Ferrari Barcelona tyre test: Full details and insights

Ferrari SF-23

Canada was certainly one of the best Sundays of the season for Ferrari, together with the Australian GP in early April. The SF-23 showed Excellent performance on tracks that are technically quite similar, without many high-speed corners that but a significant number of slower or medium-speed and short distances.

These tracks certainly favour the Maranello-made machine. However, it must be underlined how the two races were run in very different ways: in fact, the race in Australia was mainly one of tyre conservation, with the aim of maximizing the strategy for everyone at one stop.

In Canada, all the drivers were able to push without paying too much attention to tyre management.

Pirelli test: Ferrari chose wisely with initial set-up

The characteristics of the Canadian GP circuit unquestionably helped the SF-23, something outlined by Ferrari’s personnel. Still, it could have caused some problems for the men from Maranello precisely because of the importance of the pace being sustained.

«The problem isn’t so much tire degradation, but the consistency of performance», was a phrase Fred Vasseur repeatedly said to start the year.

In Montreal, neither of Ferrari’s two main weaknesses showed up. The SF-23 managed the two compounds used in the best possible way, even the Hard tyres, which have often created issues for the Scuderia.

After the negative Spanish GP, the Maranello team stayed a few more days in Barcelona for a test session with Pirelli (2024 tyres).

At the wheel were both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, using the Spaniard’s SF-23, whilst Leclerc’s was sent immediately to Maranello for important checks after the problems encountered in the seventh weekend of the season.

The two drivers covered 1468 km, for a total of 314 laps, the equivalent of almost five Spanish GPs.

According to the rumours that emerged during the Canadian weekend, the excellent performance of the SF-23 in Montreal was largely due to this Pirelli test, where Leclerc and Sainz would have worked and found an ideal setup.

It is important to underline how during these tests organized by the single tire supplier, the various teams cannot try anything new but must choose the set-up with which to start the day.

Provide it to Pirelli, who must then validate it, i.e. verify that the one chosen is a good setup for their data collection, especially in terms of front-rear balance, as well as other macro characteristics.

Once testing has begun, the team can no longer make extensive setup changes but can only adapt the car if the evolution of the circuit is important.

Ferrari takes a completely different setup direction. It worked in Spain (Pirelli test) and in Canada, though more confirmation is needed

Would the key to Ferrari’s awakening have come thanks to the Pirelli tests in Barcelona? It’s not quite like that. After the Spanish GP, precisely on Monday, there was a very important analysis of the data coming out of the Spanish weekend, especially from the disappointing Sunday race.

First of all, it came out that Charles Leclerc’s SF-23, even with a completely replaced rear axle, hadn’t performed as the Maranello technicians expected.

The team worked on understanding all that data, endorsing a setup for the start of the Pirelli tests that went in a completely different direction, something that Charles Leclerc also confirmed in Canada.

“In this first part of the season, it was very difficult to understand the consistency of our car: we went from medium, which was going well, to another compound, where the car lost a lot of performance. Now we have taken a different direction in terms of set-up, and I immediately felt more comfortable.”

This has been the case since the very first laps of the Pirelli tests, where the technicians saw considerably different and better performances than those of the race weekend.

It is no coincidence that Charles Leclerc was immediately sent to the simulator to correlate the excellent data collected on the Barcelona track, albeit with 2024 tyres, slightly but not so different from the current ones, even less from what the teams will use from Silverstone.

In short, the real Ferrari restart was born on the Monday after the Spain GP. The Pirelli test was only a confirmation that the (different) path taken was the right one.

However, even without those two days of testing, the SF-23s would have taken to the track in Canada with the trim base coming out of the post-Spain Monday analysis, which made it possible to extract a greater potential from the SF-23 EVO.

This, combined with the characteristics of the Canadian circuit, contributed to the excellent performance in the Montreal GP, at least third-fastest behind Red Bull and Aston Martin.

Ahead of Austria, a certain positivity remains, as the Spielberg circuit should still suit the SF-23 well.

However, there is also a certain curiosity in understanding whether the new road, in terms of set-up, will also be able to work with different tracks and ‘external’ conditions (climatic, asphalt, etc.).

The Spielberg circuit has more types of corners than the one in Montreal, as there are also long, extending corners, such as 6 and 7, but it remains a ‘limited at the rear’ circuit for the many restarts, especially if it gets hot.

Clearly, the next round will be important to confirm the improvements seen in Canada. Silverstone will be even more important, a track where Ferrari has always done very well but where the ‘old’ SF-23 would certainly have struggled a lot.

In Austria, there will be aerodynamic innovations and the now well-known format with the Sprint Race, where it will be necessary to put everything together very quickly, in an hour’s time.

It is no coincidence that tomorrow Ferrari will take to the track at Fiorano for the second 100km filming day.

Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang