Why Thursday and Friday are critical for Ferrari

In the never-ending battle of upgrades in Formula 1, McLaren enjoyed a stellar weekend at the Miami Grand Prix. The Woking-based outfit brought a series of upgrades to South Beach for the MCL38, including a new front wing as well as upgrades to the front suspension, the front corner, the floor, the sidepod inlets, the engine cover, the rear suspension, the rear corner, the beam wing, and cooling louvers.

The result? Lando Norris reached the top step of an F1 podium for the first time, giving McLaren their first grand prix victory of the 2024 season.

Now it is up to the rest of the grid to respond, and the Scuderia are up first.

In the wake of the Miami Grand Prix, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc noted it was now incumbent upon them to match McLaren’s upgrades. “And we were expecting [McLaren] to be strong, maybe not as strong as what they’ve shown today, but he fully deserves it,” said Leclerc trackside to Jenson Button following the race.

“And now it’s up to us to hopefully bring the upgrades very quickly and catch up.”

According to reports from Italian outlet Formu1a.uno, that process begins Thursday in Fiorano. As first reported by Formu1a.uno, Ferrari is set to undergo two “filming” days at their test track in Fiorano, where both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. will give the upgraded SF-24 a shakedown session under the supervision of Team Principal Frederic Vasseur and Enrico Cardille, the team’s Technical Director – Chassis and Aerodynamics.

Details are scarce at the moment, but multiple reports indicate that Ferrari’s upgraded aerodynamic package will involve “Red Bull-style sidepods,” slimmer radiator openings, a new floor, and a revised front wing.

Under FIA rules, teams are permitted to run 200 kilometers on a filming day, and teams are further mandated to run special Pirelli tires. Still, these events allow teams — in this case Ferrari — to gather initial data in an effort to confirm whether simulator and wind tunnel findings are being replicated in a real-world environment.

In the FIA Press Conference following the Miami Grand Prix, Leclerc commented further on the upgrades he hoped to see from the team. “As I’ve said many times, I think the season will be up to upgrades. We have ours coming very soon and that will define a little bit the rest of the season for us,” added Leclerc in Miami. “So we’ve got to work hard and hopefully those upgrades will be as good as [McLaren’s] and will help us to do a significant step forward.”

However, speaking in Ferrari’s hospitality space following the Miami Grand Prix Vasseur did his best to manage expectations given the upcoming race is a home grand prix for the team.

“No when you are doing the development it’s not that we want to bring something to Imola because it’s in Italy, we are pushing for the development and as soon as we are ready, we are producing parts,” described Vasseur to the media, including SB Nation, Sunday night. “The fact that Imola is close to the factory, it’s also helping to bring something because that we can release the parts a bit later. But I don’t know, it was nothing to do with Italy.

“And then again, on this, that we don’t have to expect that it will be a game changer, but it’s so tight that we can work performance.”

Vasseur concluded his remarks following the Miami Grand Prix drawing a comparison to Red Bull, pointing out how much closer Ferrari is to their rivals right now than they were a season ago.

“What is true is that compared to one year ago when we are able to do a good job and to put everything together, we are there, it means that we are putting [Red Bull] a little bit under pressure. They have to take to be a bit more aggressive with the strategy,” added Vasseur.

“They are not anymore in the comfort zone of last year when last year that doesn’t matter what’s happened after lap two, they were in front and it’s, I think it’s a game changer in the management of the race,” added Vasseur.

“And this, it’s an opportunity for us because that if we are doing another small step, I think that we will be really in a position to fight with them every single weekend.”

The first step in that fight gets underway in a few hours.

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