size. This increase is made necessary to incorporate the smaller air intakes, used at the end of last season. The second important change, before arriving at the rear of the car, is the unprecedented introduction of perforated mirrors.
This solution is proposed to reduce the blocking, or the resistance to advancement determined by the two components. In addition, the rear part acts as a slight flow diverter, to try to squeeze the airflow on the belly and push it under the rear wing, creating the downwash effect.
In the rear area, on the Ferrari SF71H is also visible the deck wing in a version very similar to the more classic T Wing used in many Grand Prix in 2017. The 2018 technical regulation banned the T-Wings as we used to see in the past season, but allowing the introduction of these appendages as long as they are under 650 millimeters in height, and at a distance of no more than 50 millimeters from the rear axle. Instead, the double pylon supporting the rear wing, characteristic of all Ferrari engined cars, has been confirmed.
Development over the season
Ferrari arrives at the start of the first round of the season with a quite different car than the one seen during the presentation. In Melbourne, a new front wing is mounted, with a more horizontal main profile and with a modification also to the vertical strip placed next to the upper flaps, as well as with two blowholes on the main plane to reduce turbulence and increase efficiency.
On the occasion of the Bahrain Grand Prix on the Ferrari SF71H the design of the diffuser in the central and lower part is modified, and always in the rear area of the car a small channel is created on the bottom to bring more air to the diffuser.
Finally, reinforcements are added to the front wing. The Maranello technicians also make changes to the heat vent above the bellies, on the sides of the passenger compartment, to improve thermal dissipation given the high temperatures in Bahrain.
In China, on the other hand, vortex generators are implemented under the mouths of the bellies, to better address some turbulent flows, and a clutch lever is added to Vettel's steering wheel at the request of the driver, to improve the take-off at the start.
On the Baku city track, Ferrari has instead brought a large aerodynamic package that can be identified as the first real evolution of the car package: in the Azerbaijani capital the spoon rear wing makes its debut, used to reduce drag and to have higher speed on the longest straight in the world, present right on the Baku circuit.
Another important innovation is represented by the inverted L-shaped rear suspension, useful for improving the use of Pirelli tires. The incessant work of the Maranello technicians on the Ferrari SF71H is also highlighted in Spain, on the occasion of which a very interesting evolutionary technical package is brought: first of all, after the Federation has given the green light to be able to use the Halo as an anchor for the rear-view mirrors, Ferrari immediately put this solution into practice, also implementing an aerodynamic appendage, a solution subsequently banned by the FIA itself. Attention is given to many small details: again on the subject of mirrors, in fact, to increase the driver's field of vision, the mirror is split.
The real big change, however, concerns the bottom of the Ferrari SF71H,which has been completely redesigned at the sides of the bellies and now features the appearance of two long longitudinal channels to reduce the turbulence affecting the rear wheels, sending more air mass to the diffuser.
In Montreal, Ferrari brings the first evolution of the new power unit on Vettel's car, while from an aerodynamic point of view the development sees slight changes in the central area of the single-seater, with new bargeboard flow deviators completely redesigned in the ends and in the main diverter. On Canadian soil, the deck wing, attached to the back of the engine hood, is removed to improve efficiency and reduce drag.
At Paul Ricard, the front part of the Maranello car has returned to retouching, which now features a new front wing characterized by a blowing on the main plane that extends along the entire length of the wing profile. In addition, some micro-aerodynamic measures see the modification of some fins placed on the sides of the endplates, in the internal area.
Also in France we see some changes to the T-tray on the sides of the stairway bottom, to work best with the new Barge Boards brought to Canada. On the occasion of the British Grand Prix the bottom is revised again, taking the solution brought to Spain to the extreme, with three longitudinal channels to improve efficiency and downforce, and in addition the Baku spoon wing is used, as well as new small developments to the diffuser.
Another important novelty characterizes the new engine hood, now decidedly more tapered and less open in the rear area. This solution allows Ferrari to have better aerodynamics, at the expense of less heat dissipation.
In free practice in Germany, together with a new rear wing, a new location for the Wastegate exhausts, that moves from the sides of the central drain, to be placed above it. The team from Maranello is in fact particularly interested in their blowing effect on the rear wing, subsequently trying to reduce the lateral dimensions.
However, this solution is not confirmed either in the race in Germany or in Hungary, both regarding the exhausts and the rear wing. In Belgium, a traditionally low-aerodynamics track, a rear wing with an almost flat and horizontal profile is brought, with a slight twist in the central area. Reduced rope also for the profile of the DRS mobile wing, which in fast tracks like Spa and Monza, is less decisive.
The fringes of the endplates are also reduced to four, to eliminate aerodynamic turbulence, while the Deck-Wing is maintained.
