Ferrari have dropped a huge hint that they will adopt a different F1 2024 car concept to the Mercedes W15 in the race to catch World Champions Red Bull.
Red Bull produced the most dominant F1 season in history in 2023, winning all but one of the 22 races as Max Verstappen eased to a third successive title.
Ferrari were the only team other than Red Bull to win a grand prix last season, with Carlos Sainz ending Verstappen’s record run of 10 successive victories in Singapore, but the Scuderia ultimately missed out on second place in the Constructors’ standings to rivals Mercedes.
Ferrari set to take different F1 2024 path to Mercedes?
Despite Red Bull’s dominant position at the summit of the sport, both Ferrari and Mercedes are hopeful of hitting back in 2024 with the secrets behind Red Bull’s success more widely known since F1’s ground effect rules were first introduced in 2022.
The RB19’s anti-dive suspension emerged as a major strength in 2023, with Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey praised for recognising that the integration between the car’s underfloor and suspension is key under the current regulations.
With Mercedes’ 2024 chassis set to be a significant departure from last season’s winless machine, technical director James Allison recently indicated that the team have placed a huge emphasis on this area with the new W15.
Allison commented that Mercedes’ understanding of how best to exploit the ground effect rules was “quite a lot different” at the end of last season compared to the same stage in 2022.
According to The Race, he said: “We’ve got a much better handle on how you get the aero platform and the spring platform to be happier bedfellows. That is the main challenge.”
Yet Enrico Cardile, the Ferrari technical boss, has rejected the idea that the suspension is key to teams’ hopes in the current era – even dismissing this area of the car as “overrated.”
He told German publication Auto Motor und Sport: “The suspensions and setup are overrated, in my opinion, at this point.
“With the setup, you can work within a window in which the car works. But the car gives you this window.
“Today, the suspensions are designed to support the aerodynamics and still deliver reasonable kinematics. The layout of the suspension has to be massively wrong to have an influence [on car performance].”
Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are all set to launch their F1 2024 cars on three consecutive days next month, with the Scuderia going first by unveiling their new contender on February 13.
Mercedes have elected for a digital launch event at Silverstone on February 14, with Red Bull revealing the car (well, let’s face it, the livery) with which Verstappen will defend his title with the following day.
Speaking last month, Allison revealed Mercedes aim to “be in with a shout” of winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in 2024 having established a “pretty ambitious program” with the W15.
Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur, meanwhile, has previously vowed that the new car – said to be codenamed Project 676 – will be “95 per cent new” with Ferrari and Mercedes adopting contrasting design philosophies during the ground effect era so far.