Charles Leclerc is encouraged by his first experience of Ferrari’s new car after driving it on the team’s simulator.
Ferrari presented the new SF-24 today and Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was the first to drive it at their Fiorano test track. Leclerc said he had a positive impression from his first virtual experience of the car.
“On the simulator, the feeling is good,” he said. “The car is definitely a step forward compared to last year.
“We’ve been focusing on the main weaknesses we had last year as we do every year and for now the car on the simulator has been reacting extremely well.”
However he is reserving final judgement until he’s seen the car’s real-world performance. “There’s obviously another important part to all of this is how much it correlates to, then, the real car once we put it in Bahrain for the first time on the track.
“This will be a crucial moment that will tell us whether we did a good job for this season. But until now, so far so good and everything we’ve tested on the simulator was positive.”
Ferrari were the only team besides Red Bull to win a race during 2023 and ended the season as one of the closest challengers to last year’s dominant world champions. However they experienced problems with their car early in the season as its performance tended to fluctuate wildly.
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“I think the main area where we had to work on was the sensitivity to the change of conditions,” said Leclerc. “We had a very peaky car last year where it was very strong whenever we had all the perfect conditions but whenever one of these factors, whether it’s temperature, wind speed, force or direction, it will have a huge impact on our car.
“This we wanted to change for this car to make it better and easier to drive, as it was very difficult whenever it was windy conditions and this is something that I would like to see change for this year.”
Sainz was more reserve about the car’s performance, speaking before he shook down the SF-24 chassis. “I really don’t like going into specifics of how the car feels in the simulator, because it’s obviously something very private for the team,” he said. “But yes, it definitely feels different.
“The target is for the car to feel different, to give more confidence to the drivers and to be able to extract more lap time from it. Last year wasn’t easy in that front, but this year, I’m pretty sure we have made steps in…