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Leclerc hails “step forward” on Ferrari's F1 wind sensitivity woes

Charles Leclerc says that his Ferrari Formula 1 team has made “a step forward” on the wind sensitivity issue that plagued the red cars last year.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

This has in turn contributed to much-improved consistency over a stint, which was the key weakness that hampered the team in races in 2023.

Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz struggled for much of the year to maintain consistent form, even with different sets of the same tyre compound.

While the situation was improved with car development, Leclerc says that the SF-24 represents a further step, with strong long-run performance evident in Bahrain testing.

PLUS: Why it's a Red Bull vs Ferrari battle in F1 2024 testing's long run times

“On our side it's quite a lot better,” he said when asked by Autosport about the wind issue.

“Last year's car, I think one of the main weaknesses was the wind sensitivity.

“Whenever the wind will change a tiny bit, our car will be extremely difficult to drive. Huge differences in terms of balance from one corner to the other.

“And this year we are in a much better place for that. So it is definitely a step forward on that.

“It was wanted, we worked a lot on it, and we had the confirmation already from the first day.”

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, talks to the media

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, talks to the media

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Leclerc said that the improvements were already apparent in the Maranello simulator, and were successfully transferred to the real car in Bahrain. However, he cautioned that it remains to be seen how that improvement translates into overall form.

“Honestly, from the first lap on the simulator, it felt like an easier car to drive whenever we drove with some wind,” he said. “And similar on the track from the very first laps here.

“Once we got here, the feeling was good. We managed to be consistent straight away. And this will help the race runs.

“However, as I've said these past few days, drivability and competitiveness are two very different things.

“Last year we were struggling a lot to be consistent, because the car was just a little bit all over the place whenever there was some wind.

“But that doesn't necessarily mean, especially in qualifying, that we will win a lot thanks to that. And that doesn't mean anything compared to Red Bull. 

"So we still have to work a lot. And then we'll see how competitive we are next Friday [in qualifying].

“But I am confident that we definitely did a step forward in terms of tyre management, because whenever tyres are more [worn], the weaknesses of the car are more apparent, you can feel them more. And with the characteristics of this car, it should be quite a bit better.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Regarding Ferrari’s place in the 2024 pecking order, he said: “My first feeling is that Red Bull is still quite a bit ahead, but we have a much stronger base compared to last year.

“I remember last year I finished the test and it was very, very difficult to understand in which direction to develop because the car was just so inconsistent.

“It was very difficult to understand what were the main weaknesses. This year it's a very different story.

“We know exactly where we need to improve, where are the weaknesses, the main weaknesses of this car. And this gives us a bit more hope for the development of the car.”

 

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