Sainz says 2024 Ferrari ‘behaving differently’ in simulator

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Carlos Sainz says Ferrari’s 2024 contender is “behaving differently” in the simulator compared to its predecessor but insists the team will need to wait until pre-season testing to gauge its design’s true qualities and potential.

Despite Ferrari's impressive qualifying performances, which saw them secure seven pole positions with Sainz and Leclerc, the race pace of the Scuderia’s SF-23 consistently fell short, leaving the Italian outfit well adrift from Red bull and third overall in F1’s Constructors’ standings.

The 2023 car's Achilles' heel was its unstable rear end, which often caused unpredictable behavior and compromised race performance.

This issue prompted the team to shift the car’s setup towards understeer, a strategy that did not favor Leclerc. Progress was achieved however in the back half of the season thanks to a floor upgrade implemented in Japan.

With the 2024 season fast approaching, Ferrari is embracing a new design concept, one that Sainz believes offers a promising alternative to the shortcomings of its predecessor.

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So far, sim testing in Maranello has revealed a car that handles differently, offering a glimmer of hope for a more consistent and competitive performance in 2024.

But Sainz suggests the proof will be in the pudding when the car hits the track in Bahrain in February.

“I think we're going to need to wait until testing,” he said, quoted by “I think it's incredibly difficult to know.

“The car in the simulator is behaving differently, for sure. But I think until we put the car in 100 kilos [of fuel] and used tyres, it's going to be impossible to see how it is actually treating the tyres, treating the pace and how our race pace is going to be affected.

“That we will only know in Bahrain when we put it on track. In the meantime, we can just focus on adding performance to that car in the wind tunnel and trying to make it better.”

As Ferrari strives to design the best overall version of its 2024 war horse to take the fight to Red Bull, Sainz acknowledges that the Scuderia may need to relinquish some of the SF-23's strengths – namely its straight-line speed, agility through short corners and impressive ability to handle kerbs.

Ferrari's current focus is therefore on achieving greater consistency, in a bid to eliminate the performance fluctuations that weighed on its 2023 season.

This shift in approach reflects the team’s determination to challenge for the title in 2024, prioritizing overall balance and day-to-day pace over specific track strengths.

“We understood it and now we just put it on track and we try to maximise it every weekend. I think we are doing a much better job of that,” Sainz added.

“It's almost unbelievable that these swings in performance can happen. But it is the Formula 1 of nowadays.

“Now we need to focus on making sure… we understand why the car there is strong and why so weak in other types of circuits and corners.”

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