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New Ferrari “A Step Forward” and “Feels Healthier” According to Leclerc

“The car was very, very difficult to drive. This year the car feels healthier and in a better place.”...

Charles Leclerc knew last year’s SF-23 had problems after running the first few laps. Thankfully, the first few laps of the SF-24 have been much better with Leclerc calling the car “healthier” and “in a better place.”

During the SF-24 launch, both Leclerc and his teammate, Carlos Sainz, put in the first few laps around Ferrari’s test track, Fiorano. Here Leclerc compared his experience this time last year.

“I remember that after the first lap last year, or if it wasn’t the first lap, it was the first three or four laps, I wasn’t really happy with the behaviour of the car,” Leclerc told the media. “The car was very, very difficult to drive. This year the car feels healthier and in a better place.”

Leclerc stressed that his early assessment doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be better on the track.

“I want to push on the point that this doesn’t mean anything on the competitiveness of the car,” he explained. “Because if other teams have done bigger steps forward in terms of lap time gains, then it can be an easier car to drive but if it’s not fast enough, it won’t be fast enough on-track.

“So in terms of competitiveness, it’s very difficult. In terms of actual feeling of the very first laps, I would say I’ve had a better feeling this year than I did last year.”

The Monegasque driver said the simulator work is also reflecting this improvement.

“On the simulator, the feeling is good,” he said. “The car is definitely a step forward compared to last year.

“We’ve been focusing on the main weaknesses we had last year as we do every year and for now the car on the simulator has been reacting extremely well.”

Both Ferrari drivers have insisted to the engineers that the new car had to be easier drive at the limit compared to the SF-23 rather than focusing on increasing peak downforce.

“This has changed a little bit over the years in the way that now there’s so much technology that the overall scope of every car is to try and add more downforce, and this is what engineers are working day and night,” Leclerc said.

“On the other hand, there was obviously a clear input from us drivers, which was the driveability of the 2023 car, which was extremely sensitive to wind direction changes, to outside conditions changing. This was making it very, very difficult for us to extract the maximum out of the car because as soon as one of these elements changed slightly, the behaviour of the car was completely different. On that there’s been a lot of work.”

Carlos Sainz told the media that he didn’t want to get too excited about the new car but said that the engineers have addressed their main concerns and that, at least, is a reassuring sign.

“The target is for the car to feel different, to give more confidence to the drivers and to be able to extract more lap time from it,” Sainz said. “Last year wasn’t easy in that front, but this year, I’m pretty sure we have made steps in the right direction. Whether it will be enough or not, only time will tell.”

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