Ferrari’s Imola F1 upgrade will test its audacious Red Bull theory

Ferrari will introduce its first significant update package of the season during this weekend's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at the Imola circuit, which team principal Vasseur described as a “small step” but which could allow it to take the fight to Red Bull more consistently.

Development bits were made for the first time at Fiorano last week and included modifications to the side intakes (see below), as well as changes to the floor and rear spoiler.

The effectiveness of the package will be a key indicator of whether Ferrari is able to close the gap on Red Bull as the season progresses.

As Charles Leclerc said in Miami, “The season will be subject to upgrades – we have ours very soon and that will define a bit of the rest of the season for us.”

Vasseur believes that the fact that the field is so compact in terms of performance means it no longer needs huge upgrade packages to shake up the competitive system and that any slight swing in Ferrari's favor could put it close to or on a similar level to Red Bull.

And in Miami, Ferrari was not far away. In qualifying, Charles Leclerc was 0.141 seconds behind (only 0.108 seconds in the shootout) and the team's race pace was similar to that of Red Bull and McLaren.

However, this was marred by Max Verstappen's pace being hampered later in the race due to damage he sustained when he clipped the chicane and hit the barrier – as well as the tire problems that plagued Red Bull throughout the weekend.

“It almost looks like this since the start of the season, depending on the track,” Vasseur said after the Miami Grand Prix. “Honestly, Red Bull is still in front but maybe Max could have won without the safety car story.

“I don't want to draw any conclusions about this, but they finished first, so that means they did it [Red Bull] It still has a small advantage.

“What is true is that compared to last year, when we are able to do well and put everything together, we are there.

“This means we are putting them under a bit of pressure, they have to be more aggressive in strategy and are no longer in the comfort zone they were in last year. Last year, it didn't matter what happened after the second lap.” They were in the lead.

“This will be a game-changer in race management and this creates an opportunity for us because if we make one more small step, we will be in a position to fight with them every weekend.”

Ferrari is the second best team of the season in terms of performance and points. In average single-lap pace, the difference is 0.351% lower than Red Bull, while the deficit in race pace is usually around 0.2-0.3 seconds per lap segment – ​​although it is difficult to put an exact figure on this given how sensitive Status in the race. It could be the pace.

It has been much more consistent than last year, but McLaren has taken a leap forward by upgrading the Miami car, along with Red Bull also making improvements with further developments, meaning Ferrari needs to make a move. This is what the Imola package means, which Vasseur stresses is not a “game changer”.

But if she succeeds, it could test her theory that she is just one step away from regularly challenging Red Bull.

Make no mistake, this isn't a special push for the first two local races either, but it is the first major step in the 2024 promotion plan.

“When we develop, it doesn't mean we want to bring something to Imola because it's Italy, we push for development and as soon as we are ready, we produce the parts,” said Vasseur.

“The fact that Imola is close to the factory also helps something. We can launch the parts a little later.

“We don't have to expect this to be a game-changer, but it's narrow [so] This can achieve performance.

Gary Anderson talks about Ferrari upgrades

The development race is a bit like a stopping strategy. Are you trying to undermine everyone and reap the benefits of your developments while others are still floundering with what they have?

Or do you outperform others by getting your best shot while others keep up with their new packages and also have the opportunity to see what direction they are going, and react as quickly as possible when a rival team makes a move in the right direction?

Ferrari appears to have reacted to McLaren's Miami upgrade by arranging its own new side entrance. However I'm sure it's been in the making for much longer. It is no different from Red Bull's solution in that it now has an extended upper entrance surface.

It also connects directly to the vertical inlet, making it an L-shaped channel. The modifications made to this area of ​​the side inlet appear to be in front of the body joint line that I highlighted with the blue arrow.

The location, shape and size of the inlet depend on the airflow coming from the trailing edge of the front wing. This is then reorganized somewhat by the location and placement of the front suspension members.

Ferrari also changed the side furniture, which I highlighted with a green arrow. I don't see the port next to the cockpit, which I highlighted with a red arrow in the older version. But perhaps it is just more backwardness.

The external rearview mirror mount, which is marked by the purple arrow, has also been changed.

There will be many changes when the cars are unveiled at Imola. A home race always puts extra pressure on Ferrari, so it will be interesting to see how they handle that and where these developments place the car in the pecking order for Europe's premier race.


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