Ferrari cast ‘another planet’ verdict as crucial weakness cured on eve of F1 2024

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez during Bahrain testing.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez.

If Ferrari are to threaten Red Bull over a race distance, then they must keep the Pirelli rubber happy and team boss Fred Vasseur has seen an out of this world improvement on that front with the SF-24.

Bahrain pre-season testing is now in the books, meaning we have a clear run through to the season-opening race weekend in the nation, starting on February 29 with Grand Prix Saturday on March 2.

And Ferrari can head into that event feeling confident, but not necessarily because they set the fastest times of the second and third days, but rather due to what they saw from their race simulations.

Ferrari tyre management ‘on another planet’ with SF-24

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

One-lap pace was not so much of a worry for Ferrari last season, the team claiming seven pole positions, but it was come race day when the trouble commonly began.

The SF-23 has notoriously demanding on the Pirelli tyres, burning through the performance far quicker than Red Bull’s RB19 which accounted for 21 of the 22 grands prix wins.

However, from what Vasseur saw during Ferrari’s longest race run on day one, Ferrari has fixed their tyre-eating issues.

Speaking to F1 TV, Vasseur said: “With the consistency and the race pace, the degradation that we had yesterday for the longest stint was on another planet compared to last year.

“At least on this we’ve made a step, but now it is not just a matter of being consistent, but fast.”

To that point, Vasseur, like the vast majority of the paddock, still sees Red Bull’s RB20 as the challenger to beat, but he trusts in his team with the feedback on the Ferrari SF-24 proving to be “positive”.

“We know that we always have to pay attention to the conclusions after the test,” Vasseur continued.

“If you take the classifications from last year, Day 2 or Day 3, I think it has nothing to do with the classification of the Saturday of the race [weekend].

“The most important thing is to trust the guys because their feedback was positive and we have seen a lot of development for sure.

“I think Red Bull is still ahead, but let’s continue to push and see where we will be next week.” recommends

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Indeed, Charles Leclerc, who topped the timings on the third and final day of F1 2024 testing, believes the SF-24 represents a much stronger base for Ferrari to build from.

Nonetheless, he also sees Red Bull as the early standard, fearing they are “quite a bit ahead”.

“I think the first good thing is that there are no surprises,” Leclerc told media including

“Everything that we expected from this car, we got it on the real track, so that is a good thing because that helps us to develop the car on the simulator and everything seems to make sense.

“Then how competitive we are, it’s very difficult to understand. My personal 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 difficult to understand in which direction we developed 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 for the development.”

As well as topping the overall timesheets, Ferrari also completed more laps than Red Bull across the three-day test, 416 to 390, Ferrari’s tally second only to Haas’ 441 laps.

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