Ferrari shared the love with their fans on Valentine’s Day having a launch event at Fiorano where the car was unveiled and completed its first shakedown.
While the first look at the car was shown in a pre-recorded video, the SF-23 was in a garage at the track being prepped for its on-track debut. With both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz raring to drive the car, Ferrari decided that one driver would take the SF-23 on its inaugural drive for two laps of the track, while the other driver would get three laps later in the day. After a coin flip, the honour of the first drive went to Leclerc.
“Our whole team has put a lot of work into this new car,” Leclerc said, “and seeing it in front of us for the first time just feels amazing. It means that the start of the season is very close, which is always an exciting moment.
“It feels good. I mean, the first kilometres with this new project after doing so many kilometres on the simulator, it feels special, so everything went smoothly. Obviously with two laps, it’s difficult to go into details. The car was running well, smooth, everything went really well. We still have to wait for the first real laps at testing to make any real assessments though.
“Our target for the season will be to do even better than last season, bring home more victories and be more consistent. The biggest goal will be to win both championships and we will do everything to achieve this.“
While Leclerc got to be the first in the car, Carlos Sainz wasn’t too disappointed to have to wait a little longer for his go and was hoping to gain even the slightest of advantages of his teammate: “In that extra lap I hope that I can get to feel a little bit more than Charles.”
“Having the chance to unveil the car in front of our tifosi has been great,” Sainz continued, “as this is my first launch event in front of an audience since I joined the Scuderia. I would like to thank everyone who has joined us on such a special day, both here and online around the world.
“This car is the result of the passion and hard work of everyone in the team during the past months and it certainly looks like another step forward. Our goal cannot be other than to keep pushing forward and trying to bring home more race wins, being competitive and fighting for the World Championships. I can’t wait to hit the track in Bahrain and get this new season going!”
The car itself is of course red with black areas of naked carbon fibre which is a theme among the livery designs this season. Underneath the paintwork there has been a lot of work done as the Scuderia aims to improve their chances of success – the power unit department was focused on reliability and revising their procedures, while the chassis department have made a “complete redesign”.
“On the aerodynamic side,” Head of Chassis Area, Enrico Cardile, said, “we increased vertical downforce, to adapt further to the new aero regulations and achieve the desired balance characteristics. The suspension has also been redesigned, to support aerodynamics and increase the range of adjustments that can be made to the car at the track.
“The most obvious changes are in the area of the front suspension where we have moved to a low track rod. The front wing is also different, as is the construction of the nose, while the bodywork is a more extreme version of what we saw last season.”
Ferrari have a new Team Principal this year, after Mattia Binotto resigned at the end of last season, Frederic Vasseur joined the Scuderia in January after six years in charge at Alfa Romeo. The Frenchman might only have been in the job a few weeks but shared how proud he was of the work put into the car and of having a big live launch event.
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“Over the past five weeks,” Vasseur said, “I have had the chance to get to know many members of our team. We have a great group of people here and it is clear that motivation is high throughout the team.
“I had a look at the launch of the other teams, and I think it was a bit virtual or online. And I don’t want to speak about the others but I’m more than proud to do something like this with all the tifosi around the track, with guests, it’s a really big event and for us it’s the best way to start the season.
“It’s always emotional for a team to do the launch,” he continued. “We put so much effort – honestly not myself, I joined too late, my contribution is very small on this one – but I can perfectly feel the work done on the car. Now it will be a new journey for the project, because the car will move to the race team. It’s a great feeling; when you are back on track, it’s like when you are back at school.
“I can feel that everybody is very proud of the job done and this feeling is very important for the motivation of everybody and for the season. It will be a quite long season, but the motivation is there and it’s crucial in terms of performance.”