Trouble for Lewis Hamilton? Ferrari SF-24 ‘looks like a 2023 car’ in damning analysis

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton wipes his brown on the Bahrain 2023 grid with a prominent Ferrari badge alongside him.

Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of 2024.

Lewis Hamilton may already be having second thoughts about leaving Mercedes after Ferrari’s F1 2024 challenger, the SF-24, was likened to a 2023 car.

Hamilton announced earlier this month that he will join Ferrari for 2025 as he continues his search for a record eighth World Championship, bringing an end to his long and successful association with Mercedes.

The British driver’s decision comes despite the Scuderia’s extended title drought, with Kimi Raikkonen the last driver to be crowned World Champion for Ferrari back in 2007, Hamilton’s debut F1 campaign.

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With the teams’ 2024 cars set to form the platform for next year ahead of F1’s next major regulation changes in 2026, it is crucial for Hamilton’s hopes of winning with Ferrari that the team make promising strides over the course of this season.

However, respected technical analyst Craig Scarborough has issued a damning verdict on the SF-24 following the launch of Ferrari’s new contender on Tuesday, claiming it looks like a car from last season with the Prancing Horse slow to adopt technical trends now common among their rivals.

Appearing on F1 commentator Peter Windsor’s YouTube channel, he said of the SF-24: “It’s a radical evolution from what they had last year, but the car they’ve produced this year looks to me like a 2023 car.

“It just doesn’t look like they’ve taken things to the extremes that everyone else is going, so my first guess is that this maybe isn’t the step that Ferrari were looking for.

“Having said that, they ended last year in a very good position. They found a lot with tyre management and getting the car to be balanced and the things that we can’t tell from renders and laps at Fiorano is what’s actually happening with the car, particularly with the floor, which is the most important thing.

“We simply can’t judge that at this stage, but I am slightly disappointed with what we saw on the SF-24.

“There’s changes to the floor that we can’t see; what we can see is that secondary effect with what they’ve done with the sidepods and they have potentially found a whole heap of performance from those sidepods, getting the floor to work better.

“The other thing Ferrari really struggled with last year – which was probably to do with their lack of downforce – was tyre management.

“And although they did improve through the season in coping with that, they still had an underlying issue that came back to bite them at various races.

“What’s interesting is that Ferrari haven’t really substantially changed the outboard parts of the suspension, front and rear, from what we can see, so there’s no big geometrical changes to the suspension, so hopefully they’ve found other ways of getting the tyres to work better, particularly in the race.

“They qualified really well, but that is always the other side of the coin to tyre performance.

“If you qualify well, typically you race worse and last year Red Bull were quite open that they didn’t really have that one-lap performance on the tyres but we saw their race performance was completely in control of those Pirellis.

“So we have to start to question what Ferrari are finding in this car without making big, obvious changes that, to this point, we can’t see.

“[But] Fred Vasseur did say most of the changes are under the skin, so you’re talking about inboard suspension, the shape of the underfloor and stuff like that, so we can only judge what we can see at this stage.” recommends

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Scarborough went on to assess some interesting features on the car – including a wider nose and the front of the sidepods – but has been left bemused by the failure to incorporate the so-called “water slide” sidepod design used by many of their competitors.

And he predicted that Ferrari are likely to realise the error of their ways in the opening rounds of the new campaign, with the team likely requiring a “big” upgrade to salvage their season.

He explained: “Ferrari have gone for a wider nose.

“I thought people were going to shape the nose much more this year, trying to get much more of an aerodynamic effect.

“I think a lot of teams are making the nose much flatter, much wider in order to get the crash performance out of it and that really plays around with the pressure where the nose meets the trailing edge of the front wing.

“This is something that Red Bull really got worked out – putting rotation into that airflow going towards the floor and Ferrari have moved in that direction slightly.

“One of the curious things is around the sidepod fronts.

“The sidepod fronts have what we call the ‘underbite’, where you don’t have a top closure to the sidepods. Looking at the geometry of that, the inlets don’t look especially higher or narrower than last year. It literally looks like they’ve cut the top off.

“But they have moved the side-impact structure, which used to be inside the sidepods and [meant there was] a little bump sticking out of the Ferrari last year.

“They’ve now moved that down to the floor where everyone else has it and that allows them to put a really big undercut into that sidepod.

“That is really where the performance now starts to come because they’re working the front half of the floor edge much harder, which will give them much more balanced downforce because it’s creating downforce almost at the centre of gravity in the middle of the car, so that’s one big change that almost goes unnoticed.

“With the sidepods, what they haven’t done is gone for the big gulleys – the big water slides – that was a big feature of so many cars last year, particularly the Aston Martin.

“That worries me because the shape of the sidepods now is becoming one of the secondary defining features after the floor and the suspension and everyone is trying to get much more airflow down to the diffuser by putting these gulleys into the sidepods.

“Ferrari haven’t gone quite extreme with that and I can see no reason why they wouldn’t have, so you think: ‘What’s in their mind? Why aren’t they playing about with this?’

“It’s not because of cooling because nowadays the volume of the sidepods is so much bigger than they need to be, because they’re partly using the shape of the sidepods to replicate what bargeboards used to do by keeping front-tyre wake away from the rest of the car.

“Again, you just feel like Ferrari are a step behind what everyone else is doing.

“The work they’ve done over the winter is massive because they’ve gone away from their old bathtub sidepods and big cooling louvres and all of that. But they’ve caught up with what everyone was doing early last year rather than what everyone was doing by the end of last year.

“And as we’ve seen with the Aston Martin, people are getting even more extreme with shapes and the volumes they use in these areas.

“I’m wary of Ferrari thinking that they can aim for championships with the car, because it looks to me as though they’re going to launch this car, run with it for the first handful of races and then probably produce a big update to it.

“And that’s not how you win championships. You’ve got to be ready at the first race, especially if you’re fighting against Red Bull now and you’ve got to expect a resurgence from Mercedes; McLaren are looking strong; Aston Martin are there or thereabouts.

“You can’t afford to give away a handful of races at this stage of the season and expect to win a championship.

“Having said that – depending on the level of Red Bull’s superiority – I see no reason why Ferrari wouldn’t be competitive with their rivals.

“But I just don’t know if they’ve closed that gap to Red Bull quite as much as they need to.”

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