Leclerc: Ferrari car ‘in much better place’ regarding wind sensitivity


Charles Leclerc has confirmed Ferrari’s significant progress in addressing the wind sensitivity problems that plagued its car during the 2023 Formula 1 season.

This improvement - evident in the SF-24's strong long-run performance during pre-season testing in Bahrain - is expected to translate into greater consistency for the Scuderia’s machine out on the track.

Inconsistent performance, particularly in race trim, was a significant hurdle for Ferrari last year, with Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz struggling to maintain consistent pace and balance throughout a stint.

While car development throughout the season offered some improvement, Leclerc emphasizes that the SF-24 represents a significant step forward.

“On our side it's quite a lot better,” said the Monegasque, addressing the issue of wind sensitivity.

“Last year's car, I think one of the main weaknesses was the wind sensitivity. Whenever the wind will change a tiny bit, our car will be extremely difficult to drive. Huge differences in terms of balance from one corner to the other.

“And this year we are in a much better place for that. So it is definitely a step forward on that. It was wanted, we worked a lot on it, and we had the confirmation already from the first day.”

Leclerc reported that the positive changes were evident during pre-season simulations at Maranello and seemed to transfer seamlessly to the car's performance in Bahrain.

However, the 26-yaer-old remains cautious, acknowledging that it's too early to determine how these improvements will affect their overall competitiveness in the season.

“Honestly, from the first lap on the simulator, it felt like an easier car to drive whenever we drove with some wind,” he said. “And similar on the track from the very first laps here.

“Once we got here, the feeling was good. We managed to be consistent straight away. And this will help the race runs.

“However, as I've said these past few days, drivability and competitiveness are two very different things. Last year we were struggling a lot to be consistent, because the car was just a little bit all over the place whenever there was some wind.

“But that doesn't necessarily mean, especially in qualifying, that we will win a lot thanks to that. And that doesn't mean anything compared to Red Bull.

"So we still have to work a lot. And then we'll see how competitive we are next Friday [in qualifying].

“But I am confident that we definitely did a step forward in terms of tyre management, because whenever tyres are more [worn], the weaknesses of the car are more apparent, you can feel them more. And with the characteristics of this car, it should be quite a bit better.”

Looking ahead to next weekend’s opening round of racing, Leclerc reiterated his belief that Red Bull is “still quite a bit ahead” although he acknowledged Ferrari’s “much stronger base” compared to last year.

“I remember last year I finished the test and it was very, very difficult to understand in which direction to develop because the car was just so inconsistent,” he said. “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 development of the car.”

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