Room to improve for Ferrari, Bearman shines, Mercedes lose out

Jaden Diaz
10 Mar, 2024

No matter what happens in the upper echelons of Red Bull, on dry land, on the track, Max Verstappen does what he wants with the RB20. The Dutchman also showed a significant advantage over Perez in Jeddah – despite a layout that tends to suit the Mexican in terms of driving style.

It was only in a few corners that the 3-time Champion found significant performance compared to rivals. However, Verstappen still managed to gain about six-tenths per lap over race distance.

This is bad news for his rivals, as the 26-year-old is tackling the streets of Jeddah better than he did last year. Meanwhile, Ferrari confirmed itself as the second-fastest team.

Ferrari has roughly halved the gap to Red Bull since 2023 but has not completely overturned it.

If Verstappen couldn’t be beaten, could Leclerc beat Perez with a more unloaded winger?

We saw that the Ferrari driver tried to resist at least one Red Bull from the start and see what he could do behind Verstappen by experimenting in its wake.

This operation lasted only four laps until Perez hit the Ferrari’s weakest point in Jeddah, the first straight. Leclerc could not overcome a difference of 25 km/h when the RB20 passed by.

Nevertheless, he tried to stay in the DRS zone, but counter-overtaking was out of the question.

At the same point on the next lap, the SF-24 (in a more loaded configuration than its direct competition), was only 12 km/h better. The Scuderia were forced to settle for a podium.

Even Oliver Bearman, despite being the only one with soft tyres in the first stint and veteran handling at the start, had his concerns.

The cars around had less straight-line drag with the DRS closed and more efficiency with the swing-wing open. For this reason, there is a feeling the car’s potential has not been exploited.

FerrariVasseur had said previously, “We must not be afraid to make courageous choices if they can give us a potential advantage.”

At this stage, it is difficult to judge how adventurous the team’s approach is. However, after collecting more data with the SF-24, more definitive observations can be made soon.

Ferrari was somewhat cautious in Jeddah, as they were in the 2022 Miami GP.

However, it is quite understandable without large data available.

Ferrari’s final performance led to the conclusion that the team was too cautious, considering the totally flat degradation curve on the Arabian circuit.

The Maranello drivers could have done another ten laps at a fast pace while an unpressured Red Bull had begun its slight decline in a reasonable window of use.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Leclerc complained about low tyre temperature problems right from qualifying and again in the opening laps of the race.

He also spoke about a specific set-up setting that bothered him in some sections.

A less loaded configuration could help open up different options, especially in terms of stiffness and temperature triggering of the rear tyres. This allows for the throttle to be exploiter more quickly.

The fact that it was discarded denotes some nightmares that should definitely be chased away, trusting more in the high load generated by the SF-24.

Ollie Bearman, star of the evening, like Verstappen

Carlos Sainz surprisingly watched the race on the monitor in the garage with the engineers rather than on the hospital bed after sudden appendicitis sent him there urgently, taking him out of the race weekend on Friday morning.

18-year-old reserve driver Oliver Bearman was called into the car just two hours before FP3.


Ferrari couldn’t ask for anything better from their young star. Race engineer Riccardo Adami also deserves great credit for his communication with the young Brit.

Bearman became the youngest rookie Ferrari rookie in F1. He executed a perfect weekend, making no mistakes and showing great maturity.

His speed was never in question, given how much he always showed in the factory simulator. The problem was fitting without major track testing with the SF-24.

However, Bearman was able to familiarise himself with the procedures in the F1-75 during a recent Barcelona test. His composure was very impressive, adapting to the hybrid engine – even when following in dirty hair.

A bit of luck never hurts. Last year’s SF-23 would have likely been far more difficult to adapt to.
Furthermore, Hamilton and Norris did not see the expected gain in performance from their strategy.
Bearman and Leclerc finished ahead of a McLaren and a Mercedes, delivering a huge bonus in the standings.
If there was any uncertainty, it should be gone. Haas would do well to prepare him carefully for a 2025 seat.

After Loic Serra, another Mercedes man joins Ferrari: Jerome d’Ambrosio will not be Toto Wolff’s successor

Jerome d’Ambrosio is currently Mercedes’ “Driver Development Director,” and he is responsible for the team’s young drivers.
After his experience in Formula E as Venturi’s team principal. He was even approached several times with the role of being Toto Wolff’s successor.
“I think he’s with us right now. And the situation is more for personal reasons that he is considering options on what to do.
“And I think that’s something he should talk to us about. But everything is ok, and we’ll see where it ends up,” commented the Mercedes team principal.

We have learned that d’Ambrosio had already decided to return with his family to continental Europe at the end of 2023, separating from Mercedes.

Currently, the former Lotus driver is still working in the factory in Brackley until further notice.

However, he will leave England at the end of the season to later take the role of director of the Ferrari academy. This role is currently occupied by Jock Clear.

Jock Clear will give up this demanding role but will not leave Ferrari. He will be employed more actively in the team’s Formula 1 efforts, including in the factory.

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang




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