Ferrari send clear warning to Red Bull after dominant ways return at Suzuka

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc P3 behind the Red Bull team-mates

Ferrari and Red Bull F1 2024 cars

While Red Bull put the paddock on notice with their third 1-2 finish of the season at Suzuka, Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur warned they have not yet unleashed the peak performance of this SF-24.

Carlos Sainz took full advantage of Max Verstappen’s Australia DNF to open his and Ferrari’s victory account for F1 2024, though at the following round in Japan, Verstappen returned to winning ways as Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez made it three 1-2 finishes in four races for Red Bull.

Ferrari yet to truly master SF-24

While Verstappen and Red Bull look well set for further title glory, Ferrari has positioned themselves as the second-fastest team in this early stage of F1 2024, with Vasseur now warning Red Bull that the full performance of this current-spec SF-24 is yet to be seen.

“For sure you have to improve the speed of the car, bring upgrades, but I think so far, we did not extract the best from the car,” Vasseur told Channel 4.

“We are still doing some mistakes during the weekend and the first focus is to be able to get the best from what you have. Then, we’ll have time to improve the car.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has pinpointed an area of his game where he must improve – that being qualifying – after recovering to P4 from his P8 grid slot at Suzuka.

Vasseur believes this need to perform better in qualifying runs across the team, as Ferrari aim to make sure that starts as of the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix.

“I think we did a very solid Sunday,” said Vasseur of Ferrari’s Japanese GP, which saw Sainz claim P3 and Leclerc P4. “We had a very good recovery, we had a good strategy, a very good tyre management. The pace was there.

“If we have to change something on the weekend, it’s more on Saturday. It will be the next target for China to have a much better qualy.” recommends

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Formula 1 has not visited the Shanghai International Circuit since 2019, so it was suggested to Vasseur that this could level the playing field somewhat, especially since the Chinese GP marks the first sprint weekend of F1 2024.

But as well as the lack of practice time at the Chinese GP – reduced to just one hour – Vasseur believes the “key” will be how the cars interact with the tarmac, as the circuit has been resurfaced since F1 last visited.

“We all know perfectly well the track,” said Vasseur, “the biggest question mark for me is the tarmac. This will be decisive.

“It’s also quite cold which will mean that we could have graining and so that will be the key for the weekend.

“Also the fact that we only have one session of free practice, you have to make the choice of which compound you want to test.

“It will be a difficult one, but it’s the same for everybody.”

Red Bull take a 21-point lead over Ferrari at the top of the Constructors’ Championship with them into the Chinese Grand Prix.

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