The Ferrari car that will be unveiled on February 13 has the task of solidifying the progress shown in the final stages of the last Formula 1 season.
While awaiting Lewis Hamilton’s arrival in 2025, there is a season to face with the usual hope that it can revitalize Maranello’s ambitions, bringing it to compete with Red Bull on (almost) equal terms. This task falls to the SF-24, which will be presented next Tuesday. So, let’s take a look at what the new single-seater will be like. After the disappointing 2023 season, will we witness a true technical revolution to close the gap with the elusive Red Bull, or will Maranello continue its policy of small steps, initiated in the middle of last year?
While we await the live debut of the car, we must settle for the words of Fred Vasseur, who spoke about “a technical project that will not be overhauled, but many details need better attention, where we have to improve. To reach Red Bull, we will not remake the 2023 car from scratch because we made progress in the latter part of the season.” However, the 676 project is not a carbon copy of the SF-23, and, according to Enrico Cardile, the technical director of the chassis area, “in 2024, Ferrari will also follow new development paths.”
Ferrari 2024, the profile
Combining official statements and various rumors, we tried to hypothesize the external appearance of the 2024 single-seater (color rendering), while the cutaway of the Ferrari SF-23 identifies all the areas where Maranello’s technicians will need to intervene to improve the red car. Starting with the aerodynamic configuration. Let’s begin with the nose, which could return to a more pointed shape, like the 2022 car. However, the most substantial work will concern the design of the sidepods. As known in 2023, after the disappointing early-season performances, Ferrari presented a significantly revised version of the sidepods at the Spanish Grand Prix, clearly inspired by Red Bull. However, this was a partial modification, conditioned by the position of the halo: moving it lower would require the reconstruction of the chassis, a too lengthy and expensive operation mid-season. Therefore, a compromise solution was chosen, which worked intermittently.
On the 2024 single-seater, placing the halo lower on the sidepods would allow for more compact sidepod shapes, with different, smaller air intakes positioned even higher, and a deep “cut” on the underside to increase the airflow along the lower part of the sidepods, impacting the rear. The end part of the sidepods on the car that ran until Abu Dhabi will be markedly different. As you may recall, the SF-23’s debut used a “tub” shape to push down the flows along the top of the sidepods.
From the first outings, it becomes clear that this solution does not work, and even the SF-23 version B does not solve all the load problems of the red car. To reduce the gap to Red Bull in 2024, Ferrari will have a completely revised rear end, with sidepods that significantly slope towards the rear axle, and it’s not out of the question to open a gap for hot air disposal, which stagnates inside the engine compartment. This hot air, adhering to the bodywork, would be guided downward and “shot” towards the diffuser to increase downforce.
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Ferrari SF-24, watch out for tyre wear
In parallel with the design of the new sidepods, the aerodynamicists at Cavallino will have to introduce a new floor, capable of solving one of the SF-23’s most serious problems: excessive tire wear, especially on hard compounds. According to the Ferrari drivers themselves, the disappointing performances of 2023 were not due to a lack of aerodynamic load but rather to its utilization. To overcome this problem last year, interventions were made repeatedly on the dynamic behavior of the suspension and ground clearances. The result: Leclerc and Sainz achieved numerous pole positions but then fell back, after a few laps, to lower positions on the grid. The car was fast in qualifying but tire-consuming during the race.
Ferrari SF-24, ultra-slim transmission
To optimize tire utilization, significant innovations are also expected on the suspension front. Unlike what was hypothesized in the last races of 2023, the 676 project on the front axle should not copy the pull-rod scheme (4) adopted by the Red Bull RB19, the undisputed dominator of the just-concluded season, and the McLaren MCL60, the great revelation of the second part of the championship. On the contrary, the Maranello technicians are reportedly considering maintaining the push-rod at the front but with a much more exaggerated design and a heavily inclined upper triangle. The same goes for the rear axle, where the SF-23’s kinematics will be maintained but paired with a newly designed gearbox, 40mm narrower than the previous one, to have a wider diffuser. No particular innovations are expected on the power unit front, where Ferrari has proven to be on par with Mercedes and Honda, if not superior.
Ferrari SF-24 vs. Ferrari SF-23, the comparison
Without many equivocations during the 2023 Formula 1 season, Frédéric Vasseur explained Ferrari’s underwhelming championship. The SF-23 was not a competitive car, and the drivers understood it from simulator tests, confirmed by the initial track tests. According to Fred Vasseur, in 2022, certain choices were made: however, simulations had underestimated some negative effects on the car’s behavior, which had deteriorated in terms of performance and drivability.
Therefore, Ferrari’s 2023 Formula 1 season started with the burden of a wrong project that, according to the Maranello top executive, “forced the team to start the championship in evident difficulty, compelling the technicians to completely revolutionize the car’s development program, which needed a significant overhaul in the long run.” All of this negatively affected the performance of the Red car in the first part of the season, up to the Austrian Grand Prix when the remodeling of the sidepods and continuous updates to the wings and floor allowed Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to compete in less anonymous races in the top positions of the standings.
This turnaround and the development work carried out by Maranello’s technicians are the positive aspects of 2023, more so than the isolated victory by the Spaniard in Singapore. In the recent past, after a slow start to the season, the decision was made to halt the development of the car after the summer break, concentrating efforts on the next year’s model. In 2023, a different approach was chosen, and the SF-23’s performances in the last races of the calendar year prove it: Red Bull remained an unbeatable car, but the distances between the Milton Keynes team and Ferrari have shortened compared to the beginning of the year. Moreover, the last races on the calendar have, in many ways, anticipated many of the technical solutions we will see this year on the SF-24, which we have summarized in the red diagrams: renewed suspensions and a completely revamped aerodynamics, with new air intakes on the sidepods, higher and positioned even higher, and a deep cut in the lower part, with a sudden descent towards the rear, to increase the airflow that hits it.
Will these be enough to bridge the gap with Red Bull? There are no doubts about the desire for redemption and the commitment of the men of Maranello, provided Adrian Newey doesn’t pull another miraculous rabbit out of his hat. In other words, another unbeatable car.