The third specification of the power unit, called 062-EVO, also debuts at Spa, with a new turbocharger and a new MGU-H. This update can guarantee the Maranello car to significantly improve power delivery with a more linear release, further increasing traction and therefore speed on the straight.
In Singapore, the opposite track in terms of characteristics compared to Monza and Spa, Ferrari brings important technical innovations, working a lot on the rear: in fact, new blown endplates are introduced, while the new side bulkheads have additional slits in the terminal part.
The purpose of these blows is to better regulate the turbulent flows coming from the rotation of the rear tires, and thus improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the car. On the Marina Bay track it is important to have a stable rear during acceleration, both for better traction when exiting the 90° curves, and for the proximity of the walls.
Another change concerns the bargeboards in front of the bellies, with an increase in height and also a high-load wing, the same seen in Monaco. For the next two appointments in Russia and Japan, Ferrari moves the technical innovations to the front axle of the car: in Sochi, the most important update is represented by the new front wing, with changes both to the main plane and to the completely modified side bulkheads.
Specifically, the new wing has a modified main plane in the outermost part, and the last of the flaps at the top no longer has the classic concavity in the central area, but a more rectilinear profile. The side endplates, on the other hand, are designed to channel more air under the rear tires, and reduce drag and turbulence.
The new front wing is coupled to the new Turning Vanes, i.e. the flow deviators in the underbody, at the height of the front axle. These components now feature larger blowholes, and the individual elements are separated.
In Japan, on the other hand, the Prancing Horse team brings a further modification to the bottom: the update consists in expanding the last blow moulding, before the rear wheel, with a wider entry hole. This new solution, seen in the free practice at Suzuka, was however rejected by the technicians because the new hole continuously collected rubber chips.
In the new continent, Ferrari brings numerous aerodynamic updates, continuing the development of the SF71H, with a view to 2019. In Austin, the red technicians mount vertical vortex generators on the bottom, in order to avoid the blowholes being plugged by debris, as well as decreasing the tire squirt.
The floor, not used in Austin due to the rain in free practice, will be re-proposed in Mexico, to collect as much data as possible, however it will not be used in qualifying or in the race. Also in Austin, Ferrari modifies the barge boards again, this time in the lower and flat part. This area of the single-seater is the most subject to modifications and maniacal micro aerodynamic work.
In Mexico, due to the thin air, Ferrari's work on aerodynamics favours cooling at the expense of efficiency, using the version of the bonnet with wider rear vents, for better thermal disposal of the Power Unit.
The SF71H makes a positive debut in the 2018 Formula 1 world championship, winning the first two tests in Australia and Bahrain with Sebastian Vettel, also thanks to perfect strategies.
In the next two tests in China and Azerbaijan, the German, while continuing to show the speed of the car by excelling in qualifying, then runs into negative situations in the race that relegate him to simple points finishes; on the contrary Räikkönen, already third in Melbourne, is confirmed on the podium in both appointments.
At the first European round in Spain, for the first time this season the two Ferraris did not finish on the podium, with Räikkönen forced to retire for engine problems and Vettel forced to a double pit stop.
Vettel redeems himself in the next two rounds, showing that he is more comfortable with the SF71H than his teammate, closing in the place of honor in Monaco, and above all going to win in Canada, in the latter case breaking a fast of successes in Montreal which for Ferrari had lasted for fourteen years.
Räikkönen, on the other hand, back from fluctuating points placings, reverses his role in France, returning to the podium, and later in Austria, where he finishes second ahead of his German teammate.
It was the German who brought Ferrari back to victory in the next round in Great Britain, with his teammate finishing third, triumphing on a historically difficult circuit such as Silverstone, where the Prancing Horse had not excelled for seven years, and also placing both single-seaters on the podium as has not happened across the Channel even since 2004.
In Germany, pouring rain prevented Vettel from finishing the Grand Prix: the German ended his race against the barriers prematurely, allowing Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes to regain the leadership of the championships.
Vettel partially recovered in Hungary, finishing on the second step of the podium, however still behind the English. The German redeems himself in Belgium, where he triumphs in front of his rival, defining the fight for the drivers' title between the two; the Spa-Francorchamps race ends with a retirement for Räikkönen, fresh from his best streak of the season with five podium finishes.
The subsequent races do not give the Maranello team any particular satisfaction, as Vettel finishes on the podium only in Singapore, Russia, Mexico and in the final race in Abu Dhabi, while Räikkönen, in addition to winning the American trip to Austin, climbs on lowest step of the podium in Mexico and Brazil.
Due to errors on the part of Vettel, a decline in performance of the car, and management errors on the part of the engineers, Mercedes and Hamilton both win world titles for the fifth time in a row.
The Ferrari SF71-H concludes its history with six wins, nineteen podiums, six pole positions and four fastest laps, for a total of 571 world championship points, and the title of vice-champion of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship.