Ferrari introduces new F138 for 2013 Formula One season


February 3, 2013

The 2013 Ferrari Formula One F138 racecar

The 2013 Ferrari Formula One F138 racecar

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The 2013 Formula One racing season begins March 17 at Albert Park in Melbourne in front of a crowd likely to include around 330,000 race fans at the Australian Grand Prix. With only minor changes made in the Formula One regulations for this year, the differences between the F2012 and Ferrari's 2013 entry, the F138, are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But even though the casual eye will not perceive a great deal of difference in the F138, most of the parts and systems have been revised to maximize performance while maintaining Ferrari's admirable reliability.

Beginning with the external elements, the widely-hated stepped nose of the F2012's front air intake has been partially blocked off on the F138 by a "vanity panel," which is claimed to improve the aerodynamics of the car as well as its appearance. However, the most significant changes are found at the rear of the car, which is narrower and more tapered than the F2012.

The aerodynamics of the F138 are still a work in progress, with wind tunnel testing expected to continue at least up to the starting gate of the Australian Grand Prix testing runs. The front and rear wings of the F138 have approximately the same configuration as appeared on the F2012 late in last year's season. Underneath the car, the front and rear pull-rod activated torque springs suspension is still supporting the F138, but has been tuned to slightly raise the car under some circumstances to improve its aerodynamics.

The engine is the naturally aspirated Ferrari 2.4 liter 056, which has been used in one form or another since V8s were mandated by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) in 2006. 2013 is the last year this stalwart engine will be used in Formula One competition, as the FIA, following its adoption of "green" principles, has decided to change to turbocharged 1.6 liter V6 engines in 2014.

One general complaint about recent Formula One racing is that the cars have a great deal of trouble passing on the track, resulting in dull races for the spectators. In response, the rules were changed to increase speed in the straightaways. The F138 has an active drag reduction system (ADRS), which is controlled by the driver to reduce the down pressure from the wings in straightaways. Essentially, the wings are made to stall, which reduces the rolling friction of the car and the drag from the wing to provide a speed increase in straightaways of about 9-10 mph (14-16 km/h).

As always, Ferrari's competition on the track has also been fine-tuning their Formula One cars. When the margin between winning an hour and a half long race is a few seconds, a speed increase of a twentieth of a mph (roughly a garden snail's pace) can reverse the outcome. We'll be watching.

Source: Ferrari via

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Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson

The wing is not made to "stall" to reduce drag. The angle of attack of the wing is reduced to lower downforce and the accompanying drag--thus increasing speed.


I agree, stalling any wing greatly increases drag. As a flight instructor, I taught my students this very basic aerodynamic principle and am concerned the "experts" don't seem to grasp how stalling really works. The wing's angle of attack is reduced, decreasing lift produced as well as induced drag. Stalling increases the angle of attack to such an extent that the air can no longer flow smoothly over the surface and begins to separate from the surface, creating turbulent flow, reverse and cross-span flow. This greatly increases drag.


Formula rules prohibit moveable surfaces controlled by the driver during the race. The wing is made to stall by blowing air from a duct over the wing in such a way as to make the wing stall. The driver opens or closes the duct manually from the cockpit. Aircraft aerodynamics doesn’t work exactly the same on race cars, can you imagine all that multiple low aspect ratio wings, ducts, end plates, barge boards and flow directors on an airplane? It would make way to much drag. You guys need to rethink your explanations.


GizEngineer, every F1 expert refers to stalling the rear wing when they talk about reducing drag. So, fly that into your face. They are merely referring to a wing's inability to produce lift (upside-down downforce) whether it be by the LEGAL (@Lance) moving of the rear wing in the "DRS zone", or the fluid dynamic wizardry of "f-duct" like devices. And for everyone NOT in the aviation business, a wing that stops producing lift, is stalled.

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