Ferrari have revealed the “completely new” car they will hope will return them to regular race-winning ways in F1 2024.
Twelve days after stunning the world of sport by signing Lewis Hamilton to the team from next year, underlining their ambitions to get back to the summit of the sport in future seasons, the Scuderia’s focus returned to the upcoming campaign and the launch of their latest challenger, the SF-24.
Featuring a tweaked livery with striking yellow and white stripes added to the Italian team’s world-famous red, Ferrari say the car itself “breaks with the tradition” of the past two seasons of F1’s current era of technical rules as they aim to improve driveability and overall performance for drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
“Every area of the car has been redesigned,” said Enrico Cardile, the team’s chassis technical director.
Ferrari slipped from second to third in F1’s Constructors’ Championship last year but the 2023 car did show late-season promise, claiming more pole positions (five) than even Red Bull in the final nine races and winning the Singapore GP, the only one of last season’s 22 rounds not won by one of the runaway world champions’ cars.
But a drive to eradicate last season’s inconsistency, and allow greater peak performance in races, has been a key 2024 focus.
Leclerc, who in January signed a new contract to stay with the team into 2025 and beyond, when he will be joined by seven-time champion Hamilton in a blockbuster line-up, said “I like the look of the car a lot” and that “this season the aim is to be front runners all the time”.
Team boss Frederic Vasseur, starting his second year in charge, said: “This year, we must start off where we left off at the end of last season, when we were consistent front runners, with a view to constantly improving in all areas.
“The longest ever Formula 1 season awaits us and Charles, Carlos and I all agree, we must be more clinical and effective in how we manage the races, making bold choices, in order to get the best possible result at every Grand Prix.
“It’s often said that your fans can give you an extra gear and that will definitely be true in what will be a very closely contested championship and we are proud to know we can count on our ‘tifosi’ from around the world.”
The car is running on Tuesday for the first time in a shakedown at the team’s Fiorano test track, with Sainz given the honours of conducting its first laps.
The surprise capture of Hamilton means Sainz is in the unusual position of already knowing he is leaving at the end of this year, with his next destination currently unknown. But the Spaniard is also optimistic about the SF-24’s potential as he aims to add to his two race wins so far in what will be his fourth and final season in red.
“I’m looking forward to driving it on track to see if it correlates with the feeling I had from the simulator, which is that it’s the step forward we all want,” said Sainz, who claimed Ferrari’s sole 2023 win in Singapore last September.
“The aim is to have a car that’s more driveable and therefore able to run at a consistent race pace, as these are the basic requirements to fight for wins.”
How Ferrari have changed their car for 2024
From the initial pacesetters in F1’s new ground-effect era at the start of 2022 to a distant battle for supremacy in the pack chasing dominant Red Bull, Ferrari realised early in last season that a major change of approach was required in the design of the SF-24 to try and make up lost ground.
Cardile explained: “With the SF-24 we wanted to create a completely new platform and in fact, every area of the car has been redesigned, even if our starting point was the development direction we adopted last year and which saw us take a leap forward in terms of competitiveness in the final part of the season.
“We have taken on board what the drivers told us and turned those ideas into engineering reality, with the aim of giving them a car that’s easier to drive and therefore easier to get the most out of and push it to its limits.
“We did not set ourselves any design constraints other than that of delivering a strong and honest racing car, which can reproduce on the race track what we have seen in the wind tunnel.”
Leclerc, who finished 2023 as one of the grid’s form drivers behind Max Verstappen, has been encouraged by the SF-24’s early feel in the team’s simulator.
“The SF-24 ought to be less sensitive and easier to drive and for us drivers that’s what you need in order to do well,” said Leclerc.
“I expect the car to be a step forward in several areas and from the impression I formed in the simulator I think we’re where we want to be.”
What kind of year awaits Ferrari before Hamilton’s arrival?
He won’t be driving for them for another 12 months, but discussion around Ferrari’s form and longer-term prospects this year will now inevitably feature at least regular passing reference to Hamilton’s looming arrival, such is the significance of F1’s most-famous and most-successful driver agreeing to join up with its most-famous and most-successful team.
But, for Ferrari’s current two drivers, team boss Vasseur, and the wider team at Maranello the immediate focus is on the here and now and ensuring that the new SF-24 delivers a more impressive season than its disappointing predecessor.
Ferrari in F1 2024
|2023 championship finish
|Best championship finish
Certainly, the headline optics around Ferrari’s 2023 compared to 2022, when they initially led the way at the start of F1’s new regulation era before fading, were not favourable when viewing the season as a whole.
They finished lower in the Constructors’ Championship (third compared to second), scored fewer points (406 compared to 554) and won fewer races (one compared to four).
But, unlike 2022, the last campaign did finish notably better than it started in a trend which Ferrari will now hope they can build on in to the new season. While McLaren’s in-season surge made most headlines, Ferrari were actually the second-highest scorers behind Red Bull from the August summer break onwards as they got a handle on their car and only just missed out on pipping Mercedes to second in the standings.
That run included the sole non-Red Bull win of the year, courtesy of Sainz, in Singapore and five of the season’s final nine pole positions.
Still, Verstappen’s near-20 second margin of victory over Leclerc at the Abu Dhabi season finale in a car that had not been developed for months showed the mountain still to climb on race pace in particular and is where much of the SF-24’s improvement needs to rest if Ferrari are to have any hoping of preventing their long world championship drought stretching to a full 16 years.
When is F1 pre-season testing?
Pre-season testing takes place from Wednesday February 21 to Friday February 23 at the Bahrain International Circuit with just three days for the teams to get prepared for the new season.
When is the first F1 race?
Just one week later, the opening race of the 2024 season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29 to March 2.
Due to the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, the Bahrain and, seven days later, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will be held on a Saturday.
This means practice one and two will take place on Thursdays, with final practice and qualifying on Fridays.
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Watch pre-season testing from Bahrain live on Sky Sports F1 from February 21-23 and every round of the new season, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership