Ferrari fans have required a lot of patience in recent years. Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa last placed the World Championship trophy in the company museum in 2008. In the 15 years that followed, the most successful team in Formula 1 history mostly lagged behind the competition.
But recently, the performance curve has again approached the high expectations of the Tifosi. In the 2023 Formula 1 season, Ferrari was the only team besides Red Bull to win a race. Seven pole positions showed that, in terms of basic speed, they were not too far from Max Verstappen and Red Bull. However, in the end, they only secured third place in the team standings, narrowly beaten by Mercedes.
To close the gap to the top, the engineers decided on an aggressive approach in the construction of the SF-24. In the previous season, Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur ended work on the old car early. All resources in Maranello were redirected to the development of the new model. Accordingly, the changes are extensive.
New chassis and gearbox
As a base, a completely new chassis was developed to provide aerodynamicists with more freedom in conjunction with the new gearbox. Especially on the underside, ample space was created so that the Venturi channels and the diffuser could suck the car to the asphalt even more efficiently.
Regarding the suspensions, the changes are limited externally. As Haas, the technical customer, had already revealed, the basic principle of a front pushrod suspension and a rear pullrod system remains unchanged – precisely opposite to Red Bull. However, a lot seems to have happened internally in the interaction of the individual elements on the rear axle.
Numerous changes are also visible on the rest of the chassis. The nose, which now attaches further to the second element of the front wing, is now noticeably more bulbous at the tip and no longer as thin. It now resembles last year’s Red Bull. Unfortunately, the transformation does not make the car look prettier.
Sidepods in Red Bull Style
Additional updates can be seen on the sidepod. With the forward-shifted “lower lips” of the large air intakes, Ferrari is also following a trend that Red Bull started last year. Another feature adopted from the market leader is the deep and wide undercut at the front of the bulging side pods.
For the conversion, the crash structures mounted on the side of the cockpit had to be relocated under the cover. Last year, they caused a bump. Now the bump has migrated to the underfloor. Further back, the side pods, as in the previous year, slope ramp-like down to the rear. A trough on the upper side guides the flow slightly inward. Apparently, all teams have now agreed on this shape.
In the upper part, the engine cover widens relatively broadly towards the rear. The exhaust air is directed directly onto the beam-wing through large openings. We could already see this idea at Mercedes last year, albeit in a more extreme form. Under the “periscope,” the fairing can tighten, benefiting the overflow of the diffuser roof.
Unique Approach to Airbox and Halo
Also interesting is the look at the airbox. As in the previous year, the triangular-shaped air inlet above the cockpit is retained. The sister team Haas, which usually follows the same path, has switched to a rounder air intake here. Noticeable a bit further back are the new gills in the fairing serving for cooling. They have now moved higher up. Earlier, seven slits were in the outer skin; now there are only four.
Ferrari takes a completely unique approach to the Halo. The covering of the safety hoop extends like a loop to the rear part of the cockpit edge. This is likely a trick to bring the airflow closer to the hood towards the rear.
As in the previous year, there is another opening on the side behind the cockpit. According to the principle of an S-duct, it will probably expel air, which is captured somewhere on the outer skin further forward. Another change is visible on the mirrors. The airflow is no longer directed through the mirror housing.
Technical chief Enrico Cardile hopes that the upward trend will continue in the new season: “With the SF-24, we wanted to create a completely new platform. All areas of the car were touched for this. We followed the development direction that was taken last year. We also incorporated the feedback from the drivers. The goal was to give them a car that is easier to drive and therefore easier to bring to the limit.”
More Color on the Outer Skin
Let’s also talk about the livery. The traditional Ferrari red is complemented by a yellow-white stripe. We have seen a similar form in the Le Mans racer 499P. Unlike some competing models, Ferrari designers refrain from using larger carbon areas to save weight.
In 2024, the Ferrari SF-24 carries significantly more color than its predecessor. At least one of the four elements of the front wing is now painted. Also, the halo, the mirrors, the outer side of the side pods, the wheel caps, and the main blade of the rear wing now shine in red. Only in the troughs on the upper side of the engine cover does a bit more carbon flash through the paint.
Whether the plan with the new car works out, Ferrari wanted to determine before the official test drives in Bahrain (21.2.). On Wednesday (13.2.), the F1 team had reserved the in-house test track in Fiorano to complete the maiden drive in parallel with the digital unveiling. Carlos Sainz was allowed to take the first laps with the new car. However, more than 200 kilometers were not allowed in the shakedown.