Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc anticipates significant differences in the Maranello team’s 2024 Formula 1 car compared to their 2023 model. He is optimistic that the insights gained from the weaknesses of the SF23 will lead to a more successful car next year.
Ferrari faced inconsistency throughout the 2023 Formula 1 championship, with both Charles Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz grappling to master their 2023 single-seater. However, the Maranello team has shown improved performance in their last two races. The Spaniard secured an impressive victory last weekend in Singapore at the Marina Bay street circuit, marking Ferrari’s first win since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix. Prior to that, both drivers achieved third and fourth-place finishes at the Italian Grand Prix in front of the Tifosi.
Ahead of the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc is hopeful that the lessons learned and additional testing opportunities in the remaining seven races of the current championship will enable Ferrari to start the 2024 season on a strong footing.
“We learnt plenty during Monza especially about our weaknesses,” – the Monegasque driver pointed out following last weekend’s Singapore GP in Marina Bay – “After Monza we understood more things which are good for this year even though it will be a small step in the right direction but mostly for designing next year’s car which is positive.”
“First of all the 2024 project is very different to the car we have this year. And with everything we’ve learnt so far it reaffirms that it’s a good choice what we’ve gone for next year. The more we learn, the better it is for doing the last few details for next year’s car. It’s super important and it was really good to understand that before the end of the season as we still have quite a few races so we can maybe push a bit more in that direction. There were things we tested in Monza to make sure that it was really the case, and it was. So Zandvoort and Monza we learnt a lot and that is good for this year even though I don’t think it will turn our season around, for sure not. It’s a good step forwards and for next year this is a really good step forwards. It will be easy to say that we’ve understood everything now. We understood good things in the last few races, whether this is all or not it’s difficult to say until we’ve actually achieved our development programme and confirmed it was that. So I’m not confident this is everything we had to find to close the gap to Red Bull but it’s a step in the right direction for sure.” – the Monegasque driver explained.
As Ferrari embraces a new approach for the upcoming championship, team principal Fred Vasseur is confident that they won’t encounter the same challenges as Mercedes did this year.
After a strong finish to the 2022 Formula 1 campaign, which was even marked by a victory by George Russell at the 4.309-kilometre Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Mercedes chose to continue with their “zero-sidepod” concept for the 2023 season. However, their poor performance at the beginning of the year led to Mercedes abandoning this approach after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, opting for a significant redesign introduced in Monaco.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff acknowledges that their W14 remains an unpredictable entity as they begin development on the W15 for next year. Nonetheless, Vasseur is positive that the insights gained from Ferrari’s experience with the SF23 will position them well for the challenges of the 2024 campaign.
“I prefer to do good results than bad results,” the Ferrari boss replied – “For sure this will help for the future – it’s a better understanding of the car, better understanding of the set-up of the car. I would say mainly it is a step forwards in terms of confidence for everybody and this is the best way to prepare the future.”
Nonetheless, Frederic Vasseur emphasized the importance of the Maranello team maintaining a realistic perspective, cautioning against the notion that they will instantly become championship contenders. He acknowledged that there is still a substantial deficit to overcome in order to consistently compete with Red Bull for race wins.
“I think we have to stay calm. We know that when we had a tough [run of results] to not draw conclusions that everything is going badly and that we have to change everything and it’s not that after two weekends that we are world champion. We have to stay calm, we need to keep the same approach, to try and develop step by step. But there is nothing magic in this business and you won’t find a bullet for four or five tenths – if you want to do a step you have to do tonnes of small steps and it is what I think I have appreciated into the direction of the team after a tough weekend. And also into the confidence, because I think it was probably in Zandvoort that we unlocked something on the understanding of the set-up and we build up the pace of Monza, part of this in Zandvoort, and probably a large part of the pace this weekend.” – Scuderia Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur concluded, ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, which takes place this weekend at the Suzuka circuit.