Charles Leclerc: “SF-24 must improve in slow corners”

28 Feb, 2024

In a few more hours, the Formula 1 cars will all be on track for the first free practice session. Pre-reason testing gave us a first taste, but as Charles Leclerc has said (among others), “it’s still too early”.

In testing, the work plan is not the same for everyone and “usually the race pace helps to get an idea. But for example, Red Bull has never done an entire race simulation. We have, like others.”

The Monegasque explained that without a direct comparison with known petrol loads and engine mappings, it is difficult to be certain of the pecking order at the start of the season. The first weekend will certainly provide an initial reading in this sense.

Ferrari with improved understanding of ground effect post-Zandvoort

A topic that comes back cyclically when hearing the Ferrari men speak – from Frederic Vasseur to Enrico Cardile up to the two drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz – is the importance that the 2023 Dutch weekend had for the Scuderia.

“We worked in free practice that weekend and understood much more about how these new-generation cars work. It was very useful, ” explained the Monegasque. 

The SF-23 was a car whose peak performance allowed it to obtain a good number of pole positions even against a dominant Red Bull RB19. 

Consistent race pace was lacking, and an accurate correlation between the simulator and the track.

Leclerc

The Zandvoort weekend was positive – despite the very negative result on the track – because it offered Ferrari “a development direction” by better understanding the single-seater and how they work.

Ground-effect cars are much more sensitive than previous ones, as Technical Director Enrico Cardile also explained. Different track surfaces and temperatures, as seen last year, can have a huge impact.

It is no coincidence that from Zandvoort onwards, Ferrari found another gear. This was partly helped by the introduction of important updates, such as the Suzuka floor/

“In the second half of the season, we had positive momentum. We need to build on that,” the Monegasque confirmed today.

The SF-24 is a better starting point: Improving low-speed performance is first objective

Charles Leclerc has not hidden the progress made by the Maranello team. Of course, he wants to wait before casting judgement because “it always depends on the progress that the opponents have made.”

Consistency in race trim and a car less sensitive to external variations offer a good starting point. The SF-24 could prove to be a more competitive car in the race than in qualifying.

Based on the first results of the tests, improving responsiveness when the SF-24 runs less fuel is important. However, the Monegasque has already identified some points on which the SF-24 certainly needs to make progress:

“We have some understeer which limits rotation of the car in low-speed corners. But this is a problem common to several teams,” Leclerc said.

Ferrari

The 2024 Ferrari is a significantly different car from the SF-23changed by 95% and above all, the front has been entirely revised with a new design of the nose, front wing and a front suspension with an increased anti-dive effect

These changes certainly require a certain adaptation compared to the characteristics of the 2023 car. More importantly, the new increased anti-dive can penalise the braking and insertion phase. This was one of the main peculiarities of the SF-23.

When asked about a possible comparison with the other two Ferraris on the ground, Charles Leclerc immediately clarified that “Compared to the F1-75, it is very different.

“But in terms of handling and how it reacts to modifications, it is similarIn terms of characteristics and budget, however, it is quite different.” 

The positive aspect highlighted several times by the Monegasque is that of a more solid base than in the past. This will be critical for the team’s development. To then understand what to prioritise, we will wait for the first qualifying and the first race of the season.

Author: Paolo D’Alessandro

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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