Can the Ferrari SF-23 challenge for the F1 title? | Top Gear
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Tuesday 3rd October
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Can the Ferrari SF-23 challenge for the F1 title?

The new SF-23 is the car the red team hopes will end its F1 title drought in 2023

Published: 14 Feb 2023

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and that Ferrari’s F1 car will be red. Still, the SF-23 - revealed today at Fiorano - is a potential title contender, so attention we must pay.

The livery looks similar to last year’s car, but judging by the images above Ferrari hasn’t been immune to the lets-leave-it-black-to-save-weight trend that’s affected the Haas VF-23, Alfa Romeo C43 and McLaren’s MCL60 among this year’s cars. Either that or exposed carbon fibre is in this year.

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Nor has the aerodynamic concept changed, as several teams shift to the kind of package championed by Adrian Newey and Red Bull in 2022.

Credit where credit’s due though, Ferrari’s launch featured some actual driving on track, with some 500 fans cheering on in the stands: that’s a bold thing to do when you’ve got a tightly-packed schedule for the big reveal and one failed part could scupper the whole thing.

Perhaps that’s the work of new team principal Fred Vasseur, who was hired from Alfa Romeo a few weeks ago after old boss Mattia Binotto was relieved of his duties.

Vasseur has a big job on his hands, not simply because the team is error prone, but also because in-season development needs to be more effective if it’s going to mount a serious challenge for the title. So maybe the dynamic launch is a way of geeing up the team.

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“Our objective is to win the championship,” said the new boss, “which will not be an easy task as our competitors will have exactly the same target in mind. We have to bring the right mindset with us and always work on being better tomorrow than we are today.”

Last season Ferrari had the quickest car over one lap - amassing 12 pole positions to Red Bull’s eight - but managed just four wins in total as an early lead in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships quickly evaporated. Heck, even the bouncing Mercedes had caught up by the end of the campaign.

Charles Leclerc will be hoping development over the winter has had a transformative effect on the car’s race page, while Carlos Sainz will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season in which he was largely off the pace, despite scoring a maiden win at Silverstone.

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“Our whole team has put a lot of work into this new car and seeing it in front of us for the first time just feels amazing,” said Leclerc. “It means that the start of the season is very close, which is always an exciting moment.

“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.“

And Sainz - who was out at the Dakar Rally last month supporting his father, Sainz Sr - added: “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!”

Come on then folks, how likely is it that Ferrari wins the constructors’ title in 2023? Its last victory was 15 years ago…

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