While today we received the official confirmation of the name for Ferrari’s new car, Frederic Vasseur, Enrico Cardile and Enrico Gualtieri are collaborating closely to ensure a strong start to the upcoming Formula One campaign.
The French Team Principal has, to some extent, fulfilled his Christmas promise, as Charles Leclerc’s new deal was confirmed ahead of the season commencement, even though the terms had been agreed upon for some time. On the opposite side of the garage, there’s still no update on significant progress for Carlos Sainz’s contract adaptation, despite ongoing discussions. Any alternative outcome would be unexpected at this stage.
A crucial meeting is scheduled for February to assess the status of operations. In the meantime, production and preparation work on the 676 are progressing rapidly. The initial configuration of the cars for the first three Grands Prix, at least, after the tests is mostly defined.
This situation isn’t exclusive to Ferrari. Starting this season, the Suzuka track will be the fourth event after the initial triptych of Bahrain, Jeddah, and Melbourne. It will serve as the first significant reference point for evaluating the cars’ qualities. Suzuka’s characteristics are demanding, and its judgments are equally stringent.
Pierre Gasly shared an intriguing photo recently, showing him working on the Enstone simulator at the Suzuka circuit. Just a few months ago, Red Bull faced challenges after the Singapore debacle coinciding with the introduction of the TD018. Red Bull made more mistakes than throughout the entire year, offering a unique opportunity to the competition, which was effectively seized by Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari to break the Red Bull streak. Now, six months later, competitors will gauge their standings.
Technical offices are actively working on introducing the first aerodynamic development cycle. If all goes well, Ferrari, along with other teams, will implement the initial technical innovations toward Suzuka.
Engineers typically plan the upgrade schedule well in advance. After producing the molds up to a maximum scale of 60%, tunnel runs are conducted to decide on the actual production of the model, which takes weeks unless corrections are required.
Last year, changing the appearance of the SF-23 took several months, and the team had to wait until Barcelona to embark on a new technical journey.
Although the 2024 chassis is brand new, it will remain valid for two years. Teams are compelled to optimize resources for the forthcoming 2026 cars. Ferrari has everything ready for the 677 model and is simultaneously refining the geometries of components visible in the initial phase of the season.
Why? The next technical regulations will take effect in 2026, but specifics won’t be known for several weeks. The F1 Commission decided to commence work in January 2025, allowing a limited timeframe with no distractions, absorbing up to 80% of the budget dedicated to performance improvement. Hence, teams need to utilize the current long-term model for two years of development.
The structure that manages to expedite its idea-design-production chain without major evaluation errors will gain a significant advantage in 2025. Lessons learned from Ferrari and Mercedes last year, or Aston Martin post-Canada, could prove detrimental.
Some technicians believe this season could be a great opportunity for teams outside the top tier or those in favorable positions, like McLaren, willing to partially sacrifice 2026 to pursue wildcards in this two-year period, as explained by F1 expert Giuliano Duchessa for formu1a.uno