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Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP

Ferrari’s F1 upgrades are all about “tilting the map”

Formula 1’s upgrade battle used to mainly be about bolting on new parts that added more downforce – and that almost always brought more lap time.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

But the current generation of ground-effect cars are trickier beasts to make fast, and the challenge involves nailing the right compromise between high-speed and low-speed performance.

Throw on top of that the desire to make sure that the car is not too peaky and that drivers have confidence in it so that they are able to take it to the limit without fear of going over it and spinning out.

Teams up and down the grid have found that their car ends up performing better in certain profiles of corners – with McLaren, for example, having been notably quick in high-speed corners, while Haas excels in the low-speed stuff.

For Ferrari, its own brilliance in high-speed corners this year has come with it feeling it needed to do better at the other end of the spectrum.

So, while more downforce is always a key element of any change, the driving force for Maranello’s update overhaul at Imola is actually about levelling out the performance profile over a range of corners.

As Ferrari’s senior performance engineer Jock Clear explained: “Obviously you can see the changes, but we know that they are happening in key areas - around the floor, around about the rear tyres, underneath the rear wing, all of that sort of thing.

“But honestly, it's an organic upgrade. We've not changed the direction of the car development, this upgrade is bringing a slight shift in what we call the weighting of the car.

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“There'll be some speeds where it's delivering more, but at different speeds it's probably delivering less, so it's tilting the map a little bit, as we say.”

Clear went on to highlight the importance of delivering a car for its drivers that they could have confidence in – something that was notably absent throughout 2023.

“We're still pursuing that smaller balance window,” he said. "We're getting less balance shift through the corner, entry, mid, exit: that generally makes a more consistent car and that is a car that a driver has more confidence in and can carry speed with confidence.

“It's making the car a bit more benign and we've mentioned that a number of times. It's just a little bit chunkier everywhere on the map.”

Aero consequences

While much of the interest in the Ferrari Imola upgrades has revolved around the most visible changes – like the overbite sidepods – Clear says that actually, the bodywork tweaks are a consequence of stuff happening elsewhere.

“It's cleaning up the airflow around what's going on in the rear wheels and in the diffuser area,” he said. “And then, of course, energising the rear wing. That's what everybody is trying to do. That brings you generic downforce.

“But what you see aesthetically, is probably just a clean-up and a result of that.

“A lot of what you see on the top of the car is what you end up having to do once you focus on the key areas of development.

“So we deliver where the aerodynamic influence is, and then we look at what's going on elsewhere."

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images


1 Front Wing Performance - Minor front wing update with revised flap and tip loadings, aiming at improving performance and efficiency across the polar range. This goes in conjunction with the rest of the car upgrades

2 Rear Wing Performance - Swept flap tip and enlarged mainplane to endplate roll junction Not specific to the Imola circuit requirements, the rear wing tip/mainplane roll junction have been redesigned in order to improve the overall efficiency

3 Sidepod Inlet Performance – A new P-shape inlet, forward top lip and updated cockpit device The new bodywork features a new sidepod and inlet that improves flow quality over the floor edge. A new cockpit device has also been implemented on the side of the halo to manage better losses travelling downstream

4 Coke/Engine Cover Performance - The engine cover volume has been reduced, improving flow quality towards the back of the car. Cooling exit topology evolves but main modulation remains via gills arrangement.

5 Floor Edge Performance - Revised rearward slot and trailing edge volume In conjunction with the bodywork evolution, a revised floor edge is introduced, turning the sidepod onset benefits into better flow energy delivery to the diffuser

6 Diffuser Performance – An updated channel profile and outboard diffuser expansion working together with the rest of the upgrade and the upstream changes, the diffuser expansion has been re-optimized and offers a load increase in return

7 Rear Suspension Performance - Reprofiled rear top wishbone triangle fairing taking the benefits of the bodywork changes, rear suspension top wishbone fairing have been further developed, with positive interaction on rear wing and rear corner performance, resulting in a small load increase

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