Ferrari’s 2014 car has taken a totally different front end path to others seen so far, but will it work? CRAIG SCARBOROUGH analyses a design that seems conservative on initial evidence
Although Ferrari’s 2014 Formula 1 car launch was another online event, to the team’s credit it unveiled a real car in Maranello and not a rendering.
The F14 T (a name chosen via yet another online event) is a streamlined and organic design that departs from other 2014 cars, with its dolphin nose and tiny sidepods.
Yet the car is quite conservative in many areas. Coming off the back of another year of missing out on both championships, Ferrari was expected to go aggressive to boost its chances of more silverware.
The nose is a complete contrast to those seen so far. Ferrari has formed the minimum cross section for the nose tip into a wide letterbox shape.
This section then curves upwards back towards the chassis, building a wide flat surface to create low pressure and hence downforce under the nose in the process.
A nose shaped like this would be easier to get through crash testing compared to the ultra slender finger-noses of Ferrari’s rivals. This means the nose may well be lighter, which is just as important in the car’s overall performance.
Although the dolphin shape will add some downforce to the front end, it will rob the rear end of airflow in doing so. Ferrari must be confident of the slim sidepods helping with rear downforce to have followed this route.
Airflow over the nose is also aided in passing around the upper section by the camera pods acting as splitters and diverting the air around the sides of the car.
To form such a sloped nose, the front of the raised chassis is also sloped. This meets the low front bulkhead rules, but keeps much of the front suspension mountings in the same place as last year. It’s no surprise that the front suspension retains the pullrod layout, with the pullrod lying flat and acting as a useful aerodynamic aid.
The sidepods also differ from common thinking. They are surprisingly slim bearing in mind the additional cooling required for the new powertrain. Both the sidepod inlets and the volume of the sidepods are tiny in comparison to Ferrari’s rivals.
So how Ferrari achieves adequate cooling will be interesting, as there is much talk of the potential use of air-to-water intercooling for the air coming out of the turbo. But this system would be heavy and meeting the minimum weight limit is already a concern for many teams this year.
In their shape, the sidepods are also quite different, being sloped and tapering outward towards their bottom, similar to Red Bull’s recent sidepod concepts.
Ferrari appears to be using the complex vanes around the front of the sidepods to create downwash and direct this towards the diffuser for the benefit of rear downforce. Allied to the sidepods’ slimmer shape helping airflow to the rear, this could pay dividends.
Within this area is the new powertrain, something Ferrari is yet to release any images of. The engine and ERS remain top secret, which suggests something very different might be going on with them.
With the deadline for power unit homologation still a month away, it might be some weeks before we get a real view of the heart of the car.
At the rear we can see the engine’s single exhaust pipe. This exits through the rear wing’s mounting pylons. Using these pylons in this manner will cost a little rear wing performance, but is the lightest way of supporting the loads from the rear wing.
It’s also worth noting that the rear wing endplates feature even more slots than last year, retaining both the slats on the rear edge of the endplate and gaining new slots on the front edge.
Also aiding rear end aero is the rear suspension, which like last year encloses the driveshaft. This is something other new cars seem to have discarded.
There’s not much else to discern from the rear, as it’s clearly lacking the final details and even the diffuser was covered over for the launch.
It seems Ferrari has thought deeply about the F14 T, but the potential performance gains visible so far come from the sidepod packaging aiding the aero, rather than the nose and other details. Sidepods aside, the consideration seems to be more weight-saving than aerodynamic.
It may be that Ferrari has found a cooling or engine packaging advantage and is keeping this secret. If not the car’s more conservative design in many other areas could be a weakness.