Formula 1 Racing

Why Ferrari won’t progress until it understands it downgrade

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

The story of Formula 1’s development war in 2024 has been very much about whether car updates fall into the ‘upgrade’ or ‘downgrade’ category.

For some teams, like McLaren, Mercedes and Haas, each new iteration appears to be delivering the steps hoped to help push them forward.

For others – like Aston Martin, RB and Ferrari – new parts have led to some unintended consequences and left them not only facing competitive challenges but an urgency to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong.

In Ferrari’s case, its issue appears to revolve around a new floor that arrived as part of a Spanish Grand Prix upgrade.

While the new parts delivered more downforce, especially in the low-speed corners, one consequence was it helped trigger the return of bouncing in fast turns – something which has hampered the squad in recent races.

At last weekend’s British Grand Prix, Ferrari conducted a floor comparison across both cars to work out which solution was best – and in the end, opted to roll back its floor to the Imola spec.

While that move proved best for the short term in giving Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc the best hope for the Silverstone weekend, moving forward the team clearly needs a more permanent solution.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Erik Junius

But more critical than that is understanding why what it delivered to the track did not produce the performance the team expected – because until then, it cannot hope to make any more progress.

As Mercedes technical director James Allison talked about earlier in the year, if an ‘upgrade’ proves to be a ‘downgrade’ then the consequences can be huge.

“That makes life hard because the moment you stop trusting your tools, you have to backtrack and you lose loads of time,” said Allison. “Time is your biggest friend, losing it is your worst enemy.”

It is a situation not lost on Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur, but there is no sense that he fears the Maranello squad cannot turn things around to get back in the fight at the front.

That confidence is based on the fact that, 12 months ago, Ferrari appeared to be going through an exact same scenario, where updates were not delivering all that had been hoped for and the team needed some understanding of what had gone wrong.

The breakthrough came at the Dutch Grand Prix when Ferrari elected to sacrifice its weekend preparations in favour of what was effectively a single-day test to…

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