Questions over Ferrari legality during F1 tyre test

Carlos Sainz

Questions have been asked of the FIA over the legality of Ferrari’s car during a tyre test conducted following the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Four teams conducted testing in Imola in the days following the most recent event, with championship leader Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both taking the wheel for the Scuderia.

The test was to evaluate tyres for the 2023 F1 season, with strict rules governing what teams are allowed to do.

Key among these is a limitation on changes they’re permitted to make to the car without approval.

This is done for two main reasons; to ensure tyre supplier Pirelli gathers consistent data, but also to prevent teams using the running for their own gains.

Testing of current cars in Formula 1 is limited to official outings, save opportunities such as filming and promotional running (which comes with its own limitations), with tyre testing the only allowable exception.

However, regulations are in place to manage that running, specifically Article 10.8 of the Sporting Regulations.

More specifically still, and it is this point on which questions have been raised of Ferrari is Article 10.8.e.iii, which sets out that: “Cars at these tests must only use components of a specification that have been used in at least one (1) race or TCC [testing of current cars] during the current Championship year. These cars must fully comply with the provisions of the Technical Regulations.”

Article 10.8.e.iv goes on to state: “No test parts, component changes or set-up changes will be permitted which give any sort of information to the Competitor that is unrelated to the tyre test.

“Mechanical set-up changes, driver control changes and component changes are permitted if agreed in advance with the tyre supplier that they are necessary for the correct evaluation of the tyres or to complete the tyre test.”

In Imola, imagery showed Ferrari used a different floor for Leclerc than Sainz, with suggestions the latter has not previously been used, thereby contravening the regulations.

It’s believed the matter has been raised with the FIA by at least one team while others maintain a watching brief though Ferrari is confident it has acted in compliance with the regulations.

The issue comes at a time when teams are grappling to understand the on-track aerodynamic behaviour of their cars, and correlate that to what they’re seeing in the wind tunnel.

A key issue experienced by many is porpoising, which cannot be simulated, with strong attention being paid to the floor of the car.

Ferrari has arrived in Miami for this weekend’s event with a new low drag rear wing, a circuit specific part, having had not had any new components in Imola.

The only other development reported by the team thus far in 2022 is a new diffuser, which was introduced for the Australian Grand Prix.

The Italian squad leads the constructors’ championship by 11 points over Red Bull after the opening four races of the season, though ceded strong ground in Imola two weeks ago.

